He won the Nobel Prize. Why are his books so hard to find?

Mark LaFramboise, a book buyer at Politics and Prose in Washington, DC, said the store often struggles to find a new Nobel Laureate, but this year has been exceptionally difficult. “In a typical year, it would take about two weeks. This year, I’m even hesitant to guess, ”he said.

In Britain, Bloomsbury has ordered “tens of thousands” of reprints, which are shipped worldwide, Pringle said. “Our printers are doing very well, they are doing everything they can. “

In the United States, restocking has been more difficult. The bulk of Gurnah’s catalog is published by Bloomsbury USA, which owns six of his books. Bloomsbury expects to have copies of “Gravel Heart” and “The Last Gift” in stock by mid-November. Bloomsbury said it has seen a significant increase in e-book sales, but declined to share print or sales figures.

The New Press, an independent US publisher, which published three of Gurnah’s books in the 1990s and 2000s, had 126 copies of his novel “Paradise” in the warehouse before the Nobel Prize was announced, and it turned up. quickly sold. He has received orders for over 19,000 copies of “Paradise” – which had only sold 5,763 copies since its release in 1994.

Luckily, the New Press had entered the novel into a print-to-order program through book distributor Ingram, which allows publishers to quickly respond to customer orders and ship them from Ingram’s warehouse. The publisher will also soon publish a digital edition of “Paradise”.

Ellen Adler, editor of the New Press, said she was relieved and thrilled that the company could meet the rush of orders, and noted that she was struck by a comment from Gurnah after learning that he had won the award, when he confessed that he hoped to win a wider audience.

“Sir. Gurnah is right that he could do with more readers,” she said.

Similar laments have been made by fans of the literary community. In Brittle Paper magazine, which published comments from 103 African writers on the importance of Gurnah’s work, several writers said they hoped the award would raise his global profile. “Our well-kept secret is revealed! »Writes Leïla Aboulela.

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