The Kindly Ones, written by  Jonathan Littell is generating a lot of hype. For starters it is a gamble for the publishers. Why? Mainly because of the books content. In short, the book is:

“fictionalized memoir of a remorseless former Nazi SS officer, who in addition to taking part in the mass extermination of the Jews, commits incest with his sister, sodomizes himself with a sausage and most likely kills his mother and stepfather.”

Did we also mention that the author has won two awards? The Prix Goncourt, France’s most prestigious literary award, as well as a prize from the Académie Française.

Now that the book has your attention, this might be the route the publishers are going- hoping that the content of the book will generate the hype that will yield strong sales. Already, others are comparing the book to War and Peace. Others are saying that if you have any taste at all, you will not only read this book, but you will find this book to be great. And 700,000 copies have already been sold in France [2006] under the title Les Bienveillantes.

All this helps support why the publisher has so much faith that this book will sell. They better hope so too! The publisher has spent a lot of time pushing the book and making sure that book stores across the nation are stocking up. Such publicity tactics included were  sending out about 4,000 60-page pamphlets to booksellers outlining the book’s track record in Europe and including an interview with Mr. Littell and translations of some of the rave reviews from France; numerous advanced galleys; and speaking to stores on a personal level.

It will be interesting to see how well the book will do. With all the hype surrounding the book so far, it is almost fact that the book will sell. How many copies is the real question and will the publisher be happy with the decision and the effort put into getting this book out to the mass public?  The fact that the book is associated with two presigious awards may do very little for boosting sales:

“That such a novel should win two of France’s top literary prizes is not only an example of the occasional perversity of French taste, but also a measure of how drastically literary attitudes toward the Holocaust have changed in the last few decades.”

There are a number of controversial books out there to be read. This is just one of many. Also if you are looking for a good read, remember that editorial campana has several interesting titles! Anybody who has read this book, please tell us your thoughts.