UK sales of The Satanic Verses surge after Rushdie stabbing

Publisher Vintage has ordered a reprint following rush to buy the 1988 novel in the wake of the attack on the author earlier this month

Sales of Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses have soared since the author was attacked in New York earlier this month. The novel has reentered the official UK charts and the publisher has ordered a reprint to meet demand.

Rushdie was stabbed in the neck and torso as he was about to deliver a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution in New York state on 12 August. The novelist is currently recovering in hospital, and his suspected attacker, Hadi Matar, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree attempted murder and assault charges.

In the first full week of sales since the attack, from 14 to 20 August, the 1998 paperback edition of The Satanic Verses sold 2,179 copies, according to Nielsen BookScan, which tracks physical book sales in more than 7,000 book retail outlets in the UK.

The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie.

The novel was the 120th bestselling book overall, up from 1,157th the previous week and 24,491st in the chart the week before the attack. The No 1 bestseller this week was the late journalist and podcaster Deborah James’s memoir How to Live When You Could Be Dead.

In total, Rushdie’s books sold 3,744 copies in the week ending 20 August, up 236%, or 2,629 copies, on the previous week.

Readers trying to order the paperback of The Satanic Verses from the websites of retailers Waterstones and Foyles face a two-week wait.

Rushdie’s publisher Vintage, an imprint of Penguin Random House, said it was reprinting as a result of higher demand, and the book would be back in stock with retailers soon.

The ebook of The Satanic Verses also entered the Amazon charts for the first time in the week after Rushdie was attacked, going straight in at No 12 for the week of 14 August. The chart records the number of copies sold and pre-ordered through Amazon and Audible in the UK, and through digital subscription programmes.

A number of Amazon reviewers indicated they had purchased the novel in support of Rushdie after the attack.

Rushdie’s next book will be Victory City, due to be released in February 2023. Vintage said there were currently no plans to review or change the publication date.

Victory City is described by the publisher as the “epic tale of a woman who breathes a fantastical empire into existence, only to be consumed by it over the centuries”. It follows Pampa Kampana, a nine-year-old girl in 14th-century south India who witnesses the death of her mother and becomes a vessel for the goddess Parvati.

The goddess tells Pampa Kampana that she will be instrumental in the rise of a great city called Bisnaga – literally “victory city” – and over the next 250 years the girl’s life becomes deeply interwoven with that of the city.

The book is “styled as a translation of an ancient epic” and is a “saga of love, adventure, and myth that is in itself a testament to the power of storytelling”.


Sarah Shaffi

The GuardianTramp

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