French graphic novelist Joann Sfar, best known for comics like the acclaimed Rabbi's Cat, is moving into a new medium in 2010. His first project: A biopic of French singer Serge Gainsbourg, which has debuted to rave reviews in France.
Serge Gainsbourg: La Vie Heroique takes a non-traditional approach—using special effects by the team that worked on Pan's Labyrinth, Sfar has created an exaggerated alter ego, played by actor Doug Jones, for the famous singer. The actual Gainsbourg is played brilliantly by French stage actor Eric Elmosnino, while British actress Lucy Gordon plays his muse and eventual wife, Jane Birkin (Sfar dedicated the film to Gordon, who sadly committed suicide in May 2009). Supermodel Laetitia Casta takes a turn as Brigitte Bardot.
Gainsbourg's exploits with women are well-known, but Sfar also takes on his early years growing up as a Jewish child in Vichy France who narrowly escaped deportation. An article in The Independent provides many interesting details on the production—most notably, that Sfar originally asked Gainsbourg's daughter, Charlotte Gainsbourg, to play her father.
Sfar's next film project will be based on his own work: The Rabbi's Cat comes to the big screen in 2010, as a 2D-animated film aimed at both adults and children. This charming story, set in 1930s Algeria, is about a merchant, his beautiful daughter, and their cat—who, after eating a parrot, can speak. (Sfar told the Wall Street Journal that the cat was based on his own pet.) An exact release date is still to be announced.
Related in BookPage: reviews of Sfar's graphic novels.
A new release from Pulitzer Prize winner Jane Smiley is always a big deal, and Private Life, her first novel since 2007's Ten Days in the Hills, is no exception. The book, which will be published by Knopf on May 4, is a departure from Smiley's previous work—it's historical, a sweeping saga that spans the life of an American woman, from the 1880s to World War II.
Margaret Mayfield marries late, but she also marries up: Captain Andrew Jackson Jefferson Early is an influential person in their small Missouri town, one who is a military officer and a brilliant scientist/astronomer. Though Margaret realizes soon after their marriage that Andrew is more interested in his work than his wife, they stay together—until the start of World War II reveals a dark side to her husband's scientific work.
Will you be reading?
For Outlander fans, this week brought good news and bad news. First, the good news: Last week, Diana Gabaldon sold the 8th book in the saga to her current publisher Delacorte. Bad news: The new book won't be published until 2013. But then, Gabaldon fans are used to waiting four years for a new installment. 600 pages weren't written in a day, after all. In an interview last fall, Gabaldon gave BookPage a peek into her writing process:
“I don’t write with an outline. In fact, I don’t write in a straight line. I write when I can see things happening. What I need on any given day to start writing is what I call a kernel. A line of dialogue, an emotional ambience, anything I can sense very concretely. I write very painstakingly in these little disconnected bits. But as I write these disconnected pieces, and I continue doing research and of course thinking about the book all the time, they begin to stick together. They develop little connections." (read the rest of the interview)
Author photo © Jennifer Watkins
If you read James Frey's much-contested memoir, A Million Little Pieces, or his followup novel, Bright Shiny Morning, and thought to yourself, This guy should be writing young adult books!—well, you were way ahead of me. But indeed, Frey and a co-writer, Jobie Hughes, signed a deal last summer with HarperCollins for their young adult science fiction novel I Am Number Four, the first in a projected six-book series.
Dreamworks immediately snapped up the film rights to I Am Number Four, which won't hit bookstores until this fall, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Initial reports named Michael Bay as a potential director, but the latest news is that D.J. Caruso, of Disturbia and Eagle Eye fame, has signed on to direct. (Bay will still produce the film.)
According to the New York Times, I Am Number Four is about "a group of nine alien teenagers on a planet called Lorien, which is attacked by a hostile race from another planet. The nine and their guardians evacuate to Earth, where three are killed. The protagonist, a Lorien boy named John Smith, hides in Paradise, Ohio, disguised as a human, trying to evade his predators and knowing he is next on their list."
What do you think about Frey's latest project? Why do you think he made the jump to the YA market? Are you looking forward to the book or the movie—or both?
One of the more interesting literary stories floating around the blogosphere these days comes from France, where two of the country's most respected female authors are once again disputing a charge of plagiarism in the public eye.
Back in 2007, Camille Laurens accused Marie Darrieussecq of taking elements from her 1995 book, Phillipe, inspired by the death of her newborn son, to write the novel Tom est mort, about a grieving mother who loses a child. Though only one sentence from the two works was actually identical, according to Laurens, Darrieussecq was guilty of not just plagiarism but "psychological plagiarism" (plagiat psychique). In her turn, Darrieussecq said Laurens was trying to "assassinate" her.
For the next year, the two traded highbrow insults and accusations: charges of plagiarism against Darrieussecq from 1998 resurfaced; Laurens was said to be jealous of the younger writer's success; their shared editor, Paul Otchakovsky, dropped Laurens.
