'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' and 'The Help' go to movies

Two of 2009's bestselling books – 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' and 'The Help' – will both become films.

Two of the bestselling novels of 2009 are now moving toward cinema screens. News about film versions of both "The Girl with the Dragon Tatttoo" by Stieg Larsson and "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett are in the headlines this week.

But the books – and their back stories – could not be more different.

"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" is the first in the Millennium Series trilogy of Scandanavian crime thrillers. The book, which has captivated audiences worldwide due to a spunky, odd-duck heroine named Lisbeth Salander, was written by a crusading Swedish journalist who died before the book was ever published. Larsson's surprising demise at the age of 50 has left his companion of 30 years feuding with his father and brother for control of his works.

It is being reported today that Sony Pictures is in final discussions to option the English-language film rights to the whole Millennium Series. (A Swedish-language film of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" has already been released.) Scott Rudin is expected to be the movie's producer.

"The Help," on the other hand, is a story set in 1960s Mississippi about the black maids in wealthy white households. Stockett is a first-time author who saw her manuscript rejected 50 times before finding a publisher. "The Help" was published early this year and quickly attracted an enthusiastic readership.

Today Variety is reporting that a screen adaptation of "The Help" – now in its 35th week on the New York Times bestseller list – is being fast-tracked.

Marjorie Kehe is the Monitor’s book editor. You can follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/MarjorieKehe

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