Cover Stories: David Mitchell's book deal; Harold Pinter's rival; John Banville; Anthony Cheetham is back in business

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The Independent Culture

John Le Carré, surely Nobel laureate Harold Pinter's chief rival now as the radical Angry Older Man of British letters, will publish a new novel with Hodder in summer 2006. The Mission Song, news of which emerged just as Fernando Meirelles's warmly lauded film of The Constant Gardener opened the London Film Festival, is set in London, Congo and on a Danish island. And Le Carré hasn't missed out on international honours, either: next month he will be made a Commander of the French Order of Arts and Letters.

John Banville, surprise winner of this year's Man Booker, has been very busy. He has changed agents, leaving Anthony Sheil for Ed Victor. And he's embarking on a series of literary thrillers. Written under the pen name "Benjamin Black" and to be published by Picador, the novels will feature Quirke, a Dublin pathologist. Editor Andrew Kidd is boldly predicting the creation of "an enduring icon". The first, Quirke, will be published this time next year. Our man will uncover a murderous plot at the heart of the Catholic establishment in Dublin and Boston.

Two years after he was unceremoniously removed from the Orion Group, Anthony Cheetham is back in business. He has invested in a new house, Quercus, which he will chair. The name, of course, means "oak tree" in Latin, and Cheetham will be hoping that one will in due course grow from this tiny acorn. The new company will publish about 30 titles a year, and will be run by Mark Smith, another old Orion hand. Christopher Potter, formerly of Fourth Estate, will sit on its advisory board, while the legendary Otto Penzler, New York bookseller and editor, will preside over a crime list.

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