Vintage imprint Harvill Secker has pre-empted a “wise and meditative” nature memoir from a mole-catcher ahead of a six-way auction.
Publishing director Liz Foley secured world English-language rights to Marc Hamer’s H is for Hawk-style book, called How to Catch a Mole, from Robert Caskie at Caskie Mushens. The début was acquired by Harvill Secker for a whisker under a six-figure sum, The Bookseller understands, in a pre-empt prior to a six-way auction. The title was snapped up in Italy, after a five-way bidding war, with interest gathering momentum in other countries.
The “life-affirming book about a unique and mysterious animal” was salvaged from Caskie’s slush pile at the beginning of this year. Caskie worked on the manuscript with Hamer, who is billed as “a brilliant new nature writer”.
The author’s experience of working as a traditional mole-catcher, and time spent sleeping rough in the countryside as a teenager, give him a unique prism through which to explore rural British life, the cycle of nature, solitude, death and contentment, according to a Vintage spokesperson.
Punctuated with poems and illustrations, interweaving nature writing and reflections on Hamer’s life and family, How to Catch a Mole is billed as a “wise and meditative book from a brilliant new talent”.
Caskie said: “I started reading his book and was instantly struck by the tender and beautiful prose. There was an intimacy and gentle strength about his writing which gave it a meditative quality that immediately made me feel at ease. It was clear to me that this was something very special.”
Hamer added: “I sent the email to Robert and he replied the same day. We then spoke on the phone and got on immediately... I felt very confident that he really understood what I was trying to do. Things then moved very fast.”