Raven Books has won the American noir classic, Nightmare Alley, in a “hotly contested” six-way auction.
Editorial director Alison Hennessey acquired UK and Commonwealth rights (excluding Canada and audio) from Florence Rees at A M Heath on behalf of Brandt and Hochman. Raven Books will publish a classic edition straight into paperback and e-book in autumn 2020.
Nightmare Alley is also currently being adapted for film by Guillermo del Toro with a planned release date of 2021; the film stars Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara and Bradley Cooper. Raven Books will also release a film tie-in to coincide with this.
Nightmare Alley was American writer William Lindsay Gresham's first book and was a bestseller, subsequently being adapted into a film in 1947. The novel was in part inspired by conversations Gresham had with a former sideshow employee whom he befriended while volunteering during the Spanish Civil War.
The classic tells the story of Stanton Carlisle, a conman who first learns his trade working in a travelling circus, before becoming a successful spiritualist exploiting the weak and the wealthy, who finally meets his match when he teams up with a beautiful and ruthless psychologist.
Hennessey said: “Nightmare Alley is a cool, cruel classic of Depression-era America; a brilliant, horrifying journey into the true darkness of the human mind, it couldn’t have felt more suited to Raven Books. I am so excited that this is to be our first classic publication, and that we are going to be bringing this extraordinary tale to a whole new generation of readers.”
Rees said: “We’ve never seen an auction like it for a backlist title! Which just goes to show the enduring brilliance of this book. I’m thrilled Nightmare Alley will be republished on the dynamic Raven Books list.”
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