Faber snaps up Sam Knight non-fiction as Amazon triumphs in 19-way auction for screen rights

Faber snaps up Sam Knight non-fiction as Amazon triumphs in 19-way auction for screen rights

Faber will publish a major work of non-fiction by New Yorker staff writer Sam Knight as Amazon Studios options screen rights after a 19-way auction.

Publisher Alex Bowler acquired UK and Commonwealth rights to Knight's first book, The Premonitions Bureau, from Emma Paterson at Aitken Alexander Associates following a "heated auction". Publication is scheduled for Spring 2022.

North American rights in the project have been pre-empted by Will Heyward at Penguin Press, Italian rights to Mondadori at auction and French rights to Sonatine at auction.

Film and television rights have been optioned by Amazon Studios for Anne Carey and Amy Nauiokas of Archer Gray, producer of several award-winning films based on literary material, including last year’s Academy Award-nominated "Can You Ever Forgive Me?" The deal was brokered by Lesley Thorne of Aitken Alexander on behalf of Knight and his agent, after a "heated 19-way auction" featuring film and television producers from the US and the UK. The Bookseller understands Amazon will develop The Premonitions Bureau as a feature film. 

The Premonitions Bureau tells the story of one of the United Kingdom’s strangest and least-known institutions, said Faber. The synopsis reads: "In 1966, in the immediate aftermath of the Aberfan colliery disaster,  British psychiatrist John Barker – an expert clinician with a professional interest in the occult – was drawn to the Welsh town by news of the many premonitions local people experienced on the eve of the tragedy. Inspired by their unnerving accuracy, he established the Premonitions Bureau – an organisation to collect Britain’s dreams and forebodings and become an 'early warning system' to avert future disasters. With a memorable cast of characters, The Premonitions Bureau will present a gripping tale and major piece of peculiarly British social history."

Hailed as "one of the brightest talents of his generation" by Faber, Knight is a staff writer at the New Yorker, based in London. Previously, he was a contributing writer for the Guardian and his work has appeared in the Financial TimesGrantland and Harper's.

Bowler said: "With his exemplary style, his eye for a character and nose for curious, fascinating stories, Sam is already established as one of the standout journalists of his generation. The Premonitions Bureau showcases all of his talents and tells an extraordinary, untold story. To be welcoming a writer of these unique talents and stature to the Faber list is a great privilege; the prospect of launching his first book and all the books that lie ahead is thrilling."