While a lot of the usual LBF rights-trading focused on agencies’ and publishers’ own online ‘fairs’, there are a still a number of hot titles around this summer’s digital event.
Teen Couple Have Fun Outdoors
The 25-year-old Kerala-based Jayan’s début, “exploring the confused sexual mores of modern India”, describes the personal and familial catastrophes that unfold after a young man and his girlfriend discover an explicit video of themselves circulating online. The story is narrated by an anxious 20-year-old who is eager to leave home but is left grounded, fixing cracks, when his older brother gets caught up in a scandal that splits the family apart... UK rights have been snapped up by Profile and MSA has just sewn up four translation pre-empts, in French, Swedish, German and Italian.
Agency Mulcahy Sweeney Associates
Agent Ivan Mulcahy
Murder at the Seaview Hotel
Saga author Young, whose six Ryhope, Sunderland-set novels have combined to shift around 85,000 units through BookScan, is shifting gears to female-led cosy crime, with Murder at the Seaview Hotel the first of three titles in which Headline has world rights: after a troupe of 12 Elvis impersonators (a “Twelvis”) arrive for an Elvis convention in Scarborough, one of them is found dead with his blue suede shoes stolen. Now B&B owner Helen and her trusty greyhound Suki are on the case to uncover the killer...
Agency Caroline Sheldon Literary Agency
Agent Caroline Sheldon
Children of Paradise
Canadian Edinburgh resident Grudova’s “haunting, unclassifiable” first novel is out on submission; it centres around Holly coming to work at the seemingly normal Paradise Cinema. But the Paradise has secrets, and as she descends further into its dank corridors, Holly becomes caught up in the magic of the movies. Grudova’s lavishly reviewed first collection of literary horror stories, The Doll’s Alphabet, was published in 2017 by Fitzcarraldo after an editor spotted stories she posted on Tumblr. Agent Sophie Scard calls Children of Paradise “a dazzling book”.
Agency United Agents
Agent Sophie Scard
The Right to Sex
One of Curtis Brown’s hottest non-fiction properties is this look at the politics and ethics of sex across the world from Srinivasan, a professor of social and political theory at Oxford and an LRB contributing editor. The series of essays ranges across a wide number of topics, including porn, power, capitalism and campus sex, all of which “reach back to an older feminist tradition while trying to say something new”. The title, due out this autumn in the UK (Bloomsbury), went to FSG in the US (in a six-figure pre-empt), with 10 translation deals including German, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese, Korean and Spanish.
Agency Curtis Brown
Agent Karolina Sutton
In the Blink of an Eye
J M Hogan
The first crime novel for Hogan—the pseudonym of Jo Lenaghan, who is director for strategy at Health Education England—centres around “no ordinary crime and no ordinary killer”. Enter old-school superstar cop/single mum DCS Kat Frank, who knows that when in doubt, always trust your gut. But then she is asked to work with Artificial Intelligence Detective Entities on the case, she becomes determined to prove that no computer can replace human instinct. Simon & Schuster’s Katherine Armstrong won UK rights in a two-book deal, with the title pre-empted in Germany and Sweden, and sold at auction in Hungary.
Agent Sue Armstrong
There is Nothing for You Here
The British-American foreign policy expert—and one of the key witnesses in the Donald Trump impeachment trial—charts her journey from the daughter of a coal miner and nurse in County Durham, to St Andrews, Harvard, the Brookings Institution think-tank and working as a national security advisor on Russia for George W Bush, Barack Obama and Trump. She uses her story to look how our “current, polarised moment, in which many people are marginalised and not afforded the opportunities [she had], is the result of long historical trends”. Sold to Houghton Mifflin in the US.
Agency Andrew Nurnberg Associates
Agent Andrew Nurnberg
Hope Not Fear
The memoir by Akkad will chart his journey from Syrian activist to political refugee, to Bafta-winning documentary filmmaker, and to volunteer Covid ward NHS cleaner in his local hospital (London’s Whipps Cross) during the pandemic. It was pre-empted last year by Bluebird’s Carole Tonkinson for UK and Commonwealth rights, and Rachel Mills Literary is anticipating that the book’s universal, hopeful message of how stories can shape societies and bridge national and political divides will lead to a flurry of international deals.
Agency Rachel Mills Literary
Agent Rachel Mills
The Places Between
Edinburgh solicitor-turned-début author Steel’s book is a contemporary, high-concept love story which “plays with the phenomenon of life flashing before our eyes in near-death moments”. It centres on Jenn and Robbie, who are in traffic and a truck is hurtling towards them when Robbie is thrown into Jenn’s past—and he sees far more than he bargained for. On submission in the UK and US, German rights have just been pre-empted in an overnight two-book six-figure deal.
Agency Darley Anderson Literary Agency
Agent Tanera Simons
The fiction début from motherhood blogger-turned-bestselling The Unmumsy Mum author Turner is a “moving and hilarious” story of a young woman who, after a family tragedy, finds herself the guardian of a surly 14-year-old niece and boisterous four-year-old nephew. Can she prove to her family, and herself, that she is up to the task and be able to step up? (The guess here is yes.) UK and Commonwealth rights were snapped up by Frankie Gray at Transworld.
Agency Hardman & Swainson
Agent Hannah Ferguson
Before You Knew My Name
Kiwi-born Australian resident Bublitz’s début is already an Antipodean smash, hitting number one in both her native land and adopted home, while Sphere is due to publish the title in the UK next month. The book follows the stories of two women—one murdered, the other determined to discover who she really was—but focuses less on the whodunit and more on what the deceased left behind. In addition to selling US rights to Emily Bestler Books, PFD has conducted a recent flurry of translation deals, including Dutch, Brazilian, Korean and Polish.
Agent Cara Lee Simpson
Think of Me
Award-winning writer and translator Liardet’s fiction comes along like the proverbial buses: this is her third novel in the past 27 years, but the second in the past two. The latest is a dual timeline that criss-crosses war-torn 1942 Alexandria and England in the 1970s, “showing us the inspiring power of love to echo across the years”. JULA has sold rights to Fourth Estate in the UK, Putnam in the US and Nieuw Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
Agent Jo Unwin
The Bookseller’s full agency hotlists will return for the Frankfurt Book Fair.