Like Advil, Canadian literary fame comes in a variety of strengths. There are the institutions, authors whose celebrity has taken on a life outside the printed word — think Margaret Atwood, whose crown of grey curls and Mona Lisa smile are familiar even to people who’ve never read the skewed sci-fi of Oryx and Crake. Then there are the stalwarts, the Rohinton Mistrys and M.G. Vassanjis — as well read as they are reviewed, their personal fame hasn’t yet eclipsed that of their books. Finally, there’s the writer’s writer, who is well regarded within the book world, but relatively unknown outside.
Until recently, Steven Galloway was a prime example of the latter. While his first two books, Finnie Walsh and Ascension, got good reviews, he remained a well-kept secret to all but the most intrepid literary explorers. But Galloway’s just-released third novel, The Cellist of Sarajevo, already has critics’ keyboards fluttering with synonyms for “moving” and “humane.” International suitors haven’t been far behind; Galloway has sold foreign rights in 18 countries for an advance of almost $1 million.
$1M smackers? Steven, feel free to send in your tithe any time you like. You could be the Tom Cruise in the church of Bookninja, my friend.