Bound for Frankfurt Book Fair: New Literary Voices from Pontas Agency

In News by Porter Anderson

Arranged marriages, the Tour de France, Persia’s Qajars: Barcelona’s Pontas Agency is coming to Frankfurt’s packed LitAg in October with a strong list of contenders, heavy on debuts.

Janice Pariat’s ‘The Nine-Chambered Heart,’ is being published in the UK by Borough Press and in India by 4th Estate. Images: Pontas Agency

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Six From the List

Pontas Agencybarcelona-based Pontas Agency is known for representing fresh voices from around the world, and this year is no exception. This year, the agency is taking a list of new names to the Frankfurt Book Fair (October 11-15).

Frankfurter Buchmesse’s Literary Agents and Scouts Center has set a new record, with 500 tables sold, and will be humming more loudly than ever as rights trading continues to rise in the attention and importance of so many publishers, authors, and agents today.

In what follows, the information and description about each title we’re quoting is provided by Serra to us. What you’ll notice is that with the exception of the venerable Jorge Zepeda, Pontas is riding in on a wave of new talent.

Jorge Zepeda

El maillot negro (The Black Jersey) by Jorge Zepeda is to be originally published by Planeta (Spain and Latin America) in 2018.

Author and journalist Jorge Zepeda Patterson, called a “Mexican Stieg Larsson” by Kirkus, “presents a gripping thriller, told in first person and set in the highly secretive and hermetic circle of the Tour de France.

“A psychological thriller, the book has the backdrop of the summits of the Pyrenees and Alps and epic cycle climbs. It’s a classic whodunit in which every character is a suspect, everyone has his own motives, completely gripping with twists and turns at every stage… until you reach the conclusion, with a totally unexpected ending that will delight even the cleverest reader of thrillers.”

Zepeda’s Milena o el fémur más bello del mundo won the 2014 Planeta Prize, and his 2016 political thriller Los usurpadores Sinembargo.mxhas been well-received, as is his column for El Pais. His online paper is

Rights deals to date:

  • Spanish, Planeta (for 2018)
  • French, Actes Sud (for 2019)
  • Portuguese/Brazil, Planeta
  • Portuguese/Portugal, Planeta

Victoria Princewill

In the Palace of Flowers by Victoria Princewill is a historical fiction debut, currently on submission. Princewill, British-born, is a management consultant educated at Oxford and University College London. Her work on race and culture has been read in The Guardian, The Independent, the London Review of Books, and n+1.

“Set in Iran at the end of the 19th century in the Persian royal court of the Qajars, In The Palace of Flowers is an atmospheric historical debut in the tradition of Jessie Burton and Yaa Giasi.

“Jamila, an African slave, stands at the funeral of a Persian nobleman, watching the rites with empty eyes. In that very particular moment, she realises that her life will never be acknowledged or mourned with the same significance. Love, friendship and the bitter politics within the harem, the court and the Shah’s sons and advisors will set the fate of these two Abyssinian slaves. In The Palace of Flowers is about the fear of being forgotten.”

Saskia Vogel

I Am a Pornographer by Saskia Vogel, a Los Angeles-born author based in Berlin who works as a Swedish-to-English translator as well as a writer. Vogel’s writings on gender, power and sexuality have appeared in Granta, The White Review, The Offing, and The Quietus.

I Am a Pornographer is a literary debut currently on submission called “raw, fresh, haunting, emotionally and sexually honest” in the tradition of Chris Kraus, Eileen Myles, Houellebeq and Emma Cline.

“When Echo’s father gets swept away by a freak current off the Los Angeles coast, she enters a state of paralysis. The failed young actress seeks solace in the best way she knows: by losing herself in the lives of others. This time it’s with her new neighbor, a dominatrix called Orly working out of her suburban home. But Orly’s 50-something houseboy Piggy won’t quite let Echo slip into sweet oblivion.

“This is a love story about three people sick with dreams and expectations and turning to the erotic for comfort and cure. As they stumble through the landscape of desire, they ask themselves: how do I want to be loved?”

Alexandra Sheppard

Confessions of a Half-Mortal by Alexandra Sheppard is a YA debut on submission. Sheppard is a social media specialist based in London. Her writings have appeared in Time Out London, Mxlexia, and Literary Hub.

“Thanks to her dad being Zeus, Helen can kiss normality goodbye. “Because she’s half-goddess and, since her mom died, she lives with her immortal family in North London. Of course, they always abuse their powers. And not even for anything that could benefit Helen.

“Confessions of a Half Mortal is a novel about a time in a girl’s life when it’s hard enough keeping on top of homework and the unfathomable mystery of boys, let alone dealing with a chaos of epic proportions.”

Janice Pariat. Image: Sambit Dattachaudhuri

The Nine-Chambered Heart by Indian author Janice Pariat is scheduled to have its original publication by the 4th Estate India in November. In the UK, Borough Press is to publish it in May 2018.

A winner of the Sahitya Akademi Young Writer Award and Crossword Book Award, Pariat studied English literature at St. Stephen’s College, Delhi, and history of art at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London.

Called “profound, illuminating and deeply moving,” The Nine-Chambered Heart “is the kaleidoscopic story of one woman, told by those whom she has loved or been loved by in a series of vignettes. Set in familiar, nameless cities, moving between East and West, The Nine-Chambered Heart is a delicate, poignant and exquisitely written novel, a compendium of shifting perspectives.”

Rights deals to date:

  • World English except India, Borough Press
  • English/India, 4th Estate India
  • Italian/Bompiani
  • Norwegian/Gyldendal
  • World Spanish, Siruela
  • Geman, Secession Verlag
  • Romanian, Polirom

Zara Raheem

The Marriage Clock by Zara Raheem is a debut novel by an MFA student in creative writing at Long Beach State University. Raheem has a BA in English literature and is credentialed as an educator by California State University at Fullerton. She has been read in eFiction, The Huffington Post, Muse India, Brown Girl Magazine, Polychrome Ink and other outlets.

The Marriage Clock is described as being about love, marriage, religion, and tradition set in California and India, staring with an arranged marriage.

“On the night of her 26th birthday, Leila Abid’s traditional Indian parents surprise her with an unusual gift, their plans to arrange her marriage. Initially appalled by her parents’ outdated views of love, Leila caves in to their guilt-ridden tactics and accepts their outrageous offer. But after a disastrous first date with her parents, four of their friends, and a potential groom—who’s more interested in her family medical history than courting her—she soon discovers that finding love the arranged way is a far greater sacrifice than she’s willing to make.

“Leila convinces her parents to allot her three months to find a husband on her own terms. She embarks on a series of awkward, yet hilarious dates with the most eligible bachelors in her South Asian-Muslim community; all the while staving off nosy rishta aunties, judgmental matchmakers, and a meddling mother in the hopes of finding her perfect Bollywood ending.”

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.