Fayne’s ‘Children’ Goes to Little, Brown

Little, Brown’s Ben George preempted North American rights to All God’s Children, a debut novel by Rickey Fayne. The Tennessee-born author, who was represented by Michelle Brower at Trellis Literary Management, recently received an MFA from the University of Texas’s Michener Center for Writers. The publisher said the novel was pitched as reminiscent of work by authors like Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison, and Ralph Ellison, and is a “centuries-spanning saga following a Black family in west Tennessee across eight generations as one by one they are courted by the devil.” An excerpt from the novel, which is slated for 2025, appeared in American Short Fiction and was a finalist for a National Magazine Award.

Koval Shows ‘Penitence’ at Celadon

Deb Futter at Celadon Books preempted world English rights to Penitence, the debut novel by Kristin Koval. Koval, a former attorney, was represented by Gail Hochman at Brandt & Hochman. Celadon said the novel tells a “story of grief and blame and forgiveness” that opens with a 13-year-old girl shooting her terminally ill brother and describes it as “Defending Jacob meets Ask Again, Yes.” Penitence is slated for 2025.

Gardner Sells Trio to Grand Central

Bestseller Lisa Gardner inked a three-book, North American rights agreement with Ben Sevier at Grand Central Publishing. Meg Ruley and Rebecca Scherer at the Jane Rotrosen Agency represented the author, with the first book, Still See You Everywhere, set for March 2024. Still See You will be Gardner’s third title featuring investigator Frankie Elkin, who gets pulled into a case when a death row serial killer asks Elkin to find her missing sister. Executive editor Lyssa Keusch will edit the title. Gardner has more than 30 million copies of her titles in print worldwide, according to Grand Central.

Hyperion Huddles with Wickersham

In a two-book, world rights agreement, Adam Wilson at Hyperion Avenue acquired Seth Wickersham’s The Quarterback. Wickersham is a senior writer at ESPN, and the publisher said that in the book he explores “American ambition” as seen through the lens of the “unique role of quarterback” in the cultural consciousness. The second title in the deal is a collection of essays and profiles. The Quarterback is tentatively slated for fall 2025. David Black at the David Black Literary Agency represented Wickersham.

Bloomsbury Buys Okonkwo’s Debut

Esther Ifesinachi Okonkwo’s The Tiny Things Are Heavier was bought, in a North American rights agreement, by Bloomsbury’s Amber Oliver. Bloomsbury said the debut novel is about a Nigerian woman who is reeling from her brother’s suicide and is in the States to attend grad school. It traces “the complicated relationships she forms—romantic and platonic—as she tries to find her place at home and abroad.” The spring 2025–slated work was sold by Alexa Stark at Writers House.

Nava Finds the ‘Truth’ at Berkley

For Berkley, Angela Kim won Danica Nava’s debut romantic comedy, The Truth According to Ember, after a five-house auction. The two-book, world English rights agreement was brokered by Laura Bradford at the Bradford Literary Agency. Berkley said the novel is about “a Native American woman who lies to get a job and, despite office policy, falls for her charming coworker.” Nava, who works as an executive assistant in Silicon Valley, is an enrolled citizen of the Chickasaw Nation. The Truth According to Ember is set for summer 2024.