Big names, buzzy debuts
hile the firstday of theLondon BookFair sawplenty of debut authors drawing interest, abevy of literary heavies seepedinto chatter as well. Just beforethe annual trade show kicked off,word was posted about newbooks from both William T. Voll-mann and Erik Larson – Paul Slo-vak at Viking took North Ameri-can rights to a story collection byVollmann, while Larson’s latest,about the sinking of the Lusitania,went to Molly Stern at Crown.And, although William MorrisEndeavor is not showing here inLondon the manuscript of CalebCarr’s first major new work inyears,
The Legend of Broken
(which Random House will pub-lish in the States in November2012), the agency has the book onits rights hot list, and is expectingto send the work out to interna-tional clients after the showwraps.Outside of those marqueenames, a handful of titles by newauthors were drawing heat onthe first day of the fair. WME’sbig book, which one insider saidhas “interest all over the world,”is Justin Gakuto Go’s debut, The
Steady Running of the Hour
,which sold in the US, before thefair, to Simon & Schuster. For-eign sales have closed in fiveother countries, including Italyand Germany, and WME saidoffers 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 aboutthe relationship between a Brit-ish climber (who later diesattempting to summit Everest),named Ashley Walsingham, andhis lover, Imogen Soames-Andersson. The second storyline, set in 2004, follows a manwho receives a letter stating thathe may be an heir to Walsing-ham’s unclaimed fortune.Gakuto Go is 32, got his under-grad degree at UC Berkeley, andthen an MA in English from Uni-versity College London.Another project which haspeople buzzing is from Swedishsuper-agency Salomonsson,which is shopping one more bigScandinavian trilogy (see page 4).Sahar Delijani’s debut novel,
Children of the Jacaranda Tree
,reported in yesterday’s
, continues to crop up as abuzz title. Three mid-six figuredeals closed on the work rightbefore the fair, with Judith Currand Sarah Branham at Atria nab-bing the book in the US, Weiden-feld & Nicolson acquiring in theUK, and Rizzoli in Italy. (It’s alsowell worth noting that in the UKthe acquiring editor, Arzu Tah-sin, worked on such megahits as
The Kite Runner
.) Deijani was born inTehran and went to college inCalifornia at UC Berkeley; thenovel follows a group of Iraniansthrough the country's tumultu-ous recent history. Word comingfrom the floor at LBF is that themanuscript has been gettingstrong reads, and one insiderpegged the book as an earlycontender – though not the onlyone – for the “big book of thefair” designation.
Solitude... starting price $1m
been widely pirated in thecountry, and the eponymousBalcells, 81 – as garlanded asmany of her writers and widelyregarded as the most powerfulfigure in Spanish-languagepublishing – has previouslyrefused to negotiate withChinese publishers. The startingprice?
One million dollars
. LBFhad scarcely opened whenbidding passed $1.5mEstablished in 1956, theBalcells client list includes,beside Marquez, Pablo Neruda,Camilo José Cela, JuanGoytisolo, Eduardo Mendozaand Isabel Allende, and sheis largely responsible for the1960s boom in Latin-Americanpublishing.Marquez once dedicated abook to her, one of manyauthors to do so, and reportedlyasked her over the phone: “Doyou love me, Carmen?” Balcellsreplied: “I cannot answer, youare one third of my revenue.”In 2010 the Spanish Ministryof Culture boughtapproximately fifty years of herpersonal archives for threemillion euros.
In an unprecedented move,the Barcelona-based CarmenBalcells literary agency isauctioning a
-year license topublish
One Hundred Years of Solitude
in China.The novel, by Nobel LaureateGabriel Garcia Marquez, has
For the latest fair coverage, go to www.publishersweekly.com/lbf and www.bookbrunch.co.uk
17 April 2012
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Uggie puts paw to paper. See page 6.