Cover Stories: Book Show; Khaled Hosseini; Quercus Publishing; Alison Samuel

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The Independent Culture

*Another attempt at a TV books programme launches next Thursday on Sky's Artsworld channel. Presented - inevitably - by Mariella Frostrup, the studio-based Book Show will feature writers from across the spectrum. John Humphrys, Stephen King and (sadly) Jeffrey Archer will feature in the first series. What a pity none of the terrestrial channels, or BBC4, has managed to sustain a book programme. This year even the BBC's Man Booker coverage was axed and replaced by a brief item on the BBC News and an interview on Newsnight.

*In addition to being an international superseller, with sales of around five million, Khaled Hosseini's novel The Kite Runner was recently voted favourite among UK reading groups. This week his publisher, Bloomsbury, confirmed the release next May of his A Thousand Splendid Suns, described as "a heart-wrenching chronicle of 30 years of Afghan history, and a deeply moving story of family, friendship, faith and salvation to be found in love". The author, honoured by the UN Refugee Agency and now its goodwill ambassador, has said that writing it "was an even more satisfying experience".

*Quercus Publishing, the new operation headed by Anthony Cheetham, has raised £2.8m from institutions and individuals to expand the company. As Quercus Editions, it will develop a contract publishing business, supplying customised books to retailers and other businesses. It's a lucrative market and relatively unpopulated, and revenue will fund Quercus Books, the trade publisher already making a name with its upmarket crime fiction list, with Joseph Wambaugh and Philip Kerr among early signings and Peter Temple's The Broken Shore its first top 10 bestseller. So Cheetham - the diplomat's son who founded Century, took over Hutchinson and ran Random House until a boardroom coup, then went off to found Orion - has a sturdy new toy. Tending his Gloucestershire garden was never going to be enough.

*Chatto's Alison Samuel won rights to Les Bienveillantes, Jonathan Littell's Third Reich epic, written in French. She paid "a significant sum" but is not thought to be the highest bidder - agent Andrew Nurnberg said a match of author and editor weighed heavily. Chatto's success with Irène Némirovsky's Suite Française would work in its favour. A mega-bid from within the HarperCollins group was overlooked; Bloomsbury, too, will be disappointed.

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