DEAL OF THE WEEK
Anam’s ‘Startup’ Draws Scribner
After Tahmima Anam’s The Startup Wife sold to Canongate for six figures, Scribner nabbed North American rights to the novel. Nan Graham and Kara Watson acquired from Canongate, after Sarah Chalfant at the Wylie Agency sold world rights (excluding India) to the U.K. house. Scribner described the title as “a sharp, satirical look at marriage, work, and female friendship in the age of peak technology.” In it, two high school sweethearts “build an algorithm to replace religion” and wind up running one of the world’s most influential social media platforms. When the platform grows, “their marriage is tested, and the wife finds herself increasingly in her husband’s shadow.” The publisher added that, with the book, Anam, who has written three novels and won the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize, is taking her work in “an ambitious new direction.” The Startup Wife is slated for summer 2021.
FROM THE U.S.
Quart Gets ‘Bootstrapped’ at Ecco
At Ecco, Denise Oswald acquired Alissa Quart’s Bootstrapped for six figures. The North American rights agreement was brokered by Jill Grinberg at Jill Grinberg Literary Management. She said the book follows up on Squeezed, Quart’s 2018 book from Ecco. Grinberg added that while interviewing people for that book, Quart “realized there was an underlying ideology of bootstrapping independence at the root of the middle class suffering.” The new book, the agent continued, “will look at how this deeply ingrained ideal of American self-reliance and do-it-yourself grit has helped to both mask and perpetuate the wealth gap in this country, and what we can do to address it.” Quart, who contributes regularly to the New York Times and other outlets, cofounded the Economic Hardship Reporting Project with Nickel and Dimed author Barbara Ehrenreich.
Hanover Scoops Banville’s ‘Snow’
John Banville sold a new crime novel, Snow, along with a second untitled novel, to Hanover Square Press. John Glynn took North American rights from Andrew Wylie at the Wylie Agency, with the book slated for October 2020 (publishing simultaneously with the U.K. edition from Faber). Set in 1957, Snow will be the first crime novel that the Booker winner has published under his own name, after he wrote a series of crime books under the nom de plume Benjamin Black. Introducing a new sleuth—Det. Insp. St. John Strafford—the novel, Hanover Square said, follows “an aristocratic family whose secrets resurface when a priest is found murdered in their home.”
Lambda Fellow’s Debut Lands at Knopf
For Knopf, Caitlin Landuyt bought Lambda Literary fellow Eric Nguyen’s debut novel, A History of Lost Things. Set in a New Orleans housing project, the book, Knopf said, “follows a Vietnamese refugee mother and her two sons, one tempted by gangs and the other embracing his gay identity, as they reckon with their past losses and grapple with creating a new home.” Nguyen, represented by Julie Stevenson at Massie & McQuilkin, is a contributing writer for the blog DiaCritics.org, which focuses on work by artists and writers from the Vietnamese and Southeast Asian diaspora. Lost Things is tentatively set for spring 2021.
Gratton Takes a ‘Shine’ to McElderry
From an exclusive submission, Karen Wojtyla at Simon & Schuster’s Margaret K. McElderry Books imprint nabbed world English rights to Tessa Gratton’s YA novel Night Shine. Laura Rennert at Andrea Brown Literary represented the author, saying she pitched the book as “a dark, queer Howl’s Moving Castle.” In it, she explained, after a crown prince is kidnapped, an orphan named Nothing “sets out to rescue him, and discovers all magic is a bargain.” Gratton, who’s written adult science fiction and fantasy novels as well as YA ones, worked as the lead writer for Serial Box Publishing’s project Tremontaine.
Screenwriter’s Memoir Goes to Crown
Screenwriter Guinevere Turner’s debut memoir, a coming-of-age story, sold at auction to Crown’s Gillian Blake. Bill Clegg at the Clegg Agency represented the author (whose credits include the screenplay for American Psycho and various episodes of The L Word), selling North American rights. The book, Crown said, expands on a New Yorker essay by Turner, published in May, titled “My Childhood in a Cult.” In it, she describes growing up during the 1970s within an isolationist group known as the Lyman Family. The publisher elaborated that the group “kept her separated from her mother and younger sister,” and in the book, she details “her exile at age 11 into a seismically abusive home, from which she narrowly escaped at age 16.”
Chokshi Inks Audio-Only Deal at Audible
Bestselling author Roshani Chokshi (A Crown of Wishes) sold a crossover YA novella to Audible Originals. Jessica Almon Galland took audio-only rights to the title from Thao Le at Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. Audible said the book is “a humorous twist on fairy tales” and follows “a married couple who was once madly in love, but had sacrificed their feelings to an angered sorceress in order to save each other’s life.”
The recently acquired book on WeWork by Wall Street Journal reporters Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell has, per the Hollywood Reporter, been optioned by Chernin Entertainment and Endeavor Content for television. (No network is attached yet.) The currently untitled book was bought by Crown’s Paul Whitlach in September.
Per Deadine, actress Chrissy Metz will produce and possibly star in a feature adaptation of Kara Richardson Whitely’s 2015 memoir Gorge: My Journey up Kilimanjaro at 300 Pounds (Seal). Amazon Studios optioned the book.
Wild House, a contemporary middle grade trilogy by Finnish author Siri Kolu, sold to Germany’s Fischer Kinder- und Jugendbuch Verlag after a three-way auction. The first book in the series was published in Finland in October by Otava. Finnish agency Rights & Brands brokered the deal, calling the book an “adventure with speedy chasing scenes, secretive characters... and a house so full of secrets that it grows legs and runs away.”
Windmill, an imprint of Penguin UK, preempted a debut novel by Elizabeth Lee for six figures. The Bookseller said the novel, Cunning Women, is “set in a 1620 Lancashire fishing community” and follows a woman who “has a birthmark that reveals she is a witch.”
Behind The Deal
Just before Labor Day weekend in 2018, Scholastic editorial director David Levithan placed a newly published YA book he had been given during a trip to Brazil in the hands of fellow Scholastic editor Orlando Dos Reis. That weekend, Dos Reis started reading Where We Go from Here, the debut novel by Brazilian writer Lucas Rocha. From the beginning, Dos Reis was hooked.
“I read the first line and thought, ‘Dammit, this is going to be good,’ ” said Dos Reis, who was born in Brazil and speaks Portuguese.
By the time Scholastic’s offices opened on Tuesday morning, Dos Reis—who had never translated anything before—was waiting with a handful of chapters in English for Levithan to read. Shortly thereafter, Scholastic committed to publishing the novel, which tells the story of two teenage boys’ friendship following the discovery that one has HIV.
The book is slated for a June 2020 release (Larissa Helena is translating) and represents a milestone for its author—and a significant foray into YA books in translation for one of the largest children’s publishers in the world.
For more children’s and YA book deals, see our latest Rights Report.
Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the name of the organization Alissa Quart cofounded; it's the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, not the Hardship Reporting Project. Additionally, the title by Roshan Chokshi that Audible Originals acquired is a YA crossover title, not a YA title.