Cover Stories: Iain Duncan Smith; Ricky Gervais; Faber; Spanish literature

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The Independent Culture

It remains to be seen whether Iain Duncan Smith will be leading the Conservative Party by the time his novel is published next month. If by then he is one of yesterday's men, he will be particularly anxious that his new career takes off. Scarcely anyone has yet read The Devil's Tune, "an international thriller that centres around an art fraud in the Second World War". Even at Frankfurt, it was kept under wraps. Its publisher Jeremy Robson, whose list has always been an eclectic mix - Joan Collins and Maureen Lipman on the one hand, biographies of modern composers on the other - reports "strong interest" from American publishers who, astonishingly, seem to know who IDS is. His novel is probably no worse than any of Jeffrey Archer's - and the ever-astute Robson only paid £2,500 for it.

Ricky Gervais, the man behind The Office, has been signed by Faber for a children's book. Flanimals is described as "part Pokémon, part Dr Seuss, with a bit of Hilaire Belloc" and uses wordplay to introduce kids to an imaginary menagerie. The Plamglotis, the Grundit, the Spratt Flapper and friends have lurked in Gervais's imagination since he was a teenager attempting to entertain a young nephew. This time next year he will be entertaining us all.

Just two years after its last triumph (Peter Carey's True History of the Kelly Gang), Faber has worked that old Booker magic again. Of course, a few months back the firm might have expected to see Carey himself (with My Life as a Fake) rather than Peter "DBC Pierre" Finlay on the podium at the British Museum this week. The surprise victory of Vernon God Little is a vindication, too, for editor Lee Brackstone, who was lavishly praised in the winner's speech. Never happy to rest on its laurels, Faber has also moved to strengthen its fiction department recently with the appointment of Hannah Griffiths as an editor. This is a rare case of an agent (with Curtis Brown) becoming a publisher, rather than vice versa.

Some great Spanish fiction has reached these shores in the past couple of years. And next week (from 20 to 24 October) you can hear many of the authors involved during a week of free Spanish literature events - readings, interviews and panels - organised by the Instituto Cervantes in London. Writers appearing include Manuel Rivas, Juan Marsé, Juan Manuel de Prada and José Carlos Somoza (winner of the Crime Writers Association's Gold Dagger, and shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, for The Athenian Murders). More details from 020-7201 0752 or 020-7235 0353.

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