The two authors both have books out this month that prove neither is ready to forgive and forget. Darrieussecq's is not the expected novel: Rapport de police (Police report) is a treatise on plagiarism, which she claims comes from the secret desire of the plagiarist to be plagiarised themselves. In interviews with the French press, she calls Laurens insolent "to imagine herself as the center of my novel, to think that I had written the book thinking of her and not my mother" and says the accusation came from the Freudian desire to be the only "child" of Otchakovsky.
Laurens' new book, Romance nerveuse, doesn't necessarily disprove that: it's a thinly veiled account of the entire incident that places huge emphasis on the emotional devastation of the writer dropped by her editor.
A recent piece in the Guardian reminds us that literary feuds are nothing new. But to me, literary feuds couched in the language of philosophy and psychoanalysis seem uniquely French.
Writer and columnist Anna Quindlen seems to move between fact and fiction with ease, juxtaposing nonfiction like A Short Guide to a Happy Life with moving novels like Black and Blue. On April 27, Random House will publish Quindlen's sixth novel, Every Last One.
Little is known about the new book yet, but we're expecting galleys any day.
Are you a Quindlen fan? Why or why not?
Early reviews, and the opinions of your BookPage editors, indicate that the legendary battle of the "sophomore slump" has been won by two anticipated second novels on shelves this month: Joshua Ferris' The Unnamed and Elizabeth Kostova's The Swan Thieves. (Click on the author's name to read a BookPage interview.)
But there are a few other anticipated second novels on the horizon in 2010. Will they be as favored by the publishing gods? Go ahead, judge them by our summary of the publisher's description:
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Horns by Joe Hill (February)
The author of Heart-Shaped Box (and son of Stephen King) returns with a chilling tale of a young man bent on revenge after his girlfriend is murdered.
Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel (April)
His second novel needs no introduction (and besides, we've already been there on this blog!). Will it achieve the stratospheric success of Life of Pi?
The Map of True Places by Brunonia Barry (May)
The author of The Lace Reader returns with a new novel about a woman who lost her mother to suicide. Now a psychotherapist, she must with the suicide of her most troubled patient.
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender (June)
Known for her short stories, Bender has published only one previous novel. This magical second work is about a young girl who discovers she can taste people's emotions in the food they cook, and must deal with what she learns about others. Loving the title and the concept on this one—if Bender's novels are as good as her stories, count me in!
Kings of the Earth by Jon Clinch (July)
His new work (following the acclaimed Finn) is a “mythic” story about three brothers in upstate New York who live together in isolation—until one dies and the other two are suspected of his murder.
Geeze, this is already a big year for Steve Martin, and it’s only January! He was typically hilarious and perfect as Meryl Streep’s romantic interest in It’s Complicated, and in March he’ll co-host the Academy Awards with Alec Baldwin.
And now he can check off “book deal” from his 2010 to-do list. He has signed a deal with Grand Central to write Woman One, a novel which “examines the glamour and the subterfuge of the fine art world” in New York. The book will be released in November 2010.
Martin will also write a children’s book titled Late for School, based on a song from his album “New Songs for the 5-String Banjo.” (Watch him performing it live after the jump.) No word yet on a publication date. The book will pub in September. (Via New York Times.)
Related content: In 2001, BookPage reviewer Joanna Brichetto wrote that Martin’s novella Shopgirl will “shock” readers expecting to find “zany riffs and hilariously skewed observations” from the comedian. Instead, Shopgirl is a “sweet, courageous exploration of a young woman’s search for selfhood and love.”
What’s your favorite Steve Martin role? Inspector Clouseau? Author? Banjo player?
A throwaway mention of a new Kate Atkinson novel in 2010 had me Googling up a storm this morning. Sure enough, Amazon.co.uk has a listing for Started Early, Took My Dog—a fourth Jackson Brodie novel—pubbing with Doubleday on August 19.** It's not clear whether this is the U.S. or the U.K. edition, though, since the site also lists a June paperback version coming from U.K. publisher Transworld. Atkinson's previous books were published in the U.S. by Little, Brown. Regardless, it looks like Atkinson fans like me might have something to look forward to this summer.
Few details have been released, but the novel's title comes from an Emily Dickinson poem—perhaps it holds a hint as to the contents?
Related in BookPage: Our interview with Kate Atkinson for One Good Turn. Reviews of Case Histories and When Will there Be Good News?
**since this post was published, we learned that the pub date has changed. Click here for details, and a description of the book.
Country music superstar Sara Evans was in Nashville Monday night to promote her first novel, The Sweet By and By. Evans teamed up with veteran author Rachel Hauck to write the first in a four book fictional series about a young Southern woman, Jade Fitzgerald, and her evolving quest to balance the traumatic events of her past with the bright prospects on her horizon.
BookPage editors Abby and Trisha were lucky enough to sit down and talk with the lovely and candid Ms. Evans. Press the play button below to hear our chat about the stories behind the book, how Sara balances her work and family life and why she is afraid of elevators.
Our chat with Sara Evans:
The Sweet By and By is on sale now. Will you pick up a copy?