Frankfurt’s LitAg in Sight: A Rights Roundup

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Here’s news of Frankfurt, Ukraine’s Andrey Kurkov, and rights sales in this Roundup from Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, France, and Norway.

The beating heart of Frankfurter Buchmesse — the ‘LitAg,’ the Literary Agents and Scouts Centre, 2014. The 2022 LitAg in Hall 4.2 is entirely sold out, all 456 tables, with a waiting list in case something opens up. Image: FBM, Alexander Heimann

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

Also in today’s Rights Edition:
Bologna Children’s Book Fair Opens Its Agents’ Center to the Adult Book Trade
A Finnish Agent Cheers France’s Interest in Translation
Frankfurt Bound: IPG Offers Independent Publishers Rights and Export Training

Diogenes: Ukraine’s Andrey Kurkov Honored in Iceland
The pace is picking up quickly, isn’t it? The energy of Frankfurter Buchmesse is starting to pull the many strands of world publishing together, opening channels of communication with each other.

Along the way, you may have seen our interview with Swiss filmmaker Eva Vitija, whose documentary  Loving Highsmith has its Los Angeles opening tonight at Landmark’s Nuart Theatre on Santa Monica Boulevard. As you’ll remember from our article in February, Zurich’s Diogenes Verlag handles Highsmith’s literary estate.

And Susanne Bauknecht at Diogenes today (September 9) reminds us that one of Diogenes’ authors, the Ukrainian novelist Andrey Kurkov, on Wednesday (September 7) received Iceland’s 2022 Halldór Laxness International Literature Prize and its €15,000 purse (US$14,991).

Andrey Kurkov

As reported by Larissa Kyzer for the Iceland Review, Kurkov, who is PEN Ukraine president, received the honor from Iceland’s prime minister, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, in Reykjavik, and delivered a lecture in this, the third year of the award program.

Be sure to watch for the Focus on Ukraine program at Frankfurter Buchmesse, centered in Hall 4.

In case you missed it, our report from Frankfurt’s news conferences Thursday is here. During his comments to the news media, Frankfurt president and CEO Juergen Boos revealed that the show looks to be on track to be some 70-percent the size of the 2019 edition, which was the last iteration unaffected, of course, by the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

As you and our many rights readers know, the LitAg has sold out and has a waiting list.

Speaking of the trading center, you’ll also find word from the United Kingdom of the Independent Publishers Guild using the government’s Department of International Trade to support its special training program in rights and book exports for independent publishers going to Frankfurt.

And our frequently updating lineup of speakers and programming for October 19 and 20 in our new Publishing Perspectives Forum at Frankfurt is here. We hope you’ll join us—even if you can just drop in between meetings, it’s fine—for as many of these events as possible.

And, as in each roundup, we use some of the sales copy supplied to us by agents and rights directors, editing that copy to give you an idea about a book’s nature and tone, but limiting the promotional elements. If you’d like to submit a deal to Publishing Perspectives, see the instructions at the end of this article.


Blösch
(Cow)

By Beat Sterchi

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

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Dutch: Atlas Contact
  • English: Head of Zeus (London, now owned by Bloomsbury)
  • French: Éditions Zoé

Beat Sterchi. Image: Franziska Rothenbühler

Diogenes is referring to this book as one “with lasting impact” because, as they write, “On publication in 1982, Beat Sterchi caused a sensation with his novel Blösch. Now, this ‘mind-blowing, great book’ (Basler Zeitung) is available once more.

“Blösch is the story of the life of a Spaniard who comes to work on a farm as a laborer, of his peaceful life with the cows–one of them named Blösch—and the not-so-peaceful villagers.”

Sterchi was given the ZDF Aspekte Literature Prize for this work. A critic writing for Der Spiegel in Hamburg about the book said, “This is the story of a foreign worker in the Switzerland of the 1960s—and also the story of a cow. And both stories belong together, for they are both the story of the used, over-used, and abused creature, be it human or animal.”

Sterchi, a native of Berne, studied English in Canada, taught in Tegucigalpa and Montreal, and now is once more based in Berne. He’s the winner of the 2018 Literaturpreis “Kanton Bern” for Aber gibt es keins (But There Is None).


Waiting for the Flood

By Dolores Redondo

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

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Italian: Rizzoli
  • Basque: Erein
  • Catalan: Columna
  • Portuguese/Brazil: Planeta
  • Portuguese/Portugal: Planeta

Dolores Redondo. Image: Xavier Torres-Bacchetta

“Between 1968 and 1969, a serial killer known by the press as Bible John killed three young women in Glasgow. He was never identified.

“In 1983, Noah Scott Sherrington, a Scottish investigator, manages to get to Bible John, but at the last moment, an unexpected heart failure hinders the arrest.

“Despite his fragile health, Noah follows a hunch that will lead him all the way to Bilbao, against his superiors’ orders to cease persecution. A few days later, a disastrous flood will destroy the city.”

Redondo, of course, is the author of the Baztán Trilogy, and this novel, just out this year, is described as “a tribute to work culture, full of nostalgia for a time in which radios were some of the few open windows to the world and, especially, to music. It is also a celebration of the camaraderie of Basque groups of friends (cuadrillas) and to love stories that are born from a hunch.”


