The 2016 Petrona Award shortlist in full

Six brilliant crime novels from Finland, Norway and Sweden have made the shortlist for the 2016 Petrona Award for the Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year, which has been announced today.
The award is open to crime fiction in translation, either written by a Scandinavian author or set in Scandinavia. Previous winners include Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, Liza Marklund and Leif G W Persson. The winning title will be announced at the Gala Dinner on 21st May during Crimefest in Bristol.


THE DROWNED BOY by Karin Fossum (Norway)
Fossum’s spare prose and straightforward narrative belie the complexity at the heart of this novel. After the drowning of a young child with Down’s Syndrome, Chief Inspector Sejer must ask himself if one of the parents could have been involved. The nature of grief is explored, along with the experience of parenting children with learning difficulties. There’s a timeless feel to the writing and a sense of justice slowly coming to pass.
THE DEFENCELESS by Kati Hiekkapelto (Finland)


The second in Hiekkapelto’s ‘Anna Fekete’ series is an assured police procedural rooted in the tradition of the Nordic social crime novel. Its exploration of immigrant experiences is nuanced and timely, and is woven into an absorbing mystery involving an elderly man’s death and the escalating activities of an international gang. A mature work by a writer who is unafraid to take on challenging topics.


THE CAVEMAN by Jorn Lier Horst (Norway)
Horst’s THE CAVEMAN begins with the discovery of a four-month-old corpse just down the road from William Wisting’s home. Troubled by his neighbour’s lonely death in an apparently uncaring society, the Chief Inspector embarks on one of the most disturbing cases of his career. Beautifully written, this crime novel is a gripping read that draws on the author’s own experiences to provide genuine insights into police procedure and investigation.


THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB by David Lagercrantz (Sweden)
The late Stieg Larsson created the groundbreaking, two-fingers-to-society, bisexual anti-heroine Lisbeth Salander. When Larsson’s publishers commissioned a fourth book, they turned to David Lagercrantz, whose THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB often reads uncannily like Larsson’s own text. His real achievement is the subtle development of Salander’s character; she remains (in Lagercrantz’s hands) the most enigmatic and fascinating anti-heroine in fiction.


SATELLITE PEOPLE by Hans Olav Lahlum (Norway)
An accomplished homage to Agatha Christie, SATELLITE PEOPLE adds a Nordic twist to classic crime fiction tropes. References to Christie novels abound, but Lahlum uses a Golden Age narrative structure to explore Norway’s wartime past, as Inspector Kristiansen and Patricia investigate a former Resistance fighter’s death. Excellent characterisation, a tight plot and a growing sense of menace keep the reader guessing until the denouement.


DARK AS MY HEART by Antti Tuomainen (Finland)
Tuomainen’s powerful and involving literary crime novel has a mesmerising central concept: thirty-year-old Aleksi is sure he knows who was behind his mother’s disappearance two decades ago, but can he prove it? And to what extent does his quest for justice mask an increasingly unhealthy obsession with the past? Rarely has atmosphere in a Nordic Noir novel been conjured so evocatively.
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Program Festival de Cannes 2014 Best-seller to Box-office

The Literary Adaptation Pavillon Best-Seller to Box-office
Village International Pantiero – Pavillon 212
From the 14th to the 23rd of May
PROGRAM

OPENING COCKTAIL!

• Friday the 16th from 5pm to 7pm with our partner Ricard-Chivas

BEST-SELLER TO BOX-OFFICE (BS2BO):What is-it?

Come and join for a happy Hour every day at 5pm.We will explain everything about Best-seller to Box-office, from our internet platform of books to adapt to the services we offer to producers.

BEST-SELLER TO BOX-OFFICE PITCHING SESSIONS

Come and join our pitching sessions every day.We will suggest books, available for film adaptation, coming from different countries. Among them, books with potential to be co-produced! There will also be a special session dedicated to Comic Books and graphic novels.

See below the list of invited countries and dates:

• Saturday the 17th from 11am to 12pm: Scandinavia

• Sunday the 18th from 11am to 12pm: Spain in partnership with Hispabooks Publishing

• Monday the 19th from 11am to 12pm: Comic Books and Graphic novels in the presence of film rights holders

• Tuesday the 20th from 4pm to 5pm: Italy in partnership with the Creative Europe Desk Italia

This pitching session will be followed by a typical South of France aperitif with our partner Ricard-Chivas.

COMICS BOOK CONFERENCE WITH LAURENT DUVAULT FROM MEDIA PARTICIPATIONS

Wednesday The 21st of May at 11am

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THE 2014 CANNES FESTIVAL : THE ADAPTATIONS

The official selection was announced last week and so it is time for Best-Seller to Box-Office to give you further information about the adaptations short-listed this year:

- La Chambre Bleue

- Coming Home

- How to Train a Dragon 2

- The Homesman

- Foxcatcher

LA CHAMBRE BLEUE by Georges Simenon: Simenon is a very famous French author who wrote more than 200 novels. Many of his books have been adapted into movies.

