New Yorker writer Larissa MacFarquhar has signed with Ann Godoff at the Penguin Press to write a book, tentatively titled Extreme Virtue, about people with an uncommonly heightened sense of morality. A publishing source said the deal, brokered by Sarah Chalfant of the Wylie Agency, was worth a sum in the high six figures.
Ms. Godoff and Ms. MacFarquhar know one another well, partly because they met through a mutual friend years ago but also because Ms. Godoff edited Paris Review editor Philip Gourevitch, Ms. MacFarquhar’s husband, on Standard Operating Procedure, his 2008 book on Abu Ghraib with the documentarian Errol Morris.
“I had always hoped to work with her and it’s just a wonderful outcome,” Ms. MacFarquhar said. “I was hoping that she would like the proposal and I was hoping that she would want the book, and she did.”
The author said the idea for the book grew out of a piece she wrote for The New Yorker last summer about individuals who donate their kidneys to strangers. “It’s sort of that piece minus the kidneys,” Ms. MacFarquhar said. “In writing that piece, one of the things that was very interesting to me and somewhat surprising was the degree of hostility these people encountered, so this will be both writing about those sorts of people and a history of our reactions to them.”
She said she plans to take time off from The New Yorker to complete the project, but will not be doing so for some time.
Ms. Godoff declined to comment on the book; the Wylie Agency did not respond to an email.
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