Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Russia is (once again) a Hot Topic

Could there be a new trend brewing in the world of international non-fiction? One that doesn’t involve books about Iraq?

In the last few days publishers have purchased a slew of books dealing with Russia. The Cold War used to be one of publishing’s hottest topics, but the countries of the old Soviet Union have been downgraded to B-status in recent years with all the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The murder of Alexander Litvinenko by radioactive polonium-210 seems to be responsible for this turnaround.

Here are the deals listed recently on Publisher’s Marketplace, including one by the murdered spy himself:

NYT London bureau chief Alan Cowell's SASHA'S STORY: The Life and Death of a Russian Spy, documenting Litvinenko's life and death, the ensuing police investigation, the reaction from Vladimir Putin and others, and the implications of this case for nuclear proliferation and international terrorism in the future, to Charles Conrad for Doubleday, by Michael Carlisle at Inkwell Management.

WSJ reporter Steve Levine's examination of the Alexander Litvinenko affair -- from the polonium poisoning of the former spy in London to the investigation currently underway throughout Europe, including the shadowy underworld of Putin's Russia, to Will Murphy at Random House, by Tom Wallace (world).

NPR foreign correspondent Lawrence Sheets's EIGHT PIECES OF EMPIRE, a panoramic yet intimate look at the former Soviet Union, written in the style of Ryszard Kapuscinski and Rebecca West, drawing on Sheets' 15 years of reporting from every region of the unraveling empire to paint a larger portrait of the nature of empire building and collapse, to Rachel Klayman at Crown, in a significant deal, at auction, by Gillian MacKenzie of Gillian MacKenzie Agency (NA).

Bulgarian rights to Matrena Rasputin's MARIA RASPUTIN'S DIARIES, the colorful memoir by the daughter of the infamous Rasputin psychic, which was found in a trunk in Paraguay in the 60's and is published for the first time ever, to Ciela Publishing House, in a nice deal, by Ana Milenkovic of Prava I Prevodi, on behalf of Barbara Zitwer Agency.

Murdered former spy Alexander Litvinenko's BLOWING UP RUSSIA: The Secret Plot to Bring Back KGB Terror, written with Yuri Felshtinsky, to Martin Rynja at Gibson Square, for publication in January 2007.

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