Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the international bestseller Eat, Pray, Love – which has sold over 12 million copies and has been translated into over 30 languages – took to Twitter on June 12 to announce her decision to postpone the release of her latest novel.
Important announcement about THE SNOW FOREST. Please note that if you were charged for your pre-order, you will be fully refunded. Thank you so much. pic.twitter.com/OAEmrjtfJx— Elizabeth Gilbert (@GilbertLiz) June 12, 2023
A week before her decision, she had announced the upcoming release of her new novel, The Snow Forest, which is due to be published by Penguin Random House. The novel is set in the middle of Siberia, in the 20th century, and tells “the story of a group of individuals who have removed themselves from society to resist the Soviet government to try to defend nature against industrialization.”
Gilbert calls her decision a “course correction.”
She explained that over the course of the weekend between the two announcements, “I received an enormous, massive outpouring of reactions and responses from my Ukrainian readers, expressing anger, sorrow, disappointment and pain about the fact that I would choose to release a book into the world right now – any book, no matter what the subject of it is – that is set in Russia.”
Gilbert’s runaway bestseller Eat, Pray, Love is the autobiographical story of a woman on a vague quest, who gains insight into her own life through travels to Italy (where she eats), India (where she prays) and Bali (where she falls in love).
The appeal of her book also involved sharp, often witty observations about local culture from a foreigner’s perspective. One would imagine that a book set in Russia would similarly delve into Russian culture and be met with unrelenting scrutiny on any publicity tour. Hence, her decision to forgo potential misunderstandings.
Gilbert said, “I have heard these messages [from Ukrainians] and read these messages and I respect them.”
As a result, she said she would remove the book, which was due to be released in February 2024, from its production schedule.
“I do not want to add any harm to a group of people who have already experienced and are all continuing to experience grievous and extreme harm.”
Gilbert added that she would be concentrating on other literary projects for the moment.
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