Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Early Buzz on Colson Whitehead's Newest Novel

I'm in the thinking phases of some short entries here about buzz or publicity concerning books by black writers. I was thinking about the pre-publication buzz associated with novels by Colson Whitehead and the lack of buzz with some poets I follow.

I have to do more thinking before I can write out what I'm trying to say. In the mean time, here's something on the subject that just caught my attention.

Earlier today, maybe around noon or so, Whitehead announced the October release of his newest novel on his twitter page: "Ok: My new book is called Zone One & it comes out 10/18. It concerns the rehabilitation of NYC after the apocalypse."

Several folks started retweeting the news and within the hour, the GalleyCat blog ("The First Word on the Book Publishing Industry") posted a short entry "Colson Whitehead Unveils New Novel on Twitter" by Jason Boog:
Doubleday will publish Colson Whitehead‘s new novel on October 18th. Entitled Zone One, the book looks at a post-apocalyptic New York City.

The author of Sag Harbor and The Intuitionist tweeted the news today: “Ok: My new book is called Zone One & it comes out 10/18. It concerns the rehabilitation of NYC after the apocalypse.” The news has already earned a number of responses and retweets.

Amazon already has a pre-order page for the book (pictured, click to enlarge). Currently, the hardcover price is set for $25.95 and the Kindle edition price is set for $14.27.

A few hours after his initial tweet, Whitehead sent another message: "Thanks for the well wishes! If the book were a mash-up, it'd be Leonard Cohen's 'The Future' + Wire's 'Reuters' + Joy Division's 'Decades.'"

I'll try to keep an eye on how the publicity for the novel develops over the next several months.

UPDATE (Feb. 2): Today, in an entry on their site, bookforum mentioned the upcoming Whitehead book and closed with the following: "Whitehead is the author of, among other things, a nonfiction book about the city (Colossus of New York), a satire about branding (Apex Hides the Hurt), and the most hilarious Twitter feed we know of. Is it too much to hope that this postapocalyptic novel is a comedy?"

That question might suggest a developing phenomenon concerning how an author's twitter persona might effect audiences' expectations of that writer's literary work. Whitehead may have anticipated that affect on expectations when he joked a while back about someone's preference for "Twitter Colson" over "Writer-Guy Colson."

The March 2011 issue of Vogue magazine includes a photo spread featuring "a bohemian cast of artists and models." The artists include Savion Glover, Antonio Douthit, John Legend, Anthony Mackie, and Colson Whithead. The caption for the novelist is titled "Colson Whitead Man of His Word" and reads "The latest novel from the author--Zone One, due out this fall--is set in a post-apocalyptic New York. 'It's a lot like now. Long lines, can't get a cab. Wait, I have to write that down--I have ten pages left!' (560).   

What Will Black Writing Be?

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