Prepare for the 2014 Frankfurt Book Fair with our roundup of big projects that'll be making the rounds. Among the hot properties: Leslie Jamison explores addiction and obsession; Richard Price takes a pen name; Stewart O’Nan takes on F. Scott Fitzgerald; Amy Poehler gets personal; Louis Zamperini offers life advice; and more.
Baror will be taking the titles in A.G. Riddle’s bestselling Origin Mystery trilogy (Modern Mythology, Apr. 2013–May 2014) to Germany. According to the agency, the trilogy has already sold more than 600,000 copies in the U.S. since the first book was published in 2013, and it is currently in development with CBS to become a major motion picture. Rights have been sold in multiple countries, including China, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, and the U.K. Nick Tosches’s novel Under Tiberius (Little, Brown, 2015/2016), a work of “dangerous and haunting beauty,” delves into the story of a conspiracy between two men 3,000 years ago. Then there’s The Life Intended (Gallery Books, Jan. 2015) by Kristin Harmel, author of The Sweetness of Forgetting. Pitched as a cross between Sliding Doors and P.S. I Love You, the novel follows a woman’s struggle to overcome the death of her husband 10 years before, as she prepares to once again walk down the aisle. Rights have sold in Germany, Italy, and the U.K. For nonfiction, the agency will be pushing The Worm at the Core: The Role of Death in Life (Random House, Mar. 2015) by social psychologists Sheldon Solomon, Jeff Greenberg, and Tom Pyszczynski. The three authors are known as the originators of “Terror Management Theory,” and argue that the fear of death is the fuel for almost all human endeavor. Baror has already sold Korean and Brazilian rights.
Curtis Brown Ltd.
Among the big fiction titles CB Ltd. will be touting is Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven (released this month by Knopf), about a traveling Shakespeare troupe in a postapocalyptic America that has lost 99.9% of its population to a flu pandemic; the book has been sold in six countries. From Mark Wisniewski is Watch Me Go (Putnam, Jan. 2015), which, per the agency, is a mix of Lush Life and A Simple Plan and takes readers into a “world of gambling, horse racing, and prison,” through the vantage points of two different characters who are “connected by a murder.” On the nonfiction front is Surprise (Perigee, winter 2015) by LeeAnn Renninger and Tania Luna, which details “how the unexpected is—and can be—used to great effect in our day-to-day lives.” On the children’s side is Jennifer Lynn Barnes’s The Fixer (Bloomsbury, July 2015), a young adult novel CB describes as “West Wing meets Veronica Mars.” There is also the middle-grade novel The War That Saved My Life (Dial BFYR, Jan. 2015) by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, which is set in England at the start of WWII and is “equal parts adventure and a moving tale of family, identity and the fire of self-worth.”
DeFiore & Company
A major title for DeFiore & Company is Don’t Give Up, Don’t Give In (Morrow/Dey Street, Nov.) by Louis Zamperini, the subject of Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken (and the forthcoming film based on the book), and David Rensin. Zamperini, an Olympian and WWII POW survivor, finished the “book of wisdom from an extraordinary life” just before his death at age 97 earlier this year. Rights have been sold in Brazil, Hungary, Italy, Russia, and the U.K. Humans of New York author Brandon Stanton’s Little Humans (FSG Books for Young Readers, Oct.), a children’s picture book, and his untitled Humans of New York book (St. Martin’s, Oct. 2015), a new big adult collection, are two hot titles for the agency. Both titles have sold in the U.K., and the children’s book has sold in Australia. Then there’s Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us from Missiles to the Moon to Mars by Nathalia Holt (Little, Brown, spring 2016). The book is the first account of the female mathematicians hired at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the 1940s and 1950s, whose “calculations powered some of our greatest missions in space exploration including the first American satellite, missions to the Moon and Venus, Voyager and even Mars rovers today.” The agency will also be repping Diamond Head (Harper, Apr. 2015), a debut novel by 26-year-old author Cecily Wong, who the agency calls a “young, powerful new voice in fiction.” The novel follows four generations of a wealthy shipping family whose rise and decline is “riddled with secrets and tragic love.”
Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency
One of SDLA’s hot titles this year is The Cook, the Crook, and the Real Estate Tycoon (Arcadia/Skyhorse), a novel by Liu Zhenyun. Translated from the Chinese by Howard Goldblatt and Sylvia Li-chun Lin, the book “paints a microcosm of contemporary China,” dealing with classes at the two extremes: “the super-rich and the migrant workers who make them rich through deceit and corruption.” On the nonfiction front, the agency will be selling The Social Sex: A History of Women as Friends (HarperCollins, fall 2015) by Marilyn Yalom, a senior scholar at the Institute for Women and Gender at Stanford University. Through “numerous examples of women as friends, from medieval nuns to political ‘sisters,’” Yalom highlights the qualities of female friendship that have “endured through the centuries.” Dan Ward’s Simplicity Cycle: A Field Guide to Making Things Better Without Making Them Worse (Harper Business, spring 2015) offers readers a “road map to help guide their creative effort” and addresses issues such as “teamwork, communication, creativity, and consumer product design with a lighthearted, poetic point of view.”
Dystel & Goderich
On the agency’s hot list for this year’s fair is Searching for Grace Kelly (HMH, Jan. 2015), a debut novel by Vanity Fair contributing editor Michael Callahan. The book, which the agency says is reminiscent of Rona Jaffe’s The Best of Everything, follows the lives and loves of three young women who move to the Barbizon Hotel in 1955 to pursue their dreams. Rights have sold in the U.K. Another big fiction title is The Invisibles (Morrow, spring 2015), the adult debut of children’s author Cecilia Galante, in which four women who parted ways after a traumatic event when they were teenagers reunite decades later to confront their pasts after one of them tries to commit suicide. If I Stay author Gayle Forman’s I Was Here (Viking, Jan. 2015) is the “taut and emotional story of Cody, who uncovers her best friend’s secret life in a search for answers as to why she committed suicide.” Rights to the novel have already sold in Brazil, France, Hungary, Poland, Turkey, and the U.K. For nonfiction, there’s The World’s Emergency Room (Palgrave, 2016) by Harvard Humanitarian Initiative director Michael VanRooyen. In it, VanRooyen, an emergency physician who works in areas of crisis, examines how the work of doctors everywhere “has profound consequences for us all.”
Foundry Literary + Media
On the fiction side, the agency has Vicki Pettersson’s Swerve (Gallery, spring 2015), about a road trip gone horribly awry. After her fiancé disappears at a rest stop, Kristine Rush must head into the Mojave desert in search of him; rights sold in Germany and Israel. From Sarah McCoy is The Mapmaker’s Children (Crown, May 2015), a novel that links the present-day tale of a couple trying (and failing) to conceive with that of Sarah Brown, abolitionist John Brown’s daughter, who, 150 years earlier, has her love life complicated by the fact that she’s been left barren by dysentery; rights sold in France and the Netherlands. A big nonfiction title for Foundry is Kristin McMillan’s Low Thing (Morrow/Dey Street, fall 2015), a memoir from a popular California dog trainer whose life is changed by a pooch; the agency calls it “part Marley and Me, part Water for Elephants.” On the YA front is Lauren Oliver’s Vanishing Girls (HarperTeen, Mar. 2015) about two sisters, one of whom vanishes on her birthday. The remaining sister, after launching a search, becomes convinced that the disappearance is linked to a nine-year-old who vanished; the agency says the book, which has also sold in France and the U.K., is about sisters who “search to find themselves, and each other.”
The Gernert Company
Making Gernert’s big book list is Stewart O’Nan’s novel West of Sunset (Viking, Jan. 2015), a “dazzling, intimate, and wise” novel of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s final years, in which he comes to terms with his life and career in 1930s Hollywood; rights sold in France and Germany. Priya Parmar’s Vanessa and Her Sister is a “captivating” novel set in early 1900s London, which offers an “intimate glimpse” into the controversial and popular circle of writers and artists known as the Bloomsbury Group. U.K. rights have been sold. The agency will also be shopping the latest from The Tourist author Olen Steinhauer, All the Old Knives (Minotaur, Mar. 2015). The book, a “taut psychological thriller” of two interconnected spies, is told in a series of flashbacks over a single meal. The work has sold in Germany, Japan, Poland, and Portugal. A hot nonfiction title for the agency is Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel, with Blake Masters. The book, which spells out the entrepreneur’s vision for “building the companies and the ideas of the future,” has sold in multiple countries, including Brazil, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, and the U.K. Lastly, there’s Randall Munroe’s bestselling What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Sept.), in which the creator of the popular web comic Xkcd provides “hilarious and informative answers to important questions you never thought to ask.” Rights have been sold in, Brazil, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and the U.K., among other territories.
