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Culture & Religion

Unpublished Novelists, Take Heart

After Tatiana de Rosnay’s novel about the French Holocaust was rejected by some 20 publishers for its dark context, it was finally picked up and promptly sold 5 million copies. 

What’s the Latest Development?

Published in the U.S. in 2010, Tatiana de Rosnay’s novel, Sarah’s Keys, has a dark historical context: It centers on the 1942 Vélodrome d’Hiver roundup, in which French police arrested 10,000 Parisian Jews, including 4,000 children, and detained them for days in an indoor arena before deporting them to Auschwitz. Rosnay had completed her novel, however, back in 2002. Over a span of three years, she received 20 rejection letters from 20 different publishers. Eventually she gave up on Sarah’s Keys and moved on to write two more novels. Finally, an acquaintance who had just started a publishing company gave her first novel a chance.

What’s the Big Idea?

The circumstances that led to the printing of Rosnay’s novel were fortuitous. She had previously written a profile in French Elle on Héloïse d’Ormesson who had recently started her own publishing company. While the two were having lunch, d’Ormesson’s boyfriend and business partner arrived, expressing interest in Rosnay’s novel after a lengthy discussion over the subject of the story. Since being published in France in 2005, Rosnay’s novel has sold over 5 million copies and has been released in 38 countries. Her other novels are currently being made into films. Take heart, toiling writers. 


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