Bestseller, By Alessandro Gallenzi

Publishing takes a comic pounding

There is Jim Talbot, the writer of 12 unpublished novels and now a 13th, which he is monomaniacally desperate to get noticed; and there is Charles Randall, the director of a small press that publishes obscure Hungarian poets.

Throw in a profit-driven corporation trying to buy Randall out, a lost novel by a Nobel Prize-winning writer, a bidding war, and the (fictional) memoirs of a call-girl who has consorted with famous politicians, and we have the ingredients for a fine comic caper and a biting satire on the publishing industry. The style is far from literary, but it is cleverly plotted and lands several juicy thumps on its target.