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John F. Baker -- 1/17/00

Foreign Correspondent to Novelist

Geraldine Brooks
That's the metamorphosis undergone by Geraldine Brooks, noted Australian foreign correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, who has already written two nonfiction books: a memoir and a book about Islamic women. Now Viking Penguin chief Susan Petersen Kennedy has bought a novel Brooks has written, set in 17th-century England during the plague, tentatively called Year of Wonders. It tells of a feudal English village that quarantines itself from the spreading disease and the effect this decision has on the inhabitants, "with economy, sensitivity and intelligence," according to Kennedy. The buy, from agent Kristine Dahl at ICM, was for world rights; already Viking has sold German rights to Goldmann and is fielding other interested foreign queries. The book's editor will be Molly Stern, and publication is planned for 2001.

Overseas Sales First for New Folsom
Agent Robert Gottlieb at William Morris has adopted an unusual sales strategy for the next novel by Allan Folsom, who first came to attention with a huge deal for his debut novel, The Day After Tomorrow, five years ago. This time around, the agent is marketing his new thriller, Ganin's Pit, overseas first. Beginning in Frankfurt, the agency's Marcy Posner began lining up foreign sales, based on an outline and sample material, which is still all that is available of the book. A dozen foreign sales have already been made, with a six-figure one to Little, Brown U.K. the latest, and earlier substantial ones to Germany, Italy, Japan and Holland. Gottlieb is now preparing to show what he has to American editors; the winning one is promised a finished book within 18 months of signing. The novel is described as a thriller about an international manhunt spanning the U.S., Europe and the new Russia for an escaped killer with several aliases.

The Mysterious Mr. Kaufman
The new Jim Carrey movie, Man on the Moon, has focused national attention on the strange figure of the late cult comedian Andy Kaufman, but as Random House editor Dan Menaker noted, we still don't know much about the man, as distinct from the bizarre shticks. He expects that to change with the publication of a book he has just signed by Julie Hecht, whose piece about Kaufman in the New Yorker a few weeks ago only scratched the surface of the material she has on him. The book, tentatively titled Was This Man a Genius?, is scheduled for publication early next year, as the first in a two-book deal Menaker signed with Hecht's agent, David McCormick at IMG. The other book in the contract will be a story collection.

The Less-Than-Sunny Mr. Rockwell
Art critics are not the only ones beginning to look more seriously at the vastly popular cover artist Norman Rockwell, whose images have become American icons of wholesomeness. His life was considerably darker than his work, and he is about to be given a warts-and-all biography, which Random's Jonathan Karp has just signed up from Julie Rubenstein at the Linda Chester Agency. It's based on a proposal by Laura Claridge (who wrote a well-received study of Tamara de Lempica last year) and will be published in October 2001 to coincide with a show of Rockwell's work at the Guggenheim Museum.

Short Takes
Barbara De Angelis
, a bestselling expert on human relationships, especially between the sexes, has made a big deal, via agent Harvey Klinger, with Hyperion's Bob Miller for a book tentatively called What Women Want Men to Know, based on focus groups in which women speak out about the difficulties of communication. Publication is set for Mother's Day in 2001.
Jo-Ann Mapson
Miller, incidentally, has also bought the latest in the bestselling Simplify Your Life series author Elaine St. James first published at the house. Agent Jane Dystel brought her back to Hyperion after a couple of titles at Andrews McMeel.... Jo-Ann Mapson, whose Hank and Chl , Loving Chl and other books did well at HarperCollins, is moving to Simon & Schuster's MarySue Rucci for her next, Bad Girl Creek, in a deal agented by Deborah Schneider at Gelfman and Schneider... Agent Nick Ellison has sold The Lion's Game, the new thriller by Nelson DeMille, to Sony/Columbia for $1 million, along with a $500,000 option on his earlier Plum Island.... In the story about Random giving up on the Billy Collins collection (Jan. 3), it was erroneously stated that the p t had waived royalties from his books published by the University of Pittsburgh Press. This was a misunderstanding; UPP has always paid him royalties. We regret the error.

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