Vadmir Nabokov, the famed Russian novelist and short story writer, will have his final, unfinished and coveted novella distributed by none other than literary publishing powerhouse, Playboy.
The provocative men's magazine plans to print a 5,000 word excerpt from the unfinished novella, titled, "The Original of Laura," in their December issue reports The New York Observer.
The release of the late Nabokov's unfinished work will be the latest installment in a long publishing tradition between the author and the magazine.
Amy Grace Lloyd, Playboy's literary editor since 2005, "pulled out all the stops" to try and secure the rights to the first excerpt of the novella, or serial. She made sure Hugh Hefner took time out from his television show and his girlfriends to open his checkbook and pay top dollar.
"I'm happy to tell you we've never paid this much for any excerpt before, ever," said Lloyd. "There are parts of it that are much more cohesive than others, but I found it fascinating in that way."
While on his death bed, Nabokov made his son, Dmitri, promise to never release the work. After a change of heart, Dmitri hired high powered agent Andrew Wylie to find a publisher. He found Knopf, and after paying an undisclosed amount, a release date was set for for the fall.
Lloyd went after Wylie to secure the first excerpt, and used all the weapons in her arsenal.
"I did it with orchids mostly," Lloyd said. The orchids being a reference to Nabokav's 1969 novel Ada or Ardor, which was excerpted in Playboy.
"It was part of my pitch to Andrew that Nabokov really liked publishing with Playboy, and how devoted Hef is to Nabokov and his legacy," says Lloyd.
At first, Wylie rebuffed Lloyd's advances, questioning if Playboy was the proper channel to release the first excerpt of the novella.
"I was persistent, as I often am, and I try forcibly to remind people of our literary history because its very easy for people to dismiss us," says Lloyd referencing Playboy's publishing history with such novelists as Arthur C. Clarke, Ian Fleming and Margaret Atwood.
After Wylie's pitch to the New Yorker was rejected by the fiction department, he approached LLoyd, asking her what she was willing to pay for an exclusive. The deal wasn't automatic as Wylie wanted an offer before Lloyd read anything. She trusted the quality of the novella based on Nabokov's track record and soon got the o.k. from Hefner.
The December issue will hit newsstands on November 10th, one week before Knopf releases the book in stores.