William Morris Endeavor is on a roll at the Frankfurt Book Fair. After agents Bill Clegg and Dorian Karchmar closed two separate pre-Frankfurt North American rights deals with HarperCollins’s Terry Karten, the agency has gone out with two more books generating heated interest in Germany. The new books, also novels, will be sold in various countries before the agency plans to accept offers in the U.S., or the U.K. The first title is an ambitious debut novel by two friends that Eric Simonoff is representing; the second is a book by Joshua Ferris’s wife, Eliza Kennedy, that Suzanne Gluck is representing, and that one insider called a Bridesmaids-like literary romp.
The book Simonoff is selling, War of the Encyclopaedists, by Chris Robinson and Gavin Kovit, follows two best friends whose lives diverge post-college, with one entering academia and the other heading off to fight in Iraq. The agency said Encyclopaedists, which pulls from the authors’ own lives—Robinson has MFAs from Hunter College and Boston University, while Kovite was a platoon leader in Baghdad for a year—is a “highly original tale of disenchanted youth bleeding into sobering adulthood.”
WME has already accepted significant pre-empts on the book in Holland (from Lebowski) and Germany (from Berlin Verlag), and said there is “strong interest” from publishers in Italy, Spain, France and Scandinavia; WME also expects U.S. and U.K. sales to close this week. Robinson, who was a finalist for the Yale Younger Poets Prize and has worked for author Mary Karr for the last three years, has written for literary magazines like The Kenyon Review and McSweeney’s. Kovite, who has a law degree from NYU and now works as a JAG attorney, had a story in the anthology of war fiction, Fire and Forget (Da Capo, 2013).
The second book, I Take You, follows about-to-be-hitched Lily, who defies the stereotype of the fairy tale bride. Set to marry the sweet and loving Will, Lily, who is boozy and promiscuous, is filled with questions and feeling of uncertainty. WME called the novel both “funny” and “subversive,” and said it “orbits around larger issues: the nature of choice, the implications of desire, the insidiousness of cultural expectations and the pursuit of the most undervalued idea of all, pure fun.” So far, the agency has accepted a pre-empt in Holland (from Xander) and has received offers from houses in Italy, France, Germany and Brazil.