Rights Roundup: Chinese-Language Words-to-Screen

In News by Porter Anderson

Our Rights Roundup features rights-trading news from Taiwan, Italy, the Czech Republic, Canada, Croatia, and Norway.

In the Wanhu district of Taipei, Dadaocheng’s Dihua Street. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Bing-Jhen Hong

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

Chinese-Language Books-to-Film
Close readers of our China Bestsellers series here at Publishing Perspectives will notice today that the film option deal sent to us for Rights Roundup by Whitney Hsu at Andrew Nurnberg Associates Taiwan has gone to Plan B Entertainment—one of the companies participating in the television-series adaptation of Liu Cixin’s Remembrance of Earth’s Past, more commonly known as The Three-Body Problem trilogy.

The Liu Cixin series, with episode direction by Minkie Spiro and Derek Tsang, is to be released on Netflix in January with writing by project lead David Benioff, DB Weiss, and Alexander Woo. Plan B is the film production company created in 2001 by Jennifer Aniston, Kristin Hahn, Brad Grey, and Brad Pitt. In 2005, Pitt became the sole owner of the company. Since 2022, there has been a corporate partnership reported with France’s Mediawan.

The Membranes, presented here by Hsu, is Chi’s groundbreaking 1995 novel, the world English rights for which are held by Columbia University Press. Ari Larissa Heinrich’s English translation for Columbia is here. We’re glad this month to welcome Whitney Hsu to Rights Roundup.

In addition, we’d like to remind you today that Frankfurter Buchmesse‘s (October 18 to 22) venerable Frankfurt Rights Meeting this year has been reformulated as a hybrid event with sessions held on four Tuesdays, culminating in an in-person networking reception in Frankfurt.

Here’s our story describing how that’s going to work, and you’ll find ticketing information here. The first session of the Frankfurt Rights Meeting—looking at issues in artificial intelligence—is on September 5. That program features:

  • Tom Chatfield (moderator), author and technology philosopher
  • Madeline McIntosh, former CEO of Penguin Random House USA
  • Thomas Cox, managing director, Arq Works
  • Duncan Calow, partner, DLA Piper
  • Peter Schoppert, director, NUS Press

And lastly, if you’ve enjoyed Frankfurt’s online “The Hof” series in the past, note that Frankfurt president and CEO Juergen Boos and Niki Niki Théron will join Montreal’s Simon de Jocas on a pre-Frankfurt edition on August 31. Details are here.

A reminder to agents providing listings: If you are sending us a listing that has both an author and an illustrator, we must have photos of both people, not just the author.
If you’d like to submit a deal to Publishing Perspectives, see the instructions at the end of this article.

The Membranes
By Chi Ta-Wei (also transliterated as Ji Dawei)

  • Publisher: Linking Publishing, Taipei
  • Rights contact: Whitney Hsu, Andrew Nurnberg Associates Taiwan
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Plan B Entertainment: Film adaptation, exclusive option
  • World English: Columbia University Press
  • Italy: ADD Editore
  • Denmark: Korridor Small Press
  • France: L’Asiatheque
  • Finland: Hertta Kustannus Oy
  • Spain: Egales SL
  • Japan: Sakuhinsha
  • South Korea: Geulhangari Publishers

“First published in Taiwan in 1995, The Membranes is a classic of queer speculative fiction in Chinese. Chi Ta-wei weaves dystopian tropes—heirloom animals, radiation-proof combat drones, sinister surveillance technologies—into a sensitive portrait of one young woman’s quest for self-understanding. Predicting everything from fitness tracking to social media saturation, this visionary and sublime novel stands out for its homosexual and trans themes.

Chi Ta-Wei

The Membranes reveals the diversity and originality of contemporary speculative fiction in Chinese, exploring gender and sexuality, technological domination, and regimes of capital, all while applying an unflinching self-reflexivity to the reader’s own role.

“It is the late 21st Century, and Momo is the most celebrated dermal care technician in all of T City. Humanity has migrated to domes at the bottom of the sea to escape devastating climate change. The world is dominated by powerful media conglomerates and runs on exploited cyborg labor. Momo prefers to keep to herself, and anyway she’s too busy for other relationships: her clients include some of the city’s best-known media personalities. But after meeting her estranged mother, she begins to explore her true identity, a journey that leads to questioning the bounds of gender, memory, self, and reality.”

