Forty-eight years after it was first published, Stoner (Vintage Classics) by the late US author John Williams has been named the Waterstones Book of the Year 2013.
Stoner—the story of an unassuming literary scholar who hits career and marriage problems—was first published in the US in 1965 but had fallen out of print by the following year.
Almost half a century later, and nearly 20 years after its author's death in 1994, Stoner has won a legion of high-profile fans including Ian McEwan, Bret Easton Ellis, Nick Hornby and Julian Barnes, whose Levels of Life (Jonathan Cape) also made this year’s Waterstones shortlist.
Waterstones said it started noticing Stoner last year after it began making an impression on bestseller charts across Europe, and has been championing and hand-selling the novel ever since. The chain said it had received multiple nominations for the Book of the Year accolade from booksellers across the country.
Waterstones m.d. James Daunt said: “It’s incredible that Stoner nearly disappeared, but supremely gratifying that we have played some small part in bringing it back to British readers’ attentions. The year of publication is of no import—this is the book everyone has been talking about in 2013, the very least we can do is name it our Book of the Year.”
Frances Macmillan, senior editor at Vintage Classics, said: “It has been so wonderful to see Stoner find the wide readership and rapturous reviews it truly deserves. The support from booksellers has been inspirational.”
Stoner's win means that it will receive the backing of Waterstones' branches during December, as well as support online and through the retailer's loyalty card programme. Stoner has already sold 58,510 copies to date via Nielsen BookScan.
Last year’s Book of the Year winner, Polpo: A Venetian Cookbook by Russell Norman (Bloomsbury Publishing), saw an increase in sales of over 1,700% across the Waterstones estate after its victory.
Stoner won from a shortlist which also featured Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (Doubleday); Levels of Life by Julian Barnes and The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil by Stephen Collins (both Jonathan Cape); Maps by Aleksandra Mizielińska and Daniel Mizieliński (Big Picture Press); and Love, Nina: Despatches from Family Life by Nina Stibbe (Viking).
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