Picador wins auction for Iceland debut

Picador wins auction for Iceland debut

Picador has won a hotly-contested auction for Burial Rites, a debut novel set in Iceland in the 1820s by 27-year-old Australian writer Hannah Kent.

Publisher Paul Baggaley (pictured) acquired UK and Commonwealth book and audio rights, excluding Australia, NZ and Canada, in a two-book deal with Gordon Wise at Curtis Brown, acting on behalf of Pippa Masson at Curtis Brown Australia. Four publishers were in the final round of bidding, with Penguin, Headline's Tinder Press and HarperCollins also in the running. Wise said indie publishers Oneworld had also put in a strong offer at an earlier stage.

Burial Rites tells the story of Agnes, a woman awaiting beheading for her part in a murder. Based on a true story, which Kent discovered as a 17-year-old when living for a year in Iceland, the publisher described the books as depicting a "dramatic and beautifully realised world".

Australian rights were acquired by Picador Australia and Judy Clain at Little, Brown acquired North American rights after hard-fought auctions in both territories. French, Italian, Brazilian and Dutch rights have been sold, with other international auctions ongoing. Picador will publisher in the UK in 2013, simultaneously with the US.

Baggaley said: "Agnes' relationships and the story of how this murder occurred are told with utter conviction and I believe that there is some of the most stunning writing by a young writer that I have come across."

Kent is based in Adelaide, Australia. She is deputy editor at Kill Your Darlings magazine and an English and creative writing tutor at Flinders University.