Cover to Cover with Your Fathers, Where Are They? And The Prophets, Do They Live Forever?

Dave Eggers’ books are always a wild ride – a little strange, a little whimsical, and always oddly familiar. Your Fathers, Where Are They? And The Prophets, Do They Live Forever? is all of the above – with the added bonus of the longest title I think I’ve ever seen on a novel. The wildest and best thing about it is that it’s written entirely in dialogue: no tags, no “he said, she said,” no description, no exposition other than what the characters say to each other. And it’s so masterfully done that I was 75 pages into the book before I figured it out.

But back to that wickedly long title, which I’m sure gave more than one cover designer a heart attack. What do you do with all those words on a cover?

Answer: keep things clean and simple.

Textually, the book makes the most of the covers by pumping up the key words and hoping the reader will follow along. Which actually works nicely. So nicely, in fact, that the foreign editions capitalise on the same technique.

(Left, German edition; right, Dutch edition.)

Surprisingly, and as you can kind of tell, the weirdly long title actually translates pretty cleanly.

And while this clean cover works well with such a long title, my favourite edition – the Italian -steps things up a notch and makes room for a larger image.

Italian edition

How about you? I can’t think of any absurdly long-titled books off the top of my head – but maybe a couple spring to mind. Feel free to share any others in the comments!

Cover to Cover is a weekly feature appearing every Wednesday. You can browse through past posts here



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