Cover Stories: Kiran Desai; Joan Smith; Girl in the Cellar

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The Independent Culture

*Kiran Desai's Man Booker win provided agent David Godwin with his second winner - the first was Arundhati Roy back in 1997 - and Hamish Hamilton publisher Simon Prosser with a hat-trick for 2006: authors of his also won the Whitbread and the Orange - Hilary Spurling and Zadie Smith respectively. And don't you wonder what kind of expertise the licence fee buys when you discover that the Newsnight interview with Desai had to be re-recorded because they forgot to put the sound on first time round?

*Arcadia, which has consistently punched above its weight, has opened the celebrations for its 10th anniversary by signing the latest novel by Joan Smith, polemicist, campaigner and Independent journalist. What Will Survive is set in Lebanon in July 1997, when a young English woman, a minor celeb, is killed by a land mine. The press descends on her Somerset home, linking her death with Diana, Princess of Wales's high-profile campaign against land mines. Publisher Gary Pulsifer believes this "gripping political thriller" has obvious parallels with the current situation in the Lebanon and plans to rush it through for spring publication.

*As publishers round the world wait with baited breath to discover if they might get hold of the book that the Austrian kidnap victim Natascha Kampusch intends to write, Hodder & Stoughton has picked up something more immediate: an account written by Allan Hall and Michael Leidig, the journalists who have chronicled the case from the outset for Austrian papers. Girl in the Cellar will be rush-published before Christmas and is said to answer many of the questions to have emerged from the case.

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