Add to this the growth of websites that let publishers directly track book lovers’ sentiments, making them feel less at the mercy of critics and other cultural gatekeepers who may raise their eyebrows at the circumstances of a posthumous publication.
The strategy appears to be working. Fans of the late Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel (who died in 1991) turned a book, pieced together from pages long buried in Geisel’s files, into an instant bestseller when it was published in July. A month later, a work by J.R.R. Tolkien (whose death came in 1973) that had been previously published in an obscure academic journal was released to some fanfare in the United Kingdom —and is slated for publication here in April.
Meanwhile, the latestby Pulitzer winner Oscar Hijuelos, who died in 2013 while putting the finishing touches on the novel, emerged this month.