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Arundhati Roy (THE GOD OF SMALL THINGS) on Covid-19

05.26.2020, Books, by .

A few weeks ago Arundhati Roy was interviewed on 60 Minutes. She said many things, but one part stood out. She discussed a sense of loss during these covid-19 days. That we have no “present” to bridge between what has happened (past) and what will happen (future).

Makes sense. Although I agree, millions do feel as if they are on hold waiting to speak, to listen, or simply to hang up. We are traveling in an airplane but can not land. We just circle the airport over and over. We will land eventually, and some things will be different. What? Who? How? Hard to tell. Many conversations I have had with publishers, “when this is over…” Now is the time to plan. Create various outcomes and be ready. Don’t let this time now go to waste – focus on the future and preparing now (the present) to create the path you want after Covid-19 goes away.

I was introduced to the work of Arundhati Roy with her debut novel, THE GOD OF SMALL THINGS. The book was published in 1997. It was published by Random House imprint of Random House corporate. This was prior to the Bertelsmann purchase and the Penguin merger. This was a first novel and the publisher/editor Ann Godoff was excited about this book and said it was brilliant. Her enthusiasm was contagious and as the sales reps started to read, copies started getting ordered. The novel was on its way to being a bestseller. The title was supported with an intensive marketing budget, including signed &. boxed ARCs. I have one. It’s great to have a physical sales item. A keepsake.

The book received rave reviews from most places including the NY Times, LA Times, and the Guardian. But to top it off, the novel won the Booker. Major success. The book continues to sell tens of thousands of copies each year — and it is closing in on 25 years in print.

She didn’t write another novel until 20 years later.

Covid-19 is having a profound impact on the world. It is changing publishing. Many things will be different after this is over, and publishers will be increasing the use of digital sales materials. That has already started, but the pandemic hastened it. I hope publishers still create these limited runs of potentially historic books. Sometimes a physical book is much better than an ebook.










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