Sunday, May 22, 2005


Author Meets Wolves, Publishers -- Prefers Wolves

This has got to be one of the weirdest stories of the week, and yet this AP wire doesn't appear to have been picked up anywhere outside of the Boston Globe and few other MA papers:

A state appeals court yesterday upheld a $22.5 million award to a Massachusetts woman who sued the publisher of her memoir about surviving the Holocaust with the help of a pack of wolves that gave her food and protection. The author, Misha Defonseca, lost her home even after the book about her harrowing childhood in Europe during World War II became a best-seller overseas.

Defonseca and a coauthor sued the publisher, Mount Ivy Press, and its founder, Jane Daniel, for breach of contract in 1998. They accused Daniel of keeping royalties that belonged to them and hiding the money in offshore accounts. A judge later ordered Mt. Ivy and Daniel to pay a total of $32.4 million to Defonseca and her ghostwriter, Vera Lee of Newton, who was Daniel's friend and neighbor before the court battle.

Whoa, whoa... $32.4 million? Cared for by a pack of wolves?


The AP report gives barely any details, though I found at least a few more on this press release by Defonseca's lawyers at Sullivan & Worcestor:

The verdict and the decision on triple damages are the culmination of several years' legal effort by Defonseca and her law firm, Sullivan & Worcester LLP. The firm has pursued Defonseca's case without payment because of the compelling circumstances of Defonseca's life and her victimization at the hands of Mt. Ivy.

First published by Mt. Ivy Press in 1997, "Misha: A Memoir of the Holocaust Years" was a bestseller in France, Italy and Quebec, and caught the eye of movie producers, including Walt Disney Studios. However, it sold only 5,000 copies in the United States because Mt. Ivy terminated marketing efforts, including a segment on the Oprah Winfrey Show, in support of the book in 1997. Misha Defonseca now hopes to tell her story in the United States by reprinting the book and selling its movie rights.

I see that the book is also selling well under the title Surviving With Wolves on Amazon UK -- though, oddly, I don't see any newspaper coverage or reviews of it over there, either. Incidentally: has there ever been an actual substantiated case of a child being tended to by wolves? I mean, outside of Kipling stories?

Just wondering.

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