DEAL OF THE WEEK
Scribner Nabs Reynolds’s First Adult Title
Bestselling children’s author and two-time National Book Award–finalist Jason Reynolds sold his debut adult novel. Kathy Belden at Scribner (which is part of Simon & Schuster, the parent company of Reynolds’s longtime children’s imprint, Caitlyn Dlouhy Books) took North American rights to The Mouthless God and Jesus Number Two. The book is set for 2022 and is, Scribner said, about “a boy named Mm who is born without a mouth and comes of age in a carnival town, where the power of storytelling can equally sustain or harm.” Elena Giovinazzo at Pippin Properties represented Reynolds. S&S noted that more than 3.5 million copies of the author’s books are in circulation. Reynolds is also a Newbery Honor recipient and the 2020–2021 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.
FROM THE U.S.
SMP Goes Big on a ‘Short History’
George Witte at St. Martin’s Press nabbed Henry Gee’s A (Very) Short History of Life on Earth: 4.6 Billion Years in 12 Pithy Chapters in a six-figure preempt. Gee was represented by Jill Grinberg at Jill Grinberg Literary Management. The Nature magazine editor draws, the agent said, “from his decades of publishing cutting-edge scientific discoveries to tell a gripping story, a tale of survival and persistence, illuminating the delicate balance within which life exists.” SMP took North American rights to the book, which is set for fall 2021.
Wabuke Sells Memoir to Vintage
In a North American rights deal, Vintage’s Maria Goldverg bought Hope Wabuke’s memoir, Please Don’t Kill My Black Son, Please. Wabuke is an assistant professor of English and creative writing at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln whose writing has appeared in the Guardian and the Paris Review. Goldverg said Wabuke delivers an “empowering memoir in essays chronicling how a mother provides care for her family in the wake of personal, cultural, and historical racial and gendered violence.” Sarah Bowlin at Aevitas Creative Management represented Wabuke.
Fink Tackles Covid for Crown
Pulitzer-winning journalist Sheri Fink (Five Days at Memorial) sold Surge to Amanda Cook at Crown. The book will explore, Crown said, “the scientific, political, social, and ethical dimensions of the coronavirus pandemic as it sickened millions and created chaos in countries around the world.” Joy Harris at the Joy Harris Agency negotiated the North American rights agreement for Fink.
Atria Does Double with Bola
In a preempt, Atria Books’ Michelle Herrera Mulligan bought two novels by J.J. Bola (No Place to Call Home), a poet and UN Refugee Agency ambassador. Bola was represented in the U.S., Canadian, and open market rights deal by Maria Cardona at the Pontas Literary & Film Agency. Mulligan said the first book in the agreement, a novel titled The Selfless Act of Breathing, slated for summer 2021, follows “a young Londoner who flees to the U.S. to end his life once all of his savings run out” and that it tackles “important issues such as mental health, police brutality, and the power of love.” The second book is a currently untitled work of historical fiction about Ota Benga, a Mbuti man brought to the U.S. by slave traders and featured in a “human zoo” exhibit at the Bronx Zoo in 1906.
Macmillan Gets ‘Uncomfortable’ with Acho
Emmanuel Acho, host of a series of viral videos titled Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man, inked a two-book deal with Macmillan. The first book, also titled Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man, was bought by Flatiron Books president Bob Miller and will be published by Macmillan’s An Oprah Book imprint. It’s set for November and will be edited by Flatiron senior editor Meghan Houser. The second title, Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Boy, was acquired by Jon Yaged, president of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, and will be edited by Roaring Brook Press’s senior v-p and publisher Jennifer Besser and senior associate editor Mekisha Telfer. Macmillan took world rights to the books from agents Brandi Bowles and Meredith Miller at United Talent Agency.
S&S Buys Swisher’s Story
New York Times opinion writer and veteran Silicon Valley journalist Kara Swisher sold a currently untitled memoir, her first book in nearly 20 years, to Simon & Schuster in a two-book deal. Stephanie Frerich bought world rights after she approached Swisher and suggested a memoir. The memoir will, S&S said, delve into the author’s “front row seat covering tech.” Pilar Queen at the United Talent Agency brokered the agreement.
Fitton Brings ‘Assault’ to Threshold
At Simon & Schuster’s Threshold Editions, Natasha Simons bought bestseller Tom Fitton’s A Republic Under Assault. Premiere Authors’ Frank Breeden sold world rights to the book, which is, Threshold said, an exposé of “the radical left and deep state’s continued attempts to undermine the Trump presidency.” The title is set for October.
Smith Hops to Tyndale
Caleb Smith, a 15-year-old who turned a passion for rescue rabbits into a nonprofit that oversees a 22-acre animal sanctuary, sold his memoir to Sarah Atkinson at Tyndale House. Dan Strone at Trident Media Group represented Smith in the world rights deal. Smith oversees Minnesota’s Peacebunny Island, which pitches itself as a place where young people can learn to train rabbits and, in the process, share “hugs, hope, and hoppiness.” Peacebunny Island: The Extraordinary Journey of a Boy and His Comfort Rabbits, and How They’re Teaching Us About Hope and Kindness is scheduled for March 2021 and traces, Atkinson said, “the odyssey of a remarkable young man committed to doing what he can to make the world more compassionate toward animals and to each other.”
HC Wins Obuobi’s ‘Gold’
Clarissa Wong at HarperCollins preempted Laura Obuobi’s picture book debut Black Gold, illustrated by London Ladd. Obuobi was represented in the world rights deal by Maria Vicente at P.S. Literary, and Ladd was represented by Lori Nowicki at Painted Words. Black Gold is, Vicente said, “a poetic celebration of Black children.” The book is slated for fall 2022.