Antoine ”Tony” Falcone is interviewed by the police and analyzes his short affair with with Andrée Despierre. He lives a normal family life with his wife and children and, at the same time, has a second life as a womanizer thanks to his brother who owns an hotel in Triant.

La Chambre Bleue directed by Mathieu Amalric, out of competition.

THE CRIMINAL LU YANSHI by Yan Geling: Yan Geling is a Chinese writer and screenwriter. She is a major figure of today’s Chinese literature. Her novel Tiānyù was made into a movie in 1988 directed by Joan Chen. It one of the most beautiful adaptations of all times.

This slim novel, narrated by the granddaughter of Lu Yanshi, tells the story of one Chinese intellectual’s tragic experiences from the 1920s to the 1990s. Like Yan Geling’s other stories, Criminal sticks close to love, cruelty, kindness, and family ties, all hung against a backdrop of historical change. Lu Yanshi, the favored son of a major Shanghai family, was forced after his father’s death to marry his niece, after which he fled to the US to study. Returning to China with a doctorate, he find a position as a professor, and enters into a love triangle with his wife and young step-mother. In the fifties he is condemned as a rightist and sent to a labor camp in Qinghai to serve his twenty year sentence. During that time his memories of his wife are his only support, but when he’s finally released and returns to her, he finds she has all but forgotten him.

Coming Home directed by Zhang Yimove, out of competition.

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON by Cressida Cowell: How to Train Your Dragon, released in 2010 was nominated twice at the 83rd Oscars ceremony. The movie short-listed for the Cannes Festival is the second one of a trilogy planned by Dean DeBlois.

A series of twelve books for young adults following the adventures of Hiccup and his dragon Toothless.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 directed by Dean DeBlois, out of competition.

THE HOMESMAN by Glendon Swarthout: Swarthout is a famous American author who was twice short-listed for the Pulitzer Prize. Some of his pieces were adapted into movie. The adaptation of The Homesman has been planned for a long time: a version starring Paul Newman was planned but it is the Tommy Lee Jones’ movie, starring Hilary Swank and Meryl Streep among others, which will be released.

A devastating, humane story of early pioneers to America’s West in the 1850′s. It celebrates the ones we hear nothing of — the brave women whose hearts and minds were broken by that life of bitter hardship. When a nineteen-year-old mother loses her three children to diphtheria in three days, or a woman left alone for two nights has to shoot wolves as they crash through the window, it is no wonder they should lose their minds. After a dreadful winter, the Rev. Dowd finds there are four such cases in his parish and, as yet, no asylum.

The Homesman directed by Tommy Lee Jones, in compétition.

FOXCATCHER by Marx Schultz: the movie based on Schultz’ life will star many celebrities such as Steve Carell, Channing Tatum or Sienna Miller.

Schultz’ autobiography. He is a famous american wrestler and writes about the important events of his life, such as the death of his brother Dave, also a wrestler, or the 1984 Olympic Games where he won a gold medal.

Foxcatcher directed by Benett Miller, in compétition.

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MOVIES THAT WILL MAKE NOISE IN BOOK STORES THIS YEAR

PROMISED LAND

Gus van Sant’s PROMISED LAND, which stars Matt Damon as a natural gas salesman looking to exploit the resources in a small American town, is heading to Berlin, where it will have its international premiere in competition at the 2013 Berlin International Film Festival.

The drama, which also stars Frances McDormand, John Krasinski, Rosemarie DeWitt and Hal Holbrook, will be the fourth Van Sant’s film to feature in Berlin’s line-up.

The screenplay is written by Damon and Krasinski based on a story by Dave Eggers, known for the best-selling memoir A HEARTBREAKING WORK OF STAGGERING GENIUS.

One of his book ZEITOUN has been optioned by Jonathan Demme, who is working on a screenplay for an animated film-rendition of the work. The story is of a Syrian immigrant in New Orleans who was helping neighbors after Hurricane Katrina when he was arrested, imprisoned and suffered abuse.

Eggers published his most recent novel, A HOLOGRAM FOR THE KING, in July 2012. In October of that year, the novel was announced as a finalist for the National Book Award.

THE GREAT GATSBY

Announced as Festival de Cannes 2013 opening night…

Baz Luhrman’s screen adaptation of The Great Gatsby, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan and Tobey Maguire, as narrator Nick Carraway, is based on the 1925 F. Scott Fitzerald novel.

In France, the famous publisher Gallimard will publish a comic novel, transposition of the novel in Shanghai in the early twenty-first century.

