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Agatha Christie’s ‘Ten Little N****rs’ may be renamed in Russia too, despite realities ‘differing’ from West, top publisher says

Agatha Christie’s ‘Ten Little N****rs’ may be renamed in Russia too, despite realities ‘differing’ from West, top publisher says
In a move that may surprise some, one of Russia’s largest book publishers is considering the possibility of changing the title of Agatha Christie’s famous 1930s crime novel ‘Ten Little N****rs’ to avoid any racist connotations.

The Eksmo publishing group has been considering the move, as requested by James Prichard, the CEO of Agatha Christie Ltd (ACL), the copyright holder of the novelist’s work,  the publisher’s editor Yevgeny Solovyov told the Moscow’s City news agency. 

Prichard, who is the great-grandson of the British writer, recently announced that the  novel’s title in French would be changed from, ‘Les Dix Petits N***es’ (French for ‘Ten Little N****rs’) to ‘Ils étaient dix’ (‘They Were Ten’).

While Solovyov said that Eksmo has enjoyed a long and fruitful cooperation with Pritchard and the Agatha Christie Foundation, he stressed that the new title must satisfy both Christie’s successors and Russian readers.

We can’t ignore their opinion, as they are successors of a famous writer. At the same time, we have to take into consideration the views of Russian readers for whom the novel has long been one of their favorite detective works, he said.

Solovyov noted that the topic of changing the 1939 novel’s original title has been brought up a few times over the past several years during the publisher’s meetings with Christie’s heirs. However, there is no pressure, he emphasized, as “the realities of the Western world are very different from those of Russia.” 

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He admitted that changing the title, which he “loved and got used to since childhood,” would upset him personally, and said Eksmo may choose some middle-of-the-road option, such as retaining the original name “somewhere in the referral materials, and so on.

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Even if he reaches an agreement with Agatha Christie Ltd, books that are already printed will remain in Russian bookstores for some time, Solovyov noted, because “possible agreements are not the same as a court ruling.” 

In English-speaking countries, Christie’s novel has long been published under the racially-neutral title ‘And Then There Were None’. Similarly, the N-words in the text have been changed to “soldiers”. The same now been done to the French edition.

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