Two days til The Mistress of Nothing’s

14 July 2009 in The Mistress of Nothing

The official publication date of ‘The Mistress of Nothing’ is this Thursday.  This time round, my ninth book, I’m much more nervous than ever before.  The market for books seems so much narrower now - it’s actually tough for publishers to get copies of books into the bookshops, let alone get anyone to buy them.  It used to be that returns were a big problem for publishers (when books come back unsold from shops and distributors); now the very idea of returns seems like a luxury, when the books don’t get into the shops in the first place.

I’ve got a ton of work to do but instead I am incapacitated by dread and fear and loathing and anxiety.  Not about the book; oddly enough I feel fairly confident about the book itself - it is what it is, I worked very hard on it for a very long time, and people who have managed to get their hands on a copy are responding well.  Today I had a phone call from Hanan Al Shayhk, the Lebanese writer (who has lived in Egypt also); she rang to say she loved the book and that she thought I had captured the texture of life for the Egyptian family in Cairo very well. Coming from her, this is a great great thing for me.  So people are liking it.  We sold the German rights, the Canadian edition is going to press on Friday… bit by bit, things are happening.  Writers are always comparing themselves with each other - for instance, my friend Geoff Dyer is certainly Book Man of the Summer, he even has his own little talking head slot on More 4 currently! - but it isn’t about that either. It’s more a kind of nameless, wordless, churning dread that ...

Enough.  I really had better try to do some work.


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