Mantle has pre-empted a debut novel with an “unforgettable child narrator” in a “good six-figure deal”.
Sam Humphreys, associate publisher at Mantle, pre-empted UK and Commonwealth rights to Only Child, a first novel by Rhiannon Navin, from Lorella Belli at the Lorella Belli Agency, acting on behalf of Jeff Kleinman at Folio Literary Management.
The story opens as seven year-old Zach hides in a primary school cloakroom while a gunman rampages outside. It explores the incident and its aftermath entirely through Zach’s eyes as he tries to make sense of his experience.
Humphreys said the book was Room meets We Need To Talk About Kevin.
“…,I was absolutely blown away by the writing: the character of Zach, who narrates; the pace; the plot; the sheer emotional impact of Zach’s story, Humphreys said. “I honestly can’t remember having quite such an immediate and visceral response to a book since Room.”
Agent Belli said: “This is a truly special debut with a fabulous hook and an unforgettable child narrator; heart-breaking and inspiring in equal measure, and so (sadly) topical too. With Sam’s track record and Macmillan's plans for it, we are confident it will be as successful as it deserves to be.”
Navin is a German native who now lives outside New York City and the mother of three school-age children. She said she was “ecstatic” to become part of the Mantle family and it was an “honour” to be part of Humphrey’s list.
There is no publication date confirmed for the book yet but it will be a lead title for the Mantle imprint.
Carole Baron at Knopf pre-empted the book in the US, with another pre-empt for Dutch rights just accepted from HarperCollins Holland, several German offers on the table, and additional offers and interest coming in worldwide. Steve Fisher at APA is handling dramatic rights.