In a major deal, Riverhead’s Sarah McGrath bought the buzzed-about Depression-era debut novel by Anton DiSclafani, The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls. After William Morris Endeavor agent Dorian Karchmar began circulating the manuscript among New York editors, rumors quickly spread that the asking price for the book had reached into the seven figure range. McGrath took North American rights to the book at auction, but neither Riverhead, nor Karchmar, would speak to the advance.
Some insiders noted that the comparison which kept cropping up with Yonahlossee, which takes place in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains at an equestrian boarding school, is the breakout hit (also set in the Depression and also involving animals) Like Water for Elephants. The heroine of Yonahlossee, a 16-year-old named Thea Atwell, is cast out of her upstanding Florida family after a scandal, sent to the titular school, in part, as punishment. Riverhead called the work a "lush, sexy, evocative novel of Southern decorum, family secrets, and girls’ school rituals.”
The 30-year-old DiSclafani grew up riding horses in Florida. She has an MFA from Washington University, where she is also teaches writing in the English department.