S&S Buys Quammen’s Covid-19 Book

In a world rights acquisition, Bob Bender at Simon & Schuster bought David Quammen’s currently untitled work about the Covid-19 pandemic. Amanda Urban at ICM Partners handled the sale for the science writer, whose 2012 book Spillover charts the danger of a global pandemic caused by a pathogen that, like the new coronavirus, jumps from animals to humans. That title has been seeing a recent uptick in sales, and S&S said that Quammen’s new book will explain why the current pandemic “was predictable (and even predicted).” It will also lay out “why the response to [the pandemic] was so incompetent, the prospect of discovering a vaccine or therapy, and how we will have to learn to live with this and other novel viruses.” The book is set for 2021.


Brown Bio to Norton

Dan Gerstle at Norton preempted world rights, for six figures, to a biography of abolitionist John Brown by Walter Johnson. Sandra Dijkstra, at the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency, represented the Harvard historian. The title, set for a 2024 release, will, Gerstle elaborated, “use Brown’s life as a way into the politics of the antebellum era, the complexity of interracial organizing, and the imperial causes of the Civil War.”

Holt Gets ‘Metropolitan’ with Ferrell

Holt’s Retha Powers preempted North American rights, for mid-six figures, to the debut novel Dear Miss Metropolitan. Author Carolyn Ferrell based the book on the kidnapping of three young women by Ariel Castro in Cleveland in the early 2000s, though the novel is set in Queens, N.Y. Lisa Bankoff at Bankoff Collaborative, who represented Ferrell, said the novel spins on a mystery, namely “the disappearance of one of these girls after they’re liberated.” She added that it also “examines the intersections of grief and rage, race and sexuality, personal and communal strength, crime and punishment, and healing.”

HMH Finds ‘Lost Music’

Expanding on a December segment that appeared on 60 Minutes, Jon Wertheim, a correspondent for the show, along with Katherine Davis, his producer, sold a book titled The Lost Music of the Holocaust. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Bruce Nichols bought world rights from Gail Ross at the Ross Yoon Agency. HMH said the book builds off the segment, which was about the work of a man named Francesco Lotoro, who has recovered “thousands of compositions created by prisoners of Auschwitz, Theresienstadt, and other camps—some of the 20th century’s greatest musicians.”

Chicago Review Defuses Melville’s ‘Bomb’

Jerry Pohlen at Chicago Review Press acquired world rights to Joshua Melville’s American Time Bomb. The book, subtitled The Assassination of Sam Melville, was sold by Doug Grad, who has an eponymous shingle. Grad said the work is “a dual biography” and memoir in which the author recounts his childhood and the life of his father, Sam Melville, a 1960s radical who Grad explained played a "role in eight terror bombings in New York in 1969 to protest U.S. involvement in Vietnam." The elder Melville wound up in Attica, where he was among the leaders of the uprising at the prison in 1971. The book is set for August 2021.

SMP Watches Campbell’s ‘House Sitter’

For St. Martin’s Press, Jennifer Enderlin took world rights to Michele Campbell’s The House Sitter. The novel follows a Latina law student struggling to make her tuition who, Enderlin said, lands a house-sitting gig for a professor “at the center of a web of misdeeds and obsession.” Campbell, a Stanford Law School graduate, was represented by Meg Ruley at the Jane Rotrosen Agency. The House Sitter is slated for 2022.

Correction: Due to agent error, the description of the Joshua Melville book American Time Bomb incorrectly said Sam Melville taught the Weather Underground how to make bombs.