A unique first novel that caused a stir in the publishing world and, via film scouts, in Hollywood, was finally bought by Viking's Carole DeSanti ,against strong competition andfor a goodly sum, from agent Susan Golomb. It bears the unlikely title Special Topics in Calamity Physics ,is by a brilliant 27-year-old, Marisha Pessl ,and has already made good sales in Britain, France, Germany and Holland. It's about a young high schooler called Blue, her brainy father and her strange friends, and involves mysterious deaths and many smart cultural references that may or may not be real; it even has its own illustrations.... A book about the rise of celebrity chef Doug Psaltis —from his early job at a Long Island diner to becoming a protégé of Alain Ducasse and supervising the legendary French Laundry restaurant—was co-written by Psaltis and his brother Michael. In a remarkable twist, Michael also served as the agent to sell the book The Seasoning of a Chef , on exclusive offer, to Jennifer Josephy at Doubleday Broadway, for publication in September.... Bloomsbury USA's Karen Rinaldi has signed for two new books by British bad boy Will Self :a new novel, The Book of Dave , and a book about London called You Are Here . The North American deal, signed with Andrew Wylie , also includes a collection of Self's stories.... Another novel with a Da Vinci element, Leonardo's Swans ,was preempted by Doubleday's Deb Futter from Amy Williams at Collins-McCormick. Author Karen Essex tells of a Renaissance rivalry in Italy between the aristocratic Este sisters for the hand of the duke of Milan and the chance to be portrayed by his court painter, Leonardo.... Random House has sewn up Curtis Sittenfeld , author of the currently bestselling Prep,with a two-book deal that embraces two more novels, bought for North American rights by Laura Ford and Dan Menaker . The agent was Shana Kelly at William Morris.