Third Time’s a Charm: Hosseini’s New Blockbuster
Khaled Hosseini saw phenomenal success with his 2003 debut, The Kite Runner. When his second novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns, was published in 2007, the question was, could he do it again? In an interview with PW, his response to the speculation was gracious and humble (qualities that Hosseini, who was a practicing physician when he started writing, still maintains): “And there’s that voice inside that says, ‘Now they are going to find you out,’ and there are these crises of self-doubt, and you start to feel that you’ve said all there is to say.” Turns out, the Afghan-born author had nothing to worry about. The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns have together sold over 10 million copies in the U.S. and over 38 million worldwide, been translated into 57 languages, and published in 70 countries, according to Riverhead publicist Katie Freeman.
And now Hosseini’s got another success with his third novel from Riverhead, And the Mountains Echoed, holding fast to the #2 spot on the Hardcover Fiction list for the second week with more than 150,000 copies sold since the book’s May 21 publication. Hosseini delivers heart-wrenching narratives based on ordinary people in his native Afghanistan—the boys in Kite Runner, the women in Splendid Suns, a poor laborer in Mountains—but his novels treat universal themes. His fans are devoted and present at his readings. With over 40 events scheduled, the crowds, says Riverhead publicity director Jynne Martin (who’s just returned from touring with Hosseini on the West Coast), have been enormous: more than 1,000 in Cincinnati, Ohio, and 900 in Portland, Ore. “It’s hard to think of another writer who’s read across all age groups,” Martin says, adding, “Entire high school classes showed up to meet him.” —Louisa Ermelino
Reacher Creatures: A Rhyming Fan Base
Proving it’s hard to keep Jack Reacher down, A Wanted Man—Lee Child’s 17th thriller starring the strong-but-silent ex-military policeman—grabs the top spot on this week’s Mass Market Bestseller list. In typical fashion, Reacher is hitchhiking through Nebraska, looking even more disreputable than usual with a freshly broken nose, when he’s picked up by a car carrying two men and a woman. Evidence emerges tying the men to a murder at an abandoned pump station, but the woman’s role is less clear.
Nielsen BookScan reports sales of 51,453 in the book’s first week, an impressive figure considering the series’ 16-year run. (Reacher’s first entry, Killing Floor, appeared in 1997; the series has now sold more than 70 million copies worldwide, according to the author’s Web site.) Not bad for a drifter with little more to his name than a foldable toothbrush, an expired passport, and some cash. And not bad for a novelist who only turned to writing at age 40, after losing his directing job in British television. The 2012 film adaptation Jack Reacher didn’t break any box-office records, drawing mixed fan reactions to the casting of Tom Cruise as the hero, but A Wanted Man’s strong showing portends plenty of lucrative mayhem when the 18th Reacher novel, Never Go Back, arrives in September. —Everett Jones
40 Years for Cussler: More from the NUMA files
Clive Cussler and Graham Brown’s Zero Hour, the 11th NUMA Files adventure, debuts at #3 on the Hardcover Fiction list. Kurt Austin, best pal Joe Zavala, and the rest of the NUMA team contend with Maxmillian Thero, a hideously disfigured mad scientist, who has invented a machine that, in theory, draws on “background fields” to produce “zero-point energy,” which could solve the planet’s energy needs, though it also has the potential to unleash earthquakes and affect the movement of the continental plates. So what direction will Thero’s madness take? He’s out to destroy the world, of course—or at least parts of it.
Cussler will be traveling with his wife to New York City early in July to celebrate his 40th anniversary as America’s dean of adventure fiction. The festivities will include an event at the Explorers Club, of which he is a longtime member. Cussler’s storied career began with the 1973 publication of his first Dirk Pitt novel, The Mediterranean Caper, which was issued as a paperback original. Putnam will publish a new edition of that book—in hardcover format for the first time—on July 16, with a new preface by the author.
Landing at #11 on this week’s Hardcover Fiction list is The Son, the second novel by Philipp Meyer. PW lauded the book for speaking “volumes about humanity—our insatiable greed, our inherent frailty, the endless cycle of conquer or be conquered... the stuff of Great American Literature” (starred review, Mar. 18). The Wall Street Journal featured an in-depth article on the extensive research Meyer undertook in writing this multigenerational epic: he read more than 350 books and tried to replicate for himself the experience of frontier life in the 19th century. His story follows the oil-rich McCullough family for over a century, during their rise to wealth in West Texas—brutal Comanche territory at the time. Meyer learned to tan hide, hunt boar, and stomach buffalo blood during his obsessive quest to get the details straight. The author, who lives in Texas himself, has all the ambition and brazenness of his characters. Speaking about Cormac McCarthy during a recent interview/hunting expedition with Texas Monthly, Meyer says, “He was wrong about a bunch of shit. I mean I f—ing worship that guy, but writing this book made me respect him a little less. You have to smack down your forebears, you know what I mean? You have to be like, ‘No, I’m the authority.’ ” —Seth Satterlee
There She Blows (Again)!
Last week, the DSM-5, which Slate’s Benjamin Nugent likened to Melville’s white whale, surfaced at #6 on our Trade Paperback list. And this week—like Moby Dick, which superstitious sailors regarded as being “ubiquitous” throughout the watery world and which was seen spouting “in opposite latitudes at one and the same instant of time”—the diagnostic manual for psychiatric disorders seems to be everywhere at once. The trade paperback edition has risen to claim the top slot in its list, and the Desk Reference to the DSM-5 (also trade paper) falls in at #10. Meanwhile the hardcover version ($199) of the bible of American psychiatry can be seen making a few ripples at the bottom of its respective list, at #25.
In trade paper, the book has sold over 40,000 copies since its release two weeks ago, which is a little odd considering there are only some 36,000 psychiatrists registered with the American Psychiatric Association, the discipline’s professional organization and the publisher of the DSM. So what’s up with the other 4,000 folks willing to shell out $149 for the long-awaited manual? One can easily imagine some thrifty, enterprising parent tallying up the projected annual costs of her troubled teen’s therapy sessions and just saying, “Screw it. I’ll diagnose the kid myself.”—Samuel R. Slaton