Books

New Hunger Games novel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, to be published in May 2020

The fourth title in the bestselling series is a prequel, set 64 years before the original trilogy. Scholastic Canada revealed the title and cover on Oct. 4, 2019.
In a Monday, Nov. 17, 2014 file photo, Suzanne Collins arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1. (The Associated Press)

The title and cover for the fourth Hunger Games novel have been revealed.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is set 64 years before the original trilogy. The book was first announced in June 2019.

The initial worldwide print run for the English version of the book will be 2.5 million copies, the books' Canadian publisher, Scholastic Canada, said in a press release.

Collins said in June 2019 that she would go back to the years following the so-called "Dark Days," the failed rebellion in Panem. Collins set the Hunger Games books in a post-apocalyptic dystopia where young people must fight and kill each other, on live television.

"With this book, I wanted to explore the state of nature, who we are, and what we perceive is required for our survival," she said. "The reconstruction period 10 years after the war, commonly referred to as the Dark Days — as the country of Panem struggles back to its feet — provides fertile ground for characters to grapple with these questions and thereby define their views of humanity."

The first three Hunger Games books — The Hunger GamesCatching Fire and Mockingjay — have sold more than 100 million copies and have been translated into more than 50 languages.

Collins has cited her father as a reason for her lifelong studies of war, and cited both contemporary and classical culture as inspirations for The Hunger Games. She named the country Panem as a reference to the Roman expression "panem et circenses," meaning bread and circuses, diversions for the masses.

In a 2010 interview with the Associated Press, she recalled watching television one night, switching channels, and becoming momentarily disoriented by going back and forth between a reality program and the Iraq War.

"We have so much programming coming at us all the time. Is it too much? Are we becoming desensitized to the entire experience?" she said.

"Dystopian stories are places where you can play out the scenarios in your head — your anxieties — and see what might come of them. And, hopefully, as a young person, with the possibilities of the future waiting for you, you're thinking about how to head these things off."

With files from the Associated Press.

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