THE CONGRESS

The Israeli film maker Ari Folman next film, The Congress. is loosely based on a story by Stanislaw Lem, THE FUTUROLOGICAL CONGRESS, a 1971 black humour science fiction novel detailing the exploits of the hero of a number of his books, Ijon Tichy, as he visits the Eighth World Futurological Congress at a Hilton Hotel in Costa Rica. The book is Lem’s take on the common sci-fi trope of an apparently Utopian future that turns out to be an illusion.

Folman first gained attention with his animated film Waltz With Bashir. The Congress has Robin Wright, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Paul Giamatti, and Danny Huston set to star. The story follows an “actress who makes a deal that changes her future in ways she could never predict.”

What makes The Congress stand out is that it will feature some live-action mixed in with the animation.

Stanislaw Lem was a Polish writer of science fiction, philosophy and satire. His books have been translated into 41 languages and have sold over 27 million copies. He is known as the author of the 1961 novel SOLARIS, which has been made into a feature film three times.

WORLD WAR Z

The movie, due to be released on June 2013, is based on the novel of the same name by Max Brooks. Brad Pitt stars as Gerry Lane, a worker at the United Nations, as he searches the globe for information that can stop the zombie outbreak that is bringing down nations.

Brooks’ book WORLD WAR Z : AN ORAL HISTORY OF THE ZOMBIE WAR, which deals with the war between the human race and zombies, was released in 2006. Paramount Pictures acquired the movie rights with Brad Pitt’s production company Plan B Entertainment producing the film. Brooks was not willing to write the screenplay for the motion picture, as he feels he is not an accomplished enough screenwriter to “do it right”.

SAVING MR. BANKS and MARY POPPINS

Saving Mr. Banks is an upcoming biographical drama film about the production of the popular 1964 Walt Disney Studios film Mary Poppins. The film will star Tom Hanks as filmmaker Walt Disney and Emma Thompson as author P.L. Travers, directed by John Lee Hancock from a screenplay by Kelly Marcel. Walt Disney Pictures will release the film on December 20, 2013.

It took Disney 14 years to persuade a reluctant Travers to relinquish the rights. The resulting film, released in 1964, won five Academy Awards including best actress for Dame Julie Andrews.

But Travers was so horrified by the film that she wept through the world premiere. From that day until her death in 1996 she railed against Disney for “betraying” the character and producing a film that was “all fantasy and no magic”.

The new film is titled Saving Mr Banks, a reference to the Disney scriptwriters’ attempts to write the character out of the story as they drifted from Travers’s original plot.

Travers, who died in 1996, became a rich woman thanks to the film royalties but refused to work with Disney again. The new film is a Disney production.

Her experience with Hollywood executives was so bruising that she agreed to a Mary Poppins stage musical by Sir Cameron Mackintosh on the proviso that “no Americans” be involved in its creation.

50 SHADES OF GREY

You will hear also of Kelly Marcel (the one who wrote the script « Saving Mr Banks) as she has also been hired by Universal and Focus to write the script of the international best-seller 50 SHADES OF GREY by E.L. James. Apparently E.L James received $ 3 million, something not seen since the DA VINCI CODE.

The books (there are three in total) deal with the relationship between billionaire Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele, a college student who meets him when she steps in for a friend to conduct an interview with him.  It literally began as “Twilight” fan fiction that then got tweaked and rewritten by author E.L. James so it could stand alone.  Whoever they hire for director is going to have a very tough gig, because the MPAA is notoriously skittish about sexually-themed material, and this is going to be one of the biggest mainstream treatments of a bondage-and-domination based relationship that anyone’s ever attempted.  There’s pretty much no way to approach this without getting an R, and there’s no way Universal is going to want this to end up with an NC-17….

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Disney Marvel pampers its superheroes

After The Avengers, it’s Spider Man’s turn to light up the screen! Whether you like it or not, ol’ Spidey belongs to the superhero film genre.

At the global box office, the Spider Man franchise has raked in a mere 2.5 billion dollars since 2002! So now, the CEOs of Marvel and Sony-Columbia have decided to throw the dice once more.

The addiction is knowingly maintained by Marvel, one of the two giants of comic books, along with DC Comics, whose characters are posted in most of the superhero films that have been released recently.

At first, Marvel contented itself with selling exploitation licences to the studios that wanted to bring the great figures of American comics to the screen. But given the success of its films (even Fantastic Four, that was quite mediocre, garnered 300 million in profits), the publishing house decided to launch itself into cinematographic production. It was a good bet, as was proved by the triumph of Iron Man in 2008.

Bought by Disney in 2009, Marvel now benefits from an infrastructure capable of mounting the most ambitious projects, such as The Avengers that brings together 7 heroes in one film. The idea for Marvel is to launch a “chapter” devoted to one of its heroes every year, and one Avengers the brings them all together, once every three years. New characters must be introduced progressively and join the Avengers.

