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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Call it an offer you can't refuse?
A prequel to the late Mario Puzo's best-selling novel "The Godfather" is headed for bookstores in June 2012, publishers Grand Central Publishing said on Wednesday.
Called "The Family Corleone," the book will be written by author Ed Falco and is based on an unproduced screenplay by Puzo. The story is set in 1930s Depression-era New York and tells how Vito Corleone rose through the criminal underworld to become the influential Don Corleone in "The Godfather".
The novel is authorized by the estate of Puzo, who died in 1999 at the age of 78 after winning two Oscars for adapting "The Godfather" into the 1970s movies "The Godfather" and "The Godfather: Part II," starring Marlon Brando and Al Pacino.
Puzo's son Tony described "The Family Corleone" in a statement as a novel "that is true to Mario Puzo's legacy".
It was not immediately clear how "The Family Corleone" would differ from the plot of the Oscar-winning movie "The Godfather: Part II," which also chronicles Vito Corleone's early life and ascent through the ranks of the Italian-American underworld.
"The Godfather" was originally published in 1969 and has sold more than 21 million copies. Puzo followed up with two other books in the series -- The Sicilian" in 1984 and "Omerta" which was published posthumously in 2000.
Jamie Raab, executive vice president of Grand Central Publishing, said that "The Family Corleone" was a novel that "thrillingly brings back Puzo's classic characters in a prequel that both honors the original, and stands on its own."
Grand Central Publishing is a division of Hachette Book Group.
Reporting by Jill Serjeant; editing by Dean Gooodman