The Third Policeman

DUBLIN (Reuters) - It was a shot that lasted just a second, but the appearance of Irish novel "The Third Policeman" on cult television series "Lost" has thrust one of Ireland's less celebrated authors into the limelight.
The surreal comic novel by Flann O'Brien, an early 20th century author heavily influenced by fellow countryman James Joyce, appeared briefly in an episode of "Lost" screened in Ireland on Monday.

It was first aired in the United States in October. After that outing, 10,000 copies of the book -- unpublished during the author's lifetime -- flew off bookshop shelves in just two days.

"It's been amazing -- in three weeks we sold 15,000 copies, the same number as we'd sold in the last six years," said Chad Post, associate director of the Illinois-based Center for Book Culture, which publishes O'Brien's works in the United States.

He told Reuters there had also been increased demand for O'Brien's other titles, such as "At-Swim-Two-Birds," "The Dalkey Archive" and "The Hard Life."

The episode is expected to trigger similar demand for the bizarre book across the Atlantic.

British publisher Harper Collins said it had not increased its print run because of the series -- the episode has yet to air in Britain -- but had noticed a huge jump in the number of copies being asked for by bookstores.

"It has tripled," a spokeswoman said. While 400 copies of the book were sent to British and Irish bookshops in January, some 1,200 went out in February, she said.

Fans of "Lost," about a group of airline passengers marooned on an island, are avidly scouring "The Third Policeman" for clues to the mysterious show after scriptwriter Craig Wright said the book was chosen "very specifically for a reason."

But they will have their work cut out for them.

Harper Collins describes the book variously as a "thriller, an hilarious comic satire about an archetypal village police force, a surrealistic vision of eternity, the story of a tender, brief, unrequited love affair between a man and his bicycle and a chilling fable of unending guilt.


Posted byNick at 8:14 PM

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