DEAL OF THE WEEK
Armstrong’s ‘Nightbirds’ Fly to Paulsen
For a rumored six-figure sum, Stacey Barney at Penguin Random House’s Nancy Paulsen Books preempted North American rights to the YA fantasy debut Nightbirds. Author Kate J. Armstrong was represented by Josh Adams at Adams Literary in the agreement, which also covers the sequel, Fyrebirds. Adams said Nightbirds was pitched as Carnival Row meets The Great Gatsby and is set in “a 1920s-inspired world where magic is illegal.” The book follows a secretive crew of girls who can impart magical gifts with a kiss. Publication is set for summer 2023. Armstrong is a former high school English teacher and book editor from Washington, D.C., who now lives in Melbourne, Australia; she is the creator of the podcast The Exploress, about women in history.
Grand Central Explores Oza’s ‘History’
In a U.S. rights deal at auction, Grand Central Publishing’s Seema Mahanian won A History of Burning, the debut novel by Janika Oza. Grand Central said the book, set for May 2023, is a “sweeping” tale about “how one act can reverberate through four generations of a family and their search for home and belonging,” and compared it to work by authors like Min Jin Lee and Yaa Gyasi. A History of Burning unfolds in Canada, India, and Uganda and asks “what it takes to belong to a nation, a land, and a family,” the publisher added. Sarah Bowlin at Aevitas Creative Management represented Oza, whose short fiction and essays have won her a number of awards and plaudits, including the 2020 Kenyon Review Short Fiction Award.
Atria Burnishes Vaughan’s ‘Reputation’
In a two-book agreement, Emily Bestler acquired U.S., Canadian, and open market rights to Sarah Vaughan’s new novel, Reputation. The political thriller, to be released by Bestler’s eponymous imprint at Atria, is about an MP embroiled in the death of a tabloid journalist, according to the publisher. “Fighting to protect her reputation, and determined to protect her family at all costs, Emma is pushed to the limits as the worst happens and her life is torn apart in a very public way,” Atria added. Lizzy Kremer at David Higham in the U.K. represented Vaughan (Anatomy of a Scandal), and she has also closed a number of deals with publishers around the world. The novel is set for a March 2022 release in the U.K. and a July 2022 release in the U.S.
Hampton Gets ‘Unsettled’ at St. Martin’s
Kevin Reilly at St. Martin’s Press acquired world rights to Ryan Hampton’s Unsettled: How the Purdue Pharma Bankruptcy Failed the Victims of the American Overdose Crisis. The book, slated for October, is “the inside account of Purdue’s excruciating Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, the company’s eventual restructuring, and the Sackler family’s evasion of any true accountability,” the publisher said. It also tells the story of “how a group of determined ordinary people tried to see justice done against the odds—and in the face of brutal opposition from powerful institutions and even government representatives.” Hampton worked in the Clinton administration and is a specialist in addiction recovery. He was unagented in the deal.
Hogarth Buys Jennings’s ‘Island’
Jillian Buckley at Hogarth took North American rights to Karen Jennings’s An Island at auction. The novel, the publisher said, is about a lighthouse keeper and a stranger who find themselves together on a mysterious island. The characters “circle one another—each trapped on the island for different reasons” as the book “examines the extraordinary stakes of companionship and what it means to lose a home.” Jennings is South African and was longlisted for the Booker Prize in 2021; An Island marks her U.S. debut. Cecile Barendsma at Cecile B Literary Agency handled the sale on behalf of Agence Deborah Druba and Holland House Books UK.