Lit Gossip: A “Fully-Formed” 23-Year Old Literary Talent

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12/02/2008 2:00 PM |

Exciting, horrifying, and heart-wrenching new book deals.

We are pleased to see, once in a while, that forthcoming tomes aren’t being completely limited to books about the Obamas and our ugly, swooning economy. Even as publishing houses halt acquisitions and beg us all to make it an indie bookstore holiday, there’s room for new voices, which is to say, Young Literary Superstars people can blah-blah about. The next big thing just might be Eleanor Catton, pictured at right with an adorable headband and a cup of tea. She looks confident! But not smug! We like her already.

Last Thursday, Publisher’s Lunch reported that Catton, a 23-year-old New Zealander and current Iowa Writers’ Workshop MFA student, had sold the U.S. rights to her debut
The Rehearsal to Reagan Arthur Books for some undisclosed six-figure sum. She was just 22 when she wrote the novel, set in a girls’ high school post-student-teacher sex scandal. (That’ll sell!) Granta’s Editorial Director, Sarah Holloway, calls her style “breathtakingly clever and inventive and

Emily Perkins’ blurb bills her as “crazily talented” and “insightful.”

And New Zealand’s The Listener, in a rave review, dubs Catton “a new talent who has arrived fully formed.”

Like Athena, who just so happened to pop out of Zeus’s head, “fully formed,” instead of, like, a baby, or whatever. This is what it takes to zoom to the tops of a bestseller list, these days, it seems.

Our curiosity is piqued, to say the least.