Rights Roundup: Ukraine’s Andrej Kurkow and ‘Grey Bees’

In News by Porter Anderson

Even amid the excitement and pleasure in an in-person staging of Bologna Children’s Book Fair, the Ukraine nightmare was never forgotten.

This week in the Literary Agents Centre at Bologna Children’s Book Fair 2022. Image: BCBF

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

Robust Meetings and Concern for Ukraine
It can take some time before rights reporting catches up with deals that still are settling out after a trade show like Bologna Children’s Book Fair. But everywhere at the big show this week in Italy, one-on-one meetings were busily going forward, both in the agents’ and licensing centers and on publishers’ stands.

Bologna Children’s Book Fair, Ukrainian visual identity

And throughout the show, pride of place and honor was given to work from Ukraine, as well as to initiatives developed and announced to help Ukrainian publishers. In our Rights Edition’s roundup today, we want to follow suit and start with a work from Ukraine.

You may have become aware of Andrej Kurkow’s work first on March 11, when Susanne Bauknecht at Diogenes in Zurich included his illlustration work in our Rights Roundup for Tania Goryushina’s Why Nobody Strokes Headgehogs.

Today, Bauknecht is presenting Kurkow’s Grey Bees, which involves the Ukraine separatist region of the Donbas. The original publisher of Grey Bees is in Kharkiv, which holds much of Ukraine’s printing operations.

And unfortunately, today (March 25), the news from the already beleaguered second city is not good. A video report from The Guardian sees civilians who were queuing for aid hit by Russian shelling. As many as six Ukrainians are thought to have been killed, 15 injured, and these numbers may change, of course, as more is learned about the incident.

Images in The New York Times’ live updates on the Ukraine situation show a large fireball in Kharkiv as part of the attack, occurring even as the American president, Joe Biden, has wrapped up his stop in Poland.

In our final entry today, from Matthes & Seitz Berlin, we have work of Yevgenia Belorusets, short stories by an author who divides her time between Kyiv and Berlin.


Grey Bees

By Andrej Kurkov

  • Publisher: Folio, Kharkiv
  • Rights contact: Susanne Bauknecht, Diogenes Verlag AG, Zurich
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Dutch: Prometheus, in a two-book pre-empt
  • Chinese, simplified: Beijing Imaginist
  • Croatian: Bozicevic
  • Danish: Mr. East
  • English (UK): Quercus
  • English (US): Deep Vellum
  • Estonian: Tänapäev
  • Farsi: Ofoq
  • French: Liana Levi
  • Greek: Kastaniotis
  • Hungarian: Müvelt Nép
  • Italian: Keller
  • Japanese: Sayusha
  • Mongolian: Tagtaa
  • Polish: Noir sur Blanc
  • Romanian: Editura
  • Paralela 45
  • Russian original: Folio
  • Ukrainian: Folio

Andrej Kurkow

“Beekeeper Sergey lives in the Donbas, where Ukrainian fighters and pro-Russian separatists exchange gunfire on a daily basis.

“He survives by following the motto: Hear nothing, see nothing—stay out of it.

“His only concern is the well-being of his bees. Because the bees’ world continues to be ruled by intelligent order and wonderful productivity, even as mankind wreaks havoc.

“One spring, he sets off: He wants to bring the bees to a region where they can collect nectar in peace.”

Andrej Kurkov was a Fulbright Scholar working in San Diego in 2021, and holds an appointment to France’s Légion d’Honneur (2014). He was a jury member for the International Booker Prizes in 2009, and has been named Ukraine’s Artist of the year (2001) and winner of Rome’s Gogol Award (2012). His screenplay of A Friend of the Deceased, based on his own short story, had a showing screening at Cannes in 1994.


Things That Make One’s Heart Beat Faster

By Mia Kankimäki

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

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – The Netherlands/Dutch: Uitgeverij Orlando
  • Czech Republic: Albatros’ imprint Motto

Mia Kankimäki

Mia Kankimäki is the author of the bestselling Women I Think About at Night which has sold into 20 territories.

She travels to Kyoto to research Sei Shonagon, a Japanese writer and lady-in-waiting who wrote about her life in the court of Heian-era Japan.

“Mesmerized by temples, cherry blossoms, kabuki theater, Zen meditation and tearooms, she reads the Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon and finds a soul sister—a modern woman who loves making lists of all things charming, annoying, elegant—and things that make one’s heart beat faster.”


