Judith Regan, with her own Harper imprint, made a six-figure preemptive buy of a new novel by a widely translated South African novelist on a recent visit to London. The author is an Afrikaner, Etienne van Heerden, and his book The Long Silence of Mario Salviati is a work of magic realism about a museum curator visiting a remote mountain town to investigate the appearance of a mysterious sculpture. Regan said that reading only one page convinced her to buy it, from agent Isobel Dixon at London's Blake Friedmann agency. She aims to publish next winter.