US literary great Ernest Hemingway’s tender and joyful memoir of 1920s Paris, “A Moveable Feast”, has enjoyed a surge in sales since last week’s terror attacks in the French capital.
The author of such acclaimed novels as “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “The Old Man and the Sea” spent time in Paris as a young man honing his writing skills and chronicling the exuberant mood of Paris after World War I.
Copies of “A Moveable Feast” have been flying off bookshop shelves, say sales monitors.
Paperback versions are being deposited, along with flowers and candles, in front of bullet-ridden windows at one of the Paris bars targeted by the jihadist gunmen.
The book can also be found in front of the Bataclan concert hall, the epicentre of last Friday’s slaughter which left 129 people dead and more than 350 injured.
During a minute of silence observed for the victims on Monday, many people could be seen head bowed with “A Moveable Feast” tucked under their arms.
The French version “Paris est une fête” — which literally means “Paris is a Party” – was on Thursday right at the top of Amazon France’s list of biographies in terms of sales, and second on the overall literature best-sellers list.
Normally bookshops will sell 10 copies of the Hemingway book per week, “now it’s 500,” a spokesman for the Folio publishers said.
An extra 15,000-copy print run of the book, which was published posthumously in 1964, is planned.
The phenomenon recalls the sales spike for Voltaire’s 18th century “Traite de la tolerance” (“Treatise on Tolerance”) which occurred in January following the attack on the Paris offices of satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.
“A Moveable Feast” can be read as a homage to a vibrant city of culture in the 1920s. In it we meet the likes of Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound and James Joyce.
“Paris was always worth it and you received return for whatever you brought to it,” Hemingway wrote in the book.
“But this is how Paris was in the early days when we were very poor and very happy.”