The Wolf Run

By Kerstin Ekman

  • Publisher: Albert Bonniers Förlag, Stockholm
  • Rights contact: Johanna Lindborg, Bonnier Rights
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Turkish: İnkilap Kitabevi
  • Catalan: Les Hores
  • Danish: Gyldendal
  • Dutch: Ambo Anthos
  • Estonian: Varrak
  • Faroese: Sprotin
  • Finnish: Tammi
  • French: Denoël
  • German: Piper Verlag
  • Italian: Iperborea
  • Lithuanian: Baltos Lankos
  • Norwegian: Aschehoug
  • Serbian: Vulkan
  • Spanish: Tusquets Editores
  • Ukrainian: Books XXI

Kerstin Ekman. Image: Bodil Bergqvist

Kerstin Ekman returns after 10 years with “a novel about man’s relationship to nature, aging in the 21st century, and what it means to be human.

“Ulf Norrstig is a man in his 70s coming to terms with aging and with how he has lived his life, as well as that of his wife, Inga, and their long marriage. The Wolf Run is the story of how we utilize the wisdom life has granted us through being lived, and lived well. It’s also the story of a community and a wolf—and how an unexpected encounter between man and wolf has the power to change the course of the lives of everyone in the small town of Loåsen.

“True to form, Ekman also incorporates a whodunnit and a great deal of erudition in this novel.”

Ekman published her debut in 1959 as a crime writer. In 1978 she was elected to the Swedish Nobel Academy, and left her chair in 1989. Her narratives, often rooted in the everyday, have made her one of the most widely read Swedish writers of the 20th century. Her works are translated into 30 languages and she has won the August Prize twice, and the Nordic Council Literature Prize.


The Astonishing Tale of Georg von Nothing

By Cilla and Rolf Börjlind

  • Publisher: Norstedts, Stockholm
  • Rights contact: Grand Agency
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Netherlands: AW Bruna
  • Norway: Gyldendal
  • Germany: btb

Cilla & Rolf Börjlind

“At the innermost point of a deep sea inlet on Sweden’s coast lies the village Darkside, which sunlight reaches only every fifth year. The story unfolds just as that happens.

“The year is 1960. Darkside is a place where life is unaffected by the ravages of time. Almost. One day, a stranger appears. He has unexpected talents. At the great summer fest, Georg von Nothing performs his astonishing magic trick before a stunned audience. Then Darkside returns to its own course. Almost.”

Agent Lena Stjernström tells us that this one—from two authors primarily known as crime writers, is much more “a tall tale with a great portion of humor, writing joy, and generosity.” With Bruna and Gyldendal in place, Stjernström is now presenting this for international rights beyond the Nordics, German’s btb having made a buy, as well.


The Knife in the Fire

By Ingeborg Arvola

  • Publisher: Cappelen Damm, Oslo
  • Rights contact: Ingvild Haugland Blatt, Cappelen Damm
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Finland: Gummerus (in a three-book deal pre-empt)
  • Denmark: Gutkind (in a three-book deal pre-empt)
  • Sweden: Albert Bonnier (pre-empt)
  • Netherlands: first offer in hand

Ingeborg Arvola

The Knife in the Fire is an historical novel about work and love, strong communities, and carefree erotica, the individual and the community.

“The year is 1859. Brita Caisa Seipajærvi straps on her skis and takes the long road from Finland to Norway with her two children. Brita Caisa has been disciplined by the church for having an affair with a married man. She can heal animals and humans.

“The destination for their journey is Bugøynes, where the sea is said to be brimming with cod.”

The Knife in the Fire is reported to be the first title in a series called Ruijan rannalla (Songs from the Arctic Ocean), about Finnish Kvens and the landscape in which they live.

Brita Caisa is based on the great-great-grandmother of author Ingeborg Arvola.


The Bleeding

By Johana Gustawsson

  • Publisher: Calmann-Lévy, Paris
  • Rights contact: Adélaïde Sorel, Éditions Calmann-Lévy
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – World English: Orenda Books
  • French Audio: Audiolib
  • French, paperback: Le Livre de Poche

Johana Gustawsson

“In Québec, 2002, Maxine, a police inspector is called to a crime scene involving close ones from her past.

“In Paris, 1889, Lucienne watches helplessly as her private mansion is engulfed in flames and she refuses to believe that her daughters have died in the fire.

“In Québec, 1949, Lina, a troubled teen, starts a friendship with an old and odd patient of the “madhouse” where her mother works.

“Three interwoven time periods, three women fighting to regain control of their lives.”


Remember that your fastest way to keep up with developments around #FBM22 news and programing is to check in on our page dedicated to Frankfurter Book Fair (October 19 to 23).

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.

This is Publishing Perspectives’ 158th report with awards-related news published in the 167 days since our 2022 operations began on January 3.


More of Publishing Perspectives‘ rights roundups are here, and more from us on international rights trading is here.

A newly devised venue, the Publishing Perspectives Forum will offer two days of programming on October 19 and 20, curated by Publishing Perspectives in cooperation with Frankfurter Buchmesse. Dash over to the Congress Center, Level 2, Room Spektrum, whenever you can get a break from the LitAg, we’ll be glad to welcome you to the Forum.

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

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