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Book News: 'Salmon Fishing in the Yemen' Author Dies

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

  • Paul Torday, the author of the 2007 novel Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, died Wednesday at the age of 67. After many years as a businessman, he came out with his first novel, Salmon Fishing, when he in his early 60s. The book follows a sheikh who has a vision of salmon filling the Yemen River and "my countrymen ... all classes and manner of men" standing side-by-side to fish. To achieve it, he turns to British fishery expert Alfred Jones. The book became a runaway hit and was turned into a movie with Ewan McGregor, Amr Waked and Emily Blunt. The film was so popular that the Yemen Tourism Promotion Board had to warn tourists that there is not, in fact, salmon fishing in Yemen. Torday published six more novels in the years before he died, each in a different genre.
  • J.K. Rowling will co-produce a play based on her Harry Potter books, according to a statement posted on her website, which says that production will explore "the previously untold story of Harry Potter's early years as an orphan and outcast." The play will open on London's West End. Back in September, you may recall, there was word that she's writing the screenplay for a Potter spinoff film.
  • In an essay published in The Guardian, author Dave Eggers condemns the National Security Agency's surveillance programs: "Think back to all the messages you have ever sent. All the phone calls and searches you've made. Could any of them be misinterpreted? Could any of them be used to damage you by someone like the next McCarthy, the next Nixon, the next Ashcroft? This is the most pernicious and soul-shattering aspect of where we are right now. No one knows for sure what is being collected, recorded, analysed and stored — or how all this will be used in the future."
  • The New Yorker has launched a poetry podcast, hosted by Irish poet Paul Muldoon. He writes that, "each podcast consists of a conversation between myself and a guest poet. In each, the guest reads not only a poem of hers that has appeared in The New Yorker but also introduces, and reads, a poem by another contributor to the magazine that she particularly admires." The first podcast featured Philip Levine.
  • The Detroit-based literary group Write-A-House will award a handful of writers a home in Detroit. The writers will live-rent free for two years, and after that, will be given the deeds to the houses. "It's like a writer's-in-residence program, but the writers get to keep the homes, forever," the group's fundraising page says, adding, "We believe this is a city that could really use some more writers."
  • Andrea Elliott, the author of "Invisible Child," a recent New York Times series that followed a homeless girl named Dasani, has sold a book based on the series to Random House. Dasani, Elliott wrote in the Times, "belongs to a vast and invisible tribe of more than 22,000 homeless children in New York, the highest number since the Great Depression, in the most unequal metropolis in America." According to Publisher's Weekly, the book "will go deeper than the series and speak more broadly to the issue of child poverty in the U.S."

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    Annalisa Quinn is a contributing writer, reporter, and literary critic for NPR. She created NPR's Book News column and covers literature and culture for NPR.