Robert Weil, editor-in-chief and publishing director of Norton’s Liveright & Co. imprint, has acquired two new works by novelist Allan Gurganus, author of the acclaimed and bestselling 1989 novel, Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All. The acquisition includes The Falls Trilogy, three dark and comic novellas set in the fictional town of Falls, North Carolina, to be published in fall 2013, and The Selected Short Stories of Allan Gurganus, a collection of new and older stories set for publication in 2015.
The new works will be the first to be published by Garganus since his last book, The Practical Heart, was released in 2001. A much acclaimed novelist, short story writer and essayist, Gurganus’s books were previously published with Knopf. The deal was negotiated by Gurganus’s literary agent Amanda Urban of ICM. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Hailed for his portrayal of the south and his examinations of race and class in the region, Garganus is considered a “writer’s writer,” according to Weil, who said Gurganus had accumulated a “trove” of unpublished works at his home in North Carolina. Weil told PW he made a trip to visit Garganus last September, “as a friend,” and “learned he had a trove of unpublished novellas and a mountain of short stories, many of them unpublished.” With a little “gentle persuasion” from Urban, Weil said, “we convinced him to show the material, resulting in a two-book offer from Liveright.”
The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All was published in the 1989 by Knopf and spent 8 months on the New York Times bestseller list. Gurganus is also the author Blessed Assurance: A Moral Tale (1990), White People (1990) and Plays Well With Others (1997). Gurganus will also be on hand thursday night, May 17, at the 92nd Street Y in New York City for John Cheever at 100, an event celebrating the 100th birthday of Cheever. Gurganus, one of Cheever's more notable students, will be reading along with Michael Chabon, Blake Bailey and Ben and Susan Cheever.
Weil described The Falls Trilogy as “Thomas Hardy and Henry James-like,” noting that they “possess a southern gothic eeriness that reminds me of Flannery O’Connor, someone to whom Gurganus is often compared.” The books, he continued, “provide a comic, yet frighteningly realistc portrait of polite southern society in the twenty-first century, foibles and all, in essence they deal with class and race.”