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Hot Deals
John F. Baker -- 2/7/00

New Novel from Hamilton
Jane Hamilton
, a two-time Oprah pick whose A Map of the World is currently a Sigourney Weaver movie, has signed with her longtime editor, Deb Futter at Doubleday, for a new novel. It's to be called Disobedience and is told from the point of view of a teenage boy who learns that his mother is having an affair conducted via the Internet. According to Futter, it is a book that displays a new side of the author -- "funny, even devilish at times" -- and has, more than most contemporary novels, a very hopeful take on the true significance of an affair. The deal is a hard-soft one with Anchor, for North American rights only, and the book is planned for October publication. Amanda Urban at ICM was the agent.

Another Christian Crossover
He's Reed Arvin, well-known in Christian music circles as a producer, lecturer and author. Now, however, agent Jane Dystel is decisively moving him into the mainstream via a six-figure deal with Scribner editor Jake Morrissey for a novel called The Will, to be a joint hard-soft publication with Pocket Books. The novel is a legal thriller about a Grisham-like young lawyer who has one very un-Grisham-like element in his past; he once studied to be a minister -- and must overcome many scruples to succeed in the tough Chicago law firm he has joined. Morrissey won the book at auction and plans to publish in the fall. Meanwhile, the Dystel agency has sold foreign rights in the U.K., Germany, Spain, Japan, Sweden, the Netherlands and Norway; it also reported a strong audio deal (with Brilliance) and said a movie/TV deal is imminent.

Antarctic Rescue Story Bought
When Dr. Jerri Nielsen, the only woman at a remote Antarctic base, found she had breast cancer and treated herself for several months before she could be rescued by a daring Air Force team, the story made headlines. It also caught the attention of Jonathan Burnham, president and editor-in-chief at Talk Miramax Books, whose first list is due out shortly. He pursued Nielsen, now safely home in Ohio, for her story, which he calls "inspirational." Finally, with the aid of Bob Barnett and Kathleen Ryan of Williams & Connolly in Washington, D.C. (and the fact that he could sweeten the deal with a story in Talk magazine and a Miramax movie option), she took him up on his offer. The book, for which Burnham obtained world rights, will be published this fall.

Big Norton Buy of Indian Novel
Jill Bialoski
at W.W. Norton, a house not noted for extravagant advances, shelled out nearly half a million dollars to land a hotly contested first novel by an Indian mathematics professor called The Death of Vishnu and set in Bombay. The agent, Nicole Aragi at Watkins/Loomis, said that author Manil Suri, who teaches at the University of Maryland and has lived in the U.S. for the past 20 years, plans the book to be the first of a trilogy in which the lives of contemporary Indians are interwoven with tales of the Hindu gods. Ten houses were involved in the week-long auction that led up to the sale, and Aragi has already made overseas sales in the U.K., Italy and Denmark, with more imminent. Norton plans to publish next January.

Short Takes
After a movie deal had been struck with Disney, Los Angeles agents Alan Nevins and J l Gotler of AMG/Renaissance brought the two children of Mafia informer Henry Hill (of the movie Goodfellas and the book Wiseguy) to meet New York publishers for a book about their life in the witness protection program. Warner's Rick Horgan paid $900,000 for world rights to the book, called Temporary Situation.... A book about a Merchant Marine captain who went on trial for the loss of his ship, Until the Sea Shall Free Them, was sold at a best-offer auction by agent Sterling Lord to Doubleday's Shawn Coyne for a mid-six-figures sum for world print rights. The author is Wall Street lawyer and former journalist Robert Frump.... New Directions' David Savage has bought, from French publisher Albin Michel, a new novel by Belgian author Amelie Nothomb called Le Sabotage Amoureux. The author, at only 33, has already published eight critically acclaimed novels in Europe.... The sister and mother of Michael Jordan are doing a book for Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, where senior editor Kevin Lewis bought world rights from agent Amy Berkower at Writer's House. The book, by Deloris and Roslyn Jordan, will be called Salt in His Sh s: Michael Jordan in Pursuit of a Dream and is scheduled for publication in November.
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