RIVER WILD Publishers scrambling for the next Into Thin Air have found their new Mount Everest, and it’s called the Tsangpo River, which hurtles through the Tibetan Himalayas. In 1998 two expeditions trekked into the rugged, uncharted region (currently closed off by the Chinese government). One met with tragedy and the other triumph, and now both are being turned into books. Two September titles chronicle the whitewater kayaking expedition that left one paddler dead: Crown’s The Last River, by journalist Todd Balf, and National Geographic Adventure Press’ Courting the Diamond Sow, by Wickliffe W. Walker, the doomed group’s leader. ”It’s political, it’s sexy, it’s got leeches, it’s got everything!” gushes National Geographic’s Caryn Davidson, sniffing that theirs is a firsthand account, unlike Crown’s. Random House’s Scott Moyers has signed a book by Ian Baker, who led the second expedition, the one that reportedly discovered the legendary falls housing the gateway to Shangri-la. And next summer Broadway Books will publish The Siege of Shangri-la, journalist Michael McRae’s take on the two expeditions. Both Broadway and Random House insist their titles transcend the ”adventure travel reads” genre; Broadway’s Charles Conrad says that his project will ”look with great scrutiny at the, quote, Ian Baker discovery.” The Tsangpo sounds brutal — but it’s got nothing on the New York publishing world.
MOB LIT Don’t lose hope, Sopranos fans — an authorized companion volume is on its way. Allen Rucker’s The Sopranos: The Official Companion, will be published in October — in Britain, anyway. The book will include ”a collection of FBI reports, the reports of Dr. Melfi, and a whole anthology of [family] photos,” says Emma D’Almeida, press officer for Channel 4 Books. She says the U.S. edition will be published by New American Library. Spokespersons at both HBO and NAL, however, insist that negotiations for an official companion are still under way.