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Solzhenitsyn stories head rights deals

A new collection of stories from the late Nobel Prize-winning author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn; a début by a former Macmillan, Penguin and Hachette marketer; and Richard Ford’s new novel were among the rights deals signed this week.

At Canongate, senior editor Francis Bickmore bought UK and Commonwealth rights (excluding Canada), to Solzhenitsyn’s stories. Rights to Apricot Jam and Other Stories were bought from Counterpoint Press through Anna Carmichael at Abner Stein. The book will be published in October.

The stories were written in the years between the author’s return from exile to Russia in 1994 and his death in 2008. The manuscript came to light following collaboration between Solzhenitsyn’s sons and his French publisher Fayard. Bickmore said: “Besides being a master prose stylist, he remains the most eloquent and acclaimed opponent of government oppression in the 20th century.”

Meanwhile, at Orion, deputy publishing director Kate Mills bought a début novel at auction by Hannah Richell, who previously worked at Macmillan, Penguin and Hachette. World English rights were bought to Secrets of the Tides and another book from Sarah Lutyens at Lutyens & Rubinstein [Lutyens, Richell and Mills are pictured above].

The debut is about a family haunted by a tragic event that took place 10 years ago. Orion will publish jointly with Grand Central in the US and Hachette Australia in March 2012. Lutyens & Rubinstein has already sold rights in France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Brazil, Sweden, Portugal and Poland.

Mills said: "It’s the only time I’ve read a debut and thought, “Perfect. I wouldn’t change a word.” I’m delighted that Hannah has joined the Orion list, and I can tell from the overwhelming response from my colleagues – many of whom stayed up well into the night to finish reading it and were reduced to tears - that this is going to be a very special debut indeed."

Bloomsbury editor-in-chief Alexandra Pringle has bought UK and Commonwealth rights to the new novel by Richard Ford and to a memoir by the writer and playwright Damian Barr. She bought Canada by Ford from Gill Coleridge at RCW. The novel, which will be published in June 2012, is about a boy whose parents are bank robbers and the consequences of their crimes on him and his sister. Pringle said: “This is Richard Ford’s masterpiece . . . at once beautiful, profound and telling.”

She also bought Maggie and Me by Damian Barr from Clare Conville. The book charts Barr’s childhood, dominated by his overbearing stepfather and the social policies of Margaret Thatcher. It will be released in 2013. Pringle said: “Heartbreaking and touching, Maggie and Me is both a strong, funny, angry and very vivid account of a life and an unusual and gripping social history.”