Virago has picked up the “memoir with a difference” from Bess Kalb, writing in the voice of her grandmother.
Rose Tomaszewska, senior commissioning editor, bought UK and Commonwealth rights from Matilda Forbes Watson at WME after getting in touch with Kalb following a dead heat auction. Nobody Will Tell You This But Me will be published in April 2020 alongside Robin Desser at Knopf in the USA.
Described as “an autobiography from a highly unreliable narrator, written by a ghost who breezed right past death and kept on talking”, the book tells the story of four women. They are Kalb’s great-grandmother, an escapee from Russian pogroms, her seventies rebel mother, Kalb herself and her grandmother, “the irrepressible, fun-loving, stubborn and glamorous love of her childhood”.
Kalb is a writer for "Jimmy Kimmel Live" and winner of a Writer’s Guild Award in 2016. A regular New Yorker contributor, she has also written for the Oscars and the Emmys.
Tomaszewska said: “I was so captivated by Bess’s grandmother’s voice I had to read the memoir out loud to myself, laughing – and occasionally crying – as I went. It’s a work of pure love. Interspersed with the story are verbatim voicemails that Bess had from her grandmother – unsolicited advice about everything from buying a new dress to whether to move across the country – and so when the auction went to a dead heat, I sent Bess a voicemail myself about how much I loved it. I’ve never read anything quite like it before.”