Daniel Keel, founder of Switzerland’s biggest independent publishing house, Diogenes, has died in Zurich at the age of 80.
Keel established the business in 1952, with the help of a schoolfriend to look after the accounting side, and the two men managed it ever since.
Diogenes has developed into the biggest purely fiction publisher in Europe. In 59 years it has published over 5,800 titles, selling nearly 190 million copies.
Keel was inspired to launch Diogenes when he happened to obtain a copy of a book by the British cartoonist Ronald Searle and thought it deserved a German-speaking audience.
The Diogenes list contains not only works written in German, but translations from numerous languages, and ranges from classics, like Shakespeare, Goethe and Tolstoy, to crime novels and children’s books.
Diogenes has published many English-language authors, including modern classics like F. Scott Fitzgerald, George Orwell and Oscar Wilde and thriller writers such as Eric Ambler, Raymond Chandler, Dick Francis, Patricia Highsmith and Donna Leon.
Keel became the publisher of Friedrich Dürrenmatt, one of Switzerland’s most important 20th century writers, and he also discovered Patrick Süskind, whose novel Perfume went on to become an international bestseller, and was made into a film.
He described his policy as publishing only books that he himself enjoyed reading.
Keel was the uncle of Swiss Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga.