DEAL OF THE WEEK
Teen Activist Signs with Penguin
Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg closed a two-book deal with Penguin Press, selling U.S. rights to a memoir and a collection of speeches. Thunberg, who took center stage in a worldwide climate demonstration last week, was represented by Sigrid Stavnem at Politiken Literary Agency. The book of speeches is called No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference, and the memoir, which she is co-writing with her family, is titled Our House Is on Fire. The books were acquired by Penguin’s Christopher Richards.
FROM THE U.S.
McEwan’s Brexit Novella to Anchor
Booker-winner Ian McEwan sold U.S. rights to a new novella, The Cockroach, to Anchor Books. The publisher described the political satire, in which a once-loathed man wakes up to discover he’s the prime minister of Britain, as “Franz Kafka meets the world of Brexit and Trump.” The publisher elaborated that the trade paperback original, slated for October 8, “engages with a political world turned on its head.” Sonny Mehta acquired the book from Georges Borchardt at Georges Borchardt Inc.
Lonsdale Re-ups at Lake Union
In a seven-figure acquisition, bestselling author Kerry Lonsdale inked a four-book deal with Amazon’s Lake Union Publishing unit. The world rights agreement was brokered by Gordon Warnock at Fuse Literary and Chris Werner at Lake Union. The first book in the agreement, Warnock said, is a standalone titled Side Trip, which is about “love, loss, and the unexpected routes that life takes” and is slated for July 2020. The other three titles will form a trilogy titled No More, which, Warnock said, is a “domestic suspense and family drama about three artistically talented siblings, the secrets they keep from each other, and the lies they tell themselves.” According to Warnock, Lonsdale’s books have “reached nearly two million readers.”
Lustbader Closes Double at Forge
Bestselling author Eric Van Lustbader (who writes his own novels in addition to penning Robert Ludlum’s ongoing Jason Bourne series) closed a two-book, six-figure deal with Forge Books. Linda Quinton nabbed North American rights to the titles from Mitch Hoffman at the Aaron M. Priest Literary Agency. The first book, The Nemesis Manifesto, launches a new series following U.S. intelligence agent Evan Ryder, who, the publisher said, “has survived unspeakable tragedy and dedicated her life to protecting her country.” Nemesis, set for spring 2020, will be a lead title for Forge.
SMP Welcomes Wynne’s ‘Madam’
For St. Martin’s Press, Sarah Cantin preempted North American rights, for six figures, to Phoebe Wynne’s debut novel, Madam. Cantin described the book as a “modern gothic” work of fiction “with shades of The Secret History and The Stepford Wives.” Set at an all-girls boarding school in Scotland, Madam, Cantin went on, “is told from the point of view of the 26-year-old new head of the classics department, the first new hire in a decade, who quickly discovers that things are not what they seem at this deeply traditional and secretive institution.” Janelle Andrew at PFD represented Wynne in the two-book deal.
HC Children’s Tastes Paulsen’s ‘Garlic’
After a three-house auction, Rosemary Brosnan at HarperCollins Children’s Books won a debut graphic novel for six figures. Bree Paulsen’s Garlic & the Vampire sold, along with a second book, for world rights. Britt Siess at Martin Literary & Media Management represented the author. The agency said the book is about “a village of anthropomorphic vegetables, whose world is turned upside down when a vampire moves into the nearby abandoned castle, and the shy Garlic they elect to drive him out.” The title is slated for fall 2021.
Johnson’s ‘Wife’ Weds 37 Ink
Sadequa Johnson’s historical fiction debut, Yellow Wife, was acquired in a North American rights deal, for six figures, by Dawn Davis at 37 Ink. Cherise Fisher and Wendy Sherman at Wendy Sherman Associates represented Johnson, with Sherman describing the novel as one in which “a footnote of history is brought to life.” In it, a young female slave is sold to a married man who, Sherman, explained, is “full of paradoxes.” She added that the man “intends to start a family with her even as he manages a particularly cruel estate, the Devil’s Half Acre, where thousands of black people are beaten, broken, and sold.” (The actual Devil’s Half Acre was a facility in Richmond, Va., close to the city’s capitol building, where slaves were jailed.)
SMP Courts Wyllie’s ‘Nazi Wives’
Historian, author, and screenwriter James Wyllie (Code Breakers) sold Nazi Wives to Charles Spicer at St. Martin’s Press. Spicer took North American rights to the nonfiction title from Sonia Land at Sheil Land Associates. The book follows the wives of high-profile Nazi officers to highlight for the first time, SMP said, their lives and devotion to Hitler in the buildup to, and aftermath of, WWII. The publisher added that Wyllie details how “Hitler became personally interested in the lives of these wives and their relationships with their husbands” as the women endured “endless jealousies” and engaged in “continual one-upmanship to share in his utopia.”
RH Strolls Mitchell’s ‘Avenue’
In what marks his first novel since 2014, David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas) sold Utopia Avenue to Andy Ward at Random House. The North American rights agreement was brokered by Doug Stewart at Sterling Lord Literistic on behalf of Jonny Geller at Curtis Brown. The book, scheduled for June 2020, tells the story of a fictional rock trio who, RH said, “are the strangest British band you’ve never heard of.” Chronicling their brief rise, the novel, the publisher went on, “tells the unexpurgated story of Utopia Avenue; of riots in the streets and revolutions in the head; of drugs, madness, love, sex, death, art; of the families we choose and the ones we don’t; and of fame’s Faustian pact and stardom’s wobbly ladder.” Mitchell, who lives in Ireland, has twice been shortlisted for the Booker Prize.
Clarke’s Sophomore Novel to B’bury
Liese Mayer and Alexandra Pringle at Bloomsbury nabbed world English rights to the sophomore novel by the author of the 2004 bestseller Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. Susanna Clarke’s Piranesi is slated for a global laydown in September 2020. A Bloomsbury spokesperson said the novel is set in “a richly imagined, very unusual world.” The title character lives in a place called the House and is needed by his friend, the Other, to work on a scientific project. The publisher went on: “Piranesi records his findings in his journal. Then messages begin to appear; all is not what it seems. A terrible truth unravels as evidence emerges of another person and perhaps even another world outside the House’s walls.” Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell has, per Bloomsbury, sold more than four million copies worldwide. Clarke, who’s won both a Hugo Award and a World Fantasy Award, was represented by Jonny Geller at Curtis Brown.
Akhtar’s ‘Homeland’ Settles at LB
In a six-figure deal, Judith Clain at Little, Brown nabbed Ayad Akhtar’s Homeland Elegies. Akhtar, a Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright (Disgraced) and novelist (American Dervish), was represented by Julie Barer at the Book Group. The novel, set for fall 2020, is, LB said, “drawn from Akhtar’s life as the son of Muslim immigrants” and blends fact with fiction in telling a story set in a country where “a TV personality is president and immigrants live in fear, and where the wounds of 9/11 continue to wreak havoc around the world.”