Scribner Wins Eight-Way Auction for Debut

Executive editor Kathryn Belden is the proud victor—with a rumored six-figure offer—in what she described as a very competitive auction for Stories from Our Tenants Downstairs, a debut work of fiction by Sidik Fofana, a graduate of NYU’s MFA program and a high school English teacher in Brooklyn. Belden says the book is “written with flair and a voice resonant of the place it depicts” and that it “will be a major event when Scribner publishes it in 2021.” It is composed of nine narratives about residents of a fictional housing project in Harlem. Excerpts have appeared in the Sewanee Review, and Fofana has attended Bread Loaf and has been a fellow at the Center for Fiction. The deal for North American rights was brokered by Ethan Bassoff at Massie & McQuilkin.


Berkley Takes On More Infamous Women

Kate Seaver at Berkley paid six figures for the next two books from Stephanie Marie Thornton, author of American Princess and six other novels that showcase her self-described “obsession” with infamous women. Up first is Clever Girl, in which a young Vassar graduate is offered the opportunity to interview former Soviet spy turned FBI informer Elizabeth Bentley, and learns that her own life is inextricably connected to Bentley’s. Kevan Lyon at Marsal Lyon negotiated the world rights deal.

Europa brings ‘Shadowplay’ to the U.S.

Michael Reynolds at Europa picked up U.S. rights from Isobel Dixon of Blake Friedmann to Shadowplay, by Irish PEN Award–winning author Joseph O’Connor. The book, described as a “literary highlight of 2019” by the Sunday Times of London upon its June publication in the U.K. and Canada, is centered around London’s Lyceum Theatre in 1878 and follows the interplay of a volcanic leading man, an adored actress, and the theater manager—Bram Stoker. The book will be a “super lead” on the house’s spring list when it pubs in April 2020. Rights have been sold in seven countries.

Boom Stands Up for ‘Attica’

Bryce Carlson, v-p, editorial and creative strategies at Boom! Studios, and Filip Sablik, president, publishing and marketing, have acquired world rights to the graphic novel Big Black: The Stand at Attica, for Boom’s Archaia imprint. Frank “Big Black” Smith, an inmate at Attica Prison during the 1971 uprising there, has teamed up with Jared Reinmuth, an author and actor, and graphic designer Améziane, for the book. Big Black will be released on Feb. 18, 2020. The deal was unagented.

Behind the Deal

Judd Apatow honors his mentor with It’s Garry Shandling’s Book, a compilation that he’s edited of the late comedian’s unseen journal entries, photographs, and interviews. The book will sketch an portrait of the self-aware artist, who struggled with fame and searched for deeper meaning.

Random House executive editor Ben Greenberg acquired North American rights from Andrew Wylie, who has an eponymous agency. Greenberg said, “Judd has been working on this book for years—packing it full of interviews with comedians and other people who knew Garry, as well as photographs, stand-up material, and intimate journal pages from Garry’s archives. Judd wanted to create a work that was both a highly entertaining, hilarious read as well as a beautiful, fitting tribute to his late mentor. The book succeeds in being both.”

The book, to be released on November 12, follows Apatow’s four-and-a-half-hour HBO documentary from 2018, The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling. Upon the documentary’s release, Apatow told the New York Times that “working with Garry was like trying to paint with Picasso.” He added, “Then Picasso would look at you and go, ‘What are you doing? Why aren’t you doing it as well as me?’ ”

For more children’s and YA book deals, see our latest Rights Report.

This story has been updated for clarity.