Arab Girls Gone Wild

Liza Darnton at the Penguin Press has acquired world rights to a novel by a 25-year-old dental student, Rajaa Al-Sanea.The Girls of Riyadh was first published in Lebanon last September, and since then has created a firestorm of controversy in Saudi Arabia (where it was initially banned) and throughout the Muslim world. Described in the Financial Times as a "kind of Arab Bridget Jones's Diary," the novel details the social, romantic and sexual tribulations of four young women from the elite classes of Saudi Arabia, tackling such taboos as lesbianism, drinking and pre- and extra-marital sex. Darnton acquired rights from Al-Sanea's Arabic publisher, Dar al Saqi Books, and to date Penguin has sold $700,000 worth in foreign rights, though the book has not yet been translated. The book has sold over 100,000 copies in the Middle East; Penguin hopes to publish in summer 2007.

An Activist's Guide

Gretchen Young at Hyperion has preempted Never Again by actor Don Cheadle and human rights activist John Prendergast, in a world rights deal with Joe Veltre at Artists Literary Group. This is the story of how the authors formed a partnership to raise awareness of the Darfur genocide and presents a step-by-step guide offering six practical strategies for those who want to make a difference. Cheadle, an Academy Award nominee, and Prendergast, a senior adviser at the International Crisis Group and a former Clinton White House official, will donate part of the book's proceeds to activist organizations. Hyperion plans a spring 2007 publication.


Grove/Atlantic's Joan Bingham has acquired U.S. rights, at auction, to Juliet Nicolson'sThe Perfect Summer: Dancing into Shadow in 1911 from agent William Clark on behalf of Ed Victor, who sold U.K. rights to John Murray/Hodder Headline. Nicolson is the daughter of Weidenfeld & Nicolson cofounder Nigel Nicolson and the granddaughter of Vita Sackville-West. Her book will zoom in on England in the summer of 1911, during which George V was crowned, audiences swarmed to see the Ballet Russes at Covent Garden and the first world war was a distant shadow, in the process illuminating a turning point in history through the eyes of a series of exceptional individuals. Grove/Atlantic will publish next summer.

Minding the Border

Thomas Dunne has acquired North American rights to Reuters reporter Tim Gaynor'sHolding the Line: The Battle to Secure the U.S.-Mexican Border for his eponymous imprint at St. Martin's, from agent Paul Bresnick. The book will examine the situation along the 2,000-mile land boundary between the two countries, describing what is working, what is failing and what the real prospects for securing the border are. The author has spent two years reporting from more than two dozen towns and cities along the border's length, working with the FBI and U.S. Customs and Borders Protection as well as smugglers and migrants on the south side. A 2007 publication is planned.

New from Avenue A

Jennifer Cayea, former foreign rights director at Nicholas Ellison Inc., has opened her own shop, Avenue A Literary, where she recently sold Mabel Iam'sI Love You, Now What? How Hot, Happy Couples Stay Close to Johanna Castillo at Atria, for significant six figures for world rights. Sex and relationship expert Iam is the author of Sex and the Perfect Lover and the more recent The Love Diet. Atria plans to publish the new book in January 2008.

Two for Areheart

Shaye Areheart has acquired another novel from Colors of the Mountain author Da Chen for her imprint at Crown; Trident's Alex Glass and Robert Gottlieb sold world rights. Tentatively titled My Last Empress, the book describes a love story between an old-money American and a Chinese princess in the 19th century. Areheart, who bought the book on a couple of sample chapters, will publish Chen's first novel, Brothers, this September.

And Shaye Areheart editor Sally Kim has acquired North American rights to Jill Smolinski's new novel, The Next Thing on My List, from agent Kirsten Manges, which tells the story of a 35-year-old Weight Watchers participant who finds herself in possession of a deceased woman's list of "20 Things to Do by My 25th Birthday" and aims to complete the list herself. Kim published Smolinski's debut novel, Flip-Flopped, at St. Martin's in 2002; French rights to the new book have been preempted.

The Briefing

Diana Baroni at Warner Wellness has acquired N. American rights to Martha Weinman Lear's On the Tip of My Tongue, a humorous exegesis on the subject of normal age-related memory loss, from Gloria Loomis at Watkins Loomis. Based on research and interviews with memory experts, Lear's book will offer information and reassurance to boomers who fear their memories are not as sharp as they once were.... Bestselling British children's author Jacqueline Wilson has inked a two-book deal in the U.S. with Deborah Brodie at Roaring Brook Press via Tracey Adams at Adams Literary on behalf of Caroline Walsh at David Higham; the first book, Candyfloss, will be published in spring 2007, with the second, Love Lessons, to follow later the same year.