Rights Roundup: On the Run-Up to Guest of Honor Norway at Frankufurter Buchmesse

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The coming Frankfurter Buchmesse Guest of Honor program is off to an agile start, as we feature several foreign rights hits from Norway–plus work from Germany and India–in our first 2019 Rights Roundup.

Authors and illustrators represented in this Rights Roundup are, clockwise from upper left, Marta Breen; Jenny Jordahl (image: Vidar Schiefloe); Maja Lunde; Lisa Aisato; Subhangi Swarup; Kristin Roskifte; Antje Damm; and Long Litt Woon

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

‘The Dream We Carry’
This time, our Rights Roundup benefits from some strong entries from Norway, and that’s no accident.

Earlier this month, a program called Literature Go Global brought representatives of seven Norwegian literary agencies to the Frankfurt Book Fair New York offices for a two-day program in which they met with US agents, scouts, publishers, booksellers, film and television development directors, and others, in order to gain insights into the American market.

The program, produced under Literature Go Global’s collaboration between the Norwegian ministry of culture, Innovation Norway, and NORLA—Norwegian Literature Abroad—was one stop on the road to the Frankfurter Buchmesse (October 16 to 20), where Norway will be Guest of Honor.

And what you’ll see in our examples of some of the work being repped at the moment by members of the group is a sharp sense for diversity and inclusivity, from the suffrage-themed Women in Battle (universal release March 8 for International Women’s Day) and the picture book Everybody Counts about individuality and commonality, to views of grief and loss–both in the holiday context of The Snow Sister and in a journey among the Mushroom Pickers in The Way Through the Woods.

Those Norwegian titles include adult narrative nonfiction as well as children’s titles. You’ll also find India and Germany represented today in our selections, with a novel and another children’s work.

As in each roundup, we use the promotional copy supplied to us by agents and rights directors. We edit that sales copy to give you an idea about a book’s nature and tone.

If you’d like to submit a deal to Publishing Perspectives, see the instructions at the end of this article.

And as we start looking at our highlights today, we’ll give you a look at a video produced by the Norwegian team about their Guest of Honor program to come, which is themed on the bracing concept, “The Dream We Carry.”

This is an animated piece, two minutes long, with a musical bed called Kontraponkt featuring the work of Bendik Baksaas and Helga Myhr from the album Seine Sviv. Against the pizzicato persistence of the music and visual allusions to the sea and snow, watch for the text’s compelling repetition of phrasing around the word “open.” You’ll find this a nice break in your day.


Women in Battle: 150 Years of Freedom, Equality, and Sisterhood

By Marta Breen, illustrated by Jenny Jordahl

  • Publisher: Cappelen Damm, Norway
  • Rights contact: Anette Garpestad, Cappelen Damm Agency
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • NEWEST – The Netherlands: Boom Uitgevers
  • Brazil: Companhia das Letras
  • Spain and Catalonia (world rights): RBA
  • Denmark: Gyldendal
  • Poland: Sonia Draga
  • Italy: TRE60
  • Germany: Elisabeth Sandemann
  • The Czech Rep: ARGO
  • France: Larousse
  • Egypt: Mahrousa
  • Sweden: Natur & Kultur
  • Albania: Ejal Publishing
  • Hungary: Cser Kiado
  • South Korea: Hankyoreh Publishing
  • UK (and Common Wealth): Bonnier Zaffre/HOT KEY
  • US (North America): Little Bee Publishing
  • Russia: Samokat
  • Iceland: Forlagid
  • Finland: Sitruuna Kustannus 
  • Turkey: Yapi Kredi
  • Japan: Godo-Shuppan

Since we first looked in on this graphic novel, Cappelen Damm has been working to create an international release date on March 8: International Women’s Day. Expect to find it launching on that date in most of the territories and/or languages into which it’s sold.

While the title Women in Battle sounds like it might be a book about female service in the military, this graphic novel by artist Jenny Jordahl with author Marta Breen may be better referred to by another of its English titles: Fearless Women. The “battle” in question is for the right to vote. And the book surveys many pitched battles in a 150-year organized pursuit of women’s suffrage.

Advance review commentary has been strong, one critic with The Guardian, for example, writing “Marta Breen’s witty text and Jenny Jordahl’s dynamic art covers topics including reproductive rights, gay marriage and the #MeToo movement. International and inclusive in outlook, it’s both relevant and inspirational.”

From a page of ‘Women in Battle,’ a sequence on Harriet Tubman


The Snow Sister

By Maja Lunde, illustrated by Lisa Aisato

  • Publisher: Kagge, Norway
  • Rights contact: Evy Tillman, Oslo Literary Agency
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • NEWEST – Sloviakian: Tatran
  • Bulgarian, Uniscorp
  • Chinese (simplified), Zhejiang Literature & Art
  • Croatian, Naklada Ljevak
  • Czech, Host Publishing House
  • Danish,Turbine
  • Estonian, Rahva Raamat
  • Finnish, Schildts & Söderströms
  • Georgian, Palitra
  • German, btb Random House
  • Greek, Klidarithmos
  • Hungarian, Cser Kft.
  • Icelandic, Forlagið
  • Korean, Hangilsa
  • Latvian, Valters un Rapa
  • Lithuanian, Tyto Alba
  • Polish, Wydawnictwo Literackie
  • Romanian, Editura Art
  • Russian, AST
  • Slovakian, Tatran
  • Swedish, Bonnier Carlsen
  • Turkish, Can Publishing
  • Ukrainian, The Old Lion Publishing House

When we first mentioned this holiday book in November, we were supplied with six foreign rights sales. Now? The Oslo Literary Agency is reporting 23 languages and/or territories sold so far, and counting.

