Rights Roundup: It Is Good To Be Finland’s Max Seeck

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

Markets represented in our Rights Roundup include Finland, Italy, USA, Norway, the Netherlands, Spain, Germany, and Switzerland.

Authors with work represented in this Rights Roundup are, from left on the top row, Max Seeck; Gloria Fossi; Meg Elison; and Roy Jacobsen. And on the lower row from left, Arjan Postma; Santiago Posteguillo; Alexa Hennig von Lange; and Torben Kuhlmann

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

A Finn Hits the New York Times Bestsellers
A note from an excited Elina Ahlback in Helsinki tells us of author Max Seeck’s “amazing historical achievement.”

The sequel to ‘The Witch Hunter’ / ‘Faithful Reader’ is ‘Evil’s Net’

You may remember we carried his Uskollen lukija—which in English appears with two very different titles, either Faithful Reader or The Witch Hunter. Our listing  (we used Faithful Reader as the title in English) ran on March 20, part of a Rights Roundup that highlighted books that agents and rights directors had expected to present at London Book Fair, which had been canceled in the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

Since that March reference to the book, the United States’ rights were bought in a two-book deal by Penguin Random House’s Berkley. And that edition, with The Witch Hunter title, has spent two weeks on The New York Times paperback bestseller list at No. 11.

“This is history in the making for Finnish literature exports,” Ahlback tells us.

“Not for 71 years has a Finnish contemporary author has reached this status that’s making Max Seeck a New York Times bestselling author.  In 1949, Mika Waltari topped the list in the United States with his novel The Egyptian.

“Max Seeck’s The Witch Hunter has been sold in 40 territories and counting, and the sequel, Evil’s Net, has to 23 territories.”

Ahlback reminds us that Stampede Ventures (sounds aptly named, doesn’t it?) have picked up The Witch Hunter  for television development. They bought the option almost a year ago, on December 3, and called Seeck “a Nordic literary gem” at the time.

And—pleased to find someone who’s having a good 2020—we’ll start our listings today with The Witch Hunter, of course.

As in each roundup, we use some of the promotional copy supplied to us by agents and rights directors, editing that 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.

The Witch Hunter
also: Faithful Reader)
(Uskollen lukija)

By Max Seeck

  • Publisher: Tammi, Helsinki
  • Rights contact: Elina Ahlbäck, Ahlback Literary Agency
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – USA: Penguin Random House / Berkley
  • Albania: Muza
  • Arabic: Arab Scientific Publishers (World Arabic)
  • Armenia: Guitank
  • Belgium: A.W. Bruna (two-book deal)
  • Bulgaria: Emas (two-book deal)
  • Canada: Berkley/Penguin Random House (two-book deal)
  • Croatia: Fokus
  • Czech Republic: Grada (two-book deal)
  • Denmark: Gutkind (two-book deal)
  • Estonia: Pegasus (two-book deal)
  • Iceland: Forlagid
  • Israel: Tchelet Books
  • Italy: Piemme/Mondadori
  • France: Michel Lafon (two-book deal)
  • Germany: Bastei Lübbe (two-book deal)
  • Greece: Livani (two-book deal)
  • Hungary: Animus (two-book deal)
  • South Korea: Cheongmirae
  • Latvia: Latvijas Mediji (two-book deal)
  • Lithuania: Baltos lankos
  • Macedonia: Matica (two-book deal)
  • The Netherlands: A.W. Bruna (two-book deal)
  • Norway: Aschehoug (two-book deal)
  • Poland: Sonia Draga (two-book deal)
  • Portugal: Bertrand Editora (two-book deal)
  • Romania: Litera (two-book deal)
  • Russia: AST
  • Serbia: Vulkan (two-book deal)
  • Slovenia: Didakta (two-book deal)
  • Slovakia: Motýľ
  • Spain: Editorial Maeva/Maeva Noir
  • Sweden: Albert Bonniers Förlag
  • Turkey: Doğan Kitap
  • UK: Welbeck Publishing UK (two-book deal)
  • USA: Penguin Random House / Berkley (two-book deal)
  • Television rights: Stampede Ventures

The more succinct elevator-pitch one-liner on this book comes from that New York Times listing for the book’s US edition: “Jessica Niemi investigates murders that resemble ones from bestsellers.”

From the Ahlback Agency: “Detective Jessica Niemi is called to investigate a murder case that’s out of ordinary. The wife of a famous writer, Roger Koponen, seems to have been killed in a bizarre ritual. As more ritual murders occur, it becomes obvious that Jessica is after a serial killer. But the murders are not random. They follow a pattern taken from Roger’s bestselling trilogy. Has a fan gone mad, or is this case more personal?”

On the Trail of Van Gogh
(Sulle tracce di Van Gogh)

By Gloria Fossi

  • Publisher:Giunti Editore, Florence
  • Rights contact: Valentina Mazza, Giunti Editore
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – World English: HarperCollins USA
  • China: Huazhong
  • Germany: WBG
  • South Korea: Haus Media

“This book constitutes a faithful tracing of Van Gogh’s life. Two photographers, Danilo De Marco and the late Mario Dondero, went in search of the places in which the great Dutch painter lived.

“His human and artistic journey, analyzed by art historian Gloria Fossi, comes to life in more than 200 photographs taken in the Netherlands, Belgium, England, and France. Van Gogh’s paintings and letters combine with events and places for a unique vision into a fascinating artist and character.”

