In the light of the current pandemic, an old out-of-print book will be made available again. The 1982 book The Virus by Stanley Johnson, UK prime minister Boris Johnson’s father, is centered on a lethal virus. According to a report in The Guardian, the novel will be back this summer after there were reports that the author was looking for a publisher.
The same report states that Black Spring, an independent publisher founded by poet Todd Swift has decided to take it up. Initially known as The Marburg Virus, the book traces the journey of an epidemiologist who must find a vaccine to stop the havoc wrecked by an unknown virus in New York.
“Will the fight against Covid-19 be as successful as my fictional hero was in fighting the Marburg virus? … Thinking back to my own book, and its eventual happy ending, I can’t help feeling that governments around the world, our own included, need to be ruthlessly focused on the search for an antidote or a vaccine. Without in any way diminishing the importance of precautionary measures of containment or mitigation, mass immunisation would surely prove a crucial factor in stopping the spread of Covid-19 or in preventing further outbreaks, eg the ‘second wave’ we are hearing about,” the report quotes the new afterword by Johnson.
“You would think it was a no-brainer, that a publisher would jump up and down at a novel that is already edited and ready to go,” he said, adding: “They are entitled to their opinion, I just found it rather disappointing. They may well live to regret it, but that is the fun of publishing … you may not agree with Stanley and his politics, or his son, but it is a jolly good thriller and it is extraordinarily valid today. If anyone thought ‘I’m not going to buy it because I don’t like Stanley Johnson’, I think that is rather pathetic,” Jonathan Lloyd, Johnson’s literary agent at Curtis Brown was quoted as saying as he hinted at the reluctance of some publishers to take up the book.
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