Each year ahead of the London Book Fair, PW surveys U.S. agencies that will be selling at the show, looking for the projects poised to make waves. Among this year's highlights: Ernest Cline takes on an 'Armada;' Garry Kasparov goes on record about Vladimir Putin; Alastair Campbell tackles success; Duff McKagan talks manhood; and more.
Baror International, Inc.
One of the agency’s hot novels this year is The Fifth Heart, by Dan Simmons (Little, Brown, Mar. 2015), which has thus far sold in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Russia, Taiwan, and the U.K. In the book, it’s 1893, and Sherlock Holmes and Henry James come to America to solve the mystery of the death of Clover Adams, wife of prominent historian Henry Adams (a relation of John Adams and John Quincy Adams). Then there’s Nemesis Games: The Expanse (Orbit, June), by James S.A. Corey, the pen name of fantasy author Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck. The novel is the fifth in the Expanse series, currently being produced for television by the SyFy Channel. Rights to the book have sold in 16 countries, including China, France, Germany, Italy, and Turkey. Kim Harrison has The Drafter (Gallery, Sept.), the first volume in a new series called the Peri Reed Chronicles. Described as “The Bourne Identity meets Minority Report,” this “sexy” new suspense trilogy set in a futuristic Detroit features special task agent Peri Reed, who finds out that her trusted partner has made her corrupt. With the help of a “sullen but talented” psychologist named Silas, Reed goes in search of the truth. Harrison is also the author of the bestselling Hollows series. For nonfiction, Baror will be talking up Martin Puchner’s The Written World (Random House, fall 2017), an “astonishing take on world history” which argues that “the secret weapon that has defeated armies, formed nations, and opened up an undreamt-of future was literature.” Puchner, who co-edited editions of The Norton Anthology of World Literature, is the Byron and Anita Wien Professor of Drama and of English and Comparative Literature at Harvard University.
DeFiore and Company
One of the agency’s big novels going into London is Robin Wasserman’s adult debut, Girls on Fire (Harper, summer 2016). Pitched as Prep meets The Virgin Suicides, the book follows three smalltown teenage girls who “circle, manipulate, seduce, torment, and surrender themselves to one another in the wake of a local boy’s death.” Wasserman is the author of more than 10 YA novels, which, according to the agency, have roughly half a million copies in print. Rights have sold in Brazil, France, Poland, and the U.K. DeFiore will also be shopping the latest from Brandon Stanton, the man behind the photoblog–turned–bestselling photography book, Humans of New York. The new book, Humans of New York: Stories (St. Martin’s, Oct.), features longer, in-depth stories about the everyday people that Stanton photographs for his blog and books. Then there’s Dangerous When Wet (St. Martin’s, May), former book publicist Jamie Brickhouse’s memoir about a “complicated relationship between a son and his mother, his long struggle with alcohol, and his sexuality.” Lastly, DeFiore will be touting Awkward: The Science of Why We’re Socially Awkward and Why That’s Awesome (Morrow, fall 2016), by Ty Tashiro, an assistant research professor at the Center for Addictions, Personality, and Emotion at the University of Maryland.
Sandra Dijkstra & Associates
On the agency’s roster of big books is The Wrong Man, by the former editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine, Kate White (Harper, June). In the novel, a successful career woman who thinks she has met the man of her dreams finds out that he might be her worst nightmare. White is also the author of the stand-alone novels Hush and the The Sixes, as well as the Bailey Weggins mystery series. Marilyn Yalom (with Teresa Donovan Brown), explores how the concept of female friendship has been “inextricably linked to the larger social and cultural movements that have defined human history” in The Social Sex: A History of Female Friendship (Harper, Sept.). Yalom, a senior scholar at the Institute for Women and Gender at Stanford University, is also the author of How the French Invented Love. Then there’s A River Runs Again: Finding Hope in Earth’s Most Troubled Landscape, by Meera Subramanian (Public Affairs, Aug.), which chronicles India’s environmental catastrophe. Journalist Subramanian’s writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Audubon, among other publications. Lastly, the agency will be touting Dan Ward’s The Simplicity Cycle (Harper, May). In the book, Ward, author of How Fast, Inexpensive and Elegant Methods Ignite Innovation, “reveals the secret to making functional things,” with a “particular focus on identifying and avoiding complexity-related disasters.”
