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January 15-31, 2006 Edition
Flurry of Acquisitions
Includes Top AuthorsNEW YORK, NY/01/05/06Riverhead Books’ editorial team closed 2005 with a flurry of exciting acquisitions. Executive Editor Sean McDonald, Executive Editor Jake Morrissey and Editor Megan Lynch acquired an impressive nine new books: two titles by #1 New York Times bestselling author James Frey; the second book by Wonkette founder Ana Marie Cox; two books from internationally renowned author Lian Hearn; a title from bestselling author Steven Johnson; a novel by Columbia University creative writing professor Ellis Avery; a book by Catholic nun Karol Jackowski; and a book by Barbara Bradley Hagerty, the religion correspondent for National Public Radio.
Penguin Group (USA) President Susan Petersen Kennedy commented, “Riverhead is thriving. Our creative and dedicated editors at the imprint are actively acquiring new books by bestselling authors as well as exciting debuts by writers they’ve just discovered. Ideas are what matter most and these new acquisitions all share excellence of voice and distinctive points of view,
which are the marks of books that endure. I’m having a great deal of fun working with Sean, Jake and Meganthey are talented and smart, and share an ability to discover and publish writers that capture the imagination of the reading public.”
James Frey is that rare writer who achieves both literary excellence and commercial success. His #1 New York Times, multi-million bestseller A Million Little Pieces and his follow-up, My Friend Leonard, which has been on The New York Times list for 12 weeks and counting, were both acquired and edited by Sean McDonald, who has worked with Frey since the beginning of his career. Mr. McDonald acquired World English, first serial and audio rights to Frey’s first novel, as well as another book, from Kassie Evashevski at Brillistein-Grey. Frey’s upcoming novel will be a multi-voiced, multi-threaded story of contemporary Los Angeles, which Riverhead expects to publish in Fall 2007.
Crossing genres in the other direction, Ana Marie Cox – Wonkette founder and author of the highly anticipated debut novel, Dog Days – is returning to the nonfiction roots she put down while working as a journalist at publications such as The American Prospect and Mother Jones. Megan Lynch acquired World, first serial and audio rights to this yet-to-be titled book from agent Gary Morris at the David Black Agency. Taking a look at the next generation of young activists, Cox’s book will feature the sharp, irresistible humor that has become her trademark on Wonkette and now with Dog Days, which Christopher Buckley calls “brisk, smart, smutty, knowing and very well-written” in the current issue of The New York Times Book review. The novel has already gone back to press prior to going on sale this week. Cox’s next book is expected to be published in hardcover by Riverhead in late 2007.
Another bestselling Riverhead writer working at the cutting edge of contemporary nonfiction, Steven Johnson, has signed up for a new project. Sean McDonald acquired World English rights from Lydia Wills at Paradigm. Johnson has published four books, most recently last year’s national bestseller Everything Bad is Good for You: How Today’s Popular Culture is Actually Making Us Smarter. In Fall 2006, Riverhead is publishing Johnson’s fifth book, Ghost Map, a thrilling historical account of the cholera outbreak in London of 1854 and a broad-minded inquiry into the battle between great cities and disease. Johnson’s yet-to-be titled sixth book, which Riverhead will publish in Winter 2008, probes into where good ideas come from and why certain environments which are often chaotic, noisy, urban, and connective foster creative thinking while others environments
suppress them, drawing on brain science, urban history, sociology and personal anecdotes from creative people.
Riverhead has also reasserted its commitment to publishing literary fiction with a new deal with Lian Hearn, author of the internationally-bestselling Tales of the Otori series (Across the Nightingale Floor, Grass for His Pillow and Brilliance of the Moon). Mr. McDonald acquired North American, first serial and audio rights to the sequel and the prequel to the existing
Otori series from Regal Literary acting on behalf of Jenny Darling Associates. The sequel, The Harsh Cry of the Heron, is an epic novel of political intrigue and kinetic action that deeply enhances the scope and impressive achievement of the medieval Japanese world of the Otori. It will be published in hardcover by Riverhead in Winter 2007, to be followed by the prequel, Heaven’s Net Is Wide.
Riverhead further affirms its status as a premier publisher of exciting debut fiction with the acquisition of a sweeping novel set in late-19th century Japan, The Teahouse Fire, by Ellis Avery. Megan Lynch acquired North America and first serial rights to the title from agent Jean Naggar of the Jean V. Naggar Agency. The Teahouse Fire was inspired by Avery’s intense five-year study of the Japanese tea ceremony, in New York and Kyoto. She wondered why women now mostly perform the ceremony even though the most noted tea masters in history were men, and she eventually uncovered the story of the real-life woman who caused this dramatic shift and now provides the basis for one of the novel’s central characters. Riverhead plans to publish The Teahouse Fire in hardcover as a lead fiction title in Fall 2006.
Riverhead continues its tradition of spiritual publishing with Forever and Ever, Amen, by Karol Jackowski, a Catholic nun. The book recounts the author’s decision to enter the convent in 1964 after graduating from high school (donning the traditional black nun’s habit) and emerging in 1972 in a dark blue suit and short veil into a church transformed by the huge changes wrought by Vatican II. Jake Morrissey acquired World, first serial and audio rights to the title from Laurie Liss at Sterling Lord Literistic. Honest and insightful, Forever and Ever, Amen, which will be published in hardcover by Riverhead in Spring 2007, is Catholic nostalgia at its funniest and most heartfelt.
Evidence Of God: The Search For An Explanation Of Spiritual Experience by Barbara Bradley Hagerty, the religion correspondent for National Public Radio (who describes herself as “a reporter, a believer, and an erstwhile Christian Scientist”), investigates science’s search for rational explanations to the transcendence of religion and faith – and comes to some provocative conclusions. Mr. Morrissey acquired World, first serial and audio rights to Evidence Of God from Rafe Sagalyn of the Sagalyn Literary Agency. Riverhead will publish the title in hardcover in Spring 2008