Tag Archives: The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair
Last week we were proud to play host to Joël Dicker, author of The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair, on the latest stage of his international promotional campaign.
The first stop on the tour was in Ireland. Joël appeared on TV3′s Ireland AM, where he was described as “the One Direction of the literary world.”
It was then on to various bookshops and media commitments, including with the wonderful folk of Dubray Books on Grafton Street, who put together this brilliant window display.
On Wednesday it was back to England, with the day’s responsibilities including an interview at the BBC for Front Row, and also signing this enormous pile of books for Goldsboro Books, who have made the novel their “Book of the Month”.
All this was before the centrepiece of the tour, the launch at the Swiss Embassy in London, who put on a brilliant event with some truly incredible canapés. Joël discussed the book with the Gaby Wood, Literary Editor for the Daily Telegraph.
Joël then stayed around, nobly delaying his access to the food until he’d signed copies for those in attendance, including Swiss Cultural Attaché Denis Charrière.
The next morning – publication day – was more relaxed, with Joël able to take his parents around London, after they came over for the launch. It was impossible to avoid the novel for too long though, as the Dickers came across Heywood Hill bookshop in Mayfair.
That afternoon was set aside for a trip west to Bath, but first there was time to stop in to the Quercus/MacLehose offices, where Joel’s offer to sign books was met with a veritable queue . . .
And then it was on the train, for a brilliant event at Topping’s Bookshop in Bath, attended by diverse guests, including MacLehose Press’ favourite dog!
And finally it was back to London, for one last event at Daunt Books in Marylebone.
Of course, we couldn’t finish without thanking all the other brilliant bookshops who have supported us, including our friends at Blackwell’s Oxford . . .
Foyles Charing Cross . . .
And Waterstones Lincoln . . .
Thanks hugely to everyone who helped out on the tour, not least Hannah Robinson, our amazing publicist!
With a week to go until publication, our Associate Publisher Katharina Bielenberg describes the extraordinary history of THE TRUTH ABOUT THE HARRY QUEBERT AFFAIR.
[This article was originally published in New Books Magazine; visit them online at http://www.newbooksmag.com]
While we are conscious that a work of brilliance and originality may slip through our fingers, we also ask ourselves whether our readers will be receptive to these or those aspects of another culture. And yet that is precisely what publishers of translations set out to do: to bring difference, to open eyes and minds, and at best to build bridges of understanding. Should not our reading reflect the increasingly diverse environments in which we live? To help us make these decisions at MacLehose Press, we listen to a trusted network of readers when we cannot read the language ourselves, as well as like-minded publishers abroad. This can often take time. The experience of acquiring The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair by Swiss-French writer Joël Dicker was quite different, however.
In September 2012, reports from in-house readers of the French edition, which had just been published and was being serially shortlisted for all the prizes of the season, were exuberant; they spoke of a book to be “devoured”, one that would “turn everything you previously thought on its head”. They marvelled at the skill and complexity, but also at the sheer readability of a book that “takes you, often at breakneck speed, in directions you do not suspect”. Publisher Christopher MacLehose swiftly made an offer, a few weeks before the Frankfurt bookfair at which a veritable stampede of publishers would bid for the rights to translate the book into thirty-five other languages.
There was a great deal that made The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair stand out: it had been written in French, but was set in New Hampshire and read like an American novel, even a “Great American Novel”. Its many strands made it all but unclassifiable: the mystery of the disappearance in 1975 of a young girl, Nola Kellergan, whose body is discovered thirty-three years later; the story of a young writer, Marcus Goldman, and his mentor, Harry Quebert; the love story of Nola and Harry, who now becomes the prime suspect; a crime story, as Marcus seeks to clear his friend’s name, and woven through all of this, a comedy about authorship and publishing.
So, a compelling and accessible book that appeals to, well, anybody, and one that was certain to work in English. Sam Taylor, the book’s translator, said of his part, “As I read the novel in French, it seemed to unfurl magically in English inside my head. Everything about it ‒ not only the setting, but the sentence structures, the narrative voice ‒ seemed more American-English than French to me. In terms of translation it was a very simple and natural process. I didn’t really have to think about it at all: the voice just seemed to be there.”
