Houghton publisher Janet Silver has signed novelist, essayist and critic Cynthia Ozick, long a regular at Knopf, to a two-book deal: a new novel and an essay collection. The novel, which Silver enthusiastically describes as "a terrific read—her best and most accessible work yet," is an untitled story of a family of German refugees in the Bronx in the 1930s, supported by a benefactor who inherited a huge fortune from his father, a celebrated children's book author. The story is inspired by the lives of Christopher Robin and his father (and creator as a fictional character) A.A. Milne, as well as by some of the great 19th-century British novelists. Silver bought North American rights from agent Melanie Jackson, after an encounter between Ozick and a number of senior Houghton staffers. Publication will be next fall.