ORHAN Pamuk's intricate and brilliant novel, My Name Is Red, is currently being serialised on Sunday afternoon's on BBC Radio 4. The Nobel prize winning writer's work would have been unavailable to readers in English, if it hadn't been translated, as it is written in the author's native tongue, Turkish.

Pamuk is an example of just one of many writers in world literature whose work is published in translation.

Publisher Richard Bartlett, pictured above, is passionate about opening doors to writers who write in their native language. "There is a rich tapestry of work out there," he says.

Richard, former sub-editor on the Salisbury Journal, who now works for the Financial Times in London, started Aflame Books with colleague Gavin O'Toole. (Aflame stands for African, Latin America and Middle East).

Richard, who is South African speaks, reads and translates from Portuguese and Afrikaans and is learning Arabic. "It is more a smattering of Arabic, I can read rather than write the language."

Gavin, an Irishman, has a special interest in Latin America. Prior to forming Aflame Books, the pair ran two book review websites, The African Review of Books and the Latin American Review of Books, acquiring a huge amount of material in the process.

"It was during this time that we realised how much literature was available that was not making it into the English market," explains Richard, "and publishing in translation enables these works to be read by everyone."

The first book published in 2006 was a collection of poetry dedicated to Nelson Mandela. The book - Halala Madiba: Nelson Mandela in Poetry was edited by Richard. Halala Madiba in Xhosa translates as Hail Mandela and the poems from 25 countries (including work by Andrew Motion, Benjamin Zephaniah and Seamus Heaney as well as Mandela's own daughter, Zindzi), were written between 1963, when Mandela was imprisoned and 2005 when he celebrated his 87th birthday.

Since then, another 10 books have been published in translation from Angola, South Africa, Costa Rica, Brazil, Iran, Egypt, Guatemala and Mexico.

In the coming year they have titles lined up from Mauritius and Mozambique, as well as two novels in Afrikaans.

Publishing books in translation is considered to be a niche market and Richard and Gavin would love to have a big break. They were thrilled though to publish earlier this year, Taxi, which proved to be a bestseller.

It was while attending the Cairo Book Fair that Richard met Egyptian journalist and writer Khaled Al Khamissi, who offered his book, Taxi for Richard to read.

"This was the one big thing that came out of that trip. I read a few chapters and I liked it. The book is based on the author's own experience of conversation with Cairo cabbies, weaving together fictional dialogues. Taxi has done really well."

But Richard and Gavin won't be giving up the day job at the Financial Times just yet.

"I would love the book business to be earning enough money to be sustainable, but it is early days. I think we thought that if you publish books, people will buy them, but it is not that simple, it can be expensive getting the translations done."

We are doing it out of love, it is the only way we can do it. We are still only very small fry in the big publishing world."

Aflame may be small, but Richard and Gavin are taking a stand at October's Frankfurt Book Fair, and will be among some of the biggest publishers in the world.

  • Full details of all Aflame Books are available from their website www.aflamebooks.com and all the books can be purchased through online shops of Amazon and Foyles.