If these projects come to fruition, over the next few years audiences will be introduced to lesser-known characters such as Luke Cage, known as “the hero for hire”, a mercenary with superpowers and the first African American to have obtained his own series. Plus, many more…

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The Waterstone selection

Have you had a look at Waterstone selection of the debut novels they consider the most interesting and also the most likely to scoop up the literay prizes and accolades in 2012?

5 of them are registered in Best-seller to Box-office data base, www.bs2bo.com, since April 2011!

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce, Doubleday (15 Mar 2012)

Harold Fry receives a letter from an old friend whom he hasn’t seen in 20 years. Queenie is dying of an inoperable cancer. Harold writes her a letter, but instead of posting it, he finds himself on an unplanned journey from Dorset to the north of England – 500 miles, entirely on foot.

Complete report on http://www.bs2bo.com

The Land of Decoration by Grace McLean, Chatto & Windus (1 Mar 2012)

The story is told by Judith, the daughter of a Jehovah’s Witness, a sect who preach that the end of the world is nigh. Her father, a widower, works in a factory, is very dour and grumpy. Judith lives very much in an imaginary world she has created, called “The Land of Decoration”, which is a microcosm of her own world, with her neighborhood made from clay and cardboard, and small figurines representing the people in her life. Judith is entranced when one day she depicts it snowing in The Land of Decoration and then it does.

Complete report on http://www.bs2bo.com

The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan,  VIRAGO – October 2011

An ocean liner sank crossing the Atlantic, but unlike the Titanic episode of the year before, they are not in the North Sea.
Grace tells us, from within her prison, of how she came to be there. In one of the lifeboats are 40 people in a boat designed for 38. They just manage to stay afloat, and have to paddle vigorously to avoid being sucked into the vortex of the sinking liner. They also must pass other people: children, women, men-without taking them on board. The theme is set-who will survive? And at what cost?

Complete report on http://www.bs2bo.com

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker, Random House (juin 2012)

The novel centers on an eleven-year-old girl and her family who wake one morning in their modest suburban home in California, to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth has suddenly begun to slow.

Complete report on http://www.bs2bo.com

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach, Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (September 7, 2011)

At Westish College, a small school on the shore of Lake Michigan, baseball star Henry Skrimshander seems destined for big league stardom. But when a routine throw goes disastrously off course, the fates of five people are upended.

Film rights optionned by HBO

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The 28th German Crime Fiction Prize (Deutscher Krimipreis) was awarded to Mechthild Bormann (Wer das Schweigen bricht), Friedrich Ani (Süden), Elisabeth Hermann (Zeugin der Toten) this week.

International honourees were Peter Temple (Truth), Don Winslow (Savages) and Kate Atkinson (Started Early, Took my Dog). The award does not entail any prize money and is awarded for literary excellence and achievement of new impulses for the genre.

None of these books have already been translated into english yet.

First Prize : Wer das Schweigen bricht (The one who breaks the silence) by Mechtild Borrmann, 224 pages, published by Pendragon, Feb 2011.

After the death of his father, Robert Lubisch finds at his father’s house, a box containing a picture of a woman he never met and identity papers of an SS named Wilhelm Peters. What connection does this have with Friedhelm Lubisch, his father, an honourable business man?

Intrigued, Robert Lubisch starts to investigate and discovers the identity of the lady, a woman named Therese. He meets the journalist Rita Albers, who actually tracks Therese. Therese knows the truth about a dark history that took place during  World War II: In 1939, six young men and women had promised each other to always stay friends. But nazism and war have undermined this friendship: betrayal, murder … and at the end resentment.

Robert Lubisch is far, very far from suspecting the truth with Therese.

2nd prize : Süden by Friedrich Ani, Droemer mars 2011

Friederich Ani was born in 1959 and lives in Munich. Four of his novels featuring Dectective Tabor Süden won the German Crime Novel of the Year award. His first novel featuring Polonius Fischer (Idylle der Hyänen, Zsolnay, 2006) received the prestigious Tukan Prize of the City of Munich for Best Novel of the Year and prompted critic Tobias Gohlis of Die Zeit to hail Ani as ‘one of the best crime writers of today.’

3rd prize : Zeugin der Toten (The Cleaner) by Elisabeth Herrmann, List Hardcover, March 2011

Elisabeth Herrmann is one the most exciting voices of our time. Lively, dark and atmospheric, her writing style has been delighting readers of crime fiction since the publication of The Sitter in 2005, which is currently being filmed. The author lives in Berlin.

