Yale Law Prof’s Novel Goes for $4 Million
NEW HAVEN, Conn.
Stephen L. Carter, an African American law professor at Yale, received a $4 million advance and as much as $1 million more for the film rights for his new fiction novel, The Emperor of Ocean Park, which was the subject of a publishing house bidding war.
Knopf Publishing Group won the bidding war. The $4 million goes toward both Emperor — to be published in hardcover in May 2002 — and a second novel. Warner Bros. Pictures won the movie rights to Emperor.
Despite having authored seven previous nonfiction works, Carter, 46, described himself as “shell-shocked.”
“It was a good payday for a law school professor,” says Paul Bogards, executive director of
publicity for Knopf. Bogards said Knopf had never before paid so much for a first-time novelist.
“But there’s a simple explanation,” he says. “Publishers are always in search of the next great story. This is a great story, well told.”
The novel tells of a Black law professor who investigates the death of his father, a conservative federal judge. Bogards said the book also focuses on stresses between career and family and
examines parent-child relationships in an upper-middle-class Black family.
Carter declined to discuss the content of his novel but told the New Haven Register, “The characters are just characters. They’re not
intended to be anybody.”
His nonfiction works include Reflections of an Affirmative Action Baby and the recent God’s Name in Vain on the role of religion in American politics.
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