Rice professor's novel released

Rice University English Professor Justin Cronin, author of this summer's much-anticipated "The Passage," will offer a book talk and signing for the Houston community at 6 p.m. June 9 at Brazos Bookstore, 2421 Bissonnet St. Though the book didn't go on sale until today, it is already being heralded by many reviewers as this summer's hottest read.

Billed as an epic tale of love and loyalty, friendship and sacrifice, set against a devastated world, "The Passage" received major buzz when it was purchased by Random House's Ballantine Books after a heated auction among a number of publishers. The book sale was immediately followed by a Hollywood auction, won with a seven-figure offer by Fox 2000 for Ridley Scott's Scott Free Productions. "The Passage" will be adapted for the big screen by John Logan, whose writing credits include "Gladiator," "The Aviator" and "Sweeney Todd."

The Rice professor didn't set out to write a blockbuster. He just wanted to make good on a promise to his daughter, who had asked him to "write a book about a girl who saves the world." Cronin also credits Houston, which makes a significant appearance in "The Passage," for the book's development.

Cronin will be on tour throughout the summer but will return to Houston June 25 for a book talk and signing at Barnes and Noble in the River Oaks Shopping Plaza.

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