Hodder and Stoughton has acquired the debut of Juliet Grames, a publisher at Soho Press in New York.
The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna was secured by Hodder after auction and will be a "super-lead" for the publisher in spring 2019.
Editorial director Melissa Cox acquired British Commonwealth rights (excluding Canada) from Kate McLennan at Abner Stein on behalf of Sarah Burnes at The Gernert Company, who sold North American rights to Megan Lynch at Ecco, also at auction. Rights have also been sold in Italy, Germany, The Netherlands, Poland, Russia and Spain so far.
The novel, set in a mountaintop village in southern Italy, is pitched as "an exploration of the roles of women and the changing sexual politics of the 20th century as well as the migrant experience". It follows Stella Fortuna as she grows up in abject poverty in the years between the two World Wars, abandoned by a father who has gone to seek his fortune in America.
The synopsis reads: "Stella is the most beautiful girl in the village but her life is punctuated by near-death experiences and violent, sometimes bordering on supernatural, incidents. When her father, Antonio, demands his family join him in Connecticut, Stella is torn away from everything she knows and is forced to build a new life in the States".
Cox said the "vividly realised" book was "un-put-downable" and would make a perfect holiday read.
"The enthusiastic response I got to the book in-house after circulating it confirmed my suspicions and we pursued the book with great energy," said Cox. "It is the sort of novel you would ideally be reading while eating a plate of pasta in a beautiful mountainside restaurant in Italy and will make the perfect holiday read for many, many people in 2019. I am thrilled to be publishing this terrific book in the UK, and I cannot wait to start sharing it with people."
Grames was born to a tight-knit Italian- American family outside Hartford, Connecticut. She went on to work in publishing and for the past decade has worked at Soho Press, where she is associate publisher and edits multicultural crime fiction, literary fiction, and fiction in translation.
"It is a great privilege to be published by Hodder & Stoughton, and to have found an editor who connected to the story as passionately as Melissa Cox has," she said. "Stella Fortuna's story was a novel I was desperate to write, not least because it is inspired in part by my own grandmother's difficult life.
"The H&S team has crafted a vision for the book as not just an Italian or an American story but as a novel about the early 20th century woman and the challenges she faced. I am especially grateful to think that our grandmothers' fascinating stories transcend cultural boundaries and that we have the opportunity to repair their sometimes damaged legacies."
Stella Fortuna is scheduled for publication as hardback and e-book in spring 2019. It will be published simultaneously in the US by Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins.