Posts Tagged ‘THE POSSESSED’


Sunday, August 14th, 2011

Topographically diverse readers!  I would like to share with you two beautiful pictures of The Possessed in exotic locations.

The first comes from Senem, an anthropology PhD student at Rutgers University, in my former home state of NJ:

The Possessed in New Brunswick

The statue represents “William the Silent, who is said to start whistling when a virgin walks by.”

The second picture was taken by Sunil from the UK, during a visit to Cappadocia:


Many thanks to Senem and Sunil!

A shout-out also to Cynthia Haven of Book Haven for a recent blog post which includes, among other amazing things, a kind of non-verbal sound bite about The Possessed from René Girard!:

René told me he hadn’t read it, but when I explained the plot story about the graduate student, he chuckled sagely.

I’m chuckling sagely right now!

Coming up next time: SPOOKY READER DREAMS.


Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

Germanophilic readers! I’m really happy to share with you the cover designs for the German (Swiss) and Swedish editions of The Possessed.

Die Besessenen comes out this fall with the super-cool Kein & Aber. I love the image of some chick prostrated, clearly by the power of literature, on a green grass-like background:

german cover

I believe this is a visual allusion to the story of my first-ever magazine photo shoot:

I had to lie on my back on a piece of fluorescent green imitation fur, clutching to my bosom a Russian-language volume of Dostoevsky. The photographer stood over me on a ladder, snapping pictures. His assistant… opined that the pictures were coming out “too sultry”. She said I was showing “too much neck”. Overcoming a sense of injustice – if I hadn’t been lying on my back on some kind of pornographic fur carpet, maybe my neck wouldn’t have looked so sultry – I changed into a higher collar. Because the cover of the Dostoevsky was so brown, we switched to a green leatherette Pushkin. “Look like you’re reading,” the photographer suggested. Opening the book at random, I found myself staring at the epilogue to “The Gypsies”: “There is no defence against fate.”

(You can see the resulting photo on this page – scroll down, or just do a text search for “CAN’T SAY NYET.”)

There is no defense against fate, but against sultriness of the neck, that girl is protected by her upraised arm – just another example of the inimitable Swiss touch of class.



Monday, June 13th, 2011

No big surprises from the Turkish parliamentary elections yesterday, but I did want to share my favorite item of pre-election news: a speech in which the leader of the far-right nationalist party mispronounced bisküvi (biscuit) as püskevit. I’ve been trying to think of how to translate püskevit to convey the right effect.  Piscuit?  Bisguit?  Bisguat? In the speech he is saying something like, “Children watch TV commercials, they see smiling children eating chocolate and piscuit, and they think: ‘if only I had chocolate – if only I had piscuit!  Mother, get me chocolate!  Get me piscuit!’”

Within days/ hours, there was a puskevit.com site online (it shows a screenshot of the entry for “biscuit” in the Turkish Language Institute dictionary) and a number of “püskevit remixes” (my favorite here).

The nationalists subsequently announced that “püskevit” was a regional (Adana/ Osmaniye) pronunciation, and that a popular snack food (“Anatolian fast-food”) back in the day was a sandwich made with two biscuits and a piece of Turkish delight (lokum).  It’s not totally clear to me whether the idea is that “püskevit” was the Adana word for the biscuit-lokum sandwich, or, as seems more likely, just the word for biscuits in general; in any case, this sandwich, under the name “püskevit,” rapidly became a standard snack at nationalist rallies. Püskevit pride was also (re)awakened in Adana where, according to a local locum maker, this noble snack was once served at weddings and on Mohammed’s birthday:




Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Frugal readers! Are you looking for a classy graduation gift that won’t break the bank?  Great news!  At the time of writing, The Possessed has become an Amazon bargain book and will set you back scarcely the price of a Venti Mocha Coconut Frappuccino!

In other Amazon news, it was recently been brought to my attention that the Possessed reader rating has dropped to 3-point-something stars. Looking over the stats, I saw that, although 5-star ratings has a large plurality (thank you, friends!), there are also quite a few 1-stars, which can’t all be from Orlando Figes.

I found myself wondering why the Amazon reader reviews were, on average, less positive than the reviews in the press.  My guess is that satisfied readers of a well-reviewed book are less likely than unsatisfied readers to post on Amazon.  One group thinks to itself, “Why should I write a good review when the Times already did,” while the other thinks, “Aha, a venue to express my outrage at the Times for hyping this book.”  I found support for this hypothesis in the fact that many particularly well-reviewed books tended to have relatively low reader ratings.  So… it’s the old dialectic of hype vs. backlash.

I remember when “hype” used to be a pre-publication phenomenon.  Hype was inherently unreliable, because it came out before anyone had actually read the book. Today, pretty much any good review counts as “hype,” which has thus become a codeword for any positive opinion that you don’t share – a way of disguising a difference of opinion as a conspiracy theory.



Thursday, May 5th, 2011

Which would you rather be – endemoniado or poseído? I saw both of these Spanish covers on separate occasions, before I knew which was being used.

ENDEMONIADOS última image

I am so happy and excited to share with you the result…