Chatto & Windus, an imprint of Vintage, has acquired The Language of Kindness by Costa Award-winning novelist Christie Watson following a "hotly contested" auction involving 14 publishers.
Juliet Brooke, senior editor at Chatto & Windus, bought UK and Commonwealth rights, including audio, from Sophie Lambert at Conville & Walsh. The book has also been the subject of "an international bidding frenzy", Chatto said, with US rights bought by Tim Duggan Books at Crown (Random House US), and translation rights sold in Germany (Goldmanns, in a six-figure deal), Spain (Penguin Random House), Sweden (Bonniers), Italy (Mondadori), Poland (Marginesy), Brazil (Intrínseca), and The Netherlands (HarperCollins Holland). The Language of Kindness is under offer in Denmark, Portugal, France and for translation into Catalan. An auction is currently underway in Norway.
Watson, who is St Mary’s programme director for creative writing, was a nurse for 20 years, and has worked at Great Ormond Street Hospital, Guy’s and St Thomas’ and St Mary’s Hospitals. Her novel Tiny Sunbirds Far Away (Quercus) won the Costa First Novel Award in the 2011 Costa Book Awards. Her second novel Where Women Are Kings was also published by Quercus.
The Language of Kindness offers "a no-holds-barred look at a profession under enormous strain and one that can teach us what it is to be human". Throwing open the doors of the NHS and its hospitals, from its wards to the staff rooms, it will explore how nurses provide dignity, care and kindness, from the Children’s Intensive Care Unit to A&E, across the oncology and the geriatric wards, behind the doors of the pharmacy and in the mortuary.
Watson said: "I am delighted to be working with Chatto. It is a great privilege to represent nursing, women, and kindness and I’m overwhelmed by the global response to my ideas. I hope that this small book about nursing will be the start of a big conversation around the world about the importance of kindness and love, and remind us of the only things that matter, in the end. We need that dialogue now more than ever."
Brooke said: "I am delighted to welcome Christie Watson to Chatto and to Vintage. In The Language of Kindness she takes us into the world of the nurse, from moments of trauma and high drama, to the many long hours she spent observing her first operation. It is both an insight into the NHS and a book about our most extraordinary and desperate moments. Christie demonstrates with eloquence, unflinching honesty and an astonishing gift for storytelling, how the practice of nursing can teach us lessons for real life in small, everyday ways. In a world that is splintering, where messages of hate are becoming increasingly commonplace,The Language of Kindness is a much needed call for compassion."