Logic Game Spurs Addiction, Israel Builds a Bridge to Turkey, Takako Takes a Walk
Crosswords are so 2004. The new fill-in-the blank fad? Here’s a hint: it’s six letters long (and five times as fun, according to some). Su Doku, the puzzle craze sweeping the world, from Japan to the Czech Republic, has created a new breed of addict. Seventy-one year old enthusiast Bernard Stay recently told BBC News, “If I don’t complete a puzzle before noon I get suicidally depressed for the rest of the day.”
Su Doku who? In its traditional form, Su Doku is a 9 x 9 grid in which select boxes are filled in with various single-digit numbers (the harder the level, the less frequent the fillings). To complete the puzzle, you must fill in the rest of the grid until every row, column, and 3 x 3 box contains the numbers 1 through 9.
Newmarket Press publisher Esther Margolis, who first heard about the puzzle phenomenon at a NYC dinner party, recently acquired US rights to THE BIG BOOK OF SU DOKU #1 and THE BIG BOOK OF SU DOKU #2 – both bestsellers just published in the UK by Orion Books – and is rushing to press with a first print run of 50,000 copies of each. Newmarket has also aquired rights to JUNIOR SU DOKU, designed for kids 8 and up, from Wizard, a British publisher specializing in fun books for brainy kids. The trend-oise puzzles are now invading the crossword pages of USA Today, the New York Post, and the Los Angeles Times, among others, with no fewer than seven publishers betting on Su Doku instant magnetism. Reporting on the craze, the LA Times noted that the puzzles are “causing commuters to miss their stops and students to skip their homework.” Puzzle collections are moving their way up the bestseller lists in Italy and Holland this month (landing at #11 in both countries) and have shot straight to the top of the nonfiction list in the Czech Republic. Sharpen your pencils and tighten your thinking caps!
More news from Turkey this month where the bestselling author in the country’s history, Ahmet Altan, now represented by the ever-expanding Israeli literary agency, Harris/Elon, has a new novel on the way. THE LONGEST NIGHT, slated for publication by Turkish publisher Alkim this month with a first print run of one million copies, tells the story of a woman who sets out to southeastern Turkey as a member of a group researching the origins of “honor killings” of women. Altan made the switch to the Israeli agency after an event held during this year’s Jerusalem Book Fair on the Sheikh Hussein Bridge between Jordan and Israel (See PT, March 05). Organized by Deborah Harris, the event drew Israeli, Palestinian and other writers from the Mediterranean region together for a day of intellectual exchanges. Altan was among the writers in attendance, “et voila, a bridge was built,” said the agency’s Managing Editor, Ines Austern. A press release adds that “though Altan is esteemed in his native country as an astute political and social commentator, it is through his fiction – delving into the human soul, the domain of love and jealousy – that Altan has proven himself as an heir to the classic European writers.” His previous book, BETRAYAL, published in 2003, which sold over 500,000 copies in Turkey alone, is now available in English translation. His political essays are published in leading European newspapers and his books have been published in France (Actes Sud), Germany (Fischer), Holland (Prometheus) and Greece (Livany) to name a few. Contact Deborah Harris for rights.
Our newly added Turkish bestseller list reinforces the popularity of author Burak Turna, perhaps best known for his controversial book, THE METAL STORM, co-authored with science fiction writer Orkun Uçar. Originally posted online as a PDF document, it garnered so much interest that a print version soon followed, selling 300,000 copies. The novel, set in May 2007, begins when Turkish troops deployed in northern Iraq to protect the ethnic Turkish community there, come under attack from US forces. A huge spin campaign launched by Washington has people thinking that the Turks fired first, while the true aim of the United States is to seize Turkey’s rich borax mines. Turkey’s major cities come under heavy fire, with huge loss of life, while Ankara, taken by surprise, turns to the European Union and Russia for help. The disturbing conclusion includes the detonation of a nuclear bomb in a park in Washington, DC. The book has drawn coverage from media outlets ranging from Al Jazeera, to the Christian Science Monitor, and Haaretz and more information is available from the publisher, Timas.
In Germany, author Inka Parei, the winner of the prestigious Ingeborg Bachmann Award who runs in the same literary circle as Judith Hermann, has written a new novel which led one critic to rave, “I feel as if I’ve heard literature for the very first time.” WHAT DARKNESS WAS is the story of an old man who lies in his bed near death, when he sees a suspicious-looking stranger in the stairway. The night seems interminable as each noise stirs up memories and fears. His observations throughout the gruelingly long night hint at his own life story, centered around his post-war guilt. Discovering the identity of the stranger in his house becomes the old man’s final mission in life. Parei, whose debut novel, THE SHADOWBOXING WOMAN has been called “an urban, vivid novel…displaying an almost criminologically precise appreciation of detail,” has been published in nine countries, including Italy (Instar), France (Rivages), Sweden (Norstedts), and China (Shanghai Translation). Rights are available from Kathrin Scheel at Schöffling (Germany).
Riku Onda sheds light on a great rite of passage for graduating high school students in Japan: the “walking festival.” In NIGHT PICNIC, students bond over the course of a 50-mile overnight walk, meeting characters along the way who casually join the herd, chatting about various topics, even confessing their feelings to their crushes. Takako has been keeping a secret for three years and knows that now is the time to reveal it. But will she be able to spill the beans before they reach their final destination? Onda is known for her ever-changing style and has written science fiction, horror, and mystery. A film version of her latest book is set for release in the fall of 2006. The rights to NIGHT PICNIC have been sold in Taiwan and Korea but English language rights are still available from Shinchosha.