The long novel appears to be making a comeback. “City on Fire,” 34-year-old Garth Risk Hallberg’s 900-page debut novel, has sold to Knopf for just shy of $2 million following a two-day bidding war.
The news comes on the heels of 28-year-old Eleanor Catton’s “The Luminaries” winning the Man Booker Prize; that novel is 834 pages in length. The NY Times also sites Donna Tartt’s popular and well-reviewed “The Goldfinch,” which clocks in at 771 pages.
“City on Fire” reportedly centers on a 70s mystery in New York’s East Village, where a decrepit townhouse may hold dark secrets linked to a shooting in Central Park in the book’s first act. As of two years ago, reports Vulture, “it was broken into seven sections, the odd-numbered parts spanning from the U.S. Bicentennial to the ‘77 blackout, while the even ones ‘delve into the past’s past.'”
Hallberg is staying quiet as he deals with the last phases of publishing the book; he previously contributed to the NY Times book review, and the Millions.
Naturally the novel isn’t only attracting the publishing world. Predictably, literary bloodhound Scott Rudin snapped up the film rights last month, before the publishing auction even took place. The producer doesn’t seem scared off by the length, telling the NYT that the book “doesn’t need to be massively reinvented to be a movie.” (On the other hand his Jonathan Franzen and Michael Chabon acquisitions have yet to reach greenlight status.)
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