Author of Eat, Pray, Love pulls new book with a Russian setting off shelves

After receiving “anger, sorrow, disappointment and pain” from Ukrainian fans over her choice to set a book in Russia, Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert has decided to withhold her latest book from publication.

The Snow Forest by Gilbert is a historical book set in Siberia that centres on a family of fanatical Russian fundamentalists who have been living secretly and alone for 44 years since leaving society in the 1930s.
A scholar and linguist are dispatched to the family’s house when they are found in 1980 by a team of Soviet geologists in order to bridge the gap between their old, snow forest life and modern society.

Just last week, Gilbert said that the book would be published in February 2024.
However, she said today that she was “removing the book from its publication schedule” in a video statement posted to her Instagram account.

She said over the course of the weekend, after announcing the book, she had “received an enormous, massive outpouring of reactions and responses from my Ukrainian readers expressing anger, sorrow, disappointment and pain about the fact that I would choose to release a book into the world right now, any book, no matter what the subject of it is, that is set in Russia”.

“And I want to say that I have heard these messages and read these messages and I respect them,” she continued. “And as a result I’m making a course correction and I’m removing the book from its publication schedule. It is not the time for this book to be published.

“And I do not want to add any harm to a group of people who have already experienced and who are all continuing to experience grievous and extreme harm.”

Ukraine was invaded by Russia in 2022, and the two nations have been at war ever since for approximately 500 days. The highest military command of Ukraine reported on Monday that its troops were heavily involved in combat at frontline flashpoints.
Gilbert stated that she was working on “other book projects” and that she had decided to focus on those right away.

The Observer was informed by literary agencies and authors that there had been intriguing bids for overseas rights due to the thirst for escapist literature in Russia. However, many authors believed it was improper to accept Russian funding while the conflict with Ukraine was still going on.
In addition, writers like Joe Abercrombie, Stephen King, and Linwood Barclay have previously stated openly that they will not be renewing their book contracts in Russia due to the conflict.

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