With permission from JK Rowling, they are the two most powerful writers in the world. Let’s get to know the life and work of these two heavyweights of the best-selling genre and that our protagonists, the Guelbenzu Escudero family, follow with such interest.
ORHe is not Welsh, fond of music (he plays in a blues band) and politics (he is a supporter of the Labor Party) and his books, in addition to selling like churros, are known for their enormous volume. Without going any further, the best-known work of Ken Follette, ‘The pillars of the earth’, has more than 1,000 pages. The American Dan Brown is another of the midas kings among best-selling authors. Only ‘The Da Vinci Code’ has sold 8 million copies in its Spanish version. In total, Brown can boast of having shipped 234 million books worldwide. Like his Welsh colleague, he is also making his first steps in music with a group called Piropo and his father, the mathematician G. Brown, aroused his curiosity about the secret codes of numbers.
Although he was born in Cardiff in 1949, at the age of 10 Follet moved to London with his family. His father was a tax inspector, but his life took other paths: he started working as a journalist for different newspapers (South Wales Echo, London Evening News) after graduating in Philosophy. His sales figures are astronomical, almost as much as those of his colleague Brown: it is estimated that he has sold 180 million copies of a total of 36 books, translated into 40 languages, in 80 different countries. Before the hit of ‘The pillars of the earth’ (1989) he was already a popular author. In 1978 he published ‘El ojo de la needle’, his first great success, which in an original version in Spanish was called ‘La Isla de las storms’ and is set in World War II.
Brothers Ridley and Tonny Scott adapted Follett’s 2010 bestseller into an eight-part, one-hour miniseries with a budget of €32 million. The reception was infinitely better than the big screen adaptation of ‘The Da Vinci Code’, directed by Ron Howard and starring Tom Hanks and Audrey Tatou, battered by moviegoers and which bored the most enthusiastic fans of the novel. . The critics left the blockbuster on the ground and called it boring. “It costs more to see it than to read it,” they assured in The New York Times, gathering the majority sentiment. “I certainly can’t support those trying to boycott or protest this stuffy, trivial, inoffensive film. Which isn’t to say I recommend going to see it.”
The feature film, as happened with the book, was censored by religious establishments. Despite everything, it was a box office success. The first weekend of its release, in 2006, it grossed $224 million in theaters. Dan Brown became a celebrity. Time magazine praised him and he was selected as one of the 100 most influential people in the world for “keeping the publishing industry afloat and renewing interest in Leonardo da Vinci and early Christian history.”
Both Follet and Brown maintain a notable distance from literary criticism and so-called high culture, a concept linked to the artistic expressions that are held in greater esteem. In an interview granted last year, the Welsh writer distanced himself from the literary prizes since, in his opinion, they are destined for authors “little read who need consolation”. “And it’s good that it is so,” he clarified. His historical novel companion with an enigma recognized in 2009 his limitations in conquering certain literary sectors. “It hurts to be criticized, but I measure success by my connection with readers. I already know that I will never win the Nobel Prize.”
Criticism goes one way and they… follow their own. His books are planetary events. In 2017 they were the most read writers. ‘Origin’, by Dan Brown, was number one in Germany, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Spain and the United States. ‘A column of fire’, the third part of the saga of ‘The pillars of the earth’, was on his heels in half the world.
“I like all the Ken Follett books And I also follow Dan Brown”
“I read economics books because it is my second passion after engineering”
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Ken Follett vs. Dan Brown: Duel of the Colossi