Patterson, Alexander Take on Ali

Bestselling authors James Patterson and Kwame Alexander sold world rights to the middle grade book Becoming Muhammad Ali to Hachette’s Jimmy Patterson Books and HMH Books for Young Readers. The title will be published jointly in October. Dubbed a biographical novel by the publishers, the book, they said, is “fully authorized” by the Ali estate. Hachette and HMH added that it will be written in both verse and prose and will explore “Muhammad Ali’s life as a child before he was a household name—when he was still known as Cassius Clay.” Margaret Raymo at HMH Books for Young Readers will edit the book, which will feature illustrations by Dawud AnyabwileBob Barnett represented Patterson in the deal, while Arielle Eckstut at Levine Greenberg Rostan Literary Agency represented Alexander and Aevitas Creative Management represented the Ali estate.


Random House Joins Wilkerson’s ‘Caste’

In a North American rights agreement, Isabel Wilkerson sold a narrative nonfiction work titled Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents. Amanda Urban at ICM Partners brokered the deal with Random House’s Kate Medina. RH said the book, slated for August 11, explores America’s largely unseen caste system, with Medina calling it a reexamination of “what lies under the surface of ordinary lives of the America of today.” Wilkerson is the first African-American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for journalism, and her debut, 2010’s The Warmth of Other Suns, was a National Book Critics Circle Award winner.

Salaam’s ‘Air’ Floats to Balzer+Bray

Balzer + Bray acquired a YA novel by Yusef Salaam, one of the Central Park Five. Punching the Air, which will be written with National Book Award finalist Ibi Zoboi (Pride), was sold to Alessandra Balzer in a world rights deal brokered by Ammi-Joan Paquette at Erin Murphy Literary Agency. The HarperCollins imprint said the book, set for September 1, is about a wrongfully convicted teen (who is black and Muslim) and will be written in verse. In 1989, a 15-year-old Salaam was among a group of black and Latino young men accused of attacking a white woman in Central Park. He was wrongfully convicted and spent over six years in juvenile detention, until his sentence was overturned in 2002. Elaborating on the title, Salaam said it “reflects not only my story but the stories of millions of young boys and girls of color who face the injustice of mass incarceration and the criminal justice system.” ICM Partners is handling film and TV rights.

Fisher Unleashes ‘Disorder’ at LB

After a six-house auction, Ben George at Little, Brown won world rights to Max Fisher’s debut nonfiction title, Social Disorder. Fisher is an international reporter for the New York Times and a Pulitzer Prize finalist; the book, LB said, offers “a suspenseful, idea-driven narrative that uses groundbreaking research and intimate personal stories to lay bare the global crisis caused by social media giants.” The publisher elaborated that the work also “presents a dire picture of increased xenophobia, racial and ethnic violence, and detachment, set against the background of our current political climate.” Jennifer Joelat ICM Partners represented Fisher in the deal.

Hachette Buys Covid-19 Title

For six figures, Sam Raim at Hachette Books bought New Scientist reporter Debora MacKenzie’s Covid-19: The Pandemic that Never Should Have Happened, and How to Stop the Next One. Hachette said the title will offer “a big-picture look at how our failure to adapt during the last 20 years of pandemics led us to this current crisis moment, and what needs to change moving forward.” The book does not yet have a pub date, but Hachette said it’s aiming to release a print edition in the summer, with the e-book edition publishing first. Max Edwards at Aevitas Creative Management UK handled the world rights agreement for MacKenzie.