Out of Egypt, And Back Again: Steinhauer Scores With Another Spy Thriller

Olen Steinhauer’s The Cairo Affair, a stand-alone spy thriller, debuts at #16 on the Hardcover Fiction list. In a restaurant in Budapest, Sophie Kohl meets her diplomat husband, Emmett, for dinner, only to be confronted with Emmett’s discovery of an affair she’d had when Emmett was previously posted in Cairo. Before Sophie can defend herself, a mysterious man approaches their table and shoots Emmett twice. Suddenly a widow, with her whole life turned upside down, Sophie decides to search for the motives behind Emmett’s murder, which means going back to Egypt.

Steinhauer’s 2009 novel The Tourist, the first in his Milo Weaver trilogy, was optioned for the screen by Sony, with Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity) set to direct. Steinhauer’s previous five novels, stories of crime and espionage set during the cold war, got high praise from reviewers everywhere, from Stephen King to Esquire magazine. New York magazine pronounced him “one of the best novelists you’ve never read.” Raised in Virginia, Steinhauer lived for years in Budapest and at one point taught a course in spy fiction at the University of Leipzig in Germany. He currently lives in New York.

The Cairo Affair has had a remarkable step-up in sales velocity, pre-orders, and general consumer excitement from his last book, the bestselling An American Spy,” says Minotaur publisher Andrew Martin. “First week out we are seeing a 40% increase in hardcover sales at retail, and nearly 150% increase in his e-book sales. It is a remarkable success and particularly rewarding as we have been publishing Olen since his first novel, The Bridge of Sighs, which sold just under 5,000 copies.” —Peter Cannon

Who Knows—Maybe the Daily Show or Colbert? Another Bestselling Preacher Makes the Nonfiction List for HarperOne

Prolific pastor Adam Hamilton (United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, in Leawood, Kans.) cracks our Hardcover Nonfiction list this week at #11 with Making Sense of the Bible: Rediscovering the Power of Scripture Today, his first book with HarperOne. Hamilton published 17 books with Methodist house Abingdon Press (not counting numerous spin-offs and church leaders’ guides) before moving to Harper. In its first week of release Making Sense sold more than 5,000 copies; first printing was 30,000 and the book has already gone back to press. HarperOne executive editor Roger Freet, who acquired the book, says Abingdon sold more than one million copies of Hamilton’s previous books and allied products and that he has had his eye on Hamilton for some time. “Making Sense was the culmination of many conversations with Adam to discern what type of book would be the best project for HarperOne,” Freet says, noting that Hamilton fits well with Harper’s list and focus on authors—many of them top religion professionals and scholars—who can write to audiences beyond the church or academia. (Harper-One authors Rob Bell, Bart Ehrman, and James Martin have all been guests on certain Comedy Central shows.) Freet says many of Hamilton’s upcoming tour events have already sold out. Abingdon partnered with HarperOne to simultaneously release a leader’s guide and DVD for Making Sense of the Bible. —Lynn Garrett

Schama Tells the History Of the Jews: PBS Tie-in Boosts Sales and Attention

Simon Schama achieves the feat of launching a 500-plus–page history into the marketplace and sticking the landing, in this case at the #18 spot on our Hardcover Nonfiction list after selling 3,800 copies its first week. Schama’s The Story of the Jews: Finding the Words, 1000 BCE–1492 CE covers nearly 2,500 years of Jewish history and yet is only “half” the story, as a follow-up volume is slated for this fall. In addition to the book, a companion documentary is currently airing on PBS, with the first two episodes having aired on March 25 and the concluding three episodes to air on Tuesday, April 1. Schama has also been doing the media rounds, with appearances on the Diane Rehm Show, the Colbert Report, and Charlie Rose, among others. His two-week book tour concludes today (March 31) in Cambridge, Mass., at Harvard University’s New Center for Arts and Culture.—Alex Crowley

Learning from History: A Novel About Escaping a Death Camp

It’s a departure from his usual idiom of contemporary thrillers with Middle East elements, but Joel Rosenberg’s historical novel The Auschwitz Escape (Tyndale) debuts characteristically high, at #7 on our Hardcover Fiction list. Rosenberg’s novel about a Christian pastor and a Jew who escape from the notorious Auschwitz death camp is based in fact. Rosenberg, who characterizes himself as a Jewish believer in Jesus, has already appeared on Fox News—he was interviewed by Shannon Bream while in Israel, and appeared on Greta Van Susteren’s On the Record. He had a lengthy interview with Pat Robertson on CBN’s The 700 Club. An op-ed he co-authored with former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum appeared at CNN.com. A book tour includes an event this week at a Manhattan synagogue. In its review, PW said the book was “Rosenberg’s most moving work to date.” Rosenberg’s previous books— he writes fiction and nonfiction —have sold nearly three million copies, with his latest adding to that total. —Marcia Z. Nelson

All the World’s a Stage for Doescher’s ‘Empire Striketh Back’

Verily, it was a perfect storm of classic literature, live theater, movies, and, of course, zombies that inspired Ian Doescher to fuse the most beloved playwright who ever lived and one of the most beloved motion picture franchises ever filmed: Shakespeare and Stars Wars. The Empire Striketh Back, the sequel to Doescher’s Star Wars, landed on the #10 spot on our Hardcover Nonfiction list this week with a little more than copies sold to date, according to Nielsen BookScan (which lists this title as nonfiction). The initial print run is 250,000 copies.

The play’s the thing: two years ago, after watching the Star Wars trilogy “for the millionth time,” and reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Doescher attended the Ashland, Ore., Shakespeare Festival and saw a live performance of a “funny, gay-marriage–themed, modern adaptation” of The Merry Wives of Windsor. The very next day, he recalls, with “mashups, Star Wars, and Shakespeare” on his mind, he decided to retell the futuristic intergalactic saga with a Shakespearean twist. While Doescher wrote Star Wars entirely in iambic pentameter, he was even more faithful to the Bard this time around. Just as servants and the common folk in Shakespeare’s plays speak in prose, so does bounty hunter Boba Fett. Jedi master Yoda, however, speaks in haiku, as befits a character with the sensibility of a Japanese sensei. The opening lines were pulled from Much Ado About Nothing, while Han Solo and Princess Leia’s dialogues were inspired by another pair of star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet. Doescher discloses that he also included references to The Pirates of Penzance, The Princess Bride, Pride and Prejudice, Moby Dick, and the U.S. Postal Service.

The last volume in the trilogy, The Jedi Doth Return, will be published in July. Doescher, an amateur singer/songwriter, hints that there will be lots of songs, perhaps even some Elizabethan gangsta rap. —Claire Kirch