Rights Roundup: A Busy Nordic Spring

In News by Porter Anderson

In Finland, agent Elina Ahlbäck talks of the strength of Finnish nonfiction, especially in the area of national ‘sisu’ concepts of selfhood.

Porvoo in May, a city in the Uusimaa region on the southern coast of Finland about 22 miles south of Helsinki. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Eugene Sergeev

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

‘Leadership as Mastery’
As Elina Ahlbäck at the Ahlbäck Agency in Helsinki tells us for today’s Rights Roundup, “All things related to Finland and Finnish-ness” seem to be especially strong, particularly in nonfiction categories.

“This week,” she says, “we closed three such deals”:

“It feels to me,” Ahlbäck says, “that Finns do have something unique in their concepts for nonfiction, leadership, and personal growth.”

And maybe this can be found in more of the Nordic cultures, too, each of them having traditions of self-awareness and actualization that have interested readers in other countries at many points in history. You’ll find today that we hear not only from Finland, but from Norway, as well—and from France, Spain, Italy, and Mexico. 

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.

The Big Showdown: How Putin Wages War on Our Democracies
By Raphaël Glucksmann

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

Reported rights sales:

  • Brazil: Autenthica, in a preempt

Raphaël Glucksmann is a Member of the European Parliament, and the founding chairman of the Parliament’s Special Committee on Foreign Interference.

“In this new book, Glucksmann reveals how, out of blindness, weakness, or greed, some of the Western elites have been allowing hostile international powers to work in the heart of our democracies for years, destabilizing them.

“Of those powers, the most aggressive is Russia. By recruiting politicians at the highest government level, it has, for example, made Germany dependent on Russian hydrocarbons. At the helm is a certain Matthias Warnig, a former Stasi agent who has become close to Putin and is the boss of the Nordstream gas pipeline, which has recruited former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder to its board.

“Germany is not the only country affected. Corruption of the elites, financing of anti-European parties, or fake news campaigns on social networks: Russia’s hybrid war affects all the countries of the European Union as well as the United States.”

By Pedro Carmona-Alvarez

  • Publisher: Kolon Forlag, Oslo
  • Rights contact: Winje Agency
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • The Netherlands/Dutch: Ultgeverij Oevers

Chiquitita is a melancholy, poetic story about fleeing for one’s life, about the passage of time, and about the things in life that don’t disappear and come back to haunt us. In it, Marisol is a middle-aged woman who is looking back on her life, at the young woman she once was, the woman who once broke down in front of a painting of a small dog in a big city museum.”

Pedro Carmona-Alvarez

At another stage, “Marisol is a young woman on holiday with her boyfriend, her first love. They’re in a museum in a big city and looking at a painting of a sinking dog. Her boyfriend wants her to tell him about her life, her childhood, and the refugee child she once was. But she breaks down.”

And at a third stage, “Marison is a child living with her mother and father in a city by the ocean.”

Pedro Carmona-Alvarez, born in Chile in 1972, “moved to Norway when he was 10 years old, and writes with a unique voice, much loved in Norwegian literature.”

Darkness and Heaven
By Marco Malvaldi

  • Publisher: Giunte Editore, Florence
  • Rights contact: LeeAnn Bortolussi, Giunti Editore
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – World French: Éditions Seuil
  • World Spanish: Planeta Mexico

A No. 1 bestseller in Italy, Darkness and Heaven (Oscura e celeste) is set in Florence in 1631.

Marco Malvaldi

“Europe is a battlefield. The church fights against heresy and the plague rages through Italy.

“The grand duke of Tuscany allows only religious processions and acts of penance. One old man dares to defy the grand duke by taking care of his vineyards.

“It’s Galileo Galilei, who discovered the surface of the moon, the satellites of Jupiter, and the phases of Venus. He’s now publishing a work that threatens to subvert the place of humankind in the cosmos.”

By Elina Pitkäkangas

  • Publisher: WSOY, Helsinki
  • Rights contact: Anna Kappauf, Ahlback Agency
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – World German: CBJ Verlag (Penguin Random House)
  • Denmark: Staarup (two-book deal)
  • Turkey: Indigo Kitap

Sang is an epic novel about love and power in a fictional East Asia of the future. It’s the first volume in an LGBTQIA+ friendly YA fantasy-romantic two-book series with crossover potential.

Elina Pitkäkangas

“A winner of the Topelius Award and City of Tampere Literature Prize, Sang is to be followed by its sequel, Naraka, in the autumn of this year.