Dystel & Goderich Literary Management
DGLM will be touting If I Stay author Gayle Forman’s Bypass (on submission in the U.S.), a novel about a woman who goes in search of her birth mother while recovering from a heart attack. Juliet Blackwell’s The Paris Key (NAL, Sept.) will also top the agency’s list at the fair. The novel tells the story of an American woman who moves to Paris to take over her uncle’s locksmith shop and “ends up unlocking the secrets of her family.” For nonfiction, the agency will be shopping Life Plus 30 (on submission in the U.S.), by attorney Rabia Chaudry, a friend of Adnan Syed, the subject of the 2014 podcast phenomenon, Serial. Syed was convicted in 1999, when he was a teenager, of killing his ex-girlfriend and, in the book, Chaudry (who is also featured in the podcast) will delve deeper into Syed’s case. In I Will Find You (Grove, Apr. 2016), journalist Joanna Connors investigates her own rape in a memoir “that moves with the propulsive energy of a thriller.” Fourth Estate has U.K. rights.
Foundry Literary + Media
Among Foundry’s big titles in London is the new novel from Brothers Sisters author Patrick deWitt, Undermajordomo Minor (Ecco, Sept.). The agency calls it a “love story, an adventure story, a fable without a moral, and an ink-black comedy of manners”; it’s sold in Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, and Poland. Another major fiction title for the agency is Ernest Cline’s Armada (Crown, July), a coming-of-age tale from the author of Ready Player One that is, also, a “surprising thriller” and an “alien-invasion tale”; it has sold in Brazil, the U.K., and Norway. A big YA title for Foundry is Crystal Cestari’s Amber Sand (Hyperion, fall 2016), the first book in a planned series about a girl who can “envision anyone’s soul mate” after briefly making eye contact with that person. On the nonfiction front is the essay collection by Nora McInerney, This Is Not a Sad Love Song (Hachette/Dey Street, spring 2016), about the author falling in love, getting married, having a child, and, shortly thereafter, losing her husband to cancer; rights have sold in the U.K.
The Gernert Agency
On Gernert’s hot list is Peter Behrens’s Karin (Pantheon, Feb. 2016), a novel inspired by the life of the author’s father; the agency describes it as a “devastating” tale of “love and family” unfolding from 1914 to 1938. Rights to the novel have sold in Canada. Another notable novel for the agency is The Shape of Trees (Emily Bestler Books, 2016), by Mindy Meija. The book is a “psychologically twisty” murder mystery, Gernert says, about a teenager’s death in a small town told from multiple points of view, including the victim’s; rights sold in France and the Netherlands. On the nonfiction side, Gernert has Garry Kasparov’s Winter Is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped (PublicAffairs, Oct.), a take on the Russian leader from the world’s former #1 chess champion and Russian dissident; rights sold in Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, and the U.K. The other big nonfiction title for the shingle is Stephen Witt’s How Music Got Free: The End of an Industry, the Turn of the Century, and the Patient Zero of Piracy (Viking, June). Witt, who has degrees in both mathematics (from the University of Chicago) and journalism (from Columbia), offers the “gripping untold story of the music piracy revolution and the inventors, executives, factory workers, and tech pirates who changed the world.” Rights have sold in a handful of foreign countries, including Germany, Italy, and the U.K.
Sanford J. Greenburger
A hot book on SJGA’s list is Brad Thor’s Code of Conduct (S&S/Emily Bestler, July), in which counterterrorism operative Scot Harvath tries to stop a “terror attack of global proportions” launched by a “secretive body inside the United Nations,” the agency explains. In John A. Connell’s Munich-set debut novel, the crime thriller Ruins of War (Berkley, May), American army detective and former POW Mason Collins sets out, just months after the end of WWII, to hunt down a serial killer who is “leaving a gruesome trail of victimized bodies”; rights sold in Germany. From former Guns N’ Roses member Duff McKagan, writing with Chris Kornelius, is How to Be a Man (and Other Illusions) (DaCapo, May), which is, the agency says, a guide to life from a man whose “collective wisdom” stems from lessons learned in “fatherhood, business school, and some of the greatest rock bands of all time.” Another notable nonfiction title for SJGA is Stacey Ferreira and Jared Kleinert’s 2 Billion Under 20: How Millennials Are Breaking Down Barriers and Changing the World (St. Martin’s, July), an anthology from two young entrepreneurs—she cofounded MySocialCloud.com, and he launched the crowdsourcing startup Synergist—featuring pieces by 75 people who are “changing lives worldwide.”
