Aczel to Riverhead

Peking Man, the unearthing of which echoed throughout the recent Amy Tan bestseller The Bonesetter's Daughter, will be featured in a new work of narrative nonfiction by Amir D. Aczel titled The Jesuit and the Skull: Teilhard de Chardin and the Search for Peking Man. Riverhead's Jake Morrissey acquired the work at auction from Ike Williams at Kneerim & Williams. The book is about a French Jesuit anthropologist's role in the 1927 discovery of the prehistoric remains in China, and explores both the friction between science and religion and the dynamic between Eastern and Western thought. Morrissey himself is no stranger to this kind of thematic interplay; he wrote last year's The Geniusin the Design (Morrow), which examined the convergence of art and religion through the rivalry of Bernini and Borromini in 17th-century Rome. Aczel is the author of a number of books, including Fermat's Last Theorem and the more recent Descartes's Secret Notebook. Riverhead holds North American rights and plans to publish early in 2007.

Literary Celebrity

Actor and former talk show host Charles Grodin is soliciting and compiling essays from celebrities from the worlds of entertainment, sports, fashion and business to comprise Getting Smarter After Messing up (learning from our mistakes), which Springboard's Karen Murgolo preempted in a major six-figure world rights deal from Eileen Cope at Trident. Among the luminaries who will share stories of their own miscues and how they learned from them are Robert Redford, Paul Newman, Walter Cronkite and Art Garfunkel. Grodin, who will write the preface as well as contribute his own piece, about his father, will donate 100% of his profits from the deal to HELP USA, a nonprofit builder and operator of housing for the homeless. Springboard plans to publish in fall 2007.

And agent Noah Lukeman has sold the third novel from actor Gene Hackmanand Daniel Lenihan, this one titled To the River, again to George Witte at St. Martin's. The novel takes as its subject a Civil War POW camp, and the struggle of one Union officer to return to the camp to free his men; Witte acquired world rights and will publish in spring 2007.

TV personalities, real estate experts and mother/daughter duo Donna and Shannon Freeman of HGTV's Designed to Sell have written 7 Steps to Sold: The Secrets to Selling Your Home for Big Bucks... Fast, which Crown's Shana Drehs acquired from Laurie Munroe Abkemeier at DeFiore and Company; Drehs bought North American rights, and the book will be written with Craig Boreth.

Two for Touchstone

Touchstone v-p and editor-in-chief Trish Todd has preempted North American rights to British journalist Rachel Johnson'sNotting Hell and an untitled sequel from agent Melanie Jackson in a major six-figure acquisition. Johnson's comedy of manners centers on a Notting Hill communal garden, rife with celebrity neighbors, wealthy one-upmanship, battles over building permits and occasional adultery. Touchstone plans to publish in spring 2007.

The Briefing

Harcourt publisher Rebecca Saletan has acquired North American rights to the second novel by Moth Smoke author Mohsin Hamid, titled The Reluctant Fundamentalist, which tells the story of a Pakistani, Princeton-educated financial analyst in New York who finds his place in society has shifted after 9/11; Jay Mandel at William Morris brokered the deal and the pub date is spring 2007.... Martha Frankel's I See Your Point and Raise You One, a memoir about her foray into the sexy, and sexist, world of poker and how she almost lost everything playing poker online, was acquired by Sara Carder at Penguin/Tarcher, who bought North American rights from agent Lynn Johnston.... Agent Jane Dystel has sold three romantic suspense novels by Black Ice author Anne Stuart to Margaret Marbury at Mira in a world rights deal.