Cover Stories: Frankfurt Book Fair; Norman Kember; Lettre Ulysses Award
Friday 06 October 2006
* Publishers and agents bound for this week's Frankfurt Book Fair scrambled to conclude deals before they packed their bags, the better to trumpet the news over a bottle in the Hessicherhof Hotel bar. Dan Brown's editor, Bill Scott-Kerr of Transworld, was pleased to have won the auction for the memoirs of former services chief General Sir Mike Jackson, who may hurl an incendiary or two at Iraq. Headline signed up the Bachelor Boy himself for an illustrated autobiography to mark his 50th anniversary in showbiz in 2008. Sir Cliff Richard, whom many a publisher has tried to tempt, will be working with ever-busy Penny Junor. At the other end of the literary galaxy, Transworld will also publish Stephen Hawking's new study of why our universe exists at all. The Grand Design, co-written with Leonard Mlodinow, will materialise from Bantam in 2008.
* Gratifyingly, it was an indie publisher which caused real excitement on the opening day at Frankfurt, with news that it had signed a memoir by Norman Kember, the British peace activist kidnapped in Baghdad and rescued by the SAS. The 74-year-old former academic decided to go with Darton, Longman & Todd, the religious publisher whose backlist includes books by Martin Luther King. Described as honest and emotive, Hostage in Iraq - due next March - will recount his four-month ordeal.
* Still in Germany, the novelist and journalist - and Independent reviewer - Linda Grant has picked up the coveted Lettre Ulysses Award for reportage with her non-fiction account of Israel today, The People on the Street. She took the Berlin-based award, worth $50,000, against a shortlist whose origins ranged from Colombia and China to Nepal and France, home of runner-up (and also a major novelist), Eric Orsenna.
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