Who says American publishers are only interested in Swedish thriller writers? Yes, a copycat Stieg Larsson seems to be high on the list of every U.S. house, but, apparently, the American are not opposed to Spanish-language hits. Agent Antonia Kerrigan, who has long represented Spanish-language authors, sold three big Spanish-language titles at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair. Kerrigan closed two major deals with Simon & Schuster’s Atria imprint and a third, before the fair, with Holt.
Atria nabbed North American rights to Maria Duenas’s debut, The Couturier, for six figures at the beginning of the fair, as well as Javier Sierra’s The Lost Angel. Duenas’s novel, which traverses between Madrid, Tetuan and Lisbon before the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, is being touted as “The Shadow of the Wind meets Casablanca;” it has been a bestseller in Spain for months and has sold over 500,000 copies there.
Sierra’s book, Kerrigan said, sold so quickly in part because of the success of his last title, The Secret Supper, which hit the Times last shortly after Atria published it stateside. Kerrigan noted that Atria pre-empted North American rights to Lost Angel before the title sold in Spain, where it has yet to be acquired.
The Holt title, by debut Mexican author Sabina Berman, is slated for next year and is tentatively called The Woman Who Dove Into the Heart of the World. Sold in 30 countries already, the novel follows an autistic woman who becomes an integral part of the factory business her aunt inherits.
While Kerrigan couldn’t say that these deals pointed to any trend, she acknowledged that it was extremely unique to have three big foreign language titles at the fair. That, she explained, could just be the luck of having three of the right books at the right time.