ICM Partners and ICM/Sagalyn (handled by Curtis Brown)
One of the novels ICM will be touting at the fair is the currently untitled work by National Book Award finalist Adam Haslett; it will be published by Little, Brown in the States in 2016, and rights have also sold in the U.K. The other big novel for the agency is Nelson DeMille’s Radiant Angel (Grand Central, May), the newest in the author’s John Corey series; in it Corey has just left the Anti-Terrorist Task Force and returned to New York City, where he takes a job with the Diplomatic Surveillance Group. ICM says the book “takes us into the heart of a new Cold War” and features a “clock-ticking plot”; rights have sold in Portugal and the U.K., and, at press time, an offer was in from Germany. A notable nonfiction title for ICM is Financial Times journalist Gillian Tett’s The Silo Effect (Free Press, Sept.), which examines “the increasingly dominant economic, geographic, and social ‘silos,’ or patterns of fragmentation,” that have a global impact; rights sold in the U.K. Then there’s Barbara Ehrenreich’s Old Enough to Die: Life, Death and Dystopian Biology (Hachette/Twelve, 2017), which tackles “living in the face of death.” The book, from the author of Nickel and Dimed, the agency elaborates, tackles “the inescapable philosophical challenge of our lives”; rights sold in the U.K. And from Sagalyn, the Washington, D.C., agency that formed a partnership with ICM in 2012, is Robert B. Reich’s Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few (Knopf, Sept.), which is a “myth-shattering” examination of “what’s wrong with the U.S. economic system,” from the political economist and author of Aftershock.
Among Inkwell’s notable titles in London is Mo Gawdat’s Solve for Happy (on submission in the U.S.), which explores, the agency says, “how we fit in the world.” Gawdat has worked at Google since 2007 and, in 2013, joined Google X, a somewhat secretive division of the company focused on technological innovation. (At Google X, Inkwell noted, Gawdat worked on something called Project Loon, an effort to use high-altitude balloons to bring affordable Internet access to billions of people.) In the book, Gawdat will map out, using his background as an engineer and “humanist,” the steps he’s taken “and that anyone can take, to enrich their lives.” Another big book for Inkwell is the novel Dark Matter (Crown, manuscript delivery set for summer 2015), by Blake Crouch, which has already sold in a number of foreign countries (as well as to Sony for film) including Brazil, Germany, Holland, and the U.K. Crouch is the author of the Wayward Pines series, and this novel, Inkwell says, is “part lightning-fast thriller, part inquiry into the mysteries of existence.” Another big book for Inkwell is an old book. The agency will be selling unsold foreign rights to Katherine Dunn’s cult classic, Geek Love, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last year. Originally published by Knopf in 1990, the National Book Award–nominated novel is about the Binewski family, the parents of which set out to engineer a clan of children with oddities so spectacular that they will all be carnival-worthy attractions. Rights have sold in Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Korea, and the U.K. (While Knopf sold foreign rights to the book in a number of countries, many of those contracts have expired.)
Janklow & Nesbit
On J&N’s list of top books for the fair is Stanford professor Jerry Kaplan’s Humans Need Not Apply (Yale Univ., Aug.), which the agency calls a “timely and accessible analysis of the promise and perils of artificial intelligence.” Another notable nonfiction title for the agency is photographer Sally Mann’s memoir, Hold Still (Little, Brown, May). The book, which features prose and photographs, is, according to J&N, “a totally original form of personal history that has the page-turning drama of a great novel.” On the fiction side is Ann Beattie’s collection of linked stories, The State We’re In (Scribner, Aug.), which the agency says “explores the unexpected moments and glancing epiphanies of daily life.” Another big novel for the shingle is Rajia Hassib’s debut, In the Language of Miracles (Viking, Aug.), which follows an Egyptian-American family in New Jersey “whose place within their community unravels when a devastating turn of events leaves their eldest son and their neighbor’s daughter dead.”
Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency
Among the agency’s hot fiction titles is Kelly Kerney’s Hard Red Spring (Viking, Mar. 2016), a historical novel based on true events, about four women who become entangled in the “subversive history of 20th-century Guatemala.” Then there’s Collector of Secrets (Polis Books, Aug.), a debut thriller from Richard Goodfellow about a 20-something English teacher in Japan who gets “tangled up with the Yakuza, the Japanese police, and a mysterious American when he finds a half-century-old diary.” JVNLA says that the book has the same “historical intrigue, deep research, and wide appeal of [works by] Dan Brown and Michael Gruber.” A major nonfiction title on the agency’s list is Philip Weinstein’s biography of Jonathan Franzen, Jonathan Franzen: The Comedy of Rage (Bloomsbury, Oct.). Weinstein, a professor of English at Swarthmore College, draws on unpublished emails and a private interview, in addition to public interviews with Franzen, to analyze the “purposes and problems of [Franzen’s] life and his art.” Tantor Media has picked up U.S. audio rights. Then there’s Dr. Joe Colella’s The Appetite Solution: Lose Weight Effortlessly and Never Be Hungry Again (HarperOne, Apr.), which offers a six-week, three-phase plan to help achieve a goal weight. Rights have sold in the U.K., the Czech Republic, and Slovakia.
Jane Rotrosen Agency
The agency will be taking the latest novel from Tess Gerritsen, Playing with Fire (Ballantine, Oct.), to the fair. In the book, a Boston violinist returns home from Italy after acquiring the sheet music to a waltz titled Incendio from an antique bookshop—she heads back to Italy to uncover the origin of the piece and finds is a secret from WWII “that a powerful political family will do anything to protect.” Transworld has picked up U.K. rights to the book. Another big fiction title is The Guest Cottage, by Nancy Thayer (Ballantine, May). The author of Nantucket Sisters returns to the island and follows two single parents who accidentally rent the same house one summer. U.K. rights have sold to Headline. Another notable novel is a debut titled Sinner’s Creed (Berkley, fall), by Kim Jones. In the book, Jones, who self-published her first novel in 2013, dives into the secret world of motorcycle clubs. Lastly, there’s Joseph Monninger’s Whippoorwill (HMH Books for Young Readers, Sept.), a “poignant” story about two New Hampshire teenagers who fall into an unlikely relationship as they come together to save a mistreated dog.
Trident Media Group
A lead novel for Trident is Scottish actor David McCallum’s Crooked Common Sense (St. Martin’s/Dunne, winter 2016). The book tracks Harry, a struggling actor in New York City, who is “haphazardly embroiled with three mob bosses in Queens and their dangerous associates in London.” An “international caper,” the novel follows Harry as he “quickly finds himself an accessory to murder and on the run with a suitcase full of cash.” HarperCollins Germany has picked up rights to the novel. Another hot fiction title for Trident is Every Fifteen Minutes, by Lisa Scottoline (St. Martin’s, Apr.), a thriller centering on Dr. Eric Parrish, a psychiatrist treating a teenage patient with OCD. U.K. rights have been sold to Headline Books. The next novel is T. Jefferson Parker’s Crazy Blood (St. Martin’s, Mar. 2016), a “tragic love story set in the perilous, adrenaline-fueled world of the Winter X-Games.” Trident’s hot nonfiction title is To Stem the Tide: My Fight for the Future of Our Planet (Thomas Dunne, spring 2016), by Peter Willcox, with Ronald Weiss. In the book, Willcox documents being captain of the Greenpeace ship The Rainbow Warrior, including “being led to a Russian prison” and “diving in front of a moving destroyer.” Willcox has been a captain with Greenpeace for more than 30 years and is one of the organization’s most public faces.
Ed Victor Ltd.
