Ferguson Lands at Pintail

Canadian author Will Ferguson, who won the Giller Prize (his country’s top literary honor) last year, sold a new novel called 419 to Penguin’s Pintail imprint. Andrea Magyar took North American rights from agent Grainne Fox of Fletcher & Company, and Pintail plans to publish in September 2013. Fox called the book a “philosophical thriller”; it follows an editor who, upon discovering that her father has been the fatal victim of an Internet scam, decides to hunt down his killer. Fox also sold the book in the U.K. to Head of Zeus (a London-based house that launched in 2012).

Jurafsky Plays With His ‘Food’ for Norton

Textbook author and MacArthur fellow Dan Jurafsky sold his first trade book to Maria Guarnaschelli at Norton. In a six-figure auction that Norton called “heated,” Guarnaschelli bought world English rights to The Language of Food from Howard Yoon of the Ross Yoon Agency. Jurafsky, who teaches at Stanford, is known in academic circles for co-writing the popular textbook Speech and Language Processing (used predominantly in linguistics classes). The Language of Food, scheduled for fall 2014, is based on a popular class of Jurafsky’s, as well as his blog of the same name. He described the book as something that will “take readers on a journey through the language and history of common foods... as a way to explain the history of the great meetings of civilizations, and the history of people, politics, religion, and culture.”

Mira Nabs Flynn-Like Debut

Erika Imranyi at Harlequin’s Mira imprint bought world rights to Mary Kubica’s debut, We Were Here, from agent Rachael Dillon Fried of Sanford J. Greenburger. Fried said the book, which is about a woman who is kidnapped in a plot that takes an unexpected turn, is in the vein of fiction by Gillian Flynn and Heather Gudenkauf. Elaborating on the plot, Fried said the abduction and its ensuing investigation “unravels a story no one could have predicted.” Imranyi acquired the novel in a two-book deal.

SMP Boards Presidential Chopper

St. Martin’s Press has acquired a new book about the “first” helicopter. Michael Flamini bought world rights, at auction, to Marine Colonel Ray “Frenchy” L’Heureux’s Inside Marine One: Flying the World’s Most Famous Helicopter. L’Heureux, who’s flown the vehicle for several presidents (from George H.W. Bush through Barack Obama), was represented by agents Todd Shuster and Jacob Moore of Zachary Shuster Harmsworth Literary; L’Heureux is co-writing with military blogger Lee Kelley. The book will explore the helicopter itself, as well as the elite squad that operates it (and that L’Heureux oversaw), HMX1. The book is slated for spring/summer 2014.

McGraw-Hill Throws Back a Patron

Ilana Edelstein sold, at auction, The Patron Way, which explores the making of the well-known tequila brand. Mary Glenn at McGraw-Hill Professional took world rights to the book, which the house is calling a “business memoir,” from agents Jennifer Gates and Esmond Harmsworth at Zachary Shuster Harmsworth Literary. Edelstein was involved in the building of the Patron brand as the longtime partner (13 years) of Martin Crowley, who cofounded the business (and died in 2003). McGraw-Hill said the book will be a “blend of business lessons and dramatic page-turning narrative.” The title is set for May 2013.

Peterson Goes Auditory at HMH

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has acquired The Peterson Field Guide to Bird Sounds. The book, which the house is calling “the first comprehensive guide” to the noises of North American birds, is written by Nathan Pieplow and, in keeping with the Peterson brand (which classifies birds through illustrations and written descriptions), will feature both spectrograms and an audio index. (Spectograms represent sounds visually with time-varied charts.) For the “audio index,” HMH is partnering with the Macaulay Library at the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, which is putting the bird sounds online. Lisa White bought North American rights from Regina Ryan, who has an eponymous agency. Peiplow, an academic and longtime birder, is the editor of the journal Colorado Birds.

Putnam Gets In a ‘Shufu’ With Slater

Sara Minnich at Putnam bought world rights to Tracy Slater’s memoir, The Good Shufu, in a deal brokered by agent Rachel Sussman of Chalberg & Sussman. Slater is the founder of the reading series Four Stories—it runs in Boston, Tokyo, and Osaka—which won her the PEN New England Friend to Writers award in 2008. She is a former academic based in Boston, who fell into a transcontinental affair. Putnam said the memoir will delve into how Slater’s “life—and time zone—is upended when she falls in love with the most unlikely partner: a Japanese salary-man who barely speaks her language.”