Bloomsbury has won Zakiya Dalila Harris’ The Other Black Girl, a satirical debut novel about race and authenticity in the workplace, for a six-figure deal following a nine-way auction.
Publishing director Alexis Kirschbaum bought UK and Commonwealth rights from Vanessa Kerr at Abner Stein, on behalf of Stephanie Delman of Sanford J Greenburger Associates.
In the US, the book sold to Atria’s Lindsay Sagnette for a seven-figure deal, with 15 imprints making offers.
The Other Black Girl tells the story of Nella, a 26-year-old publishing assistant who is unmoored by the arrival of another young black colleague. The synopsis reads: “Though the two begin by comparing experiences, a series of uncomfortable events leads Nella to suspect her new colleague. As Nella starts to spiral and uncover sinister forces at play, she risks losing much, much more than her career.”
Harris, who is a former assistant editor at Knopf, said she had the idea for the book after encountering another young black colleague in the bathroom of the Penguin Random House office.
She said: “I'm thrilled to have found such a venerable and passionate home at Bloomsbury. I can’t wait for British readers to meet The Other Black Girl!”
Kirschbaum said: “The Other Black Girl is completely brilliant. It’s a psychological thriller with a satirical premise, where micro-aggressions and gaslighting turn the ‘civilised’ atmosphere of a publishing company into a slowly unravelling horror. It is about race, though I think anyone who has worked in a corporation will find themselves identifying with the narrator’s questioning of her colleagues’ authenticity and her own self-belief. It’s uncategorisable, but most importantly it’s a funny and pointed takedown of a self-proclaimed progressive culture that is also a page-turner.”
Stefanie Diaz at Sanford J Greenburger Associates is representing foreign rights, and thus far the book has been pre-empted in Brazil and France. UTA is handling film and television rights.