DEAL OF THE WEEK
Ford’s ‘Freedom Dues’ Goes to Amistad
In a six-figure deal, Tracy Sherrod at Amistad bought Clyde Ford’s nonfiction book Freedom Dues. Ford, whose 2019 memoir Think Black was also published by Amistad, has published both fiction and nonfiction and, among other awards, won the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in contemporary fiction for his 2005 novel The Long Mile. Agent Adam Chromy at Movable Type Management sold world rights to Freedom Duesand said it is “the story of how Black labor built America.” He added that the book “traces a fascinating but overlooked story of how American institutions of power and wealth were created from the sweat of Black hands without their fair share in return.”
FROM THE U.S.
Felix’s ‘Poets’ Rule at One World
Poet and political strategist Camonghne Felix sold Let the Poets Govern to One World. Nicole Counts won North American rights to the nonfiction title, in a two-book deal, after an auction. Felix, whose 2019 collection Build Yourself a Boat was on the National Book Award’s poetry longlist, is a former communications staffer for Elizabeth Warren. The publisher said her new book argues that “Black radical poetic traditions can model a new ethical code and overcome entrenched structures of patriarchy and paternalism.” The second book in the deal, which Alice Whitwham at the Cheney Agency negotiated, is a poetry collection titled Dyscalculia.
Crown to Do Lee’s ‘Required Reading’
After a six-figure auction, Phoebe Yeh at Crown Books for Young Readers won two YA novels by debut author Kristen R. Lee. Root Literary’s Molly O’Neill represented Lee. The first book, Required Reading for the Disenfranchised Freshman, is, O’Neill said, about a freshman named Savannah F. Howard who “enrolls at the Ivy League—and mostly white—Wooddale University, and confronts racism and white privilege head-on.” The agent added that the book was “pitched as Dear White People meets the college admissions scandal.” The second book is a currently untitled standalone novel. Required Reading is set for spring 2022, and the untitled novel for spring 2023.
FSG Takes on Lorde Bio
For Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Eric Chinski bought world rights to Alexis Pauline Gumbs’s The Eternal Life of Audre Lorde: Biography as Ceremony. The exclusive submission was handled by Tanya McKinnon at McKinnon Literary, who said the book is “a deep meditation and critical and biographical exploration of the life and afterlife” of the 20th-century American poet. Gumbs, a poet and scholar, is a National Humanities Center Fellow..
Hampton’s ‘Valor’ Wins Over St. Martin’s
Bestselling author and retired U.S. Air Force pilot Dan Hampton sold Valor to Charles Spicer at St. Martin’s Press at auction for six figures. The world rights agreement for the nonfiction book, subtitled The Astonishing World War II Saga of a Man’s Defiance and Indomitable Spirit, was brokered by Trident Media Group chairman Robert Gottlieb. He said the book, which is “in the vein of Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken,” tells the story of William Frederick Harris, a Marine who escaped Japanese forces with “an eight-hour swim through shark-infested waters” followed by a harrowing boat journey, before being captured and held as a prisoner of war.
Dean’s ‘Burn’ Lights Up Emily Bestler
British author Will Dean sold North American rights to two standalone novels to Emily Bestler, for her eponymous Simon & Schuster imprint. The first book, The Last Thing to Burn, follows “a couple who live in an isolated farmhouse... where the woman is being kept against her will.” Kate Burke at U.K.-based Blake Friedmann brokered the agreement. Last Thing is set for April 2021.
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that Alexis Pauline Gumbs is the visiting Winton Chair at the University of Minnesota. She is not. She is a National Humanities Center Fellow.