Sanford J. Greenburger Associates
Among the notable books SJGA will be promoting in Germany is Patrick Rothfuss’s The Slow Regard of Silent Things (DAW, Oct.), a fantasy novel featuring one of the characters from the author’s bestselling Kingkiller Chronicle series, about, as the agency put it, “a broken girl trying to live in a broken world”; rights sold in various countries. And from former publisher and literary agent Brenda Bowen is The Enchanted August (Pamela Dorman, summer 2015), about a group of strangers who find themselves changed after spending an August together in a cabin on a secluded island in Maine. The novel was preempted in the U.S., and has sold at auction in the Germany and the U.K. Then there’s Ghost Fleet (Eamon Dolan Books, July 2015) by P.W. Singer and August Cole, a debut thriller from a pair of military technology experts that the agency calls “The Hunt for Red October for a next generation.” Another debut from the agency is Joe Gannon’s Night of the Jaguar (Minotaur, Sept.), a thriller set in Nicaragua in the 1980s, as the country is in the throes of revolution. The book follows “a flawed hero searching for truth in a quixotic war.”
ICM Partners (handled by Curtis Brown [U.K.])
Former J.P. Morgan employee-turned-debut-author Michele Miller has written The Underwriting (Penguin, summer 2015), which the agency dubs "The Social Network meets House of Cards.” The novel, sold at auction in a two-book deal, was originally released by the author as episodes via her own website; it follows a group of investment bankers and entrepreneurs attempting to bring a new location-based dating app to an IPO. ICM will also be playing up Kemper Donovan’s Enticement (HarperCollins, spring 2016), another debut that sold, in the U.S., for a “good” six figures, according to the agency. The book, ICM says, is a “high concept” love story done in the tradition of David Nicholls’s One Day; the author, who has degrees from Stanford and Harvard, wrote the screenplay for the 2011 movie Hanna, which starred Eric Bana and Saoirse Ronan. On the nonfiction front is Pulitzer winner David E. Hoffman’s The Billion Dollar Spy (Doubleday), about one of the CIA’s most valuable Cold War spies who worked in the former Soviet Union; ICM says the book creates “an evocative portrait of the agency’s Moscow station, an outpost of daring espionage” in the final years of the stalemate. And from Gelfman Schneider/ICM is Alison Case’s Nelly Dean (not yet sold in the States), a debut novel acquired by HarperCollins U.K. in a major preempt. The novel is about the narrator of (and housekeeper in) Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights and concludes a number of years after Brontë’s original ends. Case is a professor at Williams College in Massachusetts, where she specializes in Victorian studies.
A major book for Inkwell in Germany is Wallace Stegner Fellow Skip Horack’s The Other Joseph (Ecco, Mar. 2015), a novel narrated by a 30-year-old oil-rig worker, and convicted felon, from Louisiana. The book follows Roy Joseph as he finds himself in San Francisco, where he tries to, as Inkwell explains, “alter the course of his unhappy and isolated life.” Another notable novel for the agency, in the children’s category, is Gavriel Savit’s Anna and the Swallow Man (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2016), which has sold in a number of countries, including, Brazil, Germany Holland, and the U.K. The novel follows a young girl in Poland in 1939 who, after her professor father is taken away by the Germans, finds herself traveling with a someone known as the Swallow Man; Inkwell says the book is “in the vein of The Book Thief.” On the nonfiction side is Adam Alter’s The Rat That Fell in Love with Pain: The Sudden Rise of Behavioral Addiction and How It Affects Us All (Penguin Press, no pub date yet), in which the bestselling author of Drunk Tank Pink delves into “the history and psychology of addiction and explains how and why it has emerged from the dark corners of society only to run rampant across every demographic group.” Another big nonfiction book for Inkwell is Angela Duckworth’s Grit: Passion, Perseverance and the Science of Success (on submission), in which the Univ. of Pennsylvania psychology professor shows that “the concept of hard work and winning out is not some vague and puritanical notion, but something that can be measured, proved and applied to make our own lives, and our children’s lives, vastly more successful and rewarding.”
Janklow & Nesbit Associates
J&N’s big nonfiction book at Frankfurt is physicist and Nobel Prize winner Stephen Weinberg’s To Explain the World (HC, Feb. 2015), a history of science that the agency calls “rich, irreverent, and compelling.” On the fiction side is Harry Brandt’s The Whites (Holt, Feb. 2015), about the “exploits of former bad-boy cop Billy Grave.” Brandt is the pseudonym of acclaimed author Richard Price, and this is the first title he’s written under that name. Rights sold in the France, Spain, and the U.K. From The Art of Hearing Heartbeats author Jan-Philipp Sendker is Whispering Shadows (Atria, Apr. 2015), about an American expat in present-day China trying to solve a murder case. From former soldier (and Purple Heart, Silver Star, and Star for Valor recipient) Elliot Ackerman, there’s Green on Blue (Scribner, Feb. 2015), a debut novel told from the perspective of an Afghan soldier attempting to save his brother’s life. On the children’s front, the agency has Ben Tripp’s The Accidental Highwayman (Tor Teen, Oct.), a middle-grade novel set in 18th-century England that J&N says “brings to mind Robert Louis Stevenson and William Golding.”