Judith Kepler is a ‘cleaner’ – the person who removes all traces of death once the police have completed their work at a crime scene. A clean-up job after a particularly drawnout and bloody murder plunges Judith into the dark world of international espionage, when she discovers that the murdered woman – Christina Borg – had Judith’s own files from the children’s home that they once apparently shared. Judith’s quest to discover her link to Borg attracts the attention of the CIA, of German intelligence agencies and of unknown rogue agents who are trying to find a ‘lost’ microfilm uncovered by Borg and which contains details of top East German spies in senior positions in the West.

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Francesca Melandri, an italian writer you should keep your eye on

Best-seller to Box-office recommends to have a look at her two novels. This is an interesting new author in Italy.

Francesca Melandri worked for a while as a scriptwriter and now is a full time writer. A first novel Eva Dorme (Eva sleeps) will be presented to producers at the Berlinale 2012.

PIU ALTO DEL MARE

The novel is out in Italy.  It has been sold to Rizzoli (change of publisher, before it was Mondadori), option in Germany (Blessing Verlag), France (Gallimard) and Holland (Cossee).

Piu’ alto del mare is a novel about two unlikely people joined by tragedy. It is a testament to the suffering of those involved – directly or indirectly – with violent crime: the criminals themselves, their families, their victims and their prison guards. Luisa, Paolo and Nitti are strong, well-drawn characters who invoke empathy in the reader, and their unusual love story is really moving. The island too is a forceful presence in the narrative.

Pitch: A love story of a standing alone night set in a island of the South were two people are visiting relatives in a secluded jail.

The story

Set in Italy in 1979, during the “Anni di piombo” (the “Lead Years”), this is the story of an unexpected romance forged on an unnamed penitentiary island in the Mediterranean.

Paolo is a former Philosophy teacher whose only son is serving a sentence for murder and terrorism in the maximum security prison located on the unnamed island. His son became involved in terrorist activities linked to the Communist Party. Paolo keeps the photo of the daughter of the man his son killed in his wallet as a reminder of his son’s crime. He is a widower, as his wife died a few months after their son’s conviction.

Luisa is an uneducated cattle-farmer whose husband is also serving time for two murders (including the murder of a prison guard). She looks after their 5 children and their farm. In comparison to Paolo, she is not devastated by her husband’s incarceration: he was a violent man and she is happy to be left in peace. The story is set at the time of her first visit to the island after her husband’s transfer. It is the first time she has seen the sea.

Nitti is a prison guard who lives with his wife and family on the island, despite his constant requests for a transfer to the mainland. Nitti has been severely marked by his profession: he regularly participates in acts of violence and degradation towards the prisoners (a fact that he is too ashamed to talk to his wife about).

Paolo, Luisa, and Nitti find themselves thrown together when a freak storm prevents the two visitors from returning to the continent. Nitti is put in charge of their surveillance and they enjoy an evening at his family home, followed by a night at a disused residence.

The next day Paolo and Luisa are able to travel back to the mainland on the ferry. At Luisa’s bequest they book a double-room on the boat, and they make love for the first – and only – time. Before they part, Luisa takes the photo of the victim’s daughter out of Paolo’s wallet and tells him that she will look after it for him.  Some days after their trip there is a  prisoner’s revolt at the maximum security prison on the island, as a result of which the prisoners are all transferred. Paolo and Luisa know that they will never have again the possibility of meeting while visiting their relatives. They have a short and sweek phone call and this is all, but they are very closed even if so far away each other.

The epilogue – set 30 years later – reveals that Nitti finally returned to the mainland after suffering health problems. Luisa’s husband died and she remarried a widower in her village. Paolo’s son was released after serving 19 years in prison and 8 more years in semi-liberty. During his sentence he privately contacted the family of his victim, including the girl in the photo. Upon his release he set up a program to help reinsert ex-prisoners back into society. He lives with his father. Luisa still has the photo that she took from Paolo’s wallet.

EVA DORME (Eva sleeps)

Her previous novel. Eva Dorme was awarded the Gran Premio delle Lettrici di Elle 2011 in Italy and sold 20.000 copies, which is great for a first novel in Italy. it was sold to Gallimard, Cossee, Blessing.

Eva Dorme tells about an orphaned land, a fatherless little girl, and a passionate, star-crossed love.

A story of love lost and found, and also the true story of South Tyrol, a land so many people visit, so few people really know. A story atonement and reconciliation, both personal and political.

Pitch: Love story set in the period of German indipendentist terrorism in South Tirolo in Italy.

The story

It’s a cool April dawn. Fourtysomething Eva can’t sleep, like on so many other nights. She opens the window, inhales the balmy mountain air.

The phone rings. An old man’s feeble voice calls Eva by her childhood nickname. He’s dying, he says, and wants to see her one last time. It’s Vito. A retired military policeman from Italy’s South, he’s a veteran of the fight against Southtyrolean terrorism in the ‘60s – somber, violent times of ethnic strife, killings and bombs.

