Double prize-winning triumph for THE DEAD YARD by Ian Thomson

Ian Thomson’s insight into modern-day Jamaica has been awarded the 2010 Dolman Travel Book of the Year! THE DEAD YARD, published by Faber, won Thomson the prize at a ceremony yesterday evening at the Arts Club in London. His title was chosen from more than 70 titles submitted to the prize.

Chair and travel writer Michael Jacobs, speaking from South America, said:

THE DEAD YARD is not just a beautifully written and very rich account of a distant place, but also a book of vital importance for the understanding of a major element in contemporary British culture.”

In May of this year, Ian Thomson also won the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize, awarded to the book that best evokes the spirit of a place. The judging panel said:

“His candid portrait – vigorous, illuminating and sometimes shocking – allows Jamaica to speak for itself. Thomson is a brave writer who takes himself into unexpected, sometimes edgy places. The island he describes is a place of verdant beauty; history-ridden, post-colonial with an undertow of disappointment and violence. This is the best kind of travel writing: stimulating, educative and evocative.”

20 BEST NOVELISTS UNDER 40

After The New Yorker’s recent list of 20 Best American Writers Under 40, I’m pleased I won’t have to wait until 2013 for Granta’s next list of “Best Young British Novelists”. The Telegraph has already published an intriguing list of Britain’s Best 20 Novelists Under 40. Zadie Smith is obviously on it, but the other writers are less well-known and I’m especially thrilled that Adam Foulds, David Szalay, and Patrick Neate are included.

Adam Foulds was the youngest author on last year’s shortlist for the Booker Prize and his acclaimed second novel, THE QUICKENING MAZE, is the most intense, graceful, intelligent yet understated, and deeply moving historical novel I’ve read since Penelope Fitzgerald’s The Blue Flower. THE QUICKENING MAZE is now published in the US as a Penguin paperback original and I doubt it happens very often that a paperback novel by a young English writer is given a three-page review by James Wood in The New Yorker. The review begins, “It has been a while since I have read a book as richly sown with beauty as Adam Foulds’ novel THE QUICKENING MAZE. It is a remarkable work, remarkable for the precision and vitality of its perceptions and for the successful intricacy of its prose.” I cannot link to the complete New Yorker review, but you can read an abstract here and I’ll gladly email the pdf of it to anyone who asks me for it. There is also a great review in The Washington Post: “Foulds conveys the profound loneliness of mental illness, the anxiety of being at least partially aware of one’s own peculiarity.” So far foreign rights to THE QUICKENING MAZE are sold to publishers in The Netherlands, Portugal, Israel, Czech Republic, China, and Egypt.

David Szalay’s perceptive, sensitive, darkly humorous writing is very much on my mind this spring and summer as I begin submitting his new manuscript, a contemporary London love story, which is currently titled “March” and will be published by Jonathan Cape in March 2011. Everyone at United Agents and everyone at Jonathan Cape who has read it, beginning with David Szalay’s editor, Dan Franklin, has declared it a masterpiece. Meanwhile, the Vintage paperback of David Szalay’s acclaimed second novel, THE INNOCENT, is being published on August 5th and Waterstones has picked him for a special promotion as “The Next Big Thing”. The Sunday Times review of THE INNOCENT said, “This is a slim book, but Szalay packs it with skilfully condensed detail…Still in his mid-thirties, Szalay will surely soon be adding more prizes to his Betty Trask [which he won for his debut novel, London and the Southeast].” So far David Szalay’s only foreign publisher is Keter in Israel.

Patrick Neate’s most recent novel, JERUSALEM, is the most illuminating, original, entertaining, imaginative yet hard-hitting novel I’ve read about contemporary England and Africa. Penguin has just published a new paperback edition along with new editions of Patrick’s acclaimed first two novels, Twelve Bar Blues (Winner of the 2001 Whitbread Prize) and Musungu Jim and the Great Chief Tuloko. So far the only foreign rights to JERUSALEM are sold to the French publisher, Intervalles. I will keep trying to convince others across Europe to translate this brilliant novel that William Boyd picked as one of his favourite novels of 2009 and Irvine Welsh praised as “The most though-provoking novel of the year. An utterly essential read.”

Waking up in the world of James Bond

On May 28th, I woke up in New York, after dancing through the night with friends at a BEA party, to spring into action as foreign rights agent for the next James Bond novel. My colleague, Simon Trewin, is literary agent for The Ian Fleming Estate and I had been sworn to secrecy about PROJECT X to be written by the masterful American thriller writer, Jeffery Deaver, but on May 28th, which is Ian Fleming’s birthday, the news was announced in international headlines (Telegraph, Guardian, New York Times, BBC, MSNBC, ABC News, etc). Before I was even out of bed, I was wielding my blackberry. The book will be published by Hodder in the UK and Simon and Schuster in the US on May 28, 2011, and even though there won’t be a manuscript to read until October 30th, 2010, it’s already the most exciting and fun project I’ve ever worked on. The details of the plot, settings, and characters (aside from James Bond) are still top-secret, but you can be among the first to find out about it at this PROJECT X website. The first foreign language deal is with the Dutch publisher, Unieboek, and offers are coming in from Germany, France, Spain, Russia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Korea. I’m aiming for deals in at least 30 countries before the end of this year.

THROUGH THE LANGUAGE GLASS by Guy Deutscher

Guy Deutscher’s new book, THROUGH THE LANGUAGE GLASS, is now published by Random House on the Heinemann imprint and is one of the most reviewed books of the week! Glowing praise comes from the Sunday Times, Spectator, Observer, Guardian, New Scientist, Financial Times and on Popularscience.co.uk.