Ed Victor will be shopping Alastair Campbell’s Winners (no U.S. publisher), a book from Tony Blair’s chief spokesman that was published in the U.K. last month, in which, the agency says, the author “uses his forensic skills, as well as his own experience in politics and sport, to get to the heart of success”; rights sold in Albania and the Czech Republic. British culinary star Nigella Lawson has Simply Nigella: Food to Nourish Body & Soul (Flatiron, autumn), which will feature 150 recipes and is set to accompany a forthcoming new TV series; rights sold in Germany, Portugal, the U.K., and a number of other countries. John Banville has the novel The Blue Guitar (Knopf, Sept.), which the agency calls “a tense, fraught and frequently comic meditation on the intricacies of human relations”; rights sold in a number of countries, including Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Germany, and the U.K. From Pulitzer Prize winner Edna O’Brien is The Little Red Chairs (Little, Brown, manuscript delivery set for April), a novel about a war criminal, masquerading as a healer, who settles in an Irish village. The agency says the book explores “love, the artifice of evil, and the terrible necessity of accountability in our shattered, damaged world”; rights sold in France and the U.K.
The Wylie Agency
A big nonfiction book for the agency is one by Graeme Wood, contributing editor at the Atlantic and lecturer at Yale, called The War of the End of Time: What the Islamic State Wants (Random House, delivery expected in November). The agency calls Wood’s book a “report from the current front-lines of jihadism,” in which the emphasis is on “the differences [between the Islamic State and] Bin Laden in tactics and doctrine.” Another hot nonfiction title for Wylie is Julia Leigh’s Avalanche (on submission now, delivery set for spring), which the agency describes as “a powerful dispatch from the frontiers of love and loss.” Leigh, an Australian writer whose debut novel The Hunter (published in the States in 2001) drew critical praise, explores her trials with IVF. The book touches on the fact that, as the agency noted, “most IVF fails,” even as this reality remains “largely unspoken.” On the fiction front is National Book Award winner Colum McCann’s new short story collection, Thirteen Ways of Looking (Random House, Oct.), which has sold in Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, and the U.K. The agency will also be pushing the posthumous novel by Nobel Prize winner Jose Saramago, which has already been published in Portuguese as Alabardas, alabardas, Espingardas, espingardas. When Saramago died in 2010, he left behind 30 manuscript pages. These pages, the agency says, were to be his next novel and were turned into a 136-page work, featuring the fragments, along with essays by Fernando Gomez Aguilera and Roberto Saviano, as well as illustrations by Gunter Grass. That work, which has been published in Portugal and a handful of other countries, has not yet been translated into English.
The agency has a lineup of novels for this year’s fair. First up, there’s Megan Abbott’s You Will Know Me (Little, Brown, July 2016), which delves into the world of a gymnast prodigy through the perspective of a devoted mother whose life revolves around her daughter’s success. When a violent death rocks the community, the mother “must face dark truths about ambition, desire, and jealousy that threaten to tear her family apart.” Another big fiction title is Elisa Albert’s After Birth (HMH, Feb. 2015), which gives readers new mom Ari, who “rawly and wryly” narrates a tale of childbirth and new motherhood. Rights have sold in Germany, Holland, and the U.K. Tim Johnston’s debut thriller, Descent (Algonquin, Jan. 2015), follows the “deconstruction of a family coping with the violent kidnapping of their daughter.” Rights have sold in France, Italy, Japan, and Poland. In another family novel featuring a kidnapping, Nell Zink provides a “comical satire of family life” in Mislaid (Ecco, May). The book traces the mismatched coupling of a gay college professor and his lesbian wife, “which leads to two children and a marriage so queer as to necessitate a spur-of-the-moment kidnapping, a stolen birth certificate, and the assumption of brand-new identities across racial boundaries.” Publishers in France, Germany, and the U.K. have all picked up rights.
More Titles on PubMatch
In addition to the titles that the major American agencies will be selling rights to, hundreds of other publishers and agents will be at the London Book Fair shopping their own books. To see what rights are available, head to www.pubmatch.com/londonbriefcase. If you’d like to have your books listed here, go to www.pubmatch.com, create a free account, add titles to your profile, and follow the prompts to have them listed in the London Briefcase.