Abdulrazak Gurnah only had a relatively small fanbase before he was awarded the Nobel Prize. The New York Times examines the international scramble for his novel Afterlives and the logistical hurdles that made it, along with his previous titles, impossible to find.
American bookstores in particular are struggling to meet the surge in interest. “We have relatively little stock and it’s all shot out the door, and we’re waiting as everybody is for the printing presses,” James Daunt, chief executive of Barnes & Noble, said nearly two weeks after the Nobel was announced. The same goes for independent bookstores. Mark LaFramboise, a book buyer at Politics and Prose in D.C., says it’s normal to have a delay in supply from a new Nobel laureate, but this year has been unusually difficult. “In a typical year, it would take about two weeks,” he says. “This year, I hesitate to even guess.”