Big names, buzzy debuts
hile the first day of the London Book Fair saw plenty of debut authors drawing interest, a bevy of literary heavies seeped into chatter as well. Just before the annual trade show kicked off, word was posted about new books from both William T. Voll-mann and Erik Larson – Paul Slo-vak at Viking took North Ameri-can rights to a story collection by Vollmann, while Larson’s latest, about the sinking of the Lusitania, went to Molly Stern at Crown. And, although William Morris Endeavor is not showing here in London the manuscript of Caleb Carr’s first major new work in years,
The Legend of Broken
(which Random House will pub-lish in the States in November 2012), the agency has the book on its rights hot list, and is expecting to send the work out to interna-tional clients after the show wraps.Outside of those marquee names, a handful of titles by new authors were drawing heat on the first day of the fair. WME’s big book, which one insider said has “interest all over the world,” is Justin Gakuto Go’s debut, The
Steady Running of the Hour
, which sold in the US, before the fair, to Simon & Schuster. For-eign sales have closed in five other countries, including Italy and Germany, and WME said offers had come in from the UK, France and Israel. The novel fol-lows two converging plot lines: the first, set against the back-drop of World War I, is about the relationship between a Brit-ish climber (who later dies attempting to summit Everest), named Ashley Walsingham, and his lover, Imogen Soames-Andersson. The second story line, set in 2004, follows a man who receives a letter stating that he may be an heir to Walsing-ham’s unclaimed fortune. Gakuto Go is 32, got his under-grad degree at UC Berkeley, and then an MA in English from Uni-versity College London.Another project which has people buzzing is from Swedish super-agency Salomonsson, which is shopping one more big Scandinavian trilogy (see page 4). Sahar Delijani’s debut novel,
Children of the Jacaranda Tree
, reported in yesterday’s
, continues to crop up as a buzz title. Three mid-six figure deals closed on the work right before the fair, with Judith Curr and Sarah Branham at Atria nab-bing the book in the US, Weiden-feld & Nicolson acquiring in the UK, and Rizzoli in Italy. (It’s also well worth noting that in the UK the acquiring editor, Arzu Tah-sin, worked on such megahits as
The Kite Runner
The Tiger’s Wife
.) Deijani was born in Tehran and went to college in California at UC Berkeley; the novel follows a group of Iranians through the country's tumultu-ous recent history. Word coming from the floor at LBF is that the manuscript has been getting strong reads, and one insider pegged the book as an early contender – though not the only one – for the “big book of the fair” designation.
Solitude... starting price $1m
been widely pirated in the country, and the eponymous Balcells, 81 – as garlanded as many of her writers and widely regarded as the most powerful figure in Spanish-language publishing – has previously refused to negotiate with Chinese publishers. The starting price?
One million dollars
. LBF had scarcely opened when bidding passed $1.5m Established in 1956, the Balcells client list includes, beside Marquez, Pablo Neruda, Camilo José Cela, Juan Goytisolo, Eduardo Mendoza and Isabel Allende, and she is largely responsible for the 1960s boom in Latin-American publishing. Marquez once dedicated a book to her, one of many authors to do so, and reportedly asked her over the phone: “Do you love me, Carmen?” Balcells replied: “I cannot answer, you are one third of my revenue.”In 2010 the Spanish Ministry of Culture bought approximately fifty years of her personal archives for three million euros.
In an unprecedented move, the Barcelona-based Carmen Balcells literary agency is auctioning a
-year license to publish
One Hundred Years of Solitude
in China. The novel, by Nobel Laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez, has
For the latest fair coverage, go to www.publishersweekly.com/lbf and www.bookbrunch.co.uk
17 April 2012
Visit us at
Uggie puts paw to paper. See page 6.