Fossi specializes in early modern and medieval art and worked with the journalist and historian Federico Zeri (1921-1998) in the early part of her own career.

Image: From ‘On the Trail of Van Gogh’

Find Layla

By Meg Elison

  • Publisher: Amazon Publishing
  • Rights contact: Hatty Stiles, Amazon Publishing
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sale:

  • Russian: Alpina (at auction)

“Described by Kirkus Reviews as ‘sharply observed,’ Find Layla tells the story of a neglected girl’s chaotic coming-of-age, inspired in part by the author’s own experiences as an adolescent.

“Bullied, 14-year-old Layla isn’t used to being noticed. But when a video that Layla makes for a science competition at school goes viral, she has to flee the local child protective services, face her bullies, and learn how to survive on her own.”

Meg Elison’s debut, The Book of the Unnamed Wife (47North), won the 2014 Philip K. Dick Award and introduced her work as a feminist essayist. She specializes in themes of female empowerment, body positivity, and gender flexibility.

Only a Mother
(Bare en mor)

By Roy Jacobsen

  • Publisher: Cappelen Damm, Oslo
  • Rights contact: Marius Hjeldnes / Cappelen Damm Agency
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – France: Éditions Gallimard
  • Czech Republic: Pistorius & Olšanská
  • Estonia: Eesti Raamat
  • Germany: C.H. Beck Verlag
  • Poland: Wydawnictwo Poznanskie
  • Sweden: Norstedts Förlag

Only a Mother is the fourth book in the international bestselling “Barrøy series.”

“It’s a novel about being a parent, being part of a community, and about living under conditions that require hard labor. It’s also a story about parts of our near past that have stayed in the dark.

“And it’s about an unusual woman, who has to navigate painful experiences in a rough, weather-beaten, and diverse society on the coast of northern Norway.”

Roy Jacobsen—author of Child Wonder (Vidunderbarn)—saw his The Unseen shortlisted in its Don Bartlett translation from the Norwegian for the 2017 Man Booker International Prize.

How One Crazy Ant Can Change the World
And Other Wonderful Stories From Nature

By Arjan Postma

  • Publisher: Boekerij, Amsterdam
  • Rights contact: Marleen Seegers, 2 Seas Agency
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sale:

  • Germany: Knesebeck

“Arjan Postma invites us to look at the natural world in a different way.

“He’s adept at recognizing remarkable similarities between humans and non-humans, and combines this with a strong gift for storytelling.

“Major topics including leadership, teamwork, and love are touched upon, and Postma’s cheerful insights into the animal world guarantee that his stories are always original and surprising.

“This book may also remind us that we shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously.”

I, Julia

Editor’s note: We are using I, Julia for our title in the sense of I, Claudius. “Yo,” which can be traced to Middle English, today is an interjection in American English, popularized in the 1940s in Philadelphia. Think of Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa in the film (“Yo, Adrian, I did it!”), calling to a friend, “Yo, Julia!”

  • Publisher: Planeta, Madrid
  • Rights contact: Laura Palomares, Agencia Literaria Carmen Balcells
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • NewestGerman: Goldmann Verlag
  • French: Cherche-Midi
  • Arabic: Masaa
  • Danish: Bilgrav
  • Italian: Piemme
  • Portuguese / Brazil and Portugal: Planeta

A winner of the Planeta Prize 2018, the prolific Santiago Posteguillo’s I, Julia “is a historical novel based on the life of Julia Domna, one of the most relevant, fascinating, and unknown female characters in the history of Rome.

“Now in its ninth printing since October 2018, the original has sold more than 320,000 copies in Spanish. ”

Julia Domma is said to have lived in the years 170 to 217. She was of Syrian background and engineered an ascent to emperor for her husband, Governor Septimus Severus.

The Mad One

By Alexa Hennig von Lange

  • Publisher: Dumont, Köln
  • Rights contact: Chiara Futter, Marcel Hartges Literatur and Filmagentur
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sale:

  • Italy: Casa Editrice Nord

Alexa Hennig von Lange “tells of the long-faded life and fate of an unbending woman, Joanna of Castile, who provokes agitation and asks questions that persist to the present day.

“Joanna does not want to rule over others. All she wants is to rule over herself. But that seems to be a freedom reserved for men only.

This novel has been described as “something like the first historical pop novel” by a critic with Die Weltwoche.”

Einstein: The Fantastical Journey of a Mouse Through Time and Space

By Torben Kuhlmann

  • Publisher: Nord-Sud, Zurich
  • Rights contact: Louise Münzer, NordSüd Verlag AG
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Greece: Psichogios Publications
  • Under negotiation in Croatia

“The little mouse can’t believe that he has missed the cheese festival in Bern by exactly one day. How to still take part?

“Can you turn back time?

“It takes several failed attempts before he finally manages–with a little help, tons of ingenuity, and the notes of a certain Albert Einstein–to travel back in time. But time travel takes practice–and the mouse misses his target by around 80 years. Will the great Albert Einstein himself be able to help him travel back to his own time?”

Artwork for ‘Einstein: A Mouse’s Fantastical Journey Through Space and Time’ by Torben Khulmann. Image: NordSud Verlag AG

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More of Publishing Perspectives‘ rights roundups are here, and more from us on international rights trading is here. More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

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.com, 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.