Pocket Wins Debut

Anthony Ziccardi at Pocket was the victor in an auction for a first novel by Lisa Genova titled Still Alice; Vicky Bijur sold world rights. The book is about a successful 50-year-old professor and renowned linguistics specialist who has finally found time to enjoy her marriage and career now that her three children are grown, but whose accelerating memory lapses culminate in a diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer's. As she struggles with the steady stripping away of her cognitive abilities, she finds new meaning in the moment and a different level of intimacy in the indeterminate time that remains. Genova, who has a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Harvard, is an online columnist for the National Alzheimer's Association. Senior editor Kathy Sagan will edit, and planned pub date is early 2009; post-BEA, there are translation rights offers on the table in several countries.

Creepy Fiction

Liz Scheier at Ballantine won a four-way auction for Michael Thomas Ford's Jane Bites Back, taking world English rights to three books via Mitchell Waters at Curtis Brown. The novel presents an undead Jane Austen, frustrated by nearly 200 years of writer's block and 116 rejections of an unpublished novel she finished just before turning into a vampire; she's becoming increasingly irritated that the rest of the world seems to be getting rich and famous off of her works and her life. The two follow-up books will be derived from the first. Waters said Ford, the author of many books for young readers and adults, is likely to publish this under a pseudonym; pub date still undecided.

At Putnam, senior editor Rachel Kahan acquired world rights to a debut by Erica Eisdorfer called The Wet Nurse's Tale from Alexandra Machinist at Linda Chester. Set in Victorian England, the novel follows a smart and resourceful country girl who takes a job nursing the children of wealthy families, who, she discovers, are often not what they seem to the outside world. The author manages the Bull's Head Bookshop, the trade store on the UNC—Chapel Hill campus, and was a book reviewer for WUNC, an NPR affiliate, for eight years.

Schoen Solutions

Times Books senior editor Robin Dennis preempted a new book by Douglas E. Schoen titled Political Fix: How the Electoral Casino and Perpetual Campaigning Have Broken American Democracy—and How We Can Take It Back via David Kuhn, who sold North American rights. Veteran political adviser Schoen will show how the current electoral system and recent attempts at reform have failed Americans, and will unveil solutions—from unmoderated debates to rotating primaries—that will make politicians once again responsive to citizens rather than to special interests. Planned pub date is January 2010.

Shepherd's Story

Karen Thomas at Grand Central won an auction for The View cohost Sherri Shepherd's memoir, Permission Slips; Yfat Reiss Gendell at Foundry sold North American rights. Shepherd will chronicle her struggle to keep up with the many roles—professional, wife, mother, daughter, friend—that women must play in the information age, urging readers to give themselves a “permission slip” to admit they cannot always know everything. Pub date is May 2009.

In another Foundry auction, Chris Park sold North American rights to Kristin Swenson's Bible Babel: Making Sense of the Most Controversial Book in the World to Rob Crawford at Harper. In what Park describes as a sort of “Bible 101,” Swenson, assistant professor of religious studies at Virginia Commonwealth University's School of World Studies, will look at the role of the Bible in today's culture.