Houghton's Amanda Cook bought world rights on an exclusive submission to Richard Panek's Let There Be Dark, a look at the search for dark matter and dark energy, via HenryDunow at Dunow, Carlson and Lerner. Previewed in his recent article in the New York Times Magazine, Panek will follow leading scientists as they grapple with the fact that only 4% of the universe consists of matter as we ordinarily think of it. Panek is the author of The Invisible Century and Seeing and Believing; no pub date yet.
Elsewhere at the agency, Erin Hosier conducted a two-day auction for Mishna Wolff's I'm Down, with Rose Hilliard at St. Martin's taking world rights. This memoir follows the author's plight as an ill-at-ease white girl growing up with her white (but "down" with all things black) father in an urban Seattle neighborhood. Wolff is a former model and now comedian; projected pub date is October 2008.
Harper's Claire Wachtel won an auction for historian Anne Bailey's The Weeping Time: Anatomy of a Slave Auction; Dan O'Connell at the Strothman Agency sold world rights. The Jamaica-born Bailey will describe the largest slave auction in American history, known as "the weeping time" for the families separated, that took place in Savannah on the eve of the Civil War. Bailey will also track the families post-auction, including interviews with living descendants. Pub date not yet known.
Holt's Sarah Knight bought North American rights to two 826 Valencia Writing Guides in an auction conducted by agent Ted Weinstein. The first, on writing memoir, will be edited by Jenny Traig and feature contributions from Anthony Swofford, Elizabeth Gilbert, Jonathan Ames, Phillip Lopate and Tobias Wolff, among others, and an introduction by Dave Eggers. Pub date is fall 2008, with the second book, on fiction writing, to follow.
Wylie O'Sullivan at the Free Press has preempted Michelle Mercer's The Art of True Confession: Joni Mitchell's BLUE via Dave Dunton at Harvey Klinger, who sold world rights. The All Things Considered essayist will use Mitchell's landmark album to explore her artistry as well as the musical and cultural traditions she came from, broke with and inspired. Pub date is 2009.
Alexis Gargagliano at Scribner won an auction for Matt Bondurant's second novel, tentatively titled The Wettest County in the World, via Trident's Alex Glass, who sold North American rights for six figures. The book is set in rural Virginia during Prohibition and is based on a true story involving the author's grandfather and two great-uncles who made up a notorious moonshining gang. Bondurant is the author of The Third Translation (Hyperion, 2005).
Pantheon's Jenny Jackson bought North American rights to a second novel by AmandaBoyden via agent Rob McQuilkin. Set in New Orleans in the year between hurricanes Ivan and Katrina, L'Enfant Terrible is the story of six families living uptown along the same block. Jackson published Boyden's first novel, Pretty Little Dirty, as a Vintage paperback original. Tentative pub date for the new book is summer 2008.
Nan Graham at Scribner won an auction for a debut novel by Rachel Kushner titled The Americanos; agent Susan Golomb made the six-figure North American rights deal. The book is set in Cuba just before Castro's revolution, as seen through the eyes of Americans living in the bubble of their expatriate enclave. Scribner will publish as a lead title in June 2008.
Lots More Roby
Bestselling author Kimberla Lawson Roby has just signed a new deal for two novels and two novellas; Carolyn Marino at Morrow bought North American rights from agent ElaineKoster. The novels will feature philandering minister Curtis Black, while the novellas will include an entirely new cast of characters. No titles yet; Roby plans to publish a novel and a novella a year, beginning in summer 2008.