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Another scandal victim gets book deal

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Lifestyles Advice On Affairs
Jenny Sanford (right) in happier times
with her husband, South Carolina
Gov. Mark Sanford.

Ballantine, a Random House imprint, has announced it will publish Jenny Sanford's "inspirational memoir" next spring. Frankly it took me a minute to remember who she was -- and it wasn't until I saw her name connected to South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford that I remembered. (The governor admitted a few months ago that he had a yearlong affair with an Argentine woman.)

The publisher says Sanford -- who has since moved out of the governor's mansion but says she and her husband are working to repair their marriage -- "will grapple with the universal issue of maintaining integrity and a sense of self during life's difficult times."

My two cents: Does anyone begrudge a beleaguered spouse the opportunity to tell his or her story? No. But it is questionable as to how many books written by wives of cheating politicians we really need? After Elizabeth Edwards' Resilience and the steeped-in-denial interviews she gave while promoting it, politicians' wives are simply beginning to look gullible, weak and as concerned with appearances as their husbands' campaign managers.

Julia outselling Julie

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Mastering Julie & Julia

It seems Meryl Streep's portrayal of the larger-than-life Julia Child in the new film "Julie & Julia" has not only helped propel the late TV chef's book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, to the top of the book charts again, but also is eclipsing Amy Adams' portrayal of Julie Powell, author of the book upon which the movie is based.

Today on and Barnes& today, a $40 hardcover edition of Child's hefty cookbook -- first published 50 years ago -- topped the best-seller lists, easily outselling the paperback version of Julie & Julia, Powell's memoir about her year trying to cook every recipe in Child's book.

The movie flips back and forth between the the life of Child, as she becomes the French chef and cookbook author that we all knew from TV, and Powell, a New Yorker writing a blog while she attempts to "master the art of French cooking" in her tiny kitchen in her Queens apartment.

Critics, who have not been wowed by the film, have found the "Julia" story more interesting than the "Julie" story, and they're right. I saw the film over the weekend and I enjoyed it very much, though I'd have much preferred to watch Meryl Streep in a complete biopic of just Julia Child.

E. Lynn Harris dies at 54

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7-24 Lachat lynn harris 3
Author E. Lynn Harris. (Jean Lachat/Sun-Times)

Author E. Lynn Harris died while on tour promoting his latest book, Basketball Jones. The openly gay, African-American novelist was 54.

Ex-Miss California gets book deal

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The former Miss California who was stripped of her title last month has a book deal.

Carrie Prejean will publish a memoir called Still Standing. Conservative book house Regnery Publishing said Monday that it will release the book.

Prejean believes her crown was taken because she said she opposed gay marriage. California pageant executive director Keith Lewis has said that Prejean was skipping Miss California USA events while speaking out against gay marriage at unsanctioned appearances.

Prejean was replaced by the Miss California pageant's first runner-up, Tami Farrell. Farrell has also said she believes marriage should be between a man and a woman.


Another Obama-related book deal

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Another Obama relative has a book deal.

A memoir by George Obama, the president's half brother and a resident of Huruma, Kenya, will be published by Simon & Schuster in January 2010. George Obama, 27, shares the same father with his famous, older half sibling, although George and Barack Obama -- 20 years apart in age -- did not grow up together and did not meet as children.

George is the youngest of the senior Obama's seven children and was born six months before his father died.

Little is known about George Obama. The book, tentatively titled Homeland and to be written with author-journalist Damien Lewis, will tell of George Obama's fall into crime and poverty as a teenager and his eventual embrace of community organizing -- a passion shared by the president -- and of advocacy for the poor, an identification so strong that he chooses to live among them.

"Even had George Obama not been our President's half brother, his story is moving and inspirational," said David Rosenthal, Simon & Schuster publisher and executive vice president. "It is an object lesson in survival, selflessness and courage."

Financial terms were not disclosed, but an official with knowledge of the negotiations said the deal was worth six figures. The official, who was not authorized to discuss the contract, spoke on condition of anonymity.

