4th Estate’s Anna Kelly has won a seven-way auction to publish a debut non-fiction book about the perils of digital start-ups.
Kelly, a commissioning editor at the HarperCollins imprint, bought UK and Commonwelath rights to Uncanny Valley by journalist Anna Wiener, exploring her years at a tech company in Silicon Valley, from Caspian Dennis at Abner Stein, on behalf of Chris Parris-Lamb at the Gernert Company. Emily Bell at FSG also acquired North American rights to the book in a major US auction. Publication is slated for 2019.
The book explores how Wiener left a New York publishing job in 2012 to relocate to San Francisco to pursue her new career in Silicon Valley in a digital start-up.
“Attracted to the idealism of the tech world, to the eagerness and optimism, and to the money, that ‘sloshed at every juncture’, she didn’t realise at the time that she was part of a cultural and economic phenomenon, her generation’s very own Gold Rush,” a HarperCollins spokesperson said.
Uncanny Valley promises to “chart the shift in her outlook from wide-eyed enthusiasm for the ‘techno-utopia’ to conflicted awareness of its murky moral complexities”. It is billed as “a coming-of-age story not only of the author, but of a whole era”.
Kelly described Weiner’s work as “so witty and perceptive, so wry and stylish, that I could happily read her writing on almost any subject”.
The editor believes that “the weird and fascinating world of Silicon Valley tech – a world [Wiener] has intimate knowledge of, yet writes about clearly enough that even the most committed luddite can keep up – makes me feel sure that this book is set to become a future classic, a book future generations will reach for when they want to understand the human stories behind the digital revolution”.
Weiner has also written for the New Yorker and the Paris Review.