Saturday, August 29, 2009

Publishers find deceased authors draw many readers
By , The Washigtn Times, Friday, August 28, 2009

One can only imagine the excitement an author must feel on seeing his book on the New York Times best-seller list — let alone at the top. Stieg Larsson's latest crime novel, "The Girl Who Played With Fire," didn't just inch its way up. It debuted at No. 1 this month.
Mr. Larsson didn't get to pop open a bottle of bubbly to celebrate, though — the Swedish author died in 2004 at age 50, not long after submitting a trilogy of novels. The first, "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," is on the Times' paperback list; the third, "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest," will be published in America next year.
The runaway success of these novels about an anti-social hacker (the girl of the title) and a crusading journalist (not unlike Mr. Larsson himself) might seem unlikely in the age of celebrity culture.
"Turn the clock back 40 years ago; you're sitting in the office, and someone presents a trilogy by a dead Swedish author and asks, 'What are the prospects?' I'm not sure a lot of people would have said we'll go straight to number one with this," says Paul Bogaards, senior vice president and executive director of publicity for Alfred A. Knopf Inc., Mr. Larsson's American publisher.
But the Swede isn't the only recent posthumous success.
Irene Nemirovsky also became a best-selling author — more than 60 years after her 1942 death at age 39 in Auschwitz. Her "Suite Francaise," two novellas about life in Nazi-occupied Paris, was published here in 2006 after her daughter discovered the manuscripts. Another previously unpublished novel, "Fire in the Blood," followed.
Chilean novelist and poet Roberto Bolano was highly acclaimed in Latin America, but his work wasn't published in English until 2003, the year he died. "The Savage Detectives" finally got him noticed here when it was published in English in 2007, and his final novel, the enigmatic 900-page "2666," earned the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction last year.

The full story here.

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