When Olives - A Violent Romance first started to infest bookshelves around the UAE, the sales team at distributor Jashanmal making their rounds and proposing booksellers stock this finest of novels, it failed to appear on the gorgeous red displays at Virgin Megastores.
A few disappointed tweets from potential buyers down the line, I got in touch with Jashanmal who seemed to hint at a whiff of sulphur, something odd about the relationship between them and the Virgin book buying team. So I hit up Virgin directly and they said they'd stock the book but nothing appeared and more disappointed tweets followed. As the saga went on, between one thing and another, I had the feeling that the books team over at Virgin weren't particularly interested in being nagged by novelists. My emails eventually went unanswered and, frustrated, I finally threw it up as a bad job.
Beirut - An Explosive Thriller came and went, still failing to sully the carmine shelves of that most mega of MegaStores. When the Virgin books people tweeted for ideas of novels set in Jordan they could stock for a promotion, something like 80 people tweeted them about Olives - A Violent Romance. I sent them an email pointing this out and proposing they stock the book but still nothing happened. By now I accepted it was never going to happen.
Until a wee while ago when I was chatting with Virgin Megastore Middle East President Nisreen Shocair about something completely different. "By the way, are we selling your books?" she asked. I poured my heart out to her and she was as baffled a president as I've ever seen. "That's daft. The books team has changed since then, anyway. We'll fix it."
And so she has. I can confirm that if you wander into any Virgin Megastore over the weekend, Dhs60 clutched in your eager hand, you can buy lovely paperback copies of both Olives - A Violent Romance and Beirut - An Explosive Thriller.
Hell, push the boat out, buy one for a friend. Buy them as gifts for the family. Your Facebook followers. Go to town!
Shemlan: A Deadly Tragedy, you still have to buy online - paperback or ebook alike. But you never know - as the wee saga above shows - anything can and will change!