In the book, “The state of Fusang is recovering from a war that ravaged the world. Sixteen-year-old Kong Dawei, an earnest young man, is living in a poor mountain village and tries to pay his adopted siblings’ citizen dues by transporting contraband goods at night.

“After a series of unfortunate events, Dawei ends up in the southern capital which is ruled by the cruel matriarch of the White Tiger Clan. When there is nothing else to lose, Dawei has only one goal: to get back to his loved ones, his brother Ren, and his friend and love interest Dray,”

Petites Choses
(Little Things)
By Benoit Coquil

  • Publisher: Payot & Rivages, Paris
  • Rights contact: Marie-Martine Serrano at Rivages and Magalie Delobelle Elsa Misson at SFSG Agency
  • Book info: Read more here
  • Newest – Italian: ongoing offers
  • Spain: Seix Barral
  • Germany: Berlin Verlag

“Set in Mexico in the 1950s, “In the heart of the misty mountains of the Oaxaca region, the shaman María Sabina indulges in strange incantations, mixed with trances and songs. She uses psilocybins, powerful hallucinogenic mushrooms, in her rituals, which she calls her ‘little things.’

Benoit Coquil

“Driven by curiosity, self-taught scientists Gordon and Valentina Wasson leave from New York in search of the last psychotropic drug still unknown to the West.

“The story of their discovery and their experiences under the effect of this substance will be known by both the CIA and Paris’ Museum of Natural History, and in both the psychedelic counter-culture and to the laboratories of Sandoz pharmaceuticals.”

40 Weeks
(40 Uker)
By Anna Blix

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

Reported rights sales:

  • English / United Kingdom and Commonwealth, except for Canada: MacLehose Press

With an especially strong six-star review from Dabladet, Anna Blix’s 40 Weeks is about how it takes 40 weeks to grow a human baby.

Anna Blix

“Along the way, the relationship between the fetus and the pregnant woman bears a resemblance to that of a parasite and its host. One takes and takes, while the other continue to give, risking their health in the process.

“Anna Blix takes the reader on a personal, investigative, and deeply fascinating journey through each of the 40 weeks in a human pregnancy.

“In parallel, for each week, we meet other creatures who have just delivered their young into the world.

“The bacteria E. coli has multiplied twice within 20 minutes. An Eastern grey kangaroo is pregnant for just five weeks before giving birth to a baby the size of a bean, which then crawls into its pouch to grow. And the birds with the longest incubation period of all, the wandering albatross, has an incubation period of only 10 weeks.”

Harald’s Mamma
By Johanna Frid

  • Publisher: Albert Bonniers Förlag, Stockholm
  • Rights contact: Lena Stjernström & Umberto Ghidoni, Grand Agency
  • Book info: Read more here

This book releases this month. Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Denmark: GAD
  • Finland: WSOY
  • Norway: Aschehoug

“Daughter-in-law and mother-in-law meet at an airport. For a day they await a delayed plane and as the hours pass, the confrontations become more relentless.

Johanna Frid

“For the daughter-in-law, it becomes more and more obvious what a dominant role the mother-in-law plays in the relationship between herself and her husband’s life. What happens when you realize that you are suddenly three people in a couple?”

Johanna Frid Frid made her debut in 2017 with a collaborative work with Gordana Spasic. Familieepos (Family Epos), a work of poetry. It was shortlisted for both the Catapult Award of the Swedish Writers’ Union, and Swedish Radio’s Poetry Prize. Frid’s first novel, Nora, or Burn Oslo Burn, was published in late 2018 and was on the Dagens Nyheter Critic’s List for 11 weeks, seven of those weeks at No. 1.

Blood Ties
By Verónica E. Llaca

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

Reported rights sales. :

  • Newest – Portuguese / Brazil: Faro Editorial
  • World English: Mountain Leopard Press
  • Russian: Eksmo

“When writer Ignacio Suárez is sent photos of two murdered women–mirroring a passage of his crime novel–he rushes to uncover who is responsible.

Verónica E. Llaca

“He doesn’t suspect that the key to solving these crimes lies in the forgotten story of Felícitas Sánchez, the midwife turned child-killer who became known in the 1940s as the Ogress of Colonia Roma.

“Diary entries and newspaper articles come together to reveal how Felícitas, who grew up in a small community in Mexico, became an infamous child trafficker and murderer in the country’s capital, and how her crimes are linked to this new wave of murders.

“Through two timelines, the author evokes a tale of cursed bloodlines, the origin and inheritance of evil, and how far the past can truly be escaped.”

Submitting Rights Deals to Publishing Perspectives

Do you have rights deals to report? Agents and publishing-house 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

We look forward to hearing from you.

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