Chatto & Windus has acquired rights to The Girls by Emma Cline in a “hotly contested auction”.
Senior editor Poppy Hampson bought UK and Commonwealth rights to the debut from Anna Webber at United Agents, on behalf of Bill Clegg at The Clegg Agency, with film rights pre-empted by Scott Rudin Productions.
The Girls is set in the summer of 1969 and is seen through the bored eyes of 14-year-old Evie. Lonely and restless, she becomes smitten with a beguiling older girl and is drawn into a soon-to-be-infamous commune, finding herself under the sway of a madman and closer than she knows to unthinkable violence.
Hampson said: “I read The Girls in one sitting, with my heart in my mouth. To be reading something so accomplished, so clever, so utterly immersive and so beautifully written – particularly a debut – was a thrill. I didn’t want to stop reading… What power this book has! I can’t remember the last time a submission provoked such immediate and widespread excitement among the team here – we are so proud and happy to be publishing it.”
Clegg, said: “Emma Cline is arriving fully hatched as a significant thinker and literary conjurer.”
Rights have already been sold in countries including Germany, France, Holland, Brazil, Poland and Italy. Rights went to Kate Medina at Random House in the US, announced on the first day of the Frankfurt Book Fair.
Cline won the Paris Review’s Plimpton Prize for Fiction this year, given for a new writer published in the magazine.