Colleagues and booksellers who read early proofs became immediately gripped by the story, and felt that Dicker’s book would be recommended, handed on and talked about for years and decades to come. Film production companies in Hollywood and elsewhere began to make their bids, the outcome of which is still not decided. As Harry Quebert says to his protégé, “A good book, Marcus, is a book you are sorry to have finished.” In the case of The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair I couldn’t agree more – I envy those of you who have the pleasure before you.
Katharina Bielenberg is Associate Publisher at MacLehose Press, an imprint of Quercus Publishing
August 30, 1975. The day of the disappearance. The day Somerset, New Hampshire, lost its innocence.
That summer, struggling author Harry Quebert fell in love with fifteen-year-old Nola Kellergan. Thirty-three years later, her body is dug up from his yard, along with a manuscript copy of the novel that made him a household name. Quebert is the only suspect.
Marcus Goldman – Quebert’s most gifted protégé – throws off his writer’s block to clear his mentor’s name. Solving the case and penning a new bestseller soon merge into one. As his book begins to take on a life of its own, the nation is gripped by the mystery of ‘The Girl Who Touched the Heart of America’.
But with Nola, in death as in life, nothing is ever as it seems.
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News just in: The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair has surged to the top of the Dutch charts this week, taking the number one slot four weeks after publication. Coming just a few days after the Daily Telegraph in the UK proclaimed it as “maybe the cleverest, creepiest book you’ll read this year”, the news means The Netherlands now joins France, Italy, Spain and Germany as territories where Joël Dicker’s magnificent novel has been a bestseller, ahead of publication in the UK in May.
And the Dutch media have not been shy in showing their support for the novel, which proved Europe’s publishing sensation of 2013, selling more than 2 million copies. Some particularly glowing quotes are below!
“Packed full of action, psychological drama and advice for young writers . . . A book full of suspense . . . The author brings to life every inch of the Hopper-esque town, from the diner where Quebert has his table to the Sheriff’s office, from the neighbors to the shopkeepers. Everyone has their sins, their obsessions, and secrets they’d rather take to their graves” –NRC Handelsblad
“A story that evokes the journalistic method of Truman Capote, a Donna Tartt murder mystery and the romantic scandal of Nabakov’s Lolita” –NRC NEXT
“Joël Dicker, winner of the Prix Tulipe, overwhelms his readers. Wonderful dialogue, colourful characters, breathtaking twists and a plot that allows no pause for breath . . . all is perfectly weaved together to create an irresistible story in which absolutely nothing is as it seems –Trouw
“Captivating and enchanting, The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair is a true literary adventure” –Algemeen Dagblad
“Dicker writes a story full of such intelligence and subtlety that you can only regret the fact it comes to an end. A novel that works on so many levels: a crime story, a love story, a comedy of manners, but equally an incisive critique of the art of the modern author.” –Elsevier
“Dicker is one of that rare breed of authors, who knows how to captivate the reader and not release them until the very last page. A page turner that’s a little French, but above American” –De Standaard
PRE-ORDER: Waterstones | Amazon | Hive
We are very excited to unveil the cover for The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair.
Joel Dicker is Europe’s publishing sensation of the last year having sold more than 2 million copies of the book. Translated by Sam Taylor (HHhH) it will be published 1st May.
“A global phenomenon” –Le Monde
“All the ingredients of a world bestseller” –Die Zeit
“Has all the elements of the Great American Novel, both in terms of tone and atmosphere” –La Croix
“This book is written with a loving and critical eye, reminiscent of Philip Roth, Jonathan Franzen and Woody Allen” –Le Point
Who killed Nola Kellergan?
Marcus Goldman, the toast of the New York literary scene, is at his wit’s end after being struck by writer’s block. Desperate not to lose his new found fame and in search of inspiration he decides to spend a few weeks in New Hampshire at the home of Harry Quebert, world famous author and his mentor from university.
During his stay, Marcus discovers that in 1975, aged 34, Harry had an affair with 15 year old Nola Kellergan. The summer of their affair, Nola disappeared after she was seen running through the woods, covered in blood. No one has seen Nola since and no one knows what happened.
