"The DoJ, 50 Shades of Grey and J.K. Rowling," is what one foreign rights associate said when asked about the popular topics at this year's London Book Fair. With some Americans worried that economic woes in Europe, paired with the Department of Justice lawsuit against publishers, might affect the mood of the show, many reported that deal-making seemed brisk and spirits high. Even Internet issues--fair-goers struggled with outages on T1 lines and spotty wi-fi--didn't seem to dampen the mood of this year's show.
While no single book emerged to dominate deals chatter, a handful of titles, many which we've already mentioned in previous dispatches, remained hot throughout the three-day event. Among them, Sahar Delijani's debut, Children of the Jacranda Tree (which sold to Atria in the States, before the fair), Justin Gakuto Go's debut Steady Running of the Hour (which S&S also acquired before the fair), and the Swedish trilogy by Anders de la Motte, which had not sold in the U.S. at press time.
Other titles did crop up by day three, though. One book generating some buzz was Helen Giltrow's The Distance, which British agent Judith Murray sold to Orion at the fair, finalizing a two-book deal at auction. Grainne Fox, at Fletcher & Company, handled the U.S. sale for Murray, closing with Bill Thomas at Doubleday. Rumor has it that Giltrow, who wanted to meet potential editors before signing any deals, turned down a 200,000 pound pre-empt in the U.K. before ultimately signing with Orion. Fox would not speak to the advance in the U.S.
The novel follows a London society woman who runs a hi-tech, and hush-hush, company that helps people disappear, destroying all records of their existence. Trouble brews, however, when the heroine, whose identity is unknown to her customers, has her cover blown with one client. Fox called the book a "brainy, twisty, high-concept thriller."
Another book drawing attention, cheekily dubbed "the troll book" by some in the rights center, is a Swedish novel that Faber preempted. The Bookseller reported the sale, noting that acquiring editor Angus Cargill bid on the title off of the strength of a partial manuscript. The supernatural book, which, as you might expect, features trolls, has not yet closed in the U.S.; the book is represented by The Bonnier Group Agency.