On-Ramp to London Book Fair: International Rights Deals

In News by Olivia Snaije

London Book Fair-bound publishers and agents from several regions of the world share their latest rights deals and highlights from their spring lists.

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By Olivia Snaije | @OliviaSnaije

‘Many, Many More Exciting Books’
In the run-up to Tuesday’s (April 12) opening of London Book Fair, rights professionals are lining up some of their best offerings for this, the first major publishing trade show of the year. Here are several highlights.

From Russia

The PersianBettina Nibbe of the Seefeld, Germany-based Nibbe & Wiedling Literary Agency, which represents Russian language works of all genres worldwide, highlights three diverse novels that she will be bringing to London.

  • The first is Anna Matveeva’s Vera Stenina’s Envy, which Nibbe has already sold to French publisher Belfond (Editis). The novel is about art, art history, envy and friendship between two women.
  • With several classics about Jewish life in the Baltics, work from Grigori Kanovich’s estate is on offer, as well as a novel which Nibbe calls a Russian version of The Name of the Rose by Sukhbat Aflatuni.
  • A new version of a 2010 novel by physicist, mathematician and author Aleksandr Ilichevsky, The Persian, is now available. The setting is the Caspian Sea and includes a search for a dangerous terrorist. Suhrkamp Verlag recently published The Persian in German; it was sold to Gallimard in France.
From Korea

54recipesSue Yang at the Korean Eric Yang Agency brings foreign authors to Korea for publication but recently has been representing Korean books.

  • To London Book Fair, she’ll bring selected non-fiction titles including a cookbook by well-known Korean chef Baek Jong Won that features 52 recipes.
  • There will also be a memoir by a North Korean defector (information about which the agency isn’t divulging); a series of educational comics for students; and an illustrated book about love, by Puuung (Park Da-mi), a fast-rising illustrator who has gained international attention.
From France
Anne-Solange Noble

Anne-Solange Noble

French publisher ’s rights director Anne-Solange Noble highlights the following recent novels:

  • Celle que vous croyez (Who you think I am) by Camille Laurens, which sold to The Other Press the first week of publication,
  • Le mystère Henri Pick (The Henry Pick Mystery) by David Foenkinos, about a library of rejected manuscripts,
  • Des chauves-souris, des singes et des hommes (Of Bats, Apes and Men) by Paule Constant, on the spread of a vicious disease,
  • Dispersez-vous, ralliez-vous (Scatter and Gather) by Philippe Djian, on the emancipation of Myriam, a borderline personality,
  • Coeur Tambour (Drum Heart) by Rwandan author Scholastique Mukasonga on a mysterious African diva’s fate, and a political trilogy L’Emprise (The Grip) by best-selling author Marc Dugain.

In non-fiction, Noble will be bringing Jenny Raflik’s Terrorisme et mondialisation, approaches historiques (Terrorism and Globalisation), and Blasphème, brève histoire d’un ‘crime imaginaire’ (Blasphemy, a brief history of an ‘imaginary crime’) by Jacques de Saint Victor.

Says Noble: “We have many, many more exciting books, too numerous to list here.”

From the UK and Middle East
Samar Hammam

Samar Hammam

London-based agent Samar Hammam, of Rocking Chair Books represents Warsan Shire, who was London’s first Young Poet Laureate in 2014, and will be presenting Shire’s forthcoming collection of poems,as well as selling rights to her older collection called Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth.

  • Hammam also handles English language rights for the Raya Agency, (Arabic literature) and will be selling rights to Syrian author, screenwriter and poet Khaled Khalifa’s Death is Hard Work, International Man Booker 2015 shortlisted Lebanese novelist Hoda Barakat’s The Kingdom of this Earth, and a non-fiction book by Syrian author and journalist Samar Yazbek, The Crossing: My Journey to the Shattered Heart of Syria.
  • Hammam also sells translation rights for Mulcahy Associates and will be presenting Alan McMonagle’s Ithaca, a darkly comic story set in Ireland, Benet Brandreth’s The Spy of Venice: A William Shakespeare Novel, an historical thriller, and three YA novels.
From Australia and Belgium
Sharon Galant

Sharon Galant

Sharon Galant of Zeitgeist Media Group, is selling two historical fiction titles “told from original angles”, one set in 1920s avant-garde Paris, The Joyce Girl, by Annabel Abbs and one set at the dawn of World War II in Broadway’s music halls, An American Decade, by Richard Aronowitz.

Rights have been sold to British independent publishers Impress Books and Accent Press.

  • Upcoming highlights for London include The Art of Reading, by Australian philosopher Damon Young, and a debut novel, The Centre Is Red by Australian writer Holly Ringland, about the haunting power of unspoken stories.
  • Galant also represents foreign rights for the all-time bestseller Le Chat by Belgian cartoonist Philippe Geluck, published by Casterman.
  • Her children’s highlight title is British-Greek Eleni Andreadis’ illustrated middle grade Become a Planet Agent, about climate change.

For more on preparations for London Book Fair, see our interview with the show’s director, Jacks Thomas, and with Quantum Conference keynote speaker Nick Bostrom.

A version of this story appears in Publishing Perspectives’ Spring 2016 magazine. Pick up a copy while at London Book Fair, or watch for a chance to download it here online during the Fair.

About the Author

Olivia Snaije

Olivia Snaije is a journalist and editor based in Paris who writes about translation, literature, graphic novels, the Middle East, and multiculturalism. She is the author of three books and has contributed to newspapers and magazines including The Guardian, The Global Post, and The New York Times.