Jealousy, Hope, Love, Frustration, Pinochet & the PLO
Craftsman, plumber, brick-layer, ironware merchant, script writer, filmmaker, and now novelist, Nan Aurousseau has hewed his vast trove of on-the-job tales into a thrilling novel called Overalls. Like so many beleaguered artists, the adroit Frenchman wrote the autobiographical bestseller (not a memoir, mind you) while down and out in his native Montmartre after spending seven years in prison for a botched burglary. An editor, Jean-Marc Roberts, happened upon the manuscript in the slush pile at Stock and declared it a masterpiece after reading only a few pages. With language as “brutal and coarse as the work it describes,” the novel begins with Dan, a plumber and former delinquent photographing his boss, Dolto, as he steals the company’s safe and all its employees’ earnings. The theft sets the tone for what critics have called a cross between a detective story and a social comedy that “turns plumber slang into poetry.” Dan and the rest of the workers occupy a horrible and comic underworld where they’re worked to the bone, injured, and burned by the boiler. Since its publication in November, the title has stayed on the French bestsellers lists, sold over 35,000 copies, and won the Grand Prix RTL-Lire 2006 for the best novel of the year. All rights available. Contact Barbara Porpaczy (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Like the author of Overalls, Carla Guelfenbein tried on many hats before settling on that of the writer. First a biologist and then a designer in London, the Chilean Guelfenbein worked as artistic director and fashion editor of Elle magazine before becoming a full time novelist and screenwriter. Apparently, she ended up in the right profession as her second novel, The Woman of My Life (Alfaguara Chile), won El Mercurio’s reader’s choice award for “Book of the Year 2005” by such a wide margin that no second or third place prizes were given. Narrated in a man’s voice, the novel takes place in London during the 80s. A British sociology student named Theo falls in love with Clara, a Chilean ballerina who flees to England after her father disappears during the early days of the Pinochet regime. When Clara falls in love with Antonio, a young Chilean exile and Theo’s only friend, Theo must decide whether or not to encourage Antonio to fight for Chile’s freedom when fighting would almost certainly mean losing his rival for Clara’s affection, but also his best and only friend. In an uncertain world ruled by unjust politics, the three navigate their own private issues of jealousy, hope, love, and frustration. Guelfenbein, known for her meticulous research and insightful investigation into ideologies, had another hit in 2002 with her debut novel The Misfortune of the Soul (Alfaguara) which spent over 30 weeks in the top spot on the Chilean bestseller list. Rights to The Woman of My Life have been sold to Germany (Suhrkamp), Italy (Einaudi), Holland (De Bezige Bij), Denmark (Hr. Ferdinand), Norway (Hr. Ferdinand), Iceland (Bjartur), and Israel (Keter). Contact Piergiorgio Nicolazzini (email@example.com) at the eponymous literary agency.
Another carefully researched novel in which the personal becomes inextricably entangled with the political is Games (Random House Germany) by Ulrike Draesner, an expansive family drama centered on Katja Berewski, a German photojournalist, and her experience of the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich during which nine Israeli athletes and five members of a PLO group were killed. Thirty years after the events, Katja comes to terms with Max, her estranged first love, the suicide of her mother when she was five, and her Polish grandfather’s affair, all of which coincide in some way. With a grand cast of characters and innumerable intertwining subplots, Games brackets private dramas with historical events and poses questions about the aftermath of the terrorist attack not unlike those Steven Spielberg explores in his recent Oscar-nominated blockbuster, Munich. The “enthralling social novel” has been sold to Spain (RD Editora). Contact Gesche Wendebourg at (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Moving on to Scandinavia, we meet Tom Egeland, who when interviewed by the press is almost always asked first “Do you think Dan Brown plagiarized you?” Graciously, the Norwegian author of six novels replies with “no,” although the comparison is inevitable. Aschehoug first published The Circle’s End in 2001, two full years before Dan Brown finished his opus, and like The Da Vinci Code, Egeland’s novel tells the tale of a 2000 year-old secret, but in this version, the focus is on a gold reliquary containing a manuscript at a medieval Norwegian monastery. Translations of The Circle’s End are making the rounds of foreign bestseller lists across Europe. Interest in the title spiked last summer with the publication of Egeland’s newest thriller, Night of the Wolf. As tension between Norwegian politicians and Chechen asylum-seekers escalates, a famous TV journalist, Kristin Bye, decides to host an unprecedented discussion of the issue on live television. Everyone watches as Kristin introduces the Norwegian authorities and the Chechen rebels, and everyone continues to watch as the Chechens tear open their jackets to reveal weapons and bombs strapped to their chests. They demand that every moment of what becomes a bloody eight-hour hostage situation be broadcast on live TV for all of Norway to see. The “unputdownable” suspense novel has garnered unanimous praise from critics, including one enthusiastic writer who notes the book “positively smells of testosterone and cold sweat. Nothing is sure until the fourth-to-last page of the tremendous ending.” Watch for Tom Egeland at the London Book Fair where he’s going to be Aschehoug’s top name. The following rights to Night of the Wolf have been sold: Danish (Bazar), Dutch (De Geus), Finnish (Bazar), German (Random House), Icelandic (JPV), Italian (Bompiani), Russian (Amphora), Swedish (Bazar). Film options sold to Nordisk Film. Rights to Egeland’s previous bestseller, Circle’s End, have been sold to the same territories as Night of the Wolf plus Czech (Euromedia), French (City Éditions), Greek (Livani), Korean ( Bookhouse Publishing Corp.), Spanish (Ediciones B). Film options sold to Håkon Gundersen. For information, contact Eva Kuløy at Aschehoug Agency (email@example.com).
What happens to the books profiled in Publishing Trends? We checked in with editors Anastasia Ashman and Jennier Gokmen for the latest news on Tales from the Expat Harem: Foreign Women in Modern Turkey, the gem of an anthology uncovered by our foreign correspondent while knocking about the bazaars of Istanbul last summer. Since PT broke the story in June, the impressive collection of tales penned by thirty foreign women about their experiences in Turkey has been praised by everyone from politicians to professors. Even Turkey’s top diplomat, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, personally called the editors to thank them for a book with such potential to improve the country’s image abroad. At the Turkish bookstore chain, Remzi, the title has been on the English-language bestseller list for over 20 consecutive weeks, reaching number one in early February. The North American edition (Seal Press) will be launched this month at the New York Consulate General of Republic of Turkey, has already been placed on the syllabus for a course on modern Turkey at the University of Michigan. A U.S. tour of bookstores, Turkish American cultural organizations,and academic conferences is planned for the editors and contributors this spring.