Rights Roundup: JVNLA and Esku Cooking Up Deals

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A literary agency merger serves up culinary publishing as our Rights Roundup highlights books published in Turkish, Catalan, French, German, and Finnish.

Film rights holders and producers are signing up now for the 2024 ‘Books at Berlinale’ event, set for February 18. A full story on it is part of today’s Rights Edition. Image: Berlinale Co-Production Market, Silke Heyer

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

Also in our Rights Edition:
Germany’s Books at Berlinale: A Co-Production Market Rights Event
In Wales: Graffeg Buys World Rights to a Kids’ Book on Immigration

Agencies Ekus and JVNLA Share a Kitchen
Another case of agencies pooling resources today (January 12). You’ll remember that last year, Germany’s Michael Gaeb and Petra Eggers in Berlin merged their agencies into Literarische Agentur Gaeb & Eggers GmbH.

Jennifer Weltz

This week, the news is about the Jean V. Nagger Literary Agency in New York in a new partnership with the Ekus Group, which the companies say will operate as “a boutique culinary division.”

In terms of people, this sees the Naggar team—Jennifer Weltz, Alice Tasman, Ariana Philips, Alicia Brooks, and Cole Hildebrand—coming together with Sally Ekus and Ty Billman.

Sally Ekus

The Ekus Group was set up in 1982 by Lisa Ekus and now is owned by her daughter, Sally Ekus, focused on cookbook authors, chefs, and other culinary personalities. Initially a public-relations agency, it expanded its services to representation in 2000. The relationship between the companies goes back to Naggar’s creation of her agency in 1978: Lisa Ekus’ first job in publishing was with Naggar before she, Ekus, opened her own company four years later.

Ekus, in making the move to JVNLA, is opening her list to new clients in nonfiction, while bringing the Ekus Group backlist to the merger. The Ekus author-training programming and consultancy work is to continue.

As Weltz, the Naggar agency’s president, puts it, the Ekus partnership, “means JVNLA is at the forefront of one of the fastest growing niches in  publishing, food, and lifestyle, an area we are excited to expand.”

The Naggar company’s international rights sales have placed books into more than 50 countries, and you can see a list of the agency’s subsidiary rights co-agents here.

And below, we begin our first listings of the year with a quickly successful debut work published by Zurich’s formidable Diogenes Verlag AG.

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.

Paradise Garden

By Elena Fischer

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

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – English: Indigo Press
  • French: Gallmeister
  • Italian: Feltrinelli
  • Dutch: Meulenhoff
  • Portuguese: Porto
  • Spanish: Anaya
  • Slovak: In negotiation

Elena Fischer

“Billie, 14, rarely crosses the boundaries of her high-rise housing estate. By the end of the month, their money barely stretches to pasta with ketchup, but her mother, Marika, lights up Billie’s world.

“One day, however, Billie loses much more than the colorful everyday life she shared with her mother. No longer able to ask Marika any more questions, Billie sets off alone in their old Nissan, determined to meet the father she never knew and find out why she keeps dreaming about the sea, even though she’s never been there.”

Paradise Garden is Elena Fischer’s debut publication. World and film rights are handled by Diogenes.

The Jurywoman
(La Jurée)

By Claire Jéhanno

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

Reported rights sales:

  • Italy: Editoriale Mauri Spagnol Via / Astoria

“Anna Zeller has been called for jury duty. The experience is as dizzying as it is unprecedented for her.

Claire Jéhanno

“Called on to decide about the guilt or innocence of a young couple with no priors on trial for poisoning and murder, the young woman will see her own past looming up, a past that will transport her 20 years back, to a playground in Brittany. On the day that Anna Boulanger became Anna Zeller.

“The jury members have one week to decide the fate of the accused and to get a handle on their disturbing past. That’s also how long it will take for Anna’s life to be upended.”

This is author Claire Jéhanno’s debut publication, released in April 2023. Awards include a finalist’s position in the 2023 Prix Maison de la Presse.

Proust, Family Novel
(Proust, roman familial

By Laure Murat

  • Publisher: Éditions Robert Laffont
  • Rights contact: Benita Edzard, Éditions Robert Laffont
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Germany: Berlin Verlag
  • Italy: Sellerio
  • Spain: Anagrama
  • Taiwan: Ecus Publishing
  • England: Penguin Random House/Allen Lane

“Laure Murat comes from the French aristocracy and nobility. She grew up in a world convinced of its prestige, between salons and castles, close to that described in In Search of Lost Time. Proust was inspired by certain members of his family, whose names are sprinkled throughout the novel.

Laure Murat

“But when, nearing adulthood, Murat read In Search of Lost Time, a shift occurred: the power of fiction revealed to her that her real life would only have been a life of theater and representation.

“‘I ended up,” Murat says, “around the age of 20, reading In Search of Lost Time. And there, my life changed. Proust knew better than I did what I was going through. he showed me to what extent aristocracy is a universe of empty forms. Even before my break with my own family, he offered me a meditation on the internal exile experienced by those who deviate from social and sexual norms.

“Proust didn’t just enlighten me about my original environment. It constituted me as a subject, an active reader of my own life, by revealing to me the power of emancipation of literature, which is also a power of consolation and reconciliation with time.”

Other Mothers
(Les altras mares)

By Laia Aguilar

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

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Arabic: Al Arabi Publishing
  • Spanish: Destino

Laia Aguilar

“Three impressive stories that intertwine, about women who live on the margins of motherhood and end up sharing a common fate.

“Emma is eight months pregnant when she must face the loss of her child.

“Jhanet has been raised in Bolivia by her grandmother while her mother worked as a housekeeper in Spain. Now, at 15, Jhanet decides to find the mother she desperately needs but barely knows.

“Natalka, in Ukraine, is trapped in an abusive relationship with a man who forces her be a surrogate. She will have to deliver the baby to an Irish couple right after she gives birth.”

As the Andes Disappear
(Là où je me terre)

By Caroline Dawson

  • Publisher: Éditions du remue-ménage, Montréal
  • Rights contact: Julie Finidori, JF Agency
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Albanian: Shkupi Publishing
  • World English: Book Hug Press

Caroline Dawson

“In December 1986, a man and a woman tell their children that they must leave everything behind and flee Pinochet’s Chile.

“It’s Christmas, Caroline is 7 years old. She discovers Montreal snow, French classes, children who make fun of her and her lunch box, and the offices her parents clean.

“Between exile, ghosts, and differences, Caroline hides her desire to live to become a model immigrant. This novel probes the possibility of loving and fighting without having to run away.”

My Grandfather Is a Goldfish

By Işıl Şahin and İnci Özdemir
Illustrated by Pelin Turgut

  • Publisher: Çınar Yayınları, Istanbul
  • Rights contact: Gamze Erentürk, Kovan Agency
  • Book info: Read more here

No reported rights sales.

Illustrator Pelin Turgut

“Mete is ten years old. A little lazy, a little mischievous, like every kid.

“He finds it both confusing and frightening that his grandfather forgets him every time they meet each other.

“When he starts to spend more time with his grandfather during one of his visits, the bond between them gets stronger as Mete witnesses his grandfather’s perspective about the world. A novel about forgetting, remembering, building bonds and being a family.”

The Horned God

By Magdalena Hai

  • Publisher: Otava, Helsinki
  • Rights contact: Elina Ahlback/Sten-Erik Tammemäe, Ahlback Agency
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Slovenia: Didakta
  • Denmark: ABC Forlag
  • Norway: Gursli Berg

“Lauri, 17, wakes up in the hospital after a fatal car crash and he doesn’t remember much about it. Mom is dead, his father is in a coma, and now life has changed drastically.

Magdalena Hai

“When Lauri starts his slow recovery in a small town at his aunt’s house, he has an unpleasant feeling that everything isn’t right. The dead don’t stay dead and the beautiful neighbor Vilja-Maaria doesn’t want to live.

“When an ominous creature with antlers appears behind the window, Lauri begins to see nightmarish dreams that feel too real.”

Magdalena Hai’s book is a winner of the 2023 Finlandia Prize in the children’s and youth category. It’s rated YA, for readers 13 and older. Hai’s books reportedly have been sold into 27 languages and territories.

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.

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