DeSales Harrison has struck literary gold, so to speak, just before the London Book Fair. With the show set to kick off tomorrow, the Oberlin College professor’s debut novel, The Waters & the Wild, has sold to Kate Medina at Penguin Random House for seven figures. Medina took North American rights in a two-book deal brokered by Bill Clegg at the Clegg Agency.
The novel, which does not yet have a scheduled publication date, begins with a death. When Jessica Burke, a former heroin addict with a history of depression, turns up dead in her bathtub, it’s presumed she overdosed. But after her psychoanalyst, Daniel Abend, receives a series of mysterious hand-written poems, he starts to think otherwise. Then, when Abend’s daughter suddenly disappears, he finds himself at the center of an elaborate scheme. The second book in the deal, Clegg confirmed, will be “kindred in plotting and tone” to this one.
In a description of the book sent to potential buyers, Clegg called the novel “a brilliantly choreographed and spellbinding tale of desperate fathers, stolen daughters, and the distance we travel for revenge and absolution.”
Harrison, who also has an MA from Johns Hopkins and a PhD from Harvard, lives with his wife and daughter in Ohio. At Oberlin, he teaches Lyric Poetry.