Philip Pullman Raises the Curtain on THE BOOK OF DUST: La Belle Sauvage

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This week’s Igloo Book Buzz title is Philip Pullman’s long-awaited THE BOOK OF DUST: La Belle Sauvage,  published today, October 19, by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers in coordination with Penguin Random House Children’s and David Fickling Books in the U.K.  THE BOOK OF DUST is a work in three parts, like Mr. Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy (THE GOLDEN COMPASS, THE SUBTLE KNIFE, and THE AMBER SPYGLASS).  THE BOOK OF DUST: La Belle Sauvage is set ten years before THE GOLDEN COMPASS and centers on the much-beloved character Lyra Belacqua. Alethiometers, dæmons, and the Magisterium all return to play a part.

Nancy Siscoe, Senior Executive Editor, Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers: “I started at Knopf just after the publication of Philip Pullman’s THE GOLDEN COMPASS.  It was a big part of what made me want to come—to be at a house that published such a magnificent writer.  So it is an incomparable honor to be working with Philip Pullman on his new trilogy: THE BOOK OF DUST.

“His legion fans (myself included) have been waiting a very long time for this new work, but I believe it has arrived at the moment we need it most.  The themes of repression and freedom that were so central to His Dark Materials run through this new trilogy as well, and feel more timely than ever.  It’s thrilling to be here at the beginning of what will be a life-changing journey for so many readers.”

Philip Pullman shares fascinating insights into the creation of his latest work.  Watch this Random House Children’s Books video and read his comments further below.

“I know from their letters and tweets that my readers have been waiting patiently (mostly) for THE BOOK OF DUST for a long time.  I’ve been writing it for several years, and I’ve been very parsimonious with information about it. It gives me great pleasure and some excitement at last to satisfy their curiosity (and mine) about this book.

“What can I tell you about it? The first thing to say is that Lyra is at the centre of the story. Events involving her open the first chapter, and will close the last. I’ve always wanted to tell the story of how Lyra came to be living at Jordan College and, in thinking about it, I discovered a long story that began when she was a baby and will end when she’s grown up. This volume and the next will cover two parts of Lyra’s life: starting at the beginning of her story and returning to her 20 years later.

“So, second: is it a prequel? Is it a sequel? It’s neither. In fact, THE BOOK OF DUST is… an equel. It doesn’t stand before or after His Dark Materials, but beside it. It’s a different story, but there are settings that readers of His Dark Materials will recognize, and characters they’ve met before. Also, of course, there are some characters who are new to us, including an ordinary boy (a boy we have seen in an earlier part of Lyra’s story, if we were paying attention) who, with Lyra, is caught up in a terrifying adventure that takes him into a new world.

Philip Pullman Credit: Michael Leckie

“Third: why return to Lyra’s world? Dust. Questions about that mysterious and troubling substance were already causing strife 10 years before His Dark Materials, and at the centre of The Book of Dust is the struggle between a despotic and totalitarian organisation, which wants to stifle speculation and enquiry, and those who believe thought and speech should be free. The idea of Dust suffused His Dark Materials. Little by little through that story the idea of what Dust was became clearer and clearer, but I always wanted to return to it and discover more. Questions about our existence are infinitely interesting to me. There’s always more to explore.

“I’ve hugely enjoyed getting to know the new characters, seeing Lyra again, and exploring the world(s) they live in. I’ve loved watching the story expand across the years, and take me to places I’d never dreamed of. As for future volumes, my lips are sealed.”

Posted: October 19, 2017