HarperCollins has signed a memoir from a North Korean escapee with a six-figure deal following an auction.
Arabella Pike, publishing director at William Collins UK, bought world English language rights to the memoir by Hyeonseo Lee from Kelly Falconer of the Asia Literary Agency in Hong Kong.
The as-yet-untitled memoir is the story of how Lee escaped from North Korea as a 14-year-old, after enduring a devastating famine. After living in China, she travelled to South Korea, where she risked her safety to rescue her mother and brother. She is now at university in South Korea, and is a human rights advocate who gave a TED talk on her experiences which was watched 2m times online.
Pike said: "Hyeonseo Lee’s book has electrified everyone here at William Collins and in our US office. Lee is quite remarkable and her book promises to be powerful, deeply emotional and important. She will be, I believe, the first eyewitness female writer to describe the terrifying fates of North Korean women escapees in China. This will be a list-defining book for us."
Rights have been sold in Denmark, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Portugal and Spain, with more under consideration during Frankfurt.
The book will be published in autumn 2014.