Simon & Schuster has won a “hotly contested” seven-publisher auction for a book by Anita Anand, the presenter of BBC Radio 4’s "Any Answers?".
Non-fiction editorial director at Simon & Schuster, Ian Marshall, acquired UK & Commonwealth rights to Nemesis: A Story of Raj and Revenge from Patrick Walsh of PEW Literary. The book will be published in spring 2019. Walsh described it as a “superbly researched and brilliantly written story” which has links with Andand’s own family.
Rick Horgan of Scribner in the US followed up by pre-empting US rights while film rights have also been acquired by James Erskine at New Black Films.
Seven UK publishers were in the running to snap up Anand’s account of the notorious 1919 massacre in Amritsar, when hundreds of innocent civilians were killed. One of the survivors, Udham Singh, vowed to take his revenge on those who gave the order and, more than 20 years later, he assassinated Sir Michael O’Dwyer in London in 1940. He was later hanged and became a martyr to the cause of Indian independence.
Marshall said: “As soon as I received this proposal, I knew this was a book Simon & Schuster had to publish. The response from my colleagues to Anita’s superbly researched and brilliantly written story was extraordinary both in the UK and from our team in Delhi, who are equally committed to making it a bestseller.”
He added: “We met Anita and were so impressed by her commitment to the project, which was given an added dimension by her own family links to the events that took place on that tragic day.”
Anand revealed that she was “completely overwhelmed by the interest in her book”.
She said: “This is a story that matters. For too long, the Raj has been viewed through rose tint. The reality is so much darker and so much more interesting. As a journalist, I care about digging out the truth; as a historian, I realise the importance of putting the record straight.”
Anand took over chairing of the topical discussion show, "Any Answers?", after the long standing host Jonathan Dimbleby stepped down five years ago.