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About Serpent's Tail

Pete Ayrton founded Serpent’s Tail in 1986 in order to introduce British readers to risk-taking world literature no one else in the UK was publishing. The list quickly established a reputation for fearlessness, and for discovering an eclectic range of ground-breaking fiction and non-fiction, launching the careers of writers such as David Peace, Michel Houellebecq and Colm Tóibín and turning transgressive books such as Catherine Millet’s The Sexual Life of Catherine M and Lionel Shriver’s We Need To Talk About Kevin into bestsellers. 

After two decades of independence, in 2007 Serpent’s Tail joined Profile Books, also independent, where it continues as an imprint that celebrates originality. We publish books that we think matter, whether they are literary novels or crime fiction, works in translation or non-fiction books on contemporary culture and politics.

Over the years we have published winners of the Nobel and Orange prizes, Booker and Independent Foreign Fiction Prize shortlisted novels, and several bestsellers. Our Classics series is a deliriously diverse selection of cult masterpieces that have changed the way we see the world, and includes writing by David Gates, Albertine Sarrazin, Alain Mabanckou and Elfriede Jelinek

In 2014, Karen Joy Fowler's We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Sarah Perry's The Essex Serpent won Book of the Year at the British Book Awards in 2017. In 2018, Esi Edugyan's Washington Black was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

Since 2014, Profile has published boutique list Tuskar Rock, editorially selected by Colm Tóibín and Peter Straus. In 2015, a Tuskar Rock book,  by László Krasznahorkai, won the Man Booker International Prize and in that same year Chris Kraus’ cult book  became a bestseller almost twenty years after it was first published.

Thirty years on, our books are still lighting up our reader’s minds and opening spaces for them to think differently. 


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