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John van de Ruit

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Watching from afar

This is my first post for my profile page. Hopefully, it will appear in two places at once – if not, back to the technical drawing board!

So to browsers, if you’ve stumbled upon this: thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy the book.

Spud was launched by Razorbill (Penguin USA) in America and Canada on the 4th October 2007. I unfortunately was not anywhere near North America, in fact, I was so far away I was in South Africa! I tried my best to celebrate the moment with an overrated dinner in a swanky restaurant but with every drink I ordered, the toasts to America grew wearier, until eventually fading away into excited talk about the rugby world cup.

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It was akin to celebrating Christmas in the Kalahari to the tune of David Bowie’s Space Oddity. Like New Years Eve, it felt as if I should be having more fun than I was. Let’s call it a disembodied experience and move on…

And so Spud begins at the beginning, just as it did in South Africa two years ago. Like the character himself, the book must be feeling rather intimidated by this strange new world that it finds itself in. There is an expectation here at home that because of its success in SA, it will be a sure-fire winner everywhere else in the world, barring perhaps Tahiti and Chile. Friends are already astonished that the book hasn’t hit the New York Times Bestseller list yet. I’m told that my Oprah invite is just around the corner (because she loves Mandela), and that they all want to be on the guest list for my island-warming party.

After some serious internal debate I came to the conclusion that perhaps I should just stop talking about America and Canada altogether – it could save me short-term strife if the sales results are diabolical. This particularly after my itinerant neighbour shouted, “Hey Jonno! Say howzit to George Bush for me when your book comes out there!” before lobbing a bag of trash out the window and blowing his nose on the curtain.

So here is the dilemma: If Spud was anything less than an American bestseller, it would be deemed a failure back home. In South Africa, it seems the story of its success is more spoken of nowadays than the story itself. But once again the hype and hyperbole has been stripped away and its back to feeling edgy and pacing the floorboards haunted by wild possibilities. The last two years have brought me enough excitement to last an entire lifetime – but I, like Oliver Twist, wouldn’t mind just a little bit more…

Till then I’ll be dreaming the American dream.

Chat soon and remember to spread the love.



Recent comments:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Richard de Nooy</a>
    Richard de Nooy
    November 2nd, 2007 @12:54 #

    Congratulations, John. Those sales figures may be hard to match, but it's good to know that there are so many people out there willing to buy books, and foreign outfits looking to publish South African books.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Thomas</a>
    November 3rd, 2007 @15:38 #

    The American edition cover of Spud looks really cool, its like the actor to play Spud in the movie.

    Plus its in hardcover, not bad at all.

    Good luck with the international takeover of Spud Milton


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