Jonathan Cape has triumphed in a five-way auction for award-winning evolutionary biologist Nichola Raihani’s debut Together: How Cooperation Shaped Humankind.
UK rights were bought by Bea Hemming at Jonathan Cape from Will Francis at Janklow & Nesbit UK, with the author and agent turning down several attempts to pre-empt rights and “a heated” five-publisher auction which concluded last week, Francis said. The UK deal is a significant one, The Bookseller understands. Cape will publish Together: How Cooperation Shaped Humankind in spring 2021.
Korean rights went at auction to Hanbitbiz, "with great excitement in other territories", Francis revealed. US rights are being handled by PJ Mark.
“Why do individual ants sacrifice themselves for the good of the colony?,” the synopsis reads. “Why do cleaner fish punish one another for cheating? And how do meerkats adjust their teaching techniques to be appropriate to the age of their young?”
In Together, Raihani, leader of the Social Evolution and Behaviour Lab in UCL’s Department of Experimental Psychology, will explain how social behaviours "that have the distinct whiff of humanness about them are generally absent in our closest living relatives, the great apes, but appear in much more distantly related species".
“Understanding what we have in common with these diverse species gives us an entirely new perspective on how cooperation began in the first place – and fresh insight into how we might collectively solve the big problems we face as a species, from inequality to climate change,” the publisher said.
Raihani said: “I’m so excited about sharing the science of cooperation - I can’t wait to get stuck into writing this book. Jonathan Cape are the perfect publisher and I can’t wait to work with the brilliant Bea Hemming.”
Hemming said: “Nichola Raihani is at the forefront of some of the most pioneering research in evolutionary biology. Her book will open our eyes to the surprising behaviour of pied babblers, cleaner fish and Brazilian ants, among many others, but ultimately it is a book about what makes us human, and why. I’m enormously excited to be working with Nichola and publishing Together, which I know will be both an important and a wonderfully enriching work of popular science.”
Raihani recently won the 2018 Philip Leverhulme Prize in Psychology for her research achievements, and has just been elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology. She has worked in the BBC Science Development Team, and written for the New Scientist. This is her first book.