Viking Lands Laskin
Penguin Books president and publisher Kathryn Court beat seven other bidders at auction to win North American rights to David Laskin's Three Roads. Laskin, whose 2004 book, The Children's Blizzard (HarperCollins), was a Barnes & Noble Discover Pick, takes the sweeping subject of the history of Jews in the 20th century and encapsulates the saga into the story of a single family. Laskin's agent, Jill Kneerim at Kneerim & Williams, closed the deal, and Viking is publishing in 2013. Laskin's newest book, The Long Way Home, which is also published by HC, came out in March.
The Oak Ridge Girls
Foundry's Yfat Reiss Gendell sold Denise Kiernan's nonfiction book, The Girls of Atomic City, to Touchstone Fireside in a heated auction. Michelle Howry took U.S., Canadian, and open market rights to the book, topping seven other bidders. Atomic City exposes the story behind the Tennessee town of Oak Ridge, which was founded in 1940 for the express purpose of helping make the atomic bomb. Subtitled Life in the Secret City with the Women Who Built the Bomb, the book focuses on the women who made this odd hamlet run. None of the female denizens of Oak Ridge, many of whom are still alive, knew the actual role they were playing in the war effort until the U.S. dropped the bomb on Hiroshima. Now, in some of their first interviews, they share their complicated stories for a work the publisher is calling “a tale of courage, daring, and triumph, but also of secrecy, deception, and intrigue.” Touchstone Fireside does not yet have a publication date.
The Italian Job
Penguin Books' Alessandra Lusardi bought world English rights to the forthcoming Eat, Pray, Love in Rome. The book, which Rizzoli is publishing in Italy in October, is a guide to the European city by Luca Spaghetti, a local who became a close personal friend of, and unexpected tour guide to, Elizabeth Gilbert (the author of Eat, Pray, Love) during her time in Rome. Giovanna Canton at Rizzoli sold the book to Lusardi, and the publisher confirmed that, yes, Spaghetti is the author's actual name. Penguin is planning a 2011 publication.
Back in the U.S.S.R.
Wylie O'Sullivan at Free Press bought world rights to Nikolai Grozni's tragicomic new novel, Wunderkind. Rob McQuilken at Lippincott Massie McQuilken brokered the deal for Grozni, whose first book, the memoir Turtle Feet (about Tibetan monkhood), was published by Riverhead in 2008. Grozni, who grew up in Bulgaria and went to Brown University, delivers a partly autobiographical tale in Wunderkind, which is about a gifted 15-year-old pianist living in the Soviet Union during the socialist government's final two years. Obsessed with breaking free from the rigid Communist way of life, the protagonist escapes into the music of Chopin, Debussy, and Bach. The book, Free Press said, marries teen angst with the frustrations of living under Communist rule. The Simon & Schuster imprint is planning a July 2011 publication.
Hyperion Lands 'Ben'
Brenda Copeland at Hyperion's Voice imprint pre-empted North American rights to Victoria Brown's debut novel, Minding Ben. Agent Jean Naggar brokered the deal, and the book, which Hyperion described as a cross between The Nanny Diaries and The Help, focuses on the immigrant experience as it follows a young Trinidad woman making her way in New York City as a nanny for a wealthy Manhattan family. The work is somewhat autobiographical, as Brown, a Trinidad native, worked as a nanny when she first arrived in the States. Voice is planning a winter 2011 publication.