HarperCollins has bought world English language rights to The Good Mothers: The True Story of the Women Who Took on the Mafia by award-winning journalist and writer Alex Perry.
The deal was preempted by Arabella Pike, publishing director for William Collins, HarperCollins UK, and David Highfill, vice president and executive editor of William Morrow in the US, with Patrick Walsh of Conville & Walsh Literary Agency. The book is slated for publication in 2018.
It tells the story of the Calabrian mafia, one of the richest and most ruthless organized crime syndicates in the world, and the women who stood up them. Film and TV rights have also been sold to Tessa Ross, formerly head of C4 films.
Based on original source material and exclusive access to the Italian prosecutor's records, The Good Mothers tells the story of how a group of women were born into the claustrophobic world of the Calabrian mafia and forced at the age of 13 or 14 into arranged marriages, with their every move controlled. Facing death if they dishonoured their families or started new relationships after becoming widows, they resolved to free their children from a similar fate and turned state's evidence to Alessandra Cerretti, the Sicilian-born prosecutor who has devoted her life to bringing down the Calabrian mafia.
The ''Ndrangheta', as this mafia is known, runs 70% of the cocaine and heroin in Europe, brokers global arms deals, plunders the Italian state and the European Union, and has franchises from America to Australia, and Cairo to Cape Town.
Pike said: “The Good Mothers tells a story in which the stakes could not be higher. Alessandra Cerretti is fighting to save a nation, the Mafiosiare fighting for survival, their women are fighting for their lives. The story is as powerful as they come.”
Highfill commented: “The pages of Alex’s proposal are so strong, so vivid and heart-breaking, that upon a first read, Arabella and I knew we had to snap this up as soon as possible. Editors dream of early pages that show you precisely the way the final book will read – and these pages tell us, too, that Alex is onto a subject and story with enormous power to move and enthrall many, many readers. I couldn’t be more excited about this book’s potential.”
Perry, born in Philadelphia in the US, is an award-winning foreign correspondent who has written extensively about the Italian mafia and global organised crime for publications around the world. He said: “I couldn't be more delighted with the huge interest accumulating in this extraordinary story of how a handful of women took on Europe's most powerful and ruthless Mafia. The courage these women showed, and the price they paid, is truly awe-inspiring, and something that demands the widest possible audience.”