Picador has won a “passionately-fought” eight-publisher auction for a debut novel by a former Profile Books editor.
Editorial director Francesca Main bought UK and Commonwealth rights to Not Working by Lisa Owens in a “major deal” with Jane Finigan at Lutyens & Rubinstein, understood to top six figures.
Not Working is about Claire Flannery, who quits her job to discover her true vocation, only to discover she has no idea how to go about finding it.
Picador described the book as “hilarious, whip-smart, unexpectedly poignant and endlessly enjoyable”.
Main said: “Not Working is the freshest, funniest, sharpest novel I’ve read in ages; it knocked me out. Written with dazzling wit, superb comic timing and an unerring eye for the minutiae that make up a life, it’s a novel you devour in a gulp and then can’t stop thinking about. Everyone at Picador feels they’ve found a kindred spirit in Claire Flannery, and the voice of a generation in Lisa Owens.”
Owens spent six years working in publishing, starting as an assistant at the Wylie Agency, then as an editor at Profile Books.
In 2013, she completed an MA in creative writing at the University of East Anglia.
The novel has sold in the US to Random House and to Doubleday Canada in Canada at auction via David Forrer at InkWell Management on behalf of Finigan.
It has been pre-empted by Editions Belfond in France and Gad in Denmark, and has sold to Massolit Förlag in Sweden.
Not Working will be a superlead fiction launch for Picador in spring 2016 with an extensive marketing and publicity campaign.