American publishers and agents will be shopping an eclectic group of literary wares in the rights area at London this year; the offerings include, a tale about moonshining; holiday recipes from Nigella Lawson; the controversial post-mortem collection from Raymond Carver; a grisly whodunit from David Cronenberg; and a take on First Lady-dom from Curtis Sittenfeld.
The AgentsJean V. NaggarTwo of the shop's “heavy hitters”—Phillip Margolin and Mary McGarry Morris—have new titles circulating on the fiction side. Margolin's latest, the Executive Privilege, is a D.C.-set legal thriller. (Harper is publishing Stateside and rights have sold in the Netherlands and Poland.) Morris, author of, among others, the Oprah pick Sons in Ordinary Time, has The Last Secret, about a woman who uncovers secrets from her past as she discovers details of her husband's affair. (Shaye Areheart is publishing in the U.S.) In nonfiction, there's Doreen Orion's Queen of the Road, a humorous account of two 40-something shrinks who go on a year-long cross-country jaunt. (Doubleday is publishing in the U.S. and rights have been sold in Germany.) Another nonfiction title Naggar is touting is Gregory Levey's memoir Shut Up, I'm Talking, about the Salon and New Republic journo's experiences as Ariel Sharon's English-language speechwriter in Israel. The agency is pitching him as “the brilliant bastard child of Thomas Friedman and David Sedaris.” (Free Press is publishing in the U.S. in June and “there has been film interest.”) Then there's Cecilia Galante's YA novel, The Patron Saint of Butterflies, about two best friends forced to leave the religious commune where they were raised. Borders has selected the title as one of its Original Voices picks for April and Bloomsbury is publishing here this month.Ed VictorThis shop is hyping six titles at the fair: from John Banville, writing as Benjamin Black, there's The Lemur, a thriller the New York TimesMagazine is currently publishing as a 14-week serial. (Macmillan is publishing in the U.K. in October; Holt is releasing it in the U.S. this summer.) Also high on the rights list is All in the Mind, the debut novel by Alastair Campbell, former Tony Blair press secretary and author of The Blair Years. The novel, set over the course of a long weekend, follows the drama among a psychiatrist, his family and his patients. (Random House is publishing in November.) Then there's an untitled novel set in Ireland by Josephine Hart, author of Damage (the basis for the Louis Malle—directed film starring Jeremy Irons and Juliette Binoche); Hart is published by Virago. From Kathy Lette there's To Love, Honour & Betray, a commercial women's fiction about falling out of love; the agency calls it “a survival guide for all mothers approaching 40.” (Bantam is publishing in September.) There's also Kit Whitfield's In Great Waters, about the Landsmen and Deepsmen, the people of the land and sea. (Whitfield is published by Random House); and Nigella Lawson's new holiday cookbook, Nigella's Christmas (Hyperion is publishing in the U.S.; Chatto & Windus in the U.K.).TridentOn the fiction side, Trident's highlights include Matt Bondurant's second novel, The Wettest Country in the World, based on Bondurant's moonshine-making grandfather and great-uncles. From Catherine Coulter there's Tailspin, another installment in the author's FBI series featuring agents Savich and Sherlock. From the co-authors of the Dune prequels, Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson, there's a new original SF series called Hellhole, about a band of “pioneers and misfits” who attempt to colonize a desolate planet. And from the Pulitzer Prize—winning author of Gilead, Marilynne Robinson, there's Home, a novel about “the nature of family and the passing of the generations.” On the nonfiction side, Trident has Gregory Feifer's The Great Gamble, about the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, told from the Russian point of view. Canine guru Cesar Millan offers A Member of the Family (co-written with Melissa Jo Peltier), which provides insight on integrating a four-legged friend into the family. And Christopher Ryan and Caclinda Jetha tell us What Darwin Didn't Know About Sex, “a groundbreaking and multidisplinary exploration of human sexuality.”Wylie AgencyWylie is trotting out new works from some big names (living and dead). There's the latest from Elmore Leonard, Road Dogs, featuring characters from the author's novels Out of Sight and Riding the Rap. From Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk there's The Museum of Innocence, a story of love between the son of a wealthy family and a “poor relation”; it takes place in Istanbul from the 1970s through the '90s. Wylie also has the 29th book from Philip Roth, Indignation, which follows Winesburg College sophomore and Newark native Marcus Messner as he contends with strained familial bonds during the second year of the Korean War. From Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg (Eastern Promises) there's the bizarre-sounding thriller Consumed, about a pair of sexually adventurous journalists, carrying on a long-distance love affair, who become dangerously and personally embroiled in their respective professional subjects. On the literary rediscoveries front, there's William S. Burroughs's And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks, a fictionalization of a 1944 murder that Burroughs worked on with Jack Kerouac; they alternated writing the chapters, to craft a book “in the style of Dashiell Hammett or James M. Cain.” Wylie also has the original stories that Raymond Carver delivered to his then-editor, Gordon Lish, which Knopf published in 1981 as What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. After the author's death, Carver's wife claimed Lish seriously reshaped the work, causing a stir over editorial boundaries and authorship. The New Yorker published the title story from the original manuscript in December 2007. The Enchantress of Florence is a new novel by Salman Rushdie, set in Florence during the Renaissance and in the court of the Mughal Empire, about “a woman attempting to control her own destiny in a man's world.” And, on the nonfiction side, there's Jeffrey Sachs's Common Wealth, a plea for the creation of a “new economic paradigm” from the director of the Earth Institute.ICMThe agency has some big names at the fair: Toni Morrison's new novel, A Mercy, chronicles the history of racism in the U.S. through three different narrators from three different eras. (Knopf is publishing in November). From Special Topics in Calamity Physics author and press darling Marisha Pessl comes another psychological literary thriller, Night Film, about a New York filmmaker looking into an apparent suicide. (Random House is publishing in the fall of 2010 and a sale has already closed in Germany.) Candace Bushnell again chronicles the comings and goings of powerful New York women, this time all living in the same swanky downtown building, in One Fifth Avenue. (Hyperion/Voice is publishing in August.) There's the debut novel from Deanne Fei, Thread of Sky, about three Chinese-American sisters who take a trip to their ancestral home with their mother and grandmother. (Penguin Press is publishing in spring 2009.) The shop also has a collection of magazine articles and blog posts from Barbara Ehrenreich, This Land Is Their Land, about the growing divide between America's rich and poor. ICM is also shopping Thomas Friedman's green manifesto, Green Is the New Red, White and Blue, which FSG is publishing in August.Inkwell ManagementInkwell will be talking up six titles in London. In nonfiction, there's The Terminal Spy, an examination of the life and death of poisoned Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko, by Alan S. Cowell, London bureau chief of the New York Times. (Doubleday will publish in the U.S. in early 2009 and rights have been sold in eight countries off the proposal; a manuscript is now available.) From physician Roberta Lee there's The Superstress Solution, which aims to help people identify the symptoms of “superstress” and then treat the disorder. According to the agency, Lee's four-week plan will “retrain the nervous system to default to a state of rest.” (Random is publishing in summer 2009.) And then there's A Year in Jonestown, a sophomore effort from Julia Scheeres (Jesus Land), which chronicles Jim Jones's infamous commune—whose members committed mass suicide in 1978—through FBI records and interviews with family members. (Free Press has bought rights in the U.S.) In fiction, the agency has Shilpa Argawal's Haunting Bombay, a 1960s tale that unfolds in a bungalow in Bombay's exclusive Malabar Hill neighborhood. (Soho Press is publishing in April 2009.) And Money Talks—“a Devil Wears Prada for the New York real estate world”—chronicles the life and times of a fictional mogul from the point of view of the ghostwriter of his memoir. The book is written by “David Collins,” a pseudonym for a working ghostwriter and contributor to such mags as Vanity Fair and, in a twist, David Collins is also the name of the ghostwriter in the novel. (Morrow is publishing in May 2009.) There is also Colleen McCullough's Jane Austen sequel, which continues the tale of the five sisters in Pride and Prejudice. (S&S is publishing in fall 2009; rights have been sold in Australia, the U.K. and Canada.)Writers HouseThe shop is pumping four titles at the fair this year. One is Erica Bauermeister's School of Essential Ingredients, a debut novel told in “interwoven vignettes” about a chef and the students in her weekly cooking class. (Putnam preempted in February and rights have been sold in Italy, Holland and Brazil. At press time an auction was happening in Australia.) From Michael Gruber comes The Forgery of Venus, about a talented painter struggling to escape his more famous father's shadow. Raven by Giles Kristian is a debut novel set in 802 A.D. that follows a young boy picked up by the Vikings. On the nonfiction side, there's Mary Johnson's memoir, An Unquenchable Thirst, about the years the author spent working with Mother Teresa. (Spiegel & Grau has rights in the U.S. and the book has sold in France, Holland, Brazil and Australia.) Also, there's The Lost Girls by Amanda Pressner, Jennifer Baggett and Holly Corbett, which follows three friends through life's ups and downs in a work that “blends travelogue with memoir.” (Warner has movie rights.)William MorrisThe agency is particularly excited about two novels and a biography. Heather Clay's Losing Charlotte is a “family chronicle” about two sisters that stretches from their youth on a horse ranch in Kentucky to their later lives in New York City. (Knopf is publishing Stateside.) Morris also has the newest one from Prep sensation Curtis Sittenfeld, American Wife, about a woman who is thrust into the spotlight as First Lady. (Random House is publishing in the U.S. in the fall.) And from Simon Winchester, author of The Professor and the Madman, comes Atlantic: The Biography of an Ocean, an “epic tale of 'the pond' ” that examines the massive body of water “as a living entity.” (Morrow will publish in the U.S.)AP WattAmong the nonfiction and fiction titles the agency will be pushing are Jess Blake's novel Chemistry for Beginners, a “serious exploration of male-female attraction” that follows an ambitious scientist and his subject. (A full manuscript is expected in spring 2009). On the nonfiction front, the agency has Robert Twigger's guide for the modern man, Real Men Eat Puffer Fish... and 93 Other Things to Consider, which covers everything from “how to hot-wire a car... to start[ing] a fire with just a Coke can.” (A manuscript is due in May 2008; Weidenfeld and Nicholson has rights in the U.K.)Sterling LordThough agent Marcy Posner had a tough time picking only a few titles to highlight, she called attention to Jon Fasman's The Unpossessed City, a novel about an American in Moscow researching the origin of six Russian folktales. (Penguin Press is publishing in the fall.) SL will also be shopping the newest book by Ahmed Rashid (Jihad and Taliban), Descent into Chaos: The United States and the Failure of Nation Building in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia. (Viking is publishing in the U.S. in June; rights have sold in the U.K. and Italy.) And from Charles Bock, there's Beautiful Children; a debut novel that PW called “a wide-ranging portrait of an almost mythically depraved Las Vegas.” (Random has already published in the U.S.; rights have sold in Italy, Holland, the U.K., France and Israel.)