THIRD NOVEL COULD BE A BREAKTHROUGH
Stacey D'Erasmo's third novel, "The Sky Below," has its roots in journalism; its protagonist is an obituary writer for a paper in Manhattan. "You've seen me," the book opens. "I'm the guy opposite you on the subway or the bus, I've passed you on the street a million times." Yes . . . but no, not really, for D'Erasmo has something more in mind. Her story is not about dissolution but redemption -- a revolutionary concept for a journalist these days.
Journalism is a territory D'Erasmo knows firsthand; she's a former senior editor at the Village Voice Literary Supplement. In 1995, she went to Stanford University as a Stegner Fellow, and she published her first novel, "Tea," in January 2000. "The Sky Below," though, could be her breakthrough, a book that moves back and forth between the real world and the elaborate layers of its characters' inner life.
BOAT ROCKER HAS CAPTIVATED FRANCE
Jonathan Littell would be a face to watch even if his second novel, "The Kindly Ones," weren't coming out in the United States. It's just that kind of book, and he appears to be that kind of writer, ambitious and controversial, unafraid to stir it up. Published in France in 2006, "The Kindly Ones" is constructed as a memoir, the story of Max Aue, a French intellectual who also happens to be a former Nazi officer. Sprawling, graphic and unrelenting, the book won the Grand Prix du Roman de l'Academie Francaise and the Prix Goncourt -- two of France's most prestigious literary awards -- and HarperCollins reportedly paid $1 million for the American rights.