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Dante Scholars in Murder Mystery

An ambitious notion for a novel puts America's first Dante scholars, including Oliver Wendell Holmes, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, William Dean Howells and James Russell Lowell, on the track of a murderer who in 1860s Boston is killing people based on crimes portrayed in the Italian p t's Inferno. The author of this audacious work, called The Dante Club, is 24-year-old Yale Law School student Matthew Pearl, and the editor who snapped it up with a preemptive offer after a rapid weekend reading is Random senior editor Jonathan Karp. His winning bid--a sum that he wouldn't characterize beyond saying "it was high enough to give me a nosebleed"--was made to agent Suzanne Gluck at ICM, for North American rights, and he plans to publish in fall 2001. Pearl, who has specialized in the study of Dante scholarship in the U.S., began to research his book while still a student at Harvard. He discovered that the celebrated scholars he has put in the book actually formed a Dante Club, where they met frequently to work on the first U.S. translation of The Divine Comedy. In the book, they, along with Ralph Waldo Emerson, lend their expertise to the murder investigation. "It's an astonishing and daring piece of work, and I think Pearl is an exciting new voice in American fiction," Karp told PW.

A Comic's Naughty Stories

Rob Schneider is a comic formerly on TV's Saturday Night Live and Men Behaving Badly who made a recent successful movie debut in Deuce Bigalow, Male Gigolo. Now he has turned his hand, not so much to writing--he was a writer at SNL--but to a book. It's a collection of what senior editor Jason Kaufman at Pocket Books calls "grown-up naughty tales," titled Assorted Sordid Stories. Kaufman paid a six-figure advance to agent David Vigliano, working with Schneider's Hollywood agent, Kevin Volchok at Endeavor. The deal was for North American rights, with an option for S&S in the U.K. and Australia, and audio. Planned publication is for spring 2001.

'Rich Dad' Series to Warner

Warner Books has made a copublishing agreement with Cashflow Technologies in Ph nix, Ariz., for a series of books in the Rich Dad series originated by the company's principals, Robert and Kim Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter. The first book in the program, which will be overseen by executive editor Rick Wolff, is Rich Dad, Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money--That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!, originally published three years ago as a trade paperback by Tech Press, which now has 800,000 copies in print. To be released simultaneously with it next month is The Cash Flow Quadrant: Rich Dad's Guide to Financial Freedom, which currently has more than 300,000 copies in print. A guide to investing will follow in June, and two further titles will be published early in 2001. The books are based on the stories of Kiyosaki's own father, who died penniless in Hawaii, and his best friend's father, who dropped out of school and went on to become one of the islands' wealthiest men.

Steel Carries On

Danielle Steel has signed a further multibook contract with Irwyn Applebaum at her old stamping ground, Dell/Delacorte, that will, according to Applebaum, extend her relationship with the house "well into the new decade." The perennial bestseller habitually launches at least two books a year; there was no word on how many the new deal covered. It was worked out with her longtime agent, Mort Janklow at Janklow & Nesbit. Steel's The House on Hope Street is due in June, and her 50th novel, Journey, is set for October, to be accompanied by an extensive promotion of her large Dell backlist.

Short Takes

Marc Gafni is an American-born rabbi who has a hugely popular TV show in Israel; he is also a Bible student who draws lessons for living from the texts. His book Soul Prints was just bought for six figures by Pocket Books' Emily Bestler after a four-day auction involving six houses that was conducted by agent Mitchell Waters at Curtis Brown.... Norton's Jill Bialosky preempted, with a six-figure bid for world English rights, a book of short stories and a novel by movie-director-turned-writer Marisa Silver. The deal for Babe in Paradise, a collection of edgy stories set in Los Angeles, was conducted by agent Henry Dunow.... Bantam's Toni Burbank bought a new book by Daniel Goleman (of Emotional Intelligence fame). It's an account of conversations he and a group of philosophers and psychologists had with the Dalai Lama on Destructive Emotions and the Western and Buddhist ways of defusing them. The deal was put together by the Mind and Life Institute of Boulder, Colo., which arranged the get-together, and Bantam is selling world rights.
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