Penguin Random House UK Children’s has scooped a 'subversive YA' modern-day reimagining of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina (Penguin Classics).
Editorial director Anthea Townsend acquired UK and Commonwealth rights to Anna K. by Jenny Lee from Union Literary's Sally Wofford-Girand, in a competitive auction with several other publishers. The book is scheduled for publication in March 2020 and will form part of the imprint’s list for the year.
The TV rights to Anna K. sold to Entertainment One to adapt as a TV series with Drew Comins’ Creative Engine Entertainment and Scooter Braun’s SB Projects. The TV distribution rights have sold to HBO, with a pilot commitment.
The publisher said the book is set among privileged teens in New York’s Upper East Side will appeal to fans of “Gossip Girl” and “Crazy Rich Asians”. The YA novel follows Korean-American Anna who “meets and falls in love with notorious playboy Alexi ‘Count’ Vronsky, and then witness the damage spiral out into her picture-perfect life”.
Townsend said: “I absolutely fell for Jenny’s bold and brilliant writing, this enormous cast of characters and the glamour, sweeping drama and heady romance of Anna K., from its very first pages. It’s a completely addictive, enormously accomplished, epic read that will move and entertain you in equal measure and is sure to appeal to fans of fun, subversive YA/Crossover.”
Lee added: “I first read Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina when I was fifteen. I may not have realized it then but the love affair between Anna and Vronsky, the trials of Dolly and Stevia’s marriage and Levin’s obsession with Kitty all resonated with my teenage self because these adults were reacting to their first experiences with love much the same way my friends and I were at the time.
"Years later, in the wake of a divorce and the disillusioned perspective on love that goes with it, I saw Joe Wright’s adaptation of Anna Karenina and, walking out of the theatre, had my lightbulb moment in which I saw all the potential this classic tale of tragic love had as a teen love story set in present day New York City."