More than a year ago, a small-scale debate was spurred by The New Republic on whether David Sedaris's best-selling essays were true stories or tall tales. The fact that his pieces were apparently fact-checked by The New Yorker's crack team of anal-retentive geniuses supported Sedaris's case for his writing being nonfiction; more recently, he's described his work as "97% true," saying it should therefore be shelved in the nonfiction section of the bookstore.
But it turns out the country's biggest bookstore disagrees: Barnes & Noble is listing Sedaris's new collection, When You Are Engulfed in Flames — which contains at least one of the pieces whose provenance was questioned in The New Republic — on its fiction best-seller list.
Of course, a cynic might point out that what matters isn't what list it appears on, but the number that appears next to Sedaris's name: 22,279 copies sold in his first week. We imagine Sedaris isn't really complaining.
Update:We hear this is all confusion based on the fact that "Literary Essays" are a subcategory of Fiction at bn.com (and so books of literary essays appear on the company's online Fiction best-seller list whenever they sell enough — which is to say, whenever they are written by David Sedaris). However, B&N consider the book nonfiction.