11 January 2009

The Rain Before It Falls by Jonathan Coe

The Rain Before It Falls, the latest novel by Jonathan Coe, will FINALLY be coming out in paperback in North America in a few weeks. It really does suck being under the thumb of the Americans to such an extent that we have to wait several months before being able to read the latest offering by one of our best contemporary novelists.

The hardback came out on 6 September 2007 in Britain, but not until 11 March 2008 in Canada, and the paperback on 5 June 2008 in the UK
but not before 10 March 2009 over here. I'm sure they don't have to put up with this stuff in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, etc., and I'm sick of having to deal with it in Canada. It happens all the time: some American publisher (in this case Random House) buys the US rights to a book, and tacks on the Canadian rights as an afterthought. Then we have to wait until the publisher gets around to publishing it in the United States, very often with an impossibly ugly cover design, while the rightful publisher (in this case Penguin) is forbidden from selling the proper British edition in Canada. I've said it before, and I'll surely say it again: Canadians are the forgotten children of the Commonwealth.

At least in this instance, the American cover design is not a complete disaster and, as an added bonus, Random House USA
have even been nice enough to not change the title of the book. That's right; sometimes the American publisher will even change the title of a book to something Americans can understand, and we Canadians have to suffer the consequences. A prime example of this is what Random House USA did (and continue to do) with Coe's first major success, What a Carve Up!

Over the years, Penguin UK have come up with a number of classy paperback cover designs for this one:

But rather than come up with something halfway decent, the Americans decided to put forth this atrocity:

Of course, coming up with an awful cover wasn't enough; they also had to change the title to something comprehensible to Americans. To this day, unless you want to import a proper British edition, at great personal expense, this is the only edition that you are ALLOWED to buy in Canada.

All of this being said, Jonathan Coe really is one of my favourite English writers, and I am very much looking forward to reading his latest. As it happens, it has just come out in France, so there's plenty of media coverage to go through while we wait for the North American paperback, including:
  • Interview with Jonathan Coe in Télérama
  • A ten-minute extract [Real Player] from The Rain Before It Falls, read by Yasmine Modestine (broadcast on France Culture on 8 January 2009)
  • Review in L'Express
  • Review in Le Temps (Geneva)
  • Review in La Libre (Brussels)
  • Review in Le Point
  • Review in Le Monde
  • etc.


Blithe Spirit said...

I love Jonathan Coe! The Rain Before it Falls is quite different from his previous work - less satirical, and more of a deep-felt narrative, part love story and really about the complicated relationships between women. It was a very beautiful read.

Thomas said...

I'm glad to hear it. I can't deal with hardbacks in my bookcases or in my little Mountain Equipment Co-op backpack, so I've been waiting for the trade paperback on this one.

More generally, let me just say it's a pleasure to meet you, as it would seem that we share a common passion for Jonathan Coe, bookselling and the joys of walking. That's fully three more points communs than I find with most people...