Gill Books is basically a non-fiction publisher. We have published some fiction over the years, but seldom in a systematic way. So we are not usually on the lookout for new fiction. However, never say never…
One day, almost ten years ago, I bumped into a literary agency I knew at a book fair. We chatted, as you do in these circumstances, and he enquired if I knew that Jim Plunkett’s Strumpet City was commercially unavailable and that the publishing rights had reverted to the family. I was astonished. Here was one of the great modern Irish novels taken off the market. It just seemed crazy that this iconic book – made even more famous by the RTE adaptation first shown in 1980 – should be languishing in a kind of literary limbo. In particular, it made no sense that this most Dublin of novels – second only to Ulysses in modern times – should be unobtainable in the city in which it was set.
Very simply, I contacted the agent who represented the Plunkett estate and bought the rights. It was not difficult or complicated: we quickly reached agreement. Commercially, it justified itself from day one: the book has never looked back. And now, in the centenary year of the great Lockout – the central historical event against which the book is set – it has been chosen by Dublin City Libraries as its One City One Book promotion. No better choice could have been made. One City One Book will bring Strumpet City to a new generation of readers and ensures that this masterly work of fiction will go on and on.
Strumpet City by James Plunkett, with an introduction by Fintan O’Toole, is available from Gill Books Bookshop and all good booksellers nationwide.
Also available as an eBook from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com and iTunes.