Miloš Crnjanski: Roman o Londonu (Novel of London)

Last year I read and reviewed Miloš Crnjanski‘s Roman o Londonu (Novel of London). This book is a classic of Serbian literature, a literature virtually unknown in the English-speaking world.

I read the book in French as it was not available in English at that time. However, it has since been published in English by New Orleans-based publsher Lavender Ink / Diálogos, a publisher which, I must admit, I had not heard of till this book, in a translation by the very excellent Will Firth.

Sadly, publishing it early this year meant its London launch got swamped by the Covid-19 news and lockdown and since then, it seems to have disappeared without a trace. The matter has not been helped by the Serbian copyright-holder allowing only a 500 print run and not allowing a digital version.

The book is not cheap at $40/£30 though, at the time of writing, it is on sale from the publisher at $29.95. If you are reluctant, let me remind you of the fate of three other great novels published in limited edition and since difficult to obtain.

The first is Oğuz Atay‘s Tutunamayanlar (The Disconnected), a great Turkish novel. It was published in a very limited edition of 200 by the ad hoc publisher Olric Press. They hoped a commercial publisher would pick it up. None has. You can no longer get a copy for love or money.

The second is Arno Schmidt’s Bottom’s Dream. I have a copy but have not yet been brave enough to read it. It is also long since out of print. The UK version of a well-known only bookseller has it for £150 while the US version is charging the interesting amount of $389.47, in other words a lot more than the original price.

Finally I would mention Miquel de Palol’s Troiaccord. This book is in five volumes and only available in the original Catalan. I also have a copy and also have not yet been brave enough to start reading it. However, it is very difficult to obtain and very expensive if you do manage to find a copy.

In other words, my advice is buy this book now or it will go out of print and will be difficult and expensive to obtain in the future and the current price will seem like a real bargain.

While I am discussing this issue, I would urge you that, wherever possible, to buy books published by small publishers directly from the publisher. I mentioned this in May and that blog post contains links to many small publishers who are selling their own books, both print and ebooks, so please buy directly from them. Many of them (probably all of them) run on very tight budgets and the Covid-19 crisis has really hit them so they need every penny/cent/euro/dollar/pound/peso/yen/etc. they can get.

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