Seta, Soie, Silk, 絹. If the person for whom you’d like to buy a present can read French, or has at home a version of “Silk”, the novel by Alessandro Baricco, in her/his native language, then another good idea for a Christmas gift would be “Soie”, the new edition of Baricco’s 1996 masterpiece illustrated by Rébecca Dautremer.
Like all the great writers of adult fiction, Baricco has always turned down any proposals for accompanying his books with printed images. Shapes and colors should be drawn by the reader’s imagination while he/she plunges into the pages. There is no need to add anything to great literature; even comments on it may just sound redundant.
But two young publishers were able to change the writer’s mind. They didn’t convince him with supposed decades of experience in the field or tons of publications on their resume, but with the clarity of their dream. They wanted the French illustrator to add a new layer to the narration through her art. That’s why saying that “Soie” is illustrated by Dautremer is technically incorrect. She reacts to the story with images that are not necessarily a visual description of the words printed in the page in front. She enriches the tale with new nuances while still leaving plenty of room for the reader’s imagination. The result is very interesting, even more when one touches the book: over 200 pages of 150 gram Munken paper framed in a Wibalin natural pistachio cover.
Behind “Soie”, there is Tishina, an independent publishing company founded by Antoine Ullmann and Jonathan Bay with the specific purpose of making this collaboration between Baricco and Dautremer happen. Knowing the creativity and determination of the two founders, I am pretty sure that other paper art pieces by Tishina will soon hit the bookstores’ shelves.