Other Obama relatives are working on books, including a half sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng; and the brother of first lady Michelle Obama, Craig Robinson. Duke University Press is releasing the doctoral dissertation of the president's mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, who died in 1995.

Barack Obama has written a pair of million-selling books, The Audacity of Hope and Dreams from My Father, in which he describes George Obama as "a handsome, roundheaded boy with a wary gaze."


'Slumdog' cash-in

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"Slumdog" kids
Rubina Ali (center) is flanked by her "Slumdog
Millionaire" co-stars Ayush Mahesh Khedekar
(left) and Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail.

(Mike Clarke/Getty Images)

OK, I know those "Slumdog" kids have been through a lot, but a book deal? Really?

Transworld Publishers is planning on publishing the life story of 9-year-old Rubina Ali -- one of the child stars of the Oscar-winning film "Slumdog Millionaire." The book will tell the story of her life in the shantytown where she grew up. (One might argue that she's not exactly "grown up" yet, but hey, who am I to know what's going to sell?)

Slumgirl Dreaming: My Journey to the Stars is scheduled to be released in Britain in mid-July. A Transworld rep says some of the royalties will go to the French medical aid organization Medecins du Monde.

I'm not opposed to telling a 9-year-old's story, but I hope the editors allow her own voice to come through so that kids her own age can read it and relate to it.

Book Room gets nod

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New City put out its annual Lit 50 list this week, and this year's list focuses on folks behind the scenes of Chicago's literary scene. (Check out #7)

Teen panel picks its own Orange Prize winner

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blonde roots

Bernardine Evaristo's novel Blonde Roots did not make the short list for this year's Orange Prize, but The Guardian reports today that a panel of teenagers has selected it as an alternative winner.

Six teens, age 16-19 chose their own short list from the 20 titles on the long list, and then selected their own winner. Other titles on the teens' short list included: Girl in a Blue Dress by Gaynor Arnold; The Lost Dog by Michelle de Kretser; Mercy by Toni Morrison; The Russian Dreambook of Colour and Flight by Gina Oscher, and The Flying Troutmans by Miriam Toews.

The Orange Prize is one of the UK's most presigious literary prizes, awarded to the best full-length novel by a female author of any nationality. The prize is 30,000 pounds (about $50,000). The prize will be awarded tonight.

Read the Sun-Times' review of Blonde Roots, which reimagines the slave trade when a white European girl is kidnapped and forced into slavery by her "Aphrikan" masters.

Obamas will head up book fest this fall

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Michelle Obama Fort Bragg
First lady Michelle Obama read to schoolchildren
in North Carolina in March.
(Gerry Broome/AP)

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will preside over the ninth National Book Festival, a daylong celebration of the joys of reading and literacy, scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 26, on the National Mall.

"The National Book Festival has become a true American institution," said James Billington, the librarian of Congress. "It is a joyous and very popular celebration of books and reading in the Washington, D.C., area."

The Library of Congress organizes and sponsors the event, which is free and open to the public.

An estimated 120,000 people have attended each of the past two festivals, a library spokeswoman said.

Former first lady Laura Bush, a retired teacher and public school librarian, started the festival in 2001, modeling it after events she held as first lady of Texas.

This year's festival will feature about 70 award-winning authors, poets and illustrators in pavilions dedicated to specific genres of writing, ranging from history and biography to mysteries, thrillers, poetry and prose, and books for families and youngsters.

Since becoming first lady in January, Mrs. Obama has made several trips outside the White House to read to young children.


The Obama touch

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The Obama book bump has struck again.

President Obama told The New York Times during a recent interview that he has been reading Joseph O'Neill's Netherland, a highly praised novel about cricket, marriage and living in a post 9/11 world.

The hardcover came out last year and the paperback publisher, Vintage/Anchor Books, citing an Obama-cized double-digit increase in sales, announced Monday it has moved up the paperback release from June 2 to this week (May 7).

The first printing will be 70,000 copies.