Sophie Jonathan, editorial director at Picador, has acquired Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies by debut author Maddie Mortimer in a "hotly contested" auction.
UK and Commonwealth print, digital and audio rights were bought from Zoë Waldie at RCW, with Picador to publish the novel as its "superlead" debut fiction launch of 2022.
The synopsis reads: "Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies is about a family coming to terms with the unthinkable: the death of a mother. Lia’s cancer has returned, and in the last months of her life, she is determined to keep the landscapes of her past, her present and her body separate. But bodies are porous, unpredictable places."
The story will be told, in part, from the perspective of the cancer that is killing Lia—"a malevolent voice that wanders her systems"—and will move between past and present.
Jonathan said: "Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies is extraordinary—I’ve never read anything quite like it. It is wonderful for its wit, for its cleverness, for its portrait of the particular sharp brilliance and pride and pain of motherhood. Each character is so vividly realized, each relationship so perfectly complex. But this book is also incredibly brave: Maddie’s novel moves into the very body of her protagonist where the fight for Lia’s life is taking place against an arch-villain. At times Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies feels euphoric, cataclysmic—I found myself pausing just to step back and take it all in, to stare open-mouthed at the achievement of it. But you can’t put it down for long.
"This novel is compelling, perfectly plotted, so carefully stitched together that each note lands like a drop of water—singing. I have cried each time I have read it, and yet immediately wanted to return to the beginning and start all over again. Maddie is an astonishing talent and I’m just thrilled that Picador will be the publisher to launch her literary career."
Mortimer commented: "The response to Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies has blown me away. I have loved every minute of writing it, of living with and serving these characters as best I can, and I now feel incredibly lucky to have found a home for them at Picador. I have no doubt that Sophie and the rest of the team will do a brilliant job of guiding this book into the world, just as my remarkable agent Zoë and the team at RCW have carried it here with such care. The whole process has been what debut novelists dream of. I will never forget it."
Rights for Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies have been sold in the US (Scribner), Netherlands (De Arbeiderspers), Germany (Hoffmann und Campe), Hungary (Szazad), Norway (Cappelen Damm), Romania (Nemira) and Russia (Eksmo).