Aiming at giving even more voice to the Black religious community in Brazil, publisher Arole Cultural continues expanding in the publishing market. Created in 2015, the company has a vast catalog that focuses mainly on titles addressing African and Afro-Brazilian religions and social matters like diversity.
Diego Oxóssi, founder of the company, talked with the Brazilian Publishers team about the history of the publishing house. Highlighted in the 25th São Paulo Book Fair, in 2018, Arole started its internationalization process and made available to other countries its catalog, which includes more than 20 titles. Today, the company does business with markets like the United States, England and Slovakia.
Focusing on the LGBTQ+ audience, the company published in 2019 the book “Cartas pra Pepita” (Letters to Pepita), written by transsexual activist and singer Pepita. Diego states publishing that book was a dream come true, and informs that Arole intends to continue expanding the catalog dedicated to these readers.
Read the interview below and click here to access the international catalog of Arole Cultural.
Brazilian Publishers: Today Arole Cultural offers a vast and diversified catalog to foreign readers. When the internationalization process started and how did it happen?
Diego Oxóssi: Our books started drawing the attention of readers abroad in 2018, soon after Arole’s participation in the São Paulo Book Fair. We have always had a very strong e-commerce, and by that time we had sold some copies of our books, in Portuguese, to foreign countries – especially in Europe. In 2019, supported by BP, we participated for the first time in the London Book Fair. Once there, we visited the stands of book sellers dedicated to the spiritual niche. So, we took a big step towards the internationalization of our catalog and started our first negotiations of book rights, which were finished in Frankfurt.
BP: Since Arole sells spiritual and African and Afro-Brazilian religions books, it must have been easy to define the target audience. Is there any difference between Brazilian and foreign readers regarding these themes?
Diego: There is a huge difference. Although African religions have followers and supporters all over the globe, you have to have in mind that Umbanda and Candomblé are Afro-Brazilian religious traditions; so, you have to understand the foreign audience considering the peculiarities of the regional and cultural adaptation of the African diaspora. Also, you have to realize that there is a large foreign audience interested in other esoteric and spiritual traditions; so, if you place the contents in the context of such cultures, book acceptance and purchase are a sure thing.
BP: Recently, Arole created an LGBTQ+ imprint and published a book by Mulher Pepita. Was such project developed having in mind the foreign audience?
Diego: Publishing books addressing LGBTQ+ themes was an old dream of mine. Our participation in the Bologna Children’s Book Fair 2019 was very interesting and revealed a new universe to us: books and cultural centers dedicated to such community – and they were very successful! When we came back to Brazil, we were eager to make our dream come true. About that time, we met Pepita. It was perfect synchronicity! But we didn’t publish the title focusing on the foreign market only.
BP: What are the plans of the company regarding content, especially now, when discussing ethnicity and religions is so important?
Diego: Unlike most publishing companies – large and small –, last March we decided to double the number of titles to be published in 2020, despite the fear of a global crisis resulting from the pandemic. We also decided to increase the presence of Black writers, and we intend to do it in 2021 too. So, besides the three titles released from February to May, we have other twelve titles confirmed to be released from June to December this year. One of them does not even address African and Afro-Brazilian religions; it’s a fiction book written by a Black author about the teenage experiences from the perspective of a young Black man from a poor neighborhood in the city of Diadema/SP.
Most titles we are about to publish were chosen considering their domestic and international potential (two of them, although not released yet, have drawn the attention of publishers from the United States, England and Slovakia). The LGBTQ+ imprint will release a new book by a Black trans writer from Rio Grande do Sul – the idea is to launch the title during the Porto Alegre Book Fair, also focusing on the foreign market. The book addresses racism based on the experiences and reflections of a trans woman.
BP: What books and writers would you recommend for readers interested in such themes?
Diego: I would recommend two new titles of Arole: “Odus de Nascimento” (Odus of Birthday), written by me, is getting in the market this month; and “Erêmi: o Guia da Umbanda para Crianças” (Erêmi: The Umbanda Guide for Children), a pre-sale expected to be released in July – it was written by a 24-year-old female author. Publishing house Malê has a nice catalog of Black authors who write Non-Religions books, including titles by Cidinha da Silva and Conceição Evaristo. Last but not least, I invite you to join Clube Arole (Arole Book Club), a book subscription service focused on African spiritual books we launched last April. Every month, it promotes books and writers from Arole and from our partners: publishers like Aruanda, Pallas and Ediouro.