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Life Ceremony is Sayaka Murata’s first story collection to be translated into English and her most recently published fiction in Japanese. In Japan she is particularly known for her unique style and talent with the short story, and this volume will offer fresh delights and horrors to her rabid and ever-growing fanbase.
We have approached the New Yorker for potential serial for one of the stories. Murata’s stories have previously appeared in Freeman’s and Granta.
This is the first time Murata is being published in Black Cat, and we will make an appealing and striking package that will sit nicely alongside the paperbacks of Convenience Store Woman and Earthlings. We have high hopes for a really strong sell-in and sell-through in a paperback original format.
Convenience Store Woman was the sleeper hit of summer 2018. Murata was profiled in the New York Times, the book hit the Los Angeles Times bestseller list, and the novel was named a Best Book of the Year by outlets including the New Yorker (a top 10 pick), the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and Buzzfeed. It was selected as an Indies Introduce title and was a major word-of-mouth success. It was shortlisted for the Best Translated Book Award and longlisted for the Believer Book Award.
Murata’s follow-up, Earthlings, was named a New York Times Notable Book of 2020 and reviewed in the New York Times Book Review by Lydia Millet. It was selected by TIME and Literary Hub as a best book of the year. We expect strong continuing backlist sales for Earthlings in paperback.
Convenience Store Woman has become a fixture of the Grove backlist, with sales increasing year on year. We have sold 12,500 copies in paperback in 2021 compared to 9,500 in 2020, and the paperback edition is now in its seventh printing, with around 125,000 copies sold in all North American editions. It has also increasingly been selected for course adoption in classes.
Sayaka Murata has fans from Dwight Garner to Sally Rooney to Viet Thanh Nguyen to Elif Batuman to Ruth Ozeki. Life Ceremony will speak to her existing fans as well as appeal to those readers of dark, weird fiction by writers like Karen Russell, Ottessa Moshfegh, and Kelly Link.
We will be publishing simultaneously with Granta in the UK, where both Convenience Store Woman and Earthlings have been major successes.
There continues to be significant TV/film interest around Convenience Store Woman, with a Japanese film underway and many offers for English-language adaptations.
Murata is often asked to contribute to features by outlets including the New York Times and Guardian—we will look for opportunities around the publication of Life Ceremony and expect significant review attention.