Chan’s ‘Mother’ Joins 37 Ink Family

For her 37 Ink imprint, Dawn Davis nabbed North American rights to Jessamine Chan’s debut novel, The School for Good Mothers. Chan, a former reviews editor at PW, was represented by Meredith Kaffel Simonoff at DeFiore and Company. The book, 37 Ink said, is a “literary, speculative” novel about “an anxiety-prone, 39-year-old Chinese-American single mom” who, after leaving her infant daughter alone for an extended stretch, finds herself under the scrutiny of Child Protective Services. Forced to complete a yearlong parenting course to be reunited with her daughter, the heroine finds herself paired with a “helper” whom she must learn to love, like a child, in order to successfully graduate. The publisher said the book explores “whether a ‘bad mother’ can ever be redeemed” while providing “a biting evisceration of ‘ideal’ upper-middle-class ‘American’ parenting.” Chan has an MFA from Columbia and has published short fiction in Epoch and Tin House.


Mandanna Builds ‘Kingdom’ at Viking

After an auction, Jenny Bak at Viking Children’s won world rights, for six figures, to Kiki Kallira Breaks a Kingdom. The novel is the middle grade debut of Sangu Mandanna (author of the YA Celestial Trilogy) and, Viking said, was pitched as Inkheart meets Aru Shah and the End of Time. In it, the publisher elaborated, an 11-year-old girl who uses art to cope with her anxiety “steps into the Indian-mythology-inspired world in her sketchbook to stop a demon king trying to escape into the real world.” Aevitas Creative Management’s Penny Moore negotiated the two-book deal on behalf of Mandanna, and the title is slated for a fall 2021 release.

Nicieza Goes ‘Suburban’ at Putnam

Fabian Nicieza, a Marvel writer and cocreator of the character Deadpool, sold his debut novel to Putnam. Mark Tavani took North American rights at auction to Suburban Dicks, along with a second book, in a deal brokered by Albert Lee at UTA. Dicks, Tavani said, is “fueled by spirited dialogue and spot-on suburban observations” and follows the investigation of a small-town murder in New Jersey, conducted by two amateur sleuths: a former FBI

profiler who is now pregnant and a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who now works for a local paper. Comparing the book to Lisa Lutz’s The Spellman Files, Putnam said it features two characters who wind up “revealing their community’s darkest secret while trying to reclaim their own identities in the process.” Suburban Dicks is slated for publication in 2021.

Belden Crosses Beatty’s ‘Cuyahoga’

In a North American rights agreement, Kathy Belden at Scribner bought Pete Beatty’s debut novel, Cuyahoga. In the 1837-set picaresque, the publisher explained, a “frontier hero” named Big Son goes looking for paid work in two cities that are battling each other for the mantle of premiere metropolis of the West: Ohio City and Cleveland. “Their rivalry has come to a boil over the building of a bridge across the Cuyahoga River,” Scribner elaborated, “and Big stumbles right into the kettle.” The publisher said the book, set for fall 2020, “nods to Looney Tunes and Flannery O’Connor” and that it “elevates a slapstick frontier tale into a screwball origin myth for the Rust Belt.” Jim Rutman at Sterling Lord represented Beatty, who has worked at a number of publishing houses and is currently an acquisitions editor and rights manager at the University of Alabama Press.

Blackstone Grabs Nocher’s ‘Hand’

In her first deal since joining Nancy Yost Literary Agency, Cheryl Pientka sold Shawn Nocher’s debut novel to Blackstone. Haila Williams took world rights to A Hand to Hold in Deep Water, which is scheduled for summer 2021. The novel by the Johns Hopkins Graduate School of Writing student is, Pientka said, “an exquisite and deeply felt narrative that follows a teen mother in the 1970s who is separated from her five-year-old daughter by circumstances out of her control, and the daughter who returns to the family farm 30 years later as her own young child battles a devastating illness.”