Deal of the Week: NBA Finalist Obreht Goes “Inland”
National Book Award finalist Téa Obreht sold a novel titled Inland to Andrea Walker at Random House. The 1893-set work, which Walker took North American rights to, takes place, the publisher said, “in the lawless, drought-ridden lands of the Arizona Territory.” The book follows the stories of Nora, a wife who’s gone in search of water and her husband, and Lurie, a “former outlaw haunted by his past.” Obreht’s 2009 debut, The Tiger’s Wife (also published by RH), won the 2011 Orange Prize (having been released in the U.K. two years after its U.S. publication) and, per RH, has sold more than one million copies worldwide. Seth Fishman at the Gernert Company represented Obreht.
FROM THE U.S.
Beach Lane Lifts Cherrix’s ‘Architects’
In a six-figure world rights acquisition, Andrea Welch at Simon & Schuster’s Beach Lane Books bought, at auction, Amy Cherrix’s picture book Animal Architects. The nonfiction book will be illustrated by Chris Sasaki. S&S said the title, acquired along with a second book, “showcases the many amazing ways and things that animals build.” Cherrix was represented in the deal by Ammi-Joan Paquette at Erin Murphy Literary, and Sasaki by Kirsten Hall at Catbird Productions.
Avery Takes in Doc’s ‘Fiber’
Lucia Watson at Avery took world rights at auction, for a rumored high-six-figure sum, to Will Bulsiewicz’s book on gut health, Fiber Fueled. The author is a Charleston, S.C., gastroentroligist who, Avery said, has “a plant-based plan for gut health and total wellness that has transofrmed his own health as well as the health of thousands of his patients.” Stephanie Tade, who has an eponymous shingle, brokered the agreement with Watson.
Rishi’s Debut to HarperTeen
Lawyer-turned-author Farah Naz Rishi sold her debut YA effort, I Hope You Get This Message, to Alexandra Cooper at HarperTeen. Stephen Barbara at Inkwell Management represented the Rishi, a former environmental lawyer, and explained that the book posits a scenario in which humans learn that “Earth is a grand experiment that its mother planet may decide to end in seven days.” The novel then follows “three very different teens who seek connection and closure while the fate of the world is decided.” Barbara brokered the North American rights agreement on behalf of book packager Glasstown Entertainment. The book is slated for fall 2019.
Queer MG Series Nabbed by Abrams
After an auction, Courtney Code at Abrams won the first two books in a planned middle grade series by Kit Rosewater called the Derby Daredevils. Dubbed a queer series by Rosewater’s agent, Lauren Spieller at TriadaUS Literary, the books will be illustrated by Sophie Escabasse. Book one follows a fifth grader who, along with her best friend, tries to form an all-girl roller derby team. The title, a debut, is set for spring 2020, and, according to Spieller, there is “already film interest.” Kelly Sonnack at Andrea Brown Literary represented Escabasse.
One World Nabs Indian Hit
The Indian bestseller Latitudes of Longing by Shubhangi Swarup was acquired at auction, in a world English rights (excluding India) agreement, by Victory Matsui at One World. Originally published by HC India, the debut novel, One World said, “depicts a sweeping view of the Earth through the lives of interconnected characters, including a scientist who studies trees and a clairvoyant who speaks to them.” Maria Cardona at the Pontas Agency handled the sale, and additional deals have closed in, among other countries, France, Norway, and Sweden.
Christian Blogger to HarperOne
Rachel Held Evans (Inspired), a polarizing evangelical blogger and author, sold two books to HarperOne. The first, Wholehearted Faith, focuses on, the publisher said, “why Christians crave certainty.” The second book, How to Feed God, examines “how Christ was fed, nurtured, and shaped by women.” Kathryn Renz Hamilton took world rights to the titles from Rachelle Gardner at Books and Such Literary.
Skybound Goes “Down” for Hugo
Mike Braff at Skybound Books, the imprint S&S launched with Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman in 2017, took world rights to Ilze Hugo’s debut novel, The Down Days. The South African author was represented by Stacia Decker at Dunow, Carlson & Lerner, who said the magical-realist work “follows a woman who must recover a kidnapped child in a city gripped by a deadly laughter epidemic.”
Behind the Deal
Renewed interest in a civil rights–era hero has resulted in a rash of deals. The 2009 memoir Mighty Justice by attorney Dovey Johnson Roundtree, who died earlier this year at age 104 and is arguably best known for winning a landmark 1955 bus desegregation case, will be reissued by Algonquin Books. The publisher won the book at auction, and, separately, film rights were acquired by Hidden Figures producer Donna Gigliotti, and picture book and middle grade adaptations were nabbed by Roaring Book Press.
Algonquin’s Amy Gash, who bought the book, said Roundtree’s life story is perfect for this moment. “There’s a hunger right now for overlooked stories about women’s lives,” she said. “Dovey had to leave the D.C. courthouse where she was arguing a case just to use the bathroom. But she persisted. What comes through in her story is a fierce determination to make positive change in this world. That’s what I responded to when I read her book. And I know others did as well.”
- Buckrider Books, an imprint of Canadian publisher Wolsak & Wynn, took North American rights to Mark Sampson’s novel All the Animals on Earth. The book, said Sampson’s agent Stephanie Sinclair at the Transatlantic Agency, follows what happens after “scientists develop a process called pullulation, which causes certain species of birds and mammals to transmogrify into human form.” [PW]
- After a six-bidder auction, U.K. publisher Profile Books won a nonfiction title about the prison system by former probation officer Eleanor Fellowes. Louisa Dunnigan bought the title, set for spring 2021, from Jane Finigan at Lutyens and Rubinstein. [The Bookseller]
- Los Asquerosos by Santiago Lorenzo sold to Ed. du Seuil in France. Salmaia Lit is handling rights on behalf of Spanish publishing house Blackie Books, which released the novel in September. It's about a man who attacks a police officer and then goes on the run. Blackie Books said the title is now in its third printing in Spain. [PW]
- Stefano Massini's Qualcosa Sui Lehman sold to HarperOne for world English rights, in a deal brokered by Emanuela Canali of Italian publisher Mondadori. An English title and publication date is forthcoming from HarperOne. The book, a poetic monologue about the downfall of Lehman Brothers, was originally published in Italy in October 2016. The French translation, published by Globe Editions, won the Prix Medicis in France in the nonfiction category, as well as the Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger. Rights to the book have also sold in the Netherlands and Israel; in France, Gallimard nabbed paperback rights. [PW]
- A novel originally written in the Basque language, Let's Wait Until it Stops Raining by Katixa Agirre, has sold to Converso for German rights. The book was published by Elkar in 2015 in Basque, and rights have previously sold in Bulgaria, Turkey, Spanish-language, and Denmark. The Ella Sher Agency controls all rights to the title, and described the book as "a contemporary depiction of the Basque Country" that follows a couple traveling the region by car.
PAGE TO SCREEN
- Starz has picked up an eight-episode series called Dublin Murders based on Tana French’s novels In the Woods and The Likeness (both published by Penguin). Production on the series is underway in Dublin, and it’s set to air on Starz in 2019. [Vanity Fair]
- An article called “The Watcher,” which ran in New York magazine’s The Cut, about a New Jersey family’s real estate purchase turned horror film–like nightmare, has been optioned by Netflix. [Deadline]
- Stephen King’s novel The Outsider (Scribner, May) has been optioned by HBO with actor Ben Mendelsohn (Bloodline) attached to star. [Variety]
For more children’s and YA book deals, see our latest Rights Report.
Correction: In an earlier version of this article. Algonquin editor Amy Gash's name was misspelled.