Those were also the times, however, of Vito’s love for beautiful Gerda Huber. Gerda was a German-speaking cook in a first class Hotel, the sister of a ruthless terrorist and Eva’s single mother – and this in a conservativly Catholic mountain community. When Vito entered her life Eva, still a little girl, experienced for the first and only time in her life what a father can be: someone who cares for you so deeply he might even scold you so as to make you a better person.

So Eva travels by rail down South, all along Italy’s spine, all the way from the Alps to Calabria, the Boot’s toes. And as she travels, the history of South Tyrol and of the Huber family unravels.

Why did Vito disappear from Gerda’s life? What happened to him? And why did this man, who loved Eva as if she were his own child, never try to keep in touch with her?

It’s high time for Eva to find out. Somehow she knows: only by facing the truth will she ever be able to sleep soundly again, like when she was a little girl.

Complete story on http://www.bs2bo.com (subscribers)

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Here is a potential bestseller in the vein of The Historian : The Taker by Alma Katsu.

It was bought by this new imprint from Simon & Schuster called Gallery Books. There will be a sequel : The Reckoning.

It is already sold to Longanesi in Italy, Proszynski Media in Poland, Novo Conceito in Brazil, Random House Mondadori in Spain, In Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary and Russia.

We enjoyed it very much. It’s a  very plot filled and rollicking yarn sort of  supernatural novel which is a  mash up of “Interview with a Vampire” and “The Historian” as well as “Let the Right One In”, “Picture of Dorian Gray” and all sorts of Gothic romances. The idea of having the characters be immortals (and not vampires) worked very well. Their eternal youth robs them of wisdom, or at least, impedes the begetting of it. The book is definitely gripping and immersive, very commercial and fun.

The story

Luke, a burnt out doctor in modern day Maine, comes across a very young woman accused of murdering a man in the woods-she is to be examined for her mental state. But while he is looking after her she tells him (and gives him proof) of her existence as an immortal, and that she did kill a man in the woods, but it was not murder.  He helps her escape from the hospital and goes with her to Canada, and during their road trip, she tells him the events of her life.

Lanny was once a young girl in 18th century Maine, and the childhood friend of Jonathan, who was marginally older-the most beautiful youth imaginable, and the great love of her life. She conspired to cause the death of his sweetheart, who was pregnant with his child, and then herself became pregnant by Jonathan, who though he loved things about Lanny, never was in love with her.  Lanny is sent by her family to Boston to have her baby, but is caught up before she ever arrives at the Home for Unwed Mothers. She is instead brought into the household of Adair, a charismatic and manipulative figure who is immortal. He takes her as a mistress into his house, which is filled with his ex-lovers and concubines, all of whom he holds under a control and to whom he has granted immortality. Lanny joins him in this harem, and soon discovers the delights of his sensual and very bohemian world. Adair is some sort of nobleman, possibly of Eastern European descent (though it’s never really made clear) and he tells Lanny of how he was one a poor peasant boy apprenticed to an evil alchemist, and how the alchemist corrupted him. He gradually found a way to have the alchemist destroyed, after having taken some of the alchemist’s enduring life potion. He has travelled since, having taken over the land and properties of the alchemist. Lanny is frightened by the story, but also fascinated. The others in the household are all flawed characters whom he has picked up along the way, and she wonders what wayward element within herself he is drawn to.

All the time, though, she is thinking about Jonathan, whom she knows is still back in their home village. She makes the mistake of telling one of Adrian’s minions about Jonathan, and soon she is sent  to the village to bring him back. She finds him married with a child, but also in the thrall of a mistress. His incredible beauty causes women to chase him and he gives in-he is an intelligent man, the heir to a large fortune in the form of land and a lumber mill, but his tomcatting ways in the village catch up with him and he is shot by the jealous husband of one of his lovers. Lanny is present when the crime happens, and having stolen a vial of the elixir from Adair, administers some to Jonathan. She now has him in her power as Adair had her, but more importantly, he must flee the village, too, and goes to live with Adair in the household. Adair falls victim to his charms very quickly, and begins granting him great favours. Jonathan’s weakness is that he cannot help but be adored, and he is never constant in his love.  Lanny watches helplessly as Jonathan takes to city life. But she also deduces that Adair is not the peasant boy who took the position of the evil alchemist but the alchemist himself, who had taken over the body of his handsome apprentice, and who is now aiming to do the same with Jonathan’s body.  Jonathan is the perfect vessel and also much more acceptable in his looks to the American aesthetic. Adair is about to re-invent himself. He has already begun transferring funds into the name of Jonathan, and Lanny realises she does not have much time before she loses Jonathan forever. She drugs Adair so heavily that she and Jonathan  can tie him up securely, and then they carry him down to the deepest cellar in the house. Jonathan walls him up inside the cellar, chained and  gagged. Then they run away. But all that they have done in their lives weighs too heavily on them and after some time together they finally separate, each aware the other is still alive, but not maintaining contact. Meanwhile over the centuries Adair is chained in a concrete cellar, not dead but not really living-punished for his sadism and cruelty, his minions having fled. Lanny buys Adair’s house and rents it to an undertaker’s.

