Action Masters

Putnam editor-in-chief Neil Nyren has acquired a new novel by Frederick Forsyth, tentatively titled The Cobra, in a North American rights deal with Ed Victor. Forsyth's 13th novel, The Afghan, was published by Putnam in 2006; they expect to bring out the new one late in 2010.

In another deal brokered by Victor, Macmillan editor-at-large John Sterling bought two new novels by Benjamin Black (aka John Banville) for Holt. One will be the third mystery featuring Quirke, the Dublin pathologist first introduced in Christine Falls, and the other is a stand-alone mystery set in Ireland during WWII. Holt has North American rights and will publish the books in spring 2010 and spring 2011, respectively.

Hessler's Third to Harper

Harper executive editor Tim Duggan has acquired North American rights to Peter Hessler's Country Driving via William Clark. This is a narrative journey through contemporary China, seen through the eyes of ordinary people as the country undergoes dramatic economic growth; it is also the final book in a trilogy, after River Town and Oracle Bones, that covers the decade New Yorker Asian correspondent Hessler spent in China. Oracle Bones was a National Book Award finalist. U.K. rights to Country Driving went to Canongate, and ANZ rights went to Text. Andrew Nurnberg, who's handling foreign rights, just closed a deal with Berlin Verlag, which will publish in fall 2009, to coincide with the Frankfurt Book Fair, which will be hosting China as its guest of honor. HC will publish in 2010.

Viking Wins Debut

Viking publisher Paul Slovak outlasted five other editors in an auction for Drew Perry's first novel, This Is Just Exactly Like You; Peter Steinberg sold North American rights. The book is about the dysfunctional relationship between two couples and the autistic son of one of them; described as darkly humorous, Perry's work is drawing comparisons to Tom Perrotta, A.M. Homes and Frederick Barthelme. Perry has an M.F.A. from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and teaches writing at Elon University, also in North Carolina.

Elsewhere at Viking, Stephen Morrison acquired the second volume in Boston Philharmonic conductor Benjamin Zander and Rosamund Zander's series the Art of Possibility; John Taylor “Ike” Williams at Kneerim & Williams sold world rights. This inspirational book, yet untitled, will continue the Zanders' efforts to bring fulfillment to everyday lives; their first book, The Art of Possibility, was published in 2000 by Harvard Business School Press, and Penguin picked it up in paperback. Pub date for the new book is fall 2011.

De Sa to Algonquin

In her first purchase since moving to Algonquin Books, Jane Rosenman has picked up U.S. rights to Anthony De Sa's Barnacle Love in a two-book deal with Denise Bukowski. This novel—about the forces that tear a Portuguese immigrant family apart—is shortlisted for Canada's Giller Prize. The second novel in the deal, yet to be written, is called Carnival of Desire and is inspired by the true story of the rape and murder of a Portuguese shoeshine boy in 1970s Toronto.

Pondering God's Pottery

Carrie Thornton at Three Rivers Press won an auction for What Would God's Pottery Do? by the comedy duo God's Pottery via Peter McGuigan at Foundry, who sold North American rights. The book is modeled after the teen manuals intended to guide kids through adolescent minefields like peer pressure and sex, featuring God's Pottery's trademark enthusiasm and emphasis on folk music. The duo, currently on tour, was a fan favorite on last season's Last Comic Standing.