Publishing News: Issue 34
Abdulrazak Gurnah Awarded the 2021 Nobel Prize for Literature
By Megan Whitlock
Having been praised by the academy for his “uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents,” Abdulrazak Gurnah has been awarded the 2021 Nobel Prize for Literature. Though we have seen 118 literature laureates since 1901, the win only marks the fourth time a Black person has been awarded the prize.
Gurnah, who was born in the Zanzibar Sultanate, moved to the UK in the 1960s as a refugee of the Zanzibar revolution where he established his career as a literature professor at the University of Kent. His books reflect his life experience, frequently focusing on themes of refuge and displacement as well as protagonists who share his East African origins. His previously accoladed novels include Paradise (1994) and By The Sea (2001), both of which were shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize respectively.
Gurnah’s win also sheds light on the ways in which the British publishing industry presents foreignness in literature, especially when formatting other languages in books. Despite using English as his primary prose language, Gurnah incorporates his first language, Swahili, as well as Arabic and German into his writing. He spoke to The New York Times about tensions with publishers who wished to anglicise these sections: “There’s a way in which British publishing, and perhaps American publishing as well, always wants to make the alien seem alien […] They want you to italicize it or even put a glossary. And I think no, no, no, no.”
The Nobel Prize typically provides a large commercial boost to authors, especially to those who already have a large following. For example, Unionsverlag, an international-focused publishing house, commented on the win of Egyptian author Naguib Mahfouz in 1988: “Nobody knew him, or even how to spell his name right. We had sold 300 copies in three years - and then 30,000 in three minutes.” Indeed Gurnah’s glowing critical reception has not always translated into commercial success, with the NPD BookScan reporting less than 2000 copies of his US bestseller, Desertion, sold since its 2005 publication. Ongoing issues with supply chains will put pressure on the speed with which publishers can get Gurnah’s books back into print.
Nevertheless, it is clear to see how Gurnah’s books have a vital place within the geopolitical backdrop of the 21st century. His win marks a well-deserved recognition of his beautiful writing and moving insights.
New Star Wars Titles Announced
By Malachi Martin
Disney Lucasfilm Press and Del Rey invite Star Wars fans to return to a galaxy far, far away in 2022. On 7 October, StarWars.com unveiled four new books taking place within the beloved fictional universe, all set to be released during spring and summer of next year.
While these four new publications do not have any official cover art currently, StarWars.com has revealed the titles of these new books and their respective publishing dates along with synopses of said novels. The first, which will be released on 10 May 2022, has been titled Star Wars: Brotherhood and is to be written by Mike Chen, taking place in between the Star Wars prequel films Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.
Star Wars: Shadow of the Sith and Star Wars: Stories of Jedi and Sith are to both be published in 2022, on 28 June and 7 June respectively. Award-winning author, Adam Christopher, is to write Shadows of the Sith set in between the films Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens.
Meanwhile, ten acclaimed authors: Roseanne A. Brown, Sarwat Chadda, Delilah S. Dawson, Tessa Gratton, Michael Kogge, Sam Maggs, Michael Moreci, Alex Segura, Vera Strang and Karen Strong will be collaborating on Stories of Jedi and Sith, with illustrations by Jake Bartok. Stories of Jedi and Sith is an anthology directed toward younger readers.
Lastly, the final book to be published (as of this writing) is titled Star Wars: Padawan, a coming-of-age story centred around one of Star Wars’ most popular characters: Obi-Wan Kenobi. Padawan will be written by award-winning author, Kiersten White and is set to be published on 26 July 2022.
Following the theatrical release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker in 2019, which concluded the Skywalker Saga, Lucasfilm has been set on expanding the Star Wars universe through various forms of media. At least four Star Wars books have been released every year and Lucasfilm shows no signs of slowing down.
Lucasfilm’s High Republic multimedia project was created to explore an unseen side of the Star Wars universe and branch away from the content established in the films, however, it seems the company has not forgotten what made the franchise popular initially and has thus set these new titles within the timeline of the beloved movies. A multitude of fans will be pleased with this.
Synopses for all four titles are available on StarWars.com, where the titles will be available for pre-order.