Lanny has told all this to Luke, and confesses that she has taken a number of lovers over the years, but as they age and grow old, she moves on. She has several terrible flaws, chief among them being a survivor of the highest calibre. She has compassion for others, but never to the point that it impedes her own decisions or needs. And in fact Jonathan had finally tired of life, after having lost a woman he truly loved, and after having in all the centuries matured into a medical doctor, a life saving surgeon in Africa, and a man who wants to atone. He begged Lanny to kill him, as she alone, as the administering agent of the elixir, has the power to kill him. She does do it, but it breaks her heart. And that is when she met Luke.

At the end she realises that she must also atone for her actions and begins returning the many precious objects she had collected over the decades in her travels, and begins to see a way to live a different life. She goes out for haircut, preparing to begin a new life with Luke (for however long it may last) as Luke notices a letter from her solicitor in Boston who deals with the house where Adair is entombed…

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ARABIC FICTION : FOLLOW THESE NAMES

The names of the six shortlisted authors for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction 2012 were revealed at a press conference in Cairo, Egypt, the 11th of January.

The six shortlisted titles were chosen from a longlist of 13, announced in November 2011, selected from 101 submissions from 15 countries across the Arab world.

2012 marks the fifth anniversary of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction. Since its inception, it has become a leading cultural event in the Arab world and is respected for its unwavering commitment to independence, transparency and integrity.

The six shortlisted authors and titles are :

1/Jabbour Douaihy, Lebanese, and his book The Vagrant (Dar al-Nhar ).

Jabbour al-Douaihy was born in Zgharta, northern Lebanon, in 1949. He holds a PhD degree in Comparative Literature from the Sorbonne and works as Professor of French Literature at the University of Lebanon. To date, he has published seven works of fiction, including novels, short stories and children’s books. His novel June Rain was shortlisted for the inaugural IPAF in 2008, and will be published in English by Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing in October 2012.

The Vagrant provides a realistic, engaging portrayal of the Lebanese civil war through the eyes of a young man who finds himself uprooted by the conflict. The hero represents the crisis of the Lebanese individual imposed upon by a sectarian reality. We follow his struggle to belong as he faces unfamiliar situations and conflicts in a society that considers him an outsider.

2/Rabee Jaber, Lebanese, and his book The Druze of Belgrade (Al-Markez al-Thaqafi al-Arabi).

Lebanese novelist and journalist Rabee Jaber was born in Beirut in 1972. He has been editor of Afaq, the weekly cultural supplement of Al-Hayat newspaper, since 2001. His first novel, Master of Darkness, won the Critics’ Choice Prize in 1992. He has since written 16 novels, including: Black Tea; The Last House; Yousif Al-Inglizi; The Journey of the Granadan (published in German in 2005), Berytus: A City Beneath the Earth (published in French by Gallimard in 2009) and America, which was shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2010.

The Druze of Belgrade : After the 1860 civil war in Mount Lebanon, a number of fighters from the religious Druze community are forced into exile, travelling by sea to the fortress of Belgrade on the boundary of the Ottoman Empire.  In exchange for the freedom of a fellow fighter, they take with them a Christian man from Beirut called Hana Yaaqub; an unfortunate egg seller who happens to be sitting at the port. The Druze of Belgrade follows their adventures in the Balkans, as they struggle to stay alive.

3/ Ezzedine Choukri Fishere, Egyptian, and his book Embrace on Brooklyn Bridge (Dar al-Ain).

Ezzedine Choukri Fishere is an Egyptian writer and diplomat. Born in Kuwait in 1966, he grew up in Egypt, where he graduated from Cairo University in 1987 with a BA in Political Science. After graduation, he attended a number of universities in France and Canada and attained an International Diploma in Administration from The National School of Administration, Paris (1990-92). He went on to gain a Masters in International Relations from Ottawa University (1992-95) and a doctorate in Political Science from Montreal University (1993-98). He currently teaches political science at the American University in Cairo, but also lectures at a number of other universities. In addition, he writes political articles for several Arabic, English and French periodicals and newspapers.

Embrace on Brooklyn Bridge is a novel about alienation in its various forms and senses: the hero who doesn’t belong; his second wife, torn between professional ambition and a desperation to give her husband the impression she belongs in his world; his son, with whom he has limited communication; his granddaughter, uncertain where she belongs, and his Egyptian friend, who discovers that neither his children nor his Cuban-American-Lebanese wife belong to his world. All these characters are linked by their relationship with the protagonist, who draws them together by inviting them to his granddaughter’s birthday party, at which he intends to convey some sad news.