Learning To Make Love

Alexandre Lacroix

  • Publisher: Allary Éditions, Paris
  • Rights contact: Marleen Seegers, 2 Seas Agency
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Spanish: Arpa

“The classic treatises on the erotic arts, like the Kama Sutra and The Tao of Sex, are outdated. Tied to cultural traditions unlike our own, they’re not very useful in practical terms.

Alexandre Lacroix

“So the question is, how can we—without tipping into puritanism—detach ourselves from the porn model that has contaminated our sexuality, in order to achieve higher-quality pleasure?

“In other words, in the 21st century, what would a truly satisfying and accomplished sexual relationship look like?

“In order to find out, Alexandre Lacroix presents short chapters, each of which offers a lesson about one facet or aspect of making love. Neither straitlaced nor moralizing, he doesn’t try to elude anything, addressing issues like preliminaries, rhythm, force of habit, changing positions, making noise, and orgasm, but always from a philosophical point of view. Drawing both on his own experience and on the writings of the great thinkers about sexuality and love, he writes on a new type of method. The art of eroticism for our time.”


What We Leave Behind: A Book About Trash

By Stanisław Łubieński

  • Publisher: Agora SA, Warsaw
  • Rights contact: Renata Kasprzak, Red Rock Literary Agency c/o Lit & Script Agency
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Taiwan, traditional/complex Chinese: Locus Publishing Company
  • World English: MacLehose Press

Stanisław Łubieński

“Trash is a bit like birds.

“Both have their favorite habitats; forest habitats are often different from riverside, beach, or meadow habitats.

What We Leave Behind is a beautiful book about the rubbish we create in our everyday lives, what happens to it, where it goes, and whether it will outlive us.”


My Father and Other Accidents

By Paola Guevara

  • Publisher: Planeta, Madrid
  • Rights contact: Anna Soler-Pont, Pontas Literary & Film Agency
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Italian: Edizioni Cento Autori
  • Film rights: Sold, producer to be named

Paola Guevara

This is “the story of the author’s decision to meet the man who claims to be her father and to have coffee with him once a week, every week, for a year.

“During these meetings, Paola and Fernando share their lives and develop a close friendship. “They plan to get a DNA test, but as their friendship grows, they fear: what if they’re not father and daughter, after all?

“Recounted in raw and honest prose, this is a deeply touching Colombian novel about second opportunities and what it means to be a family.”


Lucky Break

By Yevgenia Belorusets

  • Publisher: Matthes & Seitz Berlin
  • Rights contact: Matthes & Seitz Berlin
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Country: Publisher
  • Country: Publisher

Yevgenia Belorusets

“Out of the Ukrainian region of the Donbas, the women of Belorusets’ collection of stories emerge from the ruins of a war, still being waged on and off, ever since the 2014 Revolution of Dignity.

“Through a series of unexpected encounters, we’re pulled into the ordinary lives of these anonymous women: a florist, readers of horoscopes, a witch who catches newborns with a mitt.

“Belorusets threads these tales of ebullient survival with a mix of humor, verisimilitude, and a profound Gogolian irony.”


Submitting 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

Getting images to us. Please don’t send us images by Google Drive if the system will require us to ask your permission to retrieve those images. (It can take too long for our deadlines before that permission request reaches you.) Likewise, please don’t send us images by WeTransfer or a similar service. (Those expire, often before we can download your material.) If for some reason you cannot get images into our submission form, feel free to just drop them to us in an email (Porter@PublishingPerspectives.com) or in a Dropbox folder (non-expiring access) and send us a link to that folder in the submission form.

Categories. We get more submissions in children’s books than in others, and while we enjoy children’s books in the industry as much as anyone—please do keep sending them—we’d also like to see more of the following to help us balance our roundups:

  • Adult Fiction
  • Adult Nonfiction – particularly narrative nonfiction, political, historical, biographical, memoir, and philosophical categories
  • Young Adult

Repeat submissions. We receive great submissions from many parts of the world and once we’ve carried a title, we’d like to give other work a chance to be featured rather than repeating that title–unless there’s major news developing around that previously used title that makes it a good candidate for a second listing. If one of your titles has previously appeared in our Rights Roundups but there’s a good reason you think it should be listed again, please be sure to drop us an email and let us know (Porter@PublishingPerspectives.com).

We look forward to hearing from you.

In the Bologna Children’s Book Fair Licensing Business Lounge this week during the return to a physical staging for the tade show. Image: BCBF


Follow our coverage of Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine and its impact on the country’s publishing players and international industry reactions. 

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 is a non-resident fellow of Trends Research & Advisory, and he 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 (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.