Grigory Chkhartishvili, AKA Boris Akunin, is an international publishing phenomenon. A scholar of Japanese language and culture, and a former literary translator, he wrote his first novel at the age of 40 and in the 13 years since its publication has sold twenty million copies of his books in Russia alone. Daniel Kalder interviewed him for Publishing Perspectives, ahead of his upcoming appearances at the London book Fair 2011.
When I read The White Queen (Akunin’s first book) it was so dense with literary and geographic allusions that I sat with a pocket Moscow atlas in hand so I could follow the hero around the city. Given that your books are so steeped in Russian literature and history, were you surprised when they became successful overseas?
I’ve had no reason to be surprised because my books aren’t all that successful overseas. Maybe because they are so filled with “local color”. Or maybe because they are simply not good enough.