Then the unthinkable happens, 33 years after her disappearance, the body of Nola Kellergan is found in Harry’s garden. Determined to prove Harry’s innocence, Marcus gets embroiled in the murder case of the century, while everywhere in America people are asking: Who Killed Nola Kellergan?
Not just a book about an unsolved murder case, The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair explores the price of fame and the seduction of success, the ferocity of the publishing industry and the power of the media, love in all its forms and what it means to be a truly great writer.
The Truth about Joel Dicker
Like Marcus Goldman in The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair, Joël Dicker has also found success and fame as a writer. Unlike Marcus, Joël had four novels rejected before he was able to find his first publisher.
28-year-old Dicker from Geneva has spent the last year on a whirlwind world tour of the world as his novel has found global success everywhere from Israel to South Korea. Joël’s writing career started aged 9 when he founded a nature magazine for which he was named “Switzerland’s youngest editor-in-chief.” At 25 he was awarded the Prix des Ecrivains Genevois for his unpublished novel Les Derniers Jours de Nos Pères (The Final Days of our Fathers) and while waiting for this novel to be published he wrote his first American novel, The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair.
That Dicker chose to set the novel in America is hardly surprising – it’s a place he knows well. As a child he spent every summer with cousins in Maine, New England. The idea for the book came on a trip to Aurora, New Hampshire when he saw a solitary house on the ocean front caught his eye. He drew a sketch of the house to remember it. Months later, he found the sketch in a drawer and the idea for the book grew from there.
PRE-ORDER: MacLehose | Waterstones | Amazon | Hive
Picking up where we left off last week, check out part two of our 2014 Preview: the conclusion of Jakob Ejersbo’s gripping Africa Trilogy, a new thriller from Asa Larsson, and what might just be the novel of the year . . .
As you may have heard, THE TRUTH ABOUT THE HARRY QUEBERT AFFAIR (May) by Joël Dicker has become Penguin Books’ most expensive acquisition ever in the USA, so you’ll be unsurprised to hear we’re moderately excited about it. It’s electric – a huge and brilliant novel, that’s at heart a murder mystery, but ultimately achieves so much more than that. We can’t put it down (a shortage of early English copies has driven our part-time bilinguals to the French edition), and we know you’ll love it.
Åsa Larsson is a perennially brilliant writer, but her enormous success across the world hasn’t quite been replicated in the UK yet – THE SECOND DEADLY SIN (January) might be the book that does it. Her brilliant warm-hearted investigators are back – Rebecka Martinsson is forced to go rogue after being forced off a case due to internal politics – and there are two villains who manage, in very different ways, to be so loathsome you’ll want to swear at them in Swedish. And separately there’s a murderer.
Set in the years following the Spanish Civil War, THE CALLIGRAPHY OF DREAMS (June) is the crowning literary achievement of one of the great Spanish men of letters, a coming-of-age novel that is poetic and knowing in equal measure, a latin counterpart to Atonement or The Go-Between. A young man who lives for the stories and dreams in his head, and whose dreams of an exalted future are crushed by cruel circumstance, finds himself suddenly central to an adult passion far beyond his comprehension. This is a novel to savour, with a devilish little twist for dessert.
LIBERTY (April) is the epic final instalment of Jakob Ejerbo’s monumental Africa Trilogy. Full of sex, corruption, intrigue, murder and angst, it shows us the dark side of 1980s Tanzania, a country riven by intractable post-colonial divides, where good intentions last as long as a glass of ice in the midday sun. Ejerbo’s great talent was for breathing life into charismatic, flawed characters so real it’s as if you’ve met them yourself, and Marcus, the young boy from Serengeti who dreams of making it to Europe someday is surely his finest creation. Wise, impassioned, cynical, honest and smart, his voice is utterly and unforgettable mesmeric.
Following the success of OUTSIDERS this year (which received multiple nominations for the C.W.A. Short Story Dagger), JUDGES (May) is a new collection, featuring stories by some of the great contemporary Italian writers: Camillieri, Lucarelli and De Cataldo. Each story centres around a judge, but each brings an entirely fresh perspective, meaning these tales of corruption and intrigue have something for everyone.