4/ Nasser Iraq, Egyptian, and his book The Unemployed (Al-Dar al-Masriya al-Lubnaniya)

Nasser Abelfatah Ibrahim Iraq graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Cairo University, in 1984. He has worked in cultural journalism in Egypt and co-founded the Dubai Al-Thaqafiya magazine where he has been managing editor since 2004. He has published a number of books, including:  A History of Journalistic Art in Egypt (2002), which won the Ahmad Bahaa al-Din Prize in its first year; Times of the Dust (2006); From the Excess of Love (2008); The Green and the Damaged (2009) and The Unemployed (2011). He currently works as Cultural and Media Co-ordinator for the Foundation of Culture and Science Symposium in Dubai.

The Unemployed tells the story of a young, educated Egyptian man from a middle-class family who, like so many others, is forced to look for work in Dubai due to the lack of opportunity in Cairo. In Dubai, he discovers an astonishing world filled with people of all nationalities and he experiences mixed treatment from his friends, relations and acquaintances. And then, just as he falls in love with an Egyptian girl, he finds himself imprisoned for the murder of a Russian prostitute…

5/Bashir Mufti, Algerian, and his book Toy of Fire (Al-Ikhtilef),

Bashir Mufti is a writer and journalist, born in 1969 in Algiers, Algeria. He has published a number of short story collections and novels, including: Archipelago of Flies (2000); Witness of the Darkness (2002); Perfumes of the Mirage (2005); Trees of the Resurrection (2007) and Maps of Nightly Passion (2009). Some of his works have been translated into French. He often writes articles in the Arabic press and works in Algerian television as assistant producer of the cultural programme Maqamat.

Toy of Fire is the story of a meeting between the novelist, Bashir Mufti, and a mysterious character called Rada Shawish, who presents Mufti with a manuscript containing his autobiography. Shawish’s goal in life has always been not to turn out like his father, who ran an underground cell in the seventies and committed suicide in the eighties. However, circumstances have driven him to follow in his father’s footsteps, resulting in him becoming a leading member of a secret group of his own.

6/ Habib Selmi, Tunisian, and his book The Women of al-Basatin (Dar al-Adab).

Habib Selmi was born in al-’Ala, Tunisia, in 1951. He has published eight novels and two collections of short stories. A number of the stories have been translated into English, Norwegian, Hebrew and French and his novels have been translated into English, French, German and Italian. His first novel, Jabal al-Anz (Goat Mountain) and Ushashaqq Baya (Bayya’s Lovers) were published in French translation in 1999 and 2003. His other novels include Surat Badawi Mayyit (Picture of a Dead Bedouin), 1990, Matahat al-Raml (Sand Labyrinth), 1994, Hufar Dafi’a (Warm Pits), 1999, and Asrar ‘Abdallah (Abdallah’s Secrets), 2004. His novel the Scents of Marie-Claire was shortlisted for IPAF in 2009. An English translation of the book was published by Arabia Books this year. Habib Selmi has lived in Paris since 1985.

The Women of Al-Basatin is an intimate portrayal of the daily lives of a modest family living in the Al-Basatin district of Tunis in Tunisia. Through the stories of this small matriarchal environment, we observe the contradictions of the wider Tunisian society, exposing a world in flux between burdensome religious traditions and a troubled modernity.

There’s one more arabic author, we, at Best-seller to Box-office, want to talk to you about, even though she is not shortlisted in the above Prize. Her name is Zena el Khalil and her non fiction/literary memoir title « Beirut, I love you » has been sold all over the world, including UK, Spain, Germany, Brazil, Sweden, Italy and the United States.

Zena el Khalil has written a memoir about her love affair with Beirut. Beirut, the city that she describes as at times a carnival and at times a coffin is literally the pulsating heart of the book. Beirut in all its splendour, chaos, decadence, damaged, downfallen and downtrodden yet resilient, full of energy, willpower and joie de vivre. Beirut as a crazy, wild, unpredictable part of everything and every experience that marks our narrator’s life and ultimately makes her who she is today. Zena el Khalil talents are many and she is active as a visual artist and also writer, she started writing a blog during the war that marked the summer of 2006 which was in turn picked and actively followed by both The Guardian and Der Spiegel. Zena has never looked back and she continues to write about her life and her love affair with this multi faceted city, symbolic of so much too so many. She has since become a TED fellow and also spoken at the Nobel Peace Centre in Norway.

The book has been optioned for film by Vivo Film, a production company that has had a great recent success with Le Quattro Volte (Critics choice in Time Out Mag, NY Times critics pick).  There is a preliminary movie trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tDcbvOrYbE

Her artwork is very popular and she has had major pieces auctioned at Sotheby’s and Christie’s.

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