Bill Clin­ton’s novel makes siz­zling sales de­but

Times Colonist - - Go - HILLEL ITALIE

NEW YORK — Bill Clin­ton’s de­but novel had the year’s big­gest open­ing so far for a work of fic­tion.

The Pres­i­dent is Miss­ing, the thriller he co-wrote with James Pat­ter­son, sold 250,000 copies its first week. Al­fred A. Knopf and Lit­tle, Brown and Co., the book’s co-pub­lish­ers, an­nounced Wed­nes­day that the num­ber in­cludes hard­cover, e-book and au­dio sales. NPD BookScan, which tracks about 85 per cent of print sales, re­ported sales of 152,000 copies. That’s BookScan’s top-sell­ing fic­tion de­but since the lat­est Di­ary of a Wimpy Kid, which came out last fall, and big­gest first week for adult fic­tion since Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watch­man sold more than 700,000 hard­cover copies in 2015.

The Pres­i­dent is Miss­ing was pub­lished June 4 and spent much of last week at No. 1 on Ama­zon.com and else­where de­spite some awk­ward and con­tentious mo­ments in in­ter­views with the former pres­i­dent. Clin­ton re­sponded de­fen­sively to ques­tions from NBC’s Craig Melvin about the #MeToo move­ment and whether he owes an apol­ogy to former White House intern Monica Lewin­sky. Clin­ton’s affair with Lewin­sky helped lead to his im­peach­ment.

The novel be­gins with a pres­i­dent fac­ing im­peach­ment, for sup­port­ing ter­ror­ism, and tells of his ef­forts to thwart a po­ten­tially apoc­a­lyp­tic cy­ber­at­tack.

“By any mea­sure, this was a ter­rific open­ing week of sales, one that ex­ceeded even our own op­ti­mistic pro­jec­tions,” Michael Pi­etsch, CEO of Lit­tle Brown’s par­ent com­pany, Hachette Book Group, said in a state­ment. “Sales con­tinue apace this week, with Fa­ther’s Day on the hori­zon.”

“We are heart­ened by the re­sponse to the work, es­pe­cially among read­ers,” said Knopf chair­man Sonny Me­hta.

The novel has been billed as com­bin­ing Pat­ter­son’s long back­ground in thrillers and Clin­ton’s unique per­spec­tive as a former pres­i­dent. Re­views ranged from mock­ing (“Re­veals as many se­crets about the U.S. gov­ern­ment as The Pink Pan­ther re­veals about the French gov­ern­ment,” wrote The Washington Post’s Ron Charles) to ad­mir­ing. Ni­colle Wal­lace, the po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst and former White House aide, praised the novel as “am­bi­tious and wildly read­able” in a re­view for The New York Times. In The Wall Street Jour­nal, Bar­ton Swaim called the book “beach read­ing of a high or­der.”

Pat­ter­son, one of the world’s busiest and most pop­u­lar au­thors, has re­leased nu­mer­ous No. 1 best­sellers. Clin­ton also has topped the lists be­fore, as au­thor of the mil­lion-sell­ing mem­oir My Life. The Clin­ton-Pat­ter­son novel is a likely block­buster at a time when adult fic­tion sales have strug­gled. The year’s big­gest works have been non­fic­tion, whether Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury or James Comey’s A Higher Loy­alty, both of which of­fered highly crit­i­cal por­traits of Pres­i­dent Trump. The Pres­i­dent is Miss­ing doesn’t men­tion Don­ald Trump by name, but does re­fer favourably to im­mi­grants and ex­panded vot­ing rights and warns against the “drift into trib­al­ism, ex­trem­ism and seething re­sent­ments.”

MARY ALTAFFER, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Former U.S. pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton signs au­to­graphs dur­ing an event in New York to pro­mote his new novel with au­thor James Pat­ter­son, The Pres­i­dent is Miss­ing.

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