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Alumnus’ artwork used on Joyce book

November 6, 2012

When MSU alumnus Casey Sorrow first was asked to submit some samples of his work to a fine arts press in Ireland, he had no idea he would end up creating illustrations for multiple versions of the modern U.S. release of James Joyce’s “The Cats Of Copenhagen.”

“The Cats Of Copenhagen” comes from a letter Joyce sent his grandson in 1936. Instead of a normal letter, it was a colorful storybook depicting the lack of cats in Copenhagen, Denmark. Today, the story has been released for enjoyment in the U.S. for the first time.

“A fine arts press in Ireland approached me because they knew about some of my work, and they had me submit some artwork about cats along with a few other international artists, and they chose me,” Sorrow said.

Once he had been chosen, Sorrow said he had to develop his first ideas for the book.

“Based on the Joyce letter they sent me, I produced some ideas and pitched them to them regarding the illustrations,” Sorrow said. “Then I drew up some sketches and sent them to them and we talked back and forth about what kind of imagery we were looking for.”

Sorrow said the project took off when Simon and Schuster decided to publish the book.

“It’s become a much larger project than I ever imaged with Simon and Schuster picking it up, so that was a great, huge deal,” he said.

Kate Lloyd, the director of publicity for Simon and Schuster, said the project turned into a great picture book.

“I would describe it as kind of a sweet picture book that adults will get as much out of as kids,” Lloyd said.

In addition to Simon and Schuster, Sorrow said several other people have decided to make copies of the story.

“It’s been done internationally, so we’ve got a bunch of international publishers interested in it,” Sorrow said. “So far, there’s been a Greek version and Italian version.”

Environmental engineering freshman Vivian Ruffolo said hearing the success stories of various alumni gives current students hope for the future after graduation.

“It’s cool when you see successful alumni,” Ruffolo said. “It makes me feel like if there are people that are really successful out of here, then I’m hopeful that I can be successful, too.”

Sorrow’s pen and ink illustrations in “The Cats Of Copenhagen” are on sale in stores now. Sorrow is a cartoonist, printmaker and illustrator.

For more information on his work, visit

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