William Morris Endeavor
A notable nonfiction title for WME is Timothy Snyder’s Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning (no U.S. publisher yet), the Yale history professor’s follow-up to Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin. Whereas Bloodlands, WME explains, took on “how, when, and where the mass killings of the 20th century occurred,” this book will “answer the vexing question why.” From Mary Louise Parker is Dear Mr. You (Scribner, fall 2015), an “autobiographical literary nonfiction” work from the actress, whose writing has also appeared in Esquire, Bust, and other publications. Another big nonfiction book on WME’s hot list is Mary Aiken’s Cyberpsyched (Random/Spiegel & Grau), which the agency calls “a groundbreaking exploration of the impact of technology on human behavior”; rights sold in the Germany, Lebanon, South Korea, and the U.K. From Amy Poehler is Yes Please (Dey Street, Oct.), the anticipated debut title from the actress and comedian, in which “she offers up a big juicy stew of personal stories”; rights sold in the U.K. And, The Familiar (Pantheon, May 2015), by House of Leaves author Mark Z. Danielewski, is a “page-turner” focusing on a diverse cast of characters—an East L.A. gang member, a desperate billionaire, two scientists in Marfa, Tex.—that is set around the globe, from Venice, Italy, to Venice, Calif.
Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency
The agency will be highlighting several fiction titles at the fair, including Alexis Landau’s The Empire of the Senses (Pantheon, Mar. 2015). The book, which JVNLA describes as reminiscent of The History of Love and The Invisible Bridge, is an “epic intergenerational” novel exploring Jewish identity and assimilation in Berlin during and after WWI. Then there’s the debut novel Wilberforce by playwright H.S. Cross (FSG, Sept. 2015). In the “spirit of Evelyn Waugh and Donna Tartt,” the book depicts a young man “entangled in a sexual and spiritual crisis” at a boarding school that has “lost its will, its direction, and its greatest generation in post-WWI England.” The agency will also be selling another debut novel—Eric Lindstrom’s Not If I See You First (Poppy/Little, Brown, Jan. 2016). The YA title, which is, per JVNLA, evocative of The Fault in Our Stars, follows a “take-no-prisoners teenager whose life just won’t cut her a break.” A 23-year veteran of the interactive entertainment industry, Lindstrom has been nominated for three BAFTA awards for his video game screenplays. Australia and New Zealand rights for travel writer Antonia Murphy’s memoir, Dirty Chick: Adventures of an Unlikely Farmer (Gotham, Jan. 2015) have already been sold. The “uproarious” book chronicles the “misadventures of a born-and-bred San Franciscan who leaves city life to become an artisanal farmer in New Zealand.”
Jane Rotrosen Agency
The agency will be heading to Frankfurt with Crash & Burn (Dutton, Feb. 2015), the new standalone novel from bestselling author Lisa Gardner. Rights have been sold in the U.K. Set against the backdrop of the French Resistance during Nazi occupation, Kristin Hannah’s novel The Nightingale (St. Martin’s, Feb. 2015) is the “epic story of two sisters and the courageous choices they make to save not just their family but their way of life.” The book has been sold into the U.K. and Turkey. In a follow-up to her debut novel, Garden Spells, Sarah Addison Allen revisits the “magical Waverly sisters” of Bascom, N.C., in First Frost (St. Martin’s, Jan. 2015). Rights have been sold in the U.K. The agency will also be touting the first in a new suspense series from Robert Dugoni: My Sister’s Grave (Thomas & Mercer, Nov.) is a “harrowing” story about a science teacher turned cop who is obsessed with the mysterious disappearance of her sister, a cold case that is reopened when new evidence comes to light. Worldwide English, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, and Spanish rights are represented by Amazon Publishing, with all other languages represented by the Jane Rotrosen Agency.
