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Some random links: Ken Follett and a promising writer

November 11, 2007 | 10:13 am

Dollars without end: Publishers Weekly reported late last week on a big book deal for Ken Follett--as big as one of the cathedrals in his medieval bestsellers. So far, the novelist has arranged foreign deals totaling more than $50 million for "The Century," a trilogy of novels set around both world wars and the Cold War.

It seems like Follett’s value as a "utility bill" author--one of those reliable bestsellers, like Danielle Steel or Robert Parker, who pays the rent, heating and electricity at publishing houses--has lessened in recent years. Thrillers like "The Third Twin" and "Whiteout" are murky, overwrought affairs that just haven’t seemed that thrilling. Earlier this year, though, "World Without End," his mammoth sequel to "The Pillars of the Earth," landed on bestsellers lists. No doubt the success of this and "Pillars," which are both very readable novels that amount to medieval soap operas, helped remind investors that Follett is a name you can still bank on.
Promising?: In this book award season, Belgian writer Amélie Nothom’s selection for the Prix de Flore, an award recognizing young authors of promise, has been received with some controversy. That’s understandable: The fact that she has published 16 books in 16 years doesn’t quite seem to qualify her as "promising," though this didn’t trouble the judges, according to the Guardian.

Nick Owchar