More and more Americans are becoming aware that “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen,” already rivals “Call Me Ishmael,” and “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…..,” as one of the more famous first lines in literature.
The reason is, of course, the NSA spy scandal that recently broke due to the whistle-blowing of Edward Snowden when he revealed the reach of the NSA’s internet and telephone call dragnet. Snowden is presently in an undisclosed location in Hong Kong laying-low as either a hero, traitor, or fugitive depending who you ask.
Rise In sales Of George Orwell’s Dystopian Novel “1984.”
As a somewhat unexpected consequence of Snowden’s disclosure to the UK’s Guardian and other news outlets was the rise in sales of George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984.” Orwell’s work follows the plight of Winston Smith a government employee dissatisfied with the surveillance of “Big Brother” in the fictional dictatorship of Oceania.
Until the release of “The Hunger Games” I hadn’t heard the world dystopian used more than 30 times in my life until the first round of reviews came out for the Jennifer Lawrence film. It seemed you couldn’t be a journalist if you didn’t bandy it about in your review. The same applies to Orwell. You apparently can’t be a journalist or politician without having used the adjective “Orwellian” in the last few days…often, repeatedly.
“Kids will grow up knowing that every damned thing that they do is going to be recorded someplace in a file. And I think that will have a very Orwellian and very prohibiting impact on the way we live our lives,” said Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont).
It’s also given a voice to those who might not have done much more than write a biography of Orwell, whose “1984” was first published in 1949 following his observations of both Stalin and Hitler.
“Throwing out such a broad net of surveillance is exactly the kind of threat Orwell feared,” Michael Shelden, author of “Orwell: The Authorized Biography,” told NPR recently.
“1984” since its publication has always been a sought after read but the details of the PRISM program has increased sales tremendously.
Liz Keenan, director of publicity for Plume publishing, which produced Orwell’s book, told ABC News that sales of “1984″ always spike this time of the year because teachers and students are buying copies for summer reading, but the increase has never been this large.
“Without a doubt, this has a lot to do with surveillance coverage,” she said.
This is not the first time that fiction book sales have mirrored current events. Following the banking bailout and again with the Paul Ryan run for the vice-presidency, sales of Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” rose as well. Given the difference in length, expect “1984” to sell considerably more copies.