The book, from The History of Bees author Maja Lunde and illustrator Lisa Aisato, comprises 24 chapters of content that’s “packed with mystery, snow and surprises.” It’s a full-color illustrated book and is described as a family favorite on its way to becoming a holiday tradition.

To date, 250,000 copies have been printed in Norway.


Everybody Counts (Alle sammen teller)

By Kristin Roskifte

  • Publisher: Magikon, Norway
  • Rights contact: Svein Størksen
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • NEWEST – English: The Quarto Group
  • French: Casterman
  • German: Gerstenberg
  • Dutch: Lannoo
  • Italian: Edizioni EL
  • Korean: Borimpress
  • Japanese: Iwasaki
  • Chionese (complex): Windmill
  • Russian: Samokat
  • Farsi: IRHC
  • Turkish: Tudem
  • Danish: ABC Forlag
  • Swedish: Natur & Kultur

The illustrator Kristin Roskifte has created Everybody Counts as a seek-and-find book, a counting book, and a picture book about humanity and diversity. It’s about counting people, from zero to 7.5 billion.

In the book’s handling of the topic of inclusivity on a global scale, many people appear in different groups and situations, and various narratives multiply.

The book is described as offering “a playful view of the many connections and coincidences in our lives. Every single one of us has a unique story, but we’re all part of the same group—the world. Everybody is important, everybody counts.”


The Way Through the Woods: Of Mushrooms and Mourning

By Long Litt Woon

  • Publisher: Vigmostad & Bjørke, Norway
  • Rights contact: Gina Winje, Winje Agency
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • NEWEST – Latvia: Mansards
  • Danish: Don Max
  • German: btb Random House
  • Italian: Iperborea
  • Dutch: AW Bruna
  • Swedish: Polaris
  • World English: Scribe Publishing House
  • Spanish: Maeva
  • French: Gaïa Éditions
  • Catalan: Ara llibres
  • Finnish: Nemo Kustannus
  • Japanese: Misuzu Shobo
  • Polish: Wydawnictwo Literackie
  • US: Penguin Random House/Spiegel & Grau

This is a work of narrative nonfiction, a story that starts with the author’s experience of paralyzing grief. She becomes aware of mushrooms and their myriad variety. As she says in a promotional video, “It was my unlikely passion for wild mushrooms that showed me a way out of my pain and back to life.”

With reassuring honesty, Long Litt Woon concedes, “It is a strange journey,” but it’s one that gave her a way to work through the pain and sorrow of a major loss by learning “the way through the woods” offered by the world of fungi.

The author, a transplant to Norway from Malaysia, looks at how this combination of mushrooms and grief prompted fundamental changes in her life, creating new meaning and identity.

You can hear Long Litt Woon talk about her book in this short promotional video.


The Vistor (Der Besuch) 

By Antje Damm

  • Publisher: Moritz Verlag, Germany
  • Rights contact: Anja Mundt, Mundt Agency, Dusseldorf
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • NEWEST – Norwegian: IKO forlaget
  • Afrikaans: Protea Book House
  • Catalan: Tramuntana
  • Chinese (simplified): University of Science and Technology of China Press
  • Danish: Klematis
  • English: Gecko Press
  • French: Editions Astrid Franchet
  • Korean: Hanulim Kids
  • Portuguese/Brazil: Editora Schwarcz/Companhia das Letras
  • Slovenian: Zala
  • Spanish: Tramuntana

In descriptive material for this children’s book, we read, “Elise was frightened—of spiders, people, even trees. So she never went out, night or day. One day a strange thing flies in through the window and lands at her feet. And then there comes a knock at the door. Elise has a visitor who will change everything.”

The book is characterized as “a gentle, sympathetic story about a child who unwittingly brings light and color into a lonely person’s life.”


Latitudes of Longing

By Shubhangi Swarup

  • Publisher: HarperCollins India
  • Rights contact: Maria Cardona, Pontas Literary & Film Agency, Barcelona
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • NEWEST – World English, except Indian subcontinent: Penguin Random House/One World
  • French: Éditions Métailié, at auction
  • Norwegian: Gursli Berg Forlag
  • Swedish: Modernista/Louise Bäckelin, in a pre-empt

Shubhangi Swarup’s Latitudes of Longing, set in India, creates a view of Earth through the interconnected lives of characters including a scientist who studies trees and a clairvoyant who speaks to them; a mother determined to find her revolutionary son; a yeti who longs for human companionship; and the ghost of an evaporated ocean.

All these elements are woven together to tell a larger story about the forces of nature and evolution.


Submit Rights Deals to Publishing Perspectives

Do you have rights deals to report? Agents and rights directors can use our rights deal submission form to send us the information we need. If you have questions, please send them to Porter@PublishingPerspectives.com

As you can see, it is of high importance in titles we choose to list that an image be made available to us, both of the book’s cover and of its author.

In a sale listing, we also require not only the language/territory into which the title has been sold but the name of the publisher in that territory, as well.

The correct format is:

  • Country, Language or Territory: Publisher
  • Country, Language or Territory: Publisher

We recommend you scroll up and look at the examples above in this Rights Roundup. It’s easy to see how this is done. And because formatting these listings takes time, we’ll return your listing to you and cordially ask you to put it into this format if necessary.

We look forward to hearing from you.


More of Publishing Perspectives‘ Rights Roundups are here, and more on the Frankfurter Buchmesse Guest of Honor program is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He is also co-owner and editor with Jane Friedman of The Hot Sheet, the newsletter for trade and indie authors. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook, at London's The Bookseller. Anderson has also worked with CNN International, CNN.com, CNN USA, the Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and other media.

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