Albert Camus Novel “The Plague” Sees Sudden Rise in Sales


Influence from COVID-19? Reprint of 14,000 Copies Ordered

The last few months has seen a sudden rise in sales of French author Albert Camus’ 1947 novel The Plague. Japan is no exception, as on February the book’s Japanese publisher Shinchosha ordered a reprint of 10,000 copies. The novel, which details a town being quarantined due to a plague, has drawn a new audience in Japan and many other countries due to the real-life quarantining of cities necessitated by the spread of COVID-19.

In The Plague, a deadly plague springs up the city of Oran in French Algeria, with the number of dead jumping day by day. In order to stop the plague from spreading any further, the city is quarantined, all travel placed under strict lockdown. Throughout the story, various viewpoints including doctors detail the struggle against the fury and mortal danger of the apparently unstoppable plague.

Shinchosha originally published the Japanese translation in 1969. For the most part, orders of the book amounted to around 300 copies per month. However, January of this year saw a sudden spike in orders, with many on Twitter commenting on how the book’s situation resembled that of the quarantine in Wuhan, China. A reprint of 4,000 copies was ordered in the middle of February, with a further reprint of 10,000 copies planned.

A spokesperson for Shinchosha stated that “We cannot think of this increase in interest as being due to anything other than COVID-19. There was no predicting the situation, which has taken us completely by surprise.

News Abstract from Article Originally Posted in Asahi Shimbun March 3rd 2020