Sam Leith writes in the Sunday Times:

“this fabulously interesting book describes an area of intellectual history replete with brilliant leaps of intuition and crazy dead ends.  Guy Deutscher, who combines enthusiasm with scholarly pugnacity…is a vigorous and engaging guide to it…THROUGH THE LANGUAGE GLASS is…a remarkably rich, provocative and intelligent work of pop science.”

Christine Keaneally writes in the New Scientist:

THROUGH THE LANGUAGE GLASS [is] a book so robustly researched and wonderfully told that it is hard to put down…Deutscher…brings together more than a century’s worth of captivating characters, incidents and experiments that illuminate the relationship between words and mind…[He] makes a convincing case for the influence of language on thought, and in doing so he reveals as much about the way colour words shape our perception as about the way that scientific dogma and fashion can blind us.”

You can find Guy Deutscher’s interview in the Observer here.

So far, foreign rights to THROUGH THE LANGUAGE GLASS have sold in Germany (C H Beck), Spain (Ariel) and Israel (Xargol). The US publisher is Metropolitan books and will publish their edition on 31st August 2010.

THROUGH THE LANGUAGE GLASS is a brilliant and provocative exploration of how the cultures we live in affect not just the languages we speak but how we think of the world around us. Stephen Fry calls it ‘[a] marvellous and surprising book which left me breathless and dizzy with delight.’  We are hoping that many more foreign publishers will feel the same way as we do about this exceptional, entertaining, mind-bending book!

Crazy for Julia Crouch’s debut CUCKOO!

The Italian publisher, Garzanti, read Julia Crouch’s debut thriller CUCKOO overnight within 24 hours of submitting the manuscript and we’ve accepted an enthusiastic pre-emptive offer for two books. Julia Crouch will join Garzanti’s successful list of quality commercial fiction including authors such as Kim Edwards, Sophie Hannah, Lynda La Plante, Elly Griffiths, Katie Hickman and Joanne Harris.

Now there’s also a German deal with Ullstein who have also bought two books. They will publish Julia Crouch as a lead author on their paperback list. Amongst Ullstein’s most successful authors are Linwood Barclay, Chris Carter, Iris Johanson, Sam Hayes, Jack Kerley, Dennis Lehane and – currently on the SPIEGEL-bestseller list – Tania Carver.

CUCKOO is a deliciously unsettling and completely compulsive page-turner. It is the kind of novel that creeps up on you and makes the world seem a darker and more sinister place. Friendship, old secrets and infidelity all come together in a very potent mix. Headline pre-empted UK rights from primary agent Simon Trewin in a three-book deal.  They will publish CUCKOO in hardcover in Autumn 2010 and in mass market paperback for Summer 2011.  Editor Leah Woodburn sees Julia Crouch as an author who will build into a bestselling female suspense author.  Julia Crouch plans to write one new thriller each year.  She already has started writing her second novel, BLOOD WILL HAVE BLOOD.

WHAT THEY DO IN THE DARK by Amanda Coe

WHAT THEY DO IN THE DARK is an extraordinary, brave, unsettling debut novel. It is a seductive and ultimately bone-chilling narrative that draws you into the world of its young protagonists with a warmth and ease that only serve to make its conclusion all the more deadly. Throughout the novel, we circle and alight only in moments on inflections of neglect, abuse, and culpability; and as readers we are utterly implicated in a final crescendo that draws together each fleeting brush with the unthinkable that we may have chosen to overlook, and forces a confrontation that is brutal and devastating.

After a UK auction, last week Amanda Coe and her agent, Anna Webber, accepted the highest of three best offers from Ursula Doyle of Virago/Little, Brown. The underbidders were Jonathan Cape (Dan Franklin) and Sceptre (Carole Welch). This is the most exciting response that Anna Webber (the literary agent of last year’s Orange Prize shortlisted debut author, Samantha Harvey, and Booker Prize shortlisted, Adam Foulds) has ever had for a novel she has submitted. And it says a lot for such a disturbing and controversial novel to have had three of the most prestigious English publishers bidding for it. The US rights also sold at auction (via agent Zoe Pagnamenta) to Jill Bialosky of W.W. Norton.

Italian rights were swiftly pre-empted during The London Book Fair by Andrea Canobbio of Einaudi who was given the manuscript exclusively the first day of the fair and read WHAT THEY DO IN THE DARK overnight. He said that this was the only other time he’s bought a novel ahead of an English-language publisher was when he bought the Booker Prize-winning novel The White Tiger.


Anna Webber describes WHAT THEY DO IN THE DARK as “an uncomfortable, important novel that will get people talking about child abuse and exploitation. Amanda Coe dares to look at the victims without a trace of sentimentality. WHAT THEY DO IN THE DARK shows how victims can turn into the most fiendish perpetrators and that the question of guilt will never be satisfactorily answered.” Comparisons are We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver, I’m Not Scared by Niccolo Amanniti, and Michael Haneke’s film The White Ribbon. Amanda Coe had a first collection of stories called A Whore in the Kitchen published by Virago in 2002 and since then has embarked on a very successful screenwriting career.  The Times recently named her one of the top ten women in television.  (Amanda Coe’s film and tv rights are handled by Cathy King at Independent Talent.)

JANE BORODALE’S DEBUT NOVEL THE BOOK OF FIRES IS SHORTLISTED FOR THE ORANGE AWARD FOR NEW WRITERS!

Congratulations to Jane Borodale and her primary agent, Sarah Ballard, for THE BOOK OF FIRES being one of only three novels shortlisted for The Orange Award for New Writers!

You can read more about this beautiful novel and see one of the judges, Observer columnist Rachel Cooke, praising THE BOOK OF FIRES on the Orange Prize website here.

The UK publisher is HarperCollins and the US publisher is Viking (Pam Dorman Books).  So far the only foreign publisher is Matar/Israel.