'Unforgettable' literary debut snapped up by Scribner for six figures

'Unforgettable' literary debut snapped up by Scribner for six figures

An “extraordinary” literary debut from a 29-year-old Fulbright scholar has been snapped up by Scribner UK in a six-figure pre-empt as well as Knopf in a two book deal.

Knopf’s vice president and senior editor Robin Desser acquired Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips, in a two book deal represented by Suzanne Gluck at William Morris Endeavor. Rowan Cope, who is editorial director at Scribner, Simon & Schuster UK's imprint, also acquired the debut novel, in a six-figure pre-empt. UK and Commonwealth rights were sold by Elizabeth Sheinkman at WME and translation rights for are being handled by Tracy Fisher at the same agency. It will be a lead WME title at London Book Fair.

Disappearing Earth is an “unforgettable and elegantly crafted novel” featuring interconnected stories about families, friends, neighbours and their lives and explores “how an unsolved tragedy can force us to confront our own identities and those of the people around us”. Phillips’ research for the book included herding reindeer and a 583-mile dog sled race in the Russian Far East, Kamchatka, with the help of a Fulbright grant.

A WME spokesperson said: “On a beautiful August day, on a remote volcanic peninsula, two young sisters go missing. Clues to the crime lie in the lives of twelve women in the girls’ rural Russian community. These women’s separate stories of violence and loss come together in Kamchatka, one of the most isolated, secretive, and naturally magnificent places in the world. It’s a world unto itself. And it’s an incredible place where one story can mean so many things to one community.”

Cope said:  “Julia Phillips has written an extraordinary, beautiful and unforgettable novel that has at its heart the disappearance of two young girls and a small community left bereft and searching for answers. It is also a breathtaking meditation on mothers, sisters and daughters, on love, loss and loneliness. I feel sure that Julia Phillips' talent as a writer is destined to move a great many readers, and we couldn't be prouder or more excited that she is joining Scribner in the UK.”

Disappearing Earth will be published next year.