April 27th, 2010

The unknown story of « The Centenarian Who Climbed Out Through the Window and Vanished » by Jonas Jonasson

This is the full translation in English (by Marc de Gouvenain) of the article published in Swedish in Svensk Bokhandel and the interviews with Jonas Jonasson  and Carina Brandt, all by Lasse Winkler and photos by Ola Kjelbye. The links to the original version here .


News : The Centenarian Who Climbed Out Through the Window and Vanished, a comedy in the style of Arto Paasilinna or Jaroslav Hasek, is one of the most unique success on the Swedish bookmarket.

Nobody saw the potential in The Centenarian… when the book came out last fall, and nobody saw the international possibilities for this book last winter. The first agency who got the chance to get hold of the book didn’t know what they should do with it, so the writer stopped all attempts of the publisher to pick up other Swedish agents.

And this is why, finally, the rights could land by a Swedish agent at a Spanish agency : Pontas.

The Centenarian… has up to now in Sweden sold 58.000 hardcover copies and the first edition in pocket was printed to 50.000 copies, with a new printing of 50.000 planned. Everything happened according to the mouth-to-ear process. The hottest dream of all publishers.

In a few months, Pontas has now sold the book to 14 countries and 15 languages. And this in a spectacular way with offers raging between seven to ten publishers  on all the big markets in Europe.

This means not only unusual high advances, in this case sometimes between three and four millions Sv.kr. (a profit approximately expected in Sweden after the sales of all hardcover+pocket), but also a contractual clause mentioning powerful promotion campaigns. With sometimes the promise that the book will be priorited or number one on the marketing list. And  that with often the big leading publishers on the different markets ; Bertelsmann/Random House in Germany, Bompiani in Italy, Presses de la Cité in France, Salamandra in Spain or Signatuur in the Netherlands.

Most of the Swedish publisher or agencies dream since long ago of the big international breakthrough of a non-crime Swedish writer. That hardly happened during the XXth century, apart from Marianne Fredriksson. And this is now the case with The Centenarian

The way publishers fought on that book, the number of publishers in the auctions and the level of these show that the book reached a high international position. They were many willing to publish the novel, although it is written by a beginner and not a crime novel but a comedy from Sweden. If it is trendy or/and if it establishes Jonas Jonasson internationaly, the next years will show it. But if the book is successful, it will only strengthen the appetite for Swedish writers



News: Jonas Jonasson is now harvesting his international success with his first novel The Centenarian Who Climbed Out Through the Win