Big Memoirs to Crown

Harmony publisher Shaye Areheart just signed up a new book by Brooke Newman with a preemptive six-figure offer to Sterling Lord, who sold North American rights. The working title is A Love of Numbers, and John Glusman will edit. Described as a memoir with poetic license, the book is set in Washington, D.C., during the early days of legislative changes in race relations and explores the relationship between the author's father, mathematician and author James Newman, who is white, and the family's longtime housekeeper, who is black. Newman's last book, the inspirational fable The Little Tern, has been published in 17 countries and sold more than 1,100,000 copies worldwide. Likely pub date for Numbers is 2009.

At Crown proper, executive editor HeatherJackson won world rights to Beth Maloney's Saving Sammy: Curing the Boy Who Caught OCD via an auction conducted by Tris Coburn. Unfolding over two years on the coast of Maine, this mother's memoir describes how her young son beat great odds to make a full recovery. Crown plans a fall 2009 publication.

Before Stonewall

Knopf's Carol Janeway won an auction for Robert Beachy's Gay Berlin: Birthplace of a Modern Identity; Jill Kneerim sold world rights. Beachy, a historian specializing in German history, will reveal how and why Berlin became the first place where the modern gay world emerged into public view as a political movement and open culture. When the German nation-state formed in the late 19th century, the new Prussian law prohibiting sodomy and the attendant study of homosexuality by Berlin's blossoming medical establishment paradoxically joined to create the dynamic for a new society; by the time the wild party days of the 1920s had arrived, Berlin had already had several decades of flourishing public gay life. Publication is slated for 2011.

Norton Preempts Debut

Jill Bialosky at Norton preempted U.S. rights to Maaza Mengiste's first novel, Beneath the Lion's Gaze, via Maria Massie. The book explores the waning days of the Ethiopian monarchy of the 1970s through one family's experience of one of the most violent and bloody coups in African history. Maaza was born in Addis Ababa and left during the revolution to live in Nigeria, Kenya and eventually the U.S.; the novel was inspired by family stories as well as her own memories. Maaza has an M.F.A. from NYU, where she now teaches, and she is a recent Pushcart nominee. Tentative pub date is late 2009 or early 2010.

A Pound a Week

Weinstein publisher Judy Hottensen has acquired world rights to Edward Ugel's memoir, I'm with Fatty: Losing Fifty Pounds in Fifty Miserable Weeks from Farley Chase at the Waxman Agency. The book follows chronically overweight Ugel, under orders from his doctor to get his 250-pound frame in better shape or risk serious health consequences, as he navigates an unfamiliar world of nutritionists and trainers. Ugel, who adds a male voice to the canon on body image and weight loss, is the author of Money for Nothing: One Man's Journey Through the Dark Side of Lottery Millions, published by Collins last year and recently optioned for film by Tobey Maguire and Michael De Luca for Warner Brothers.

Getting into Fashion

Ben Schrank at Razorbill bought North American rights to The Teen Vogue Handbook: An Insider's Guide to Careers in the Fashion Industry by Amy Astley with Lauren Waterman; the book will include interviews with designers, photographers, stylists and others about their careers in fashion, accompanied by photographs and tips from the Teen Vogue staff. Pub date is fall 2009; the project was unagented.