Debut Novelist Lands $2M Book Deal

jpg_DOLLARSIGNGarth Risk Hallberg, a 34-year-old debut novelist, sold his 900-page novel, City on Fire (written over the past six years), to Alfred A. Knopf, as a dozen publishers competed in a two-day bidding war. About two weeks prior to the book deal, producer Scott Rudin had snapped up the movie rights.  300_2H6015lowres

Hallberg is the author of the novella, A Field Guide to the North American Family, and has had short stories published in Glimmer Train, Canteen, and The Pinch. He has also contributed to the New York Times Book Review and The Millions.

In January 2012, the New York Times ran a piece by Hallberg, entitled: “Why Write Novels At All?

The story’s set in NYC, just before the massive blackout that occurred in July 1977.

Hallberg’s agent, Chris Parris-Lamb, provided the following plot line to publishers: “[the events] revolve around a central mystery: what exactly is going on behind the locked steel doors of a derelict townhouse in the East Village, and what might it have to do with the shooting in Central Park in the novel’s opening act?”

In July 2011, The Faster Times interviewed Hallberg (“‘Real America is Ikea’: The TFT Interview with A Field Guide to the North American Family Author Garth Risk Hallberg“). For an extensive list of pieces written by Hallberg, visit his blog.


Congratulations, Mr. Hallberg!

11 thoughts on “Debut Novelist Lands $2M Book Deal

  1. Wow. It’s great to hear that someone new to the genre is finding such success. Very helpful insight, as Dot mentioned. Thanks for the post.

    • With such ‘heavy-weight’ books getting so much attention as of late (The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, winner of 2013 Man Booker Prize, 834 pages; Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, 771 pgs) many are speculating a resurgence of the long novel.

  2. The nice thing about a huge advance is, if it flops, you’re set for life (if you manage your money well enough). He sold movie rights, though, so I think he’s going to do very well.

  3. Congrats to Garth–I don’t think I could even write a book of that length, much less a good one. I’m considering moving to long haiku : )

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