Hodder and Netflix scoop Stanford student Li's art heist debut

Hodder and Netflix scoop Stanford student Li's art heist debut

Hodder Fiction will publish Stanford medical student Grace Li’s debut Portrait of a Thief, inspired by a true story of Chinese art theft, with television rights already sold to Netflix. 

Melissa Cox, editorial director for Hodder, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, from Sabila Khan, associate director at Penguin Random House US, where it will be published by imprint Tiny Reparations. Television rights were recently acquired by Netflix with Li signed up as an executive producer. It will be published by Hodder in hardback and e-book in April 2022 

Portrait of a Thief is inspired by the true story of Chinese art vanishing from Western museums and is a story of friendships, the colonisation of art and the complexity of the Chinese American identity,” the publisher said.  

Li is a Chinese American writer currently attending medical school at Stanford University. She said of the mystery theft which inspired her debut deal: “When I first learned that Chinese art was disappearing from Western museums — and no one knew who was behind it — I couldn't help but wonder what it'd be like if the thieves weren't expert criminals but ordinary Chinese Americans, like me, who were still trying to figure out their place in the world and how to think about art, culture, and conquest in the context of the West."

She added: "I wrote this book as a classic heist story, but it's less a story about theft than it is about reclamation, of both looted art and one's own heritage. I'm so delighted that Portrait of a Thief has found a home at Hodder, and I can't wait to share this book with UK readers.”  

Cox said: “This is one of those novels that really lives up to its pitch. A group of disparate but incredibly memorable characters taking on the colonisation of the art world in a series of escapades and car chases that are intensely exciting and glamorous, while the themes of the book are serious and thought-provoking. I was completely addicted from the first page and just knew I had to be the one to publish Portrait in the UK."