The co-foreign rights directors of Janklow & Nesbit’s U.K. agency, Nathaniel Alcaraz-Stapleton and Mairi Friesen- Escandell, shared what they are most excited about and eager to discuss at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair. Together, the duo handle rights for Germany, France, Italy, and the Netherlands for the agency’s literary fiction and non-fiction titles.
What books are you reading right now?
NAS: I am reading multiple things in preparation for the fair at the moment, including a brilliant speculative novel by a debut novelist, a book about the science behind nature being great for your health, a couple of brilliant thrillers, and an amazing memoir by a Russian novelist, all of which are getting me incredibly excited to get out there and sell! Outside of work I’m re-reading The Simarillion at the same time as watching the Rings of Power TV series.
MFE: I just picked up Outline by Rachel Cusk, which I’ve wanted to read for years, to read post-FBF.
What’s one of your favorite books that most people don’t know?
NAS: A River Red and Black by Anthony Ryan—I’m sure when it’s published people will know about it, but it is an edge-of-your-seat post-apocalyptic thriller, which gave me such an adrenaline rush that I couldn’t sleep after reading it.
MFE: The Frost on His Shoulders by Lorenzo Mediano. A beautiful love story published by Europa that will have your heart in your mouth! I’ve given it to so many friends.
What’s one book you didn’t sell, that you always wish you had?
NAS: The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman.
MFE: The Undying by Anne Boyer, which sold before I joined J&N and is an extraordinary book. I remember seeing it on every acquisition list!
What’s a big book you read recently that surprised you in a good way? In a bad way?
NAS: Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman. The man is a genius—I had read a lot about the book before I dipped in, but I was completely blown-away by the mindset-altering way he has of framing things. I found myself physically relaxing as I read it.
MFE: The Candy House by Jennifer Egan—I loved it, it felt expansive and layered. I’m also obsessed with The Furrows by Namwali Serpell which is brilliant and original.
What are your expectations for the first in-person Frankfurt Book Fair in three years?
NAS: Lots of excitement, lots of big deals, lots of post-fair illness.
MFE: Fun! And buzzy sales energy.
What are you looking forward to most about being back at the fair? Least?
NAS: I’m very much looking forward to seeing all the wonderful editors we’ve been missing since the pandemic started. Not looking forward to the caffeine headaches.
MFE: Same—I can’t wait to see everyone, to have those snatched conversations in between meetings, and to eat the special Frankfurt green sauce. I’m less excited about the inevitable energy crash afterwards.
What are some trends in American literature your international book business friends and contacts are most excited about?
NAS: In a commercial space, they are really excited by the possibilities of TikTok-friendly fiction.
MFE: Across the board, international editors are increasingly interested in diverse voices which is wonderful.