Trident Media Group
A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James (Riverhead, Oct.) is among Trident’s list of big fiction titles for Frankfurt. The book is an exploration of the attempted assassination of Bob Marley in the mid-1970s, and it “delves into that dangerous and unstable time and its bloody aftermath, from the streets and slums of Kingston in the ’70s, to the crack wars in ’80s New York, to a radically altered Jamaica in the ’90s.” Rights have been sold in Italy, the Netherlands, and the U.K. The agency will also be touting Iowa Writer’s Workshop grad Vu Tran’s debut novel, Dragonfish (Norton, summer 2015), a “thrilling” work of literary suspense that takes place amid the “Vietnamese underworld in Las Vegas.” Rounding out the agency’s fiction roster is W. Bruce Cameron’s The Dog Master (Tor, Aug. 2015), a novel that explores the first interactions of humans and dogs at the dawn of civilization. One of the agency’s lead nonfiction titles is With a Love Like That by Michael Feeney Callan (Hachette, fall 2016), which examines the “pivotal” influence of eight women on the Beatles, from the “hysteria of Beatlemania to the bitter fallouts that ultimately tore the group apart.”
Ed Victor Ltd.
The agency will be talking up John Banville’s The Blue Guitar (Knopf), which it calls “a tense and frequently comic meditation on the intricacies of human relations”; rights sold in Brazil and the U.K. Another notable title for the agency is The Little Red Chairs (Little Brown), a new novel from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edna O’Brien; rights sold in France and the U.K. Then there’s the memoir from Damien Hirst, writing with James Fox (Viking, 2015), in which the artist, according to the agency, tells “an original tale of survival and ambition” as well as “an almost forgotten tale of 1980s Thatcherite Britain”; rights sold in various countries, including Brazil, China, France, Japan, and the U.K. And, from Bruce Robinson, there’s Bofs: Busting the Ripper (no U.S. publisher yet), in which the writer and director of cult 1987 film Withnail and I offers “an enthralling hunt for the true identity of Jack the Ripper” that the agency notes took 12 years to write.
On the fiction side, WH will be pushing Language Arts (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, June 2015), the latest from Broken for You author Stephanie Kallos, about a high school English teacher whose life is rocked by a series of events that, per the agency, “force him to consider what brought him to where he is.” From Ann Packer (The Dive From Clausen’s Pier) is The Children’s Crusade (Scribner, spring 2015), a novel about “the remnant wounds and saving graces of a California family.” On the nonfiction side is Leonard Mlodinow’s The Upright Thinkers: The Human Journey from Living in Tress to Understanding the Cosmos (Pantheon, May 2015), in which the author “guides the reader through the critical eras and events in the development of science.” One of the big children’s books WH has at the fair is Seeker (Delacorte, Feb. 2015), the first title in a new SF/fantasy series by Arwen Elys Dayton, about “one girl’s struggle against her violent destiny of becoming a ‘Seeker’ ”; rights have sold in Brazil, Germany, the U.K. and other countries. Then there’s Kevin Sands’s Blackthorn, which sold in a seven-publisher auction to Aladdin and has been preempted in the U.K., Germany and Italy. The book is set in 1663 London and follows a 14-year-old boy, an apprentice to a master apothecary, who “learns of a mysterious cult preying on the most learned men” of the city and must follow “a trail of deceit toward an unearthly secret with the power to tear the world apart.”
The Wylie Agency
One of the big nonfiction titles Wylie will be pushing in Frankfurt is General Michael V. Hayden’s currently untitled memoir (Penguin Press). In the book, the author, who is the only person to have overseen both the NSA and the CIA, will detail “the most pressing intelligence issues of our time,” the agency says. Another big nonfiction title for Wylie is Jim Yong Kim’s An Education in the World (Random House), a memoir from the South Korean physician and anthropologist—he was president of the World Bank Group as well as president of Dartmouth College (among other distinctions)—that traces his life and describes his work today helping countries like South Korea “create jobs and ensure that the fruits of economic growth are accessible to all”; rights sold in Brazil, China, South Korea, and other countries. From Leslie Jamison, author of Empathy Exams, is Archive Lush and Ghost Essays (both from Little, Brown). Archive Lush, the agency says, is “an in-depth exploration of addiction,” in which Jamison examines her own experiences with alcohol and goes “beyond the traditional triptych of addiction stories—what it was like, what happened, and what it’s like now—and into the archives of literary giants.” Ghost Essays explores loneliness and obsessions in a blend of “memoir, criticism, and journalism” that follows a four-year relationship in a series of “hauntings.” Both books have sold in Brazil, Germany, the Netherlands and the U.K. The agency will also be touting Booker nominee Amitav Ghosh’s Flood of Fire (FSG, 2015), the final installment in his Ibis Trilogy.
Correction: In the print version of this story the names of authors Emily St. John Mandel and Arwen Elys Dayton were misspelled. Additionally, the countries where Kevin Sands's Blackthorn were acquired at auction were misstated: the book has, to date, been bought by publishers in the U.K., Germany and Italy. An earlier version of this story included only the subtitle of Timothy Snyder's book, Black Earth.