pausing to take note of history

So much for the Fourth Reich

Like many of you, I spent last week watching election returns and reading silly hot takes about What It All Means. (My favorite, so far, is Jonathan Chait’s assertion in New York Magazine that “America, by and large, never wanted Trump to be president,” which is an exceedingly odd statement given that 70 million people just voted to reelect him.) Silliness aside, it looks like Trump really is on his way out and the republic isn’t going to fall just yet. So that’s a relief.

In other news:

* Lovecraft Country is on the New York Times bestseller list for the tenth week. Now that the HBO series has finished its first season, I imagine this won’t last much longer, but it’s been a great run.

* The Italian edition of Lovecraft Country, translated by Luca Briasco, was published on October 27, and the Polish edition, translated by Marcin Mortka, was published on November 2. This brings the total number of translations to nine, with eight more—from China, Greece, Hungary, Japan, Romania, Serbia, South Korea, and Turkey—forthcoming.

* Meanwhile in Germany, FISCHER Tor’s German-language edition of 88 Names, translated by Alexandra Jordan, is available now in ebook format and will be published in print on November 25.

* I have two more online events this week: On Wednesday, November 11, at 3 PM Pacific Time, I’ll be a guest on the Vox Vomitus podcast, chatting with host and fellow author Jennifer Anne Gordon. And on Thursday, November 12, I’ll be appearing via Zoom at Magic City Books of Tulsa at 5 PM Pacific/7 PM Central.

And finally, FYI:


It was only a couple of days ago that I gently corrected an interviewer who’d referred to Lovecraft Country as a bestseller. Although sales of the novel had increased significantly since the premiere of the HBO series, so far as I knew it had only achieved bestseller status in some very specific Amazon subgenre categories.

But yesterday afternoon, the New York Times, continuing its tradition of giving me early birthday presents, made it official: On September 6, Lovecraft Country will debut at #5 on the trade paperback fiction bestseller list.

To say that I am thrilled about this would be an understatement. Before I go back to bouncing off the walls with glee, I wanted to say a quick thanks to the many folks who helped bring this book into the world, starting with my cadre of editors at HarperCollins: Tim Duggan, who bought Lovecraft Country but left Harper to work at Random House before I delivered the manuscript; Barry Harbaugh and Maya Ziv, who did the actual editing; and my current editor, Jennifer Brehl, who saw me through publication after Maya went to work at Penguin. I’m grateful as well to Jonathan Burnham, my Friend in High Places; my awesome production editor and fellow language nerd, Lydia Weaver; and my publicists, Rachel Elinsky and Heather Drucker.

My biggest thank you goes to my agent Melanie Jackson, who’s been looking out for me since 1987, when she sold Fool on the Hill to Atlantic Monthly Press just six months after I graduated Cornell University. This is her success too, and I’m very glad we’ve both lasted long enough to enjoy it.



I’m a half century old today. I was going to add a joke about how I was a teenager only yesterday, but it’s not true. When I look at the above photo—that’s me at 15, in my bedroom in Queens with my old IBM Selectric typewriter—it feels like a long time ago. It sounds weird to say I’m 50 but I can’t say I didn’t earn it.

One way you know you’re getting older is you start noticing more and more what a different world the current generation is coming of age in. I feel like I have an advantage over my parents in that I expected this to happen. My dad, born in 1922, was amazed and a little dismayed by how much American society had transformed during his lifetime, and for my mother—born in Brazil, raised in Argentina, emigrated to the U.S. at age 23—life was one long culture shock. I grew up knowing the future would be different in ways I couldn’t predict, so I’ve found the changes more fascinating than anything else. And I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next.

25 years

I let the actual anniversary slip by unnoticed, but 2013 was my twenty-fifth year as a published novelist.

When you’ve always known what you want to do with your life, and you’re fortunate enough to actually be able to do it, there’s a tendency in hindsight to think of the breaks you got as inevitable. It’s not true, of course. I’ve been very, very lucky and I know it.

So as the sun sets on 2013, I want to say thank you to everybody who helped me get this far, most notably my parents, my wife Lisa, my teacher and mentor Alison Lurie, my agent Melanie Jackson, my publishers and editors, and of course my readers.

Thanks, guys. And have a great 2014.

Murderer shot by Union troops

On CNN last night they were making repeated comparisons between Osama bin Laden and Adolf Hitler, but it seems to me the more apt comparison is to John Wilkes Booth: a spoiled rich kid who convinced himself he had a starring role in the divine plan, who changed history through a single violent act, and who contrary to his own expectations will be remembered not as a hero but as a murderer.

It’s too bad the timelines couldn’t have been more similar: Booth lasted all of twelve days after shooting Lincoln, while Bin Laden has been “hiding in a cave” for so long that I’d almost ceased to think of him as a real person. My initial reaction to the news was this weird dissonance, as if the Navy SEALs had killed the boogeyman.

I am very glad they got him, and hope this brings some solace to the families of the victims. I also hope this means the war is over.

The Mirage, now with more synchronicity

I finished and delivered the edited manuscript yesterday. Copyediting is next, but all the heavy lifting is essentially done.

It’s been a very odd experience working on this final draft with the revolutions in North Africa and the Middle East going on in the real world. There’s a sequence near the end of The Mirage that reads like a metaphor for the events of the past month and a half, including a bit with Muammar Gaddafi sitting in Tripoli saying “We are next” in response to [spoiler] engulfing Egypt and eastern Libya. What’s weird is that I wrote that sequence, including the Gaddafi line, before the January uprising in Tunisia. So I’ve been feeling kind of like Albert Brooks watching William Hurt on TV in Broadcast News — I say it here, it comes out there.

I still don’t have an exact publication date, but The Mirage will probably be out in January. Reaction to the manuscript inside HarperCollins has been extraordinarily positive, so they want to make sure they have plenty of lead time to promote it.

Meanwhile, here’s hoping that the violence in Libya is over soon, and ends with Gaddafi out of power. If you haven’t seen it yet, there’s an autotuned version of G’s latest speech making the rounds on YouTube — think of it as the Arabic version of Keyboard Cat playing the dictator off: