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Jean Hanff Korelitz Brings More Page-Turning Thrills in Upcoming Sequel to “The Plot” (Exclusive)

In an exclusive excerpt from her new novel, ‘The Sequel,’ Korelitz portrays a writer whose past is catching up with her

<p>Michael Avedon, Celadon Books</p> Jean Hanff Korelitz and the cover of her forthcoming novel

Michael Avedon, Celadon Books

Jean Hanff Korelitz and the cover of her forthcoming novel 'The Sequel'

Jean Hanff Korelitz is back with another book to keep you on the edge of your seat.

The New York Times best-selling author is publishing a sequel to her acclaimed literary thriller, The Plot, and PEOPLE has an exclusive first look and excerpt to get us all hooked.

The Plot
, published in 2021 by Celadon Books, followed Jacob, a writing professor who hasn’t penned anything substantial in years. When Evan Parker, one of his students, dies, he takes that as an opportunity to pass off Evan's unfinished manuscript as his own. As Jacob enjoys his newfound literary film, his lies begin to catch up with him when he becomes the target of an anonymous crusade to take him down.

A Hulu adaptation of the novel starring Mahershala Ali is also in the works.

<p>Celadon Books</p> 'The Sequel' by Jean Hanff Korelitz

Celadon Books

'The Sequel' by Jean Hanff Korelitz

Korelitz's accurately-named follow-up, titled The Sequel, picks up soon after The Plot leaves off. This time, Jacob’s widow, Anna, is writing her own novel. All is not well during the drafting process, however, as she soon finds herself on the receiving end of anonymous messages just like her late husband, dredging up secrets from her past that she wished to keep hidden.

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The Sequel
hits shelves on Oct. 1 and is now available for pre-order. Read an exclusive excerpt below:

<p>Michael Avedon</p> Jean Hanff Korelitz

Michael Avedon

Jean Hanff Korelitz

“I understand,” she said, looking deep into his eyes. “Believe me, I know exactly what you’re going through. I can’t even tell you it gets better, because I’m not there yet. But I can tell you you’re not alone. Unfortunately, there are too many of us for that.”

The man nodded, wordless and shaking. There was nothing to fear from him, she was pretty sure.

“I want to thank you for coming, and I hope my book helps you.”

They took him away.

A surge of women, overcompensating for that destroyed man with kindness and beautiful manners, happy to have their books signed, say something complimentary but blessedly impersonal (“That was a beautiful reading.” “I do admire what you’ve accomplished.” “Look forward to reading it!”) before a pair, two cousins who had just lost their grandmother, though not to suicide.

There was a man who had written a book about his partner’s death from cancer and published it on Amazon. He pressed his own book into her hands, making her watch—making them all watch—as he signed it. At length. She thanked him extravagantly. And then she could see the end.

She began, even as she went about signing, and signing, and chatting and signing, to select the excuse she would offer. [She could claim] exhaustion, or rebound distress from that poor, bereaved man who’d had to be escorted out, or possibly that old standby, a migraine coming on. 

“Thank you so much.” 
“I hope you enjoy it.” 
“Thanks, I appreciate that.” 

She was entitled to exhaustion. This, her third event in as many days, in her third city in as many days, in her third state in as many days, had been pretty typical for the size of the audience and the offering up of personal trauma, all varieties of loss but plenty of suicides. Well, they bought books. They bought lots of books. 

“Oh no, I’m so sorry. There’s no way to prepare.” 
“Thank you so much for saying so.” 
“I wrote it to help myself, to be honest. I had no idea I could help anyone else.” 

<p>Amazon</p> 'The Plot' by Jean Hanff Korelitz

Amazon

'The Plot' by Jean Hanff Korelitz

There were so many names to sign, and so many varieties. The sheer variations on “Catherine” alone drove her to distraction. The “Caitlins,” the “Christines,” the “Micaelas.” Thank goodness for the Post-it notes, because she had to sign as she listened to them speak to her, and as she tried to respond: “Dear”—K-I-R-S-T-Y-N—“thank you so much. I hope it helps. All my best wishes for you in your journey, Anna Williams-Bonner” 

“For”—M-E-A-G-A-N—“with very best wishes. Anna Williams-Bonner” 

She looked up. Only two people were left, but they each had several books to sign. At least they seemed to be together. They were sisters, and their story was terrible. Almost immediately, both were in tears. The books were for their children. Their surviving children. It was a phenomenon Anna recognized, this end-of-the-line attack, something akin to waiting until the doctor had their hand on the doorknob before asking about a suspicious lump in the breast. 

They knew they’d need a lot of time with the author. They hung back. They let people go in front of them. It was a necessary evil. She spent nearly fifteen minutes with them. They were inconsolable, not that she tried very hard. What was the point? The suicide of a loved one left an unfillable hole in a family and in every person the lost person had been close to. Or so she had been told, repeatedly. She had no personal experience of it, herself. 

And then, at last, they left, clutching their books. But before she could get away, the booksellers brought her a stack of books to sign, stock for the Tattered Cover to continue selling and books that had been ordered online or over the phone, or even in the store, by people who weren’t able to attend the reading in person. 

<p>Eugene Gologursky/Getty</p> Jean Hanff Korelitz

Eugene Gologursky/Getty

Jean Hanff Korelitz

She did the stock first: simple signature, nothing personal. Then she turned to the preorders, carefully reading the Post-it before writing on the half title page, grateful not to have anyone standing over her. 

“For Chloe” 
“For Joanne” 
“For Susan” 
“Happy Birthday, to Mikayla” 

The final copy had no Post-it. She opened the cover to the title page, where people sometimes placed it, erroneously, wasting her time, but there was nothing there. She turned to the next page, the half title page, and there it was, its usual square, its usual yellow. She picked up her Sharpie, but she couldn’t get her eyes to read the words, or rather her brain to process them. Something wasn’t working, or the words themselves were not working, or weren’t getting through. Anna read them again.  

Then again, but it made no difference. They still made no sense. 

For
Evan Parker, not forgotten they said.

From The Sequel by Jean Hanff Korelitz. Copyright (c) 2024 by the author and reprinted by permission of Celadon Books, a division of Macmillan Publishing Group, LLC.

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