Canongate has acquired world rights (excluding North America) for the film tie-in of Benjamin’s Crossing by Jay Parini.
Originally published in 1997, this reissue accompanies the release of a major motion picture of Parini’s novel. Simon Thorogood, editorial director at Canongate, acquired rights from Geri Thoma at Writers House to the title.
The novel follows Walter Benjamin, "one of the most radiant minds of the 20th century". He has been snatched away by death in a small town on the border between Spain and France. His 1,000-page manuscript, carried the length of France during his flight from the Nazis, has vanished with him, never to be recovered.
Parini’s "extraordinary" work traces Benjamin’s journey back through time, from the salons of Berlin to the winding roads of Catalonia. "It is a tale of escape and pursuit, and a lyrical novel of ideas; and a love story dramatizing one of the most moving peripheral episodes of the Holocaust", said the publisher.
Parini said: "Since writing and publishing Benjamin’s Crossing — 20 years ago — I’ve been thinking of making a movie from the story. I began working on this seven years ago with the Irish film director, Pat O’Connor, who will direct this movie. Devon Jersild joined the group three years ago. Colin Firth has agreed to play Benjamin, and we plan to begin shooting in April 2018.
"I believe the book and film play against each other in useful ways, and that those who see the film will be driven back to the book, as they were when the film of my novel about Tolstoy, The Last Station came out in 2010. There is a kind of symbiosis between book and film in the best circumstances, and I think that with Benjamin the interplay is vivid, and that one medium enhances the other. This is one of the great untold stories of WW II, and I’m eager to see it happen."