Chi’s scholarly work is focused on sinophone literary history as well as LGTBQ and disability studies. He’s an associate professor of Taiwanese literature at National Chengchi University. Chi holds a PhD in comparative literature from UCLA, the University of California at Los Angeles. He’s also the author of History of Gay Literature: The Invention of Taiwan.

Tracking the Wolverine

By Dag O. Hessen

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

Reported rights sales:

  • World English: Greystone Books

Dag O. Hessen

“One day in February 1972, Dag O. Hessen is on a ski trip with his father in the mountains when they come across a wolverine track.

“The young Dag convinces his father to follow the trail, but after half an hour of searching, they find that the imprints of the predator disappear down a steep passage and they have to give up on their hunt.

“Fifty years later he’s back at the same place to pick up on the trail. His father is now long gone, but the mountains are still there and somewhere out there is a wolverine.”

Unearthing: A Story of Tangled Love and Family Secrets
By Kyo Maclear

  • Publisher: Penguin Random House/Knopf Canada
  • Rights contact: Meg Wheeler, Westwood Creative Artists
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – South Korea: Barambooks
  • Country: United States: Scribner
  • United Kingdom: Pushkin Press
  • Russia: AdMarginem

Kyo Maclear

“Three months after Kyo Maclear’s father dies in December 2018, she gets the results of a DNA test showing that she and the father who raised her are not biologically related.

“Suddenly Maclear becomes a detective in her own life, unravelling a family mystery piece by piece, and assembling the story of her biological father. Along the way, larger questions arise: what exactly is kinship? And what does it mean to be a family?”

The book is described as featuring reflections on race and lineage, grief and loyalty, a “story of inheritance that goes beyond heredity. What gets planted, and what gets buried? What role does storytelling play in unearthing the past and making sense of a life? Can the humble act of tending a garden provide common ground for an inquisitive daughter and her complicated mother?”

What I Learned Before School (All By Myself)
By Andrijana Grgičević
Illustrated by Vanda Čižmek

  • Publisher: Ibis Grafika, Zagreb
  • Rights contact: Lina Krnic, Ibis Grafika
  • Book info: Read more here (this is a catalogue PDF; see Page 15)

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Spanish, Catalan, Basque, Galician: La Maleta Ediciones
  • Slovenian: KUD Sodobnost International

Andrijana Grgičević, left, and Vanda Čižmek

“In this book for pre-schoolers, a boy shares the most important lessons he’s learned (all by himself), things he considers essential for all pre-schoolers.

“Each spread offers a new piece of his wisdom, and when the words are cryptic, the illustrations offer clues to help children solve the puzzle.”

Promotional copy says that this book proves “that less is more when trying to keep children engaged and enjoying a book. The purpose of the answers this book offers is to inspire curiosity, with the weight put on family, and on moral and social values.”

Cambiare le ossa
By Barbara Baraldi

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

Reported rights sales:

  • World Spanish: Malpaso Ediciones (Baraldi’s Aurora series)

“For Aurora Scalviati, her return to Torino is hardly a homecoming. Called to consult on a case, she finds herself involved in an investigation with a disturbing link to the fiend who terrorized the city 30 years before.

“Now the only survivor of those crimes—a child at the time—has been killed in a barbaric ritual. Aurora is forced to come to terms with her father’s inconvenient past: it was he who had conducted the original investigation.

“Able, above all, to see the connections that no one else sees, and make them material to identify the killer. Aurora quickly realizes that, even if they seem to have nothing in common, the victims have been chosen according to a specific design.”

What? A Book About Communication and Understanding
By Radka Piro
Illustrated by Charlotte Molas

  • Publisher: Albatross Media, Prague
  • Rights contact: Tomáš Jodas, Albatros Media
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Portuguese: Leya
  • Italian: Il Castello
  • Complex Chinese: Commonwealth Education Media and Publishing
  • Korean: Seedbook
  • Simplified Chinese: China Science and Technology Press

Radka Piro, left, and Charlotte Molas

“This book is a guide to interpersonal communication, covering various forms of communication including speech, writing, posture, facial expressions, and technology-based communication.

“Its author’s and illustrator’s intentions are to help readers understand and improve their relationships with others by learning and practicing the skills of effective communication. ”

The book, we’re told, includes guidelines for safe communications in the online environment.

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.