Penguin pre-empts Scott Hutchins novel

Penguin has pre-empted a novel set in contemporary San Francisco, with Penguin Press also to publish in the US following a 10-way auction there.

Viking commissioning editor Will Hammond acquired UK and Commonwealth rights in A Working Theory of Love by Scott Hutchins at the Frankfurt Book Fair from Cathryn Summerhayes, on behalf of Bill Clegg at WME. Viking will publish in spring 2013.

The book tells the story of Neill Bassett, a recent divorcé getting used to bachelorhood again in his late thirties, and the unexpected consequences of programming his late father's personality into the world's leading artificial intelligence.

Hammond said: "A Working Theory of Love is a sensationally funny and original novel about contemporary relationships—between the sexes and across the generations—written with an utterly reckless and disarming honesty. Neill Bassett is most certainly a narrator for our times: wry, frank, often rude, but ultimately tender and charming, and the dramatic unfolding of his relationship with his father via the AI programme is truly inspired."

Hutchins is a lecturer at Stanford University, and his writing has already appeared in StoryQuarterly, the New York Times, San Francisco Magazine and Esquire, among others. Rights have sold in Germany, Italy and Holland, with an auction for French rights currently ongoing.