Tom Wolfe is working on a new novel and will release it through a new publisher, ending a 40-year run with Farrar, Straus & Giroux and signing with Little, Brown and Co.
"The opportunity to work with the American master Tom Wolfe is the kind of thrill and challenge that people entering book publishing dream of," Little, Brown Publisher Michael Pietsch said Wednesday.
"Tom Wolfe is one of the great writers of his generation and he has been one of FSG's most significant and best-loved authors," Farrar publisher Jonathan Galassi said. "We are sorry to part company, and wish him all happiness and success in this next phase of his work."
One of the original "New Journalists" of the 1960s, the 76-year-old Wolfe is known for such best-selling novels as "The Bonfire of the Vanities" and "A Man in Full," and for such nonfiction classics as "The Right Stuff" and "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test."
His new novel, "Back to Blood," will be a "Bonfire"-like tour of Miami, taking on "class, family, wealth, race, crime, sex, corruption, and ambition." Among the characters: a Cuban nurse married to a French sex doctor, a Haitian woman "who passes for Anglo" and "a freshman journalist on the trail of a Russian-mob-comes-to-Miami story."
Publication is scheduled for 2009.
Wolfe had been with Farrar, Straus since 1965 and the release of his first book, "The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby." His work has sold millions of copies, but his most recent novel, "I Am Charlotte Simmons," was a critical and commercial disappointment.
According to a publishing official familiar with negotiations, Farrar, Straus and Wolfe could not agree on a new contract: Having lost money on "Charlotte Simmons," the publisher was offering a reduced advance for "Back to Blood."
Writers switch publishers all the time, but Farrar, Straus has a remarkable history of company loyalty, holding on to Wolfe, Susan Sontag, Isaac Bashevis Singer and others for decades.
Wolfe's agent, Lynn Nesbit, said the parting "wasn't at all acrimonious." She also noted that Wolfe's editor at Little, Brown, Pat Strachan, used to edit the author at Farrar, Straus, working on "The Right Stuff" and "The Bonfire of the Vanities" among others.
"It's an exciting way to start the new year," Nesbit said. "He's feeling very energized."
Nesbit said Wolfe expects to complete the book in four years, a relatively short time for the hardworking author, who has taken up to a decade to finish a novel.