Rights Roundup: A Finlandia Winner Sells Quickly

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The deals submitted to us for this Rights Roundup are for books originally from Czechia, Switzerland, Finland, Norway, and France.

Prague’s Albatross Media stand at the 2023 Bologna Children’s Book Fair. Image: Publishing Perspectives, Porter Anderson

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

Selling Kähkönen Into Azerbaijan
Raise your hand if you’ve just sold the rights for a prize-winning book into Azerbaijan. That’s Elina Ahlback in Helsinki waving back at us. She reports strong headway in sales for Sirpa Kähkönen’s 13th novel, 36 Urns: A History of Being Wrong. Details are in our first listing today below.

The winner of the prestigious 2023 €30,000 Finlandia Prize in the fiction category (the prize is also given for nonfiction and young readers’ content), Kähkönen’s work frequently turns on issues facing civilians in times of crisis, on histories of women and youngsters, on classic utopias and “big” ideas, making her a writer for these times and an intelligence easily recognized in many cultures. She has worked with PEN and is completely unafraid of fearful topics, as demonstrated in her book Graniitimies (Granite Man), a historical novel about the lives of young Finns during the Soviet era.

As a point of interest, Kähkönen’s previous novel, also represented by the Ahlback team, is Vihreä sali (The Green Chamber) from Otava in 2021, an acclaimed look at relationships in the 20th century in the setting of the great forests of the North. Many of us today can envy the Azerbaijanis and hope that more of Sirpa Kähkönen’s work will soon be available in English translation.

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.

36 Urns: A History of Being Wrong

By Sirpa Kähkönen

  • Publisher: Siltala Publishing, Helsinki
  • Rights contact: Elina Ahlback, Anna Kappauf, Sten-Erik Tammemäe, Ahlback Agency
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Azerbaijan: Qanum
  • Germany: Penguin Random House Verlagsgruppe / Blessing Verlag
  • Sweden: Lind & Co.
  • Hungary: Polar
  • Estonia: Koolibri

“Author Sirpa Kähkönen’s mother Riitta died in March 2022 after a long illness. In life, she struggled to accept love.

Sirpa Kähkönen

“I do not grieve your death, I grieve your life,” Kähkönen writes, knowing that her mother wouldn’t like the phrase. Her mother rejected love, despite longing for it the most. Riitta was athletic, beautiful, and gifted. A traffic accident at the age of 16 changed the course of her life forever.

“Drawing on her mother’s diaries, Kähkönen depicts the life of a 1950s girl and the dramatic change that followed the accident. The novel talks about community dance halls, a broken mind, flowing hems, a 1960s mother, anxiety, anger, and hate, addiction, and moments of psychosis. It talks about how wars and other crises become corporeal, how violence is inherited, and how the culture of discouragement and submission is passed down through the generations in sayings and attitudes, with the author clearly seeing herself as part of the tradition of anger and violence.

“The novel is permeated by a fiery love, as if an ancient Finnish spell that, with the power of words, is capable of bringing loved ones back from the dead.”

Kähkönen has published 12 novels prior to 36 Urns, four of which have been nominated for the Finlandia Prize prior to her win for this book. She also is the author of three nonfiction titles, one of them nominated for the Tieto-Finlandia Prize. She’s a 2022 recipient of the Finnish Cultural Foundation’s grand prize for significant achievements in culture.


By Martin Suter

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

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Spanish: Galaxia Gutenberg
  • Arabic: Al Arabi
  • French: Phébus
  • Greek: Kritiki
  • Italian: Sellerio

Martin Suter, a shot from Frankfurter Buchmesse, 2012

“In a villa on Zurich’s hillside lives the aging Dr. Stotz, surrounded by portraits of a young woman.

“Melody was once his fiancée, but shortly before the wedding, more than 40 years ago, she vanished. Stotz has never recovered from his loss.

“To organize his estate, Stotz hires a young student who urgently needs this job. Little by little, Tom begins to wonder whether Stotz is really who he pretends to be. On a Greek island, he stumbles across a peculiar trail.”

The Necessary Revolution:
Succeeding the Ecological Transition
Without Depending on China and the United States

By David Djaïz and Xavier Desjardins

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

Reported rights sales:

  • The Netherlands: Pluim

“The green transition hasn’t started yet.

David Djaïz

“Despite technological innovations, changes in our habits, corporations’ promises, national strategies, and all the COPs, the world has never consumed so much fossil fuel as it did in 2023.

“Why has there been so much speechifying for so little concrete effect? Is there anything at all behind the greening that so many organizations and citizens have been calling for?

Xavier Desjardins

“China and the United States have already initiated spectacular industrial renewals. They’re positioning themselves as champions of the green economy while organizing our dependence on them.

“France and Europe, on the other hand, have been establishing more and more ambitious environmental standards that lead to populist, anti-ecological backlash. We are still trying to figure out how to transform how we produce, consume, live, get around, and eat. Without stoking anger. While also asserting our industrial and political power at the same time.

“We have less than 30 years to achieve our green transition. This book is a how-to manual that can enable us to achieve that.”

Djaïz is a professor at Paris’ Sciences Po, an essayist, and the author of two previous books from Allary Éditions: Slow Démocratie (2019) and Le nouveau modèle français (2021).

Desjardins is a professor of urbanism at Sorbonne University and a consultant for the Acadie cooperative. His work as a geographer in urban planning includes the environmental issues it entails.

Tales of the Wind:
About the Air in the World and
Everything It Carries With It

By Ellen Viste

  • Publisher: Bonnier, Stockholm
  • Rights contact: Mira Mack Omdahl, Northern Stories
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Italy: Aboca
  • Sweden: Max Ström

“When the winds of the world move the air, it’s never just air. There’s something in the air.

Ellen Viste

“Tales of the Wind revolves around the air and everything it carries along with it. Through narratives from science, history, and journeys in nature, we come to understand why the air rarely stays still, and how the constant flow of seeds, water vapor, pollutants, and microbes can shape the world.

“Columbus sought out a route to Asia but found trade winds heading for America. Vasco da Gama defied centuries of logic and battled the monsoon. You’ll read about a Briton who explored sandstorms in a Ford Model T, about how Japan used the wind to bomb the United States, about Jesuit monks who were the first to predict hurricanes, and about how Vilhelm Bjerknes’ young meteorologists revolutionized international weather forecasting from the tiny Norwegian city of Bergen.

“Ellen Viste has spent years searching for stories about wind and weather. Is there a place where the wind never blows, and which part of the world has the strongest winds? Who exhaled the air you inhale? How long did it take for the radioactive waste from Fukushima to travel around the world, and will that incessant headwind ever let up?

“In Tales of the Wind, the reader finds a quest for order in a world of uncontrollable forces.”

(We’re glad to have Mira Mack Omdahl and Astrid Dalaker at Northern Stories join us this month, having not had deal submissions from them for a while. Welcome back.)

Why the World Badly Needs
Thin-Skinned Introverts

By Lenka Blažejová (author and illustrator)

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

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Complex Chinese: Heliopolis Culture Group
  • Italian: Piemme Simplified
  • Chinese: Guomai Culture

Lenka Blažejová

“Are you an introvert or a sensitive person?

“If not you, then surely someone close to you. Why is it cool and why does the world need you? You’ll learn this in this illustrated book, which is about the path to accepting your fragility and otherness.

“For sensitive introverts to believe in their inner strength, they must unpack their unique gifts and dare to show them. And this can give others a peek into their deep experience.”

Lenka Blažejová studied typography and graphic design at VŠUP in Prague.

Below is a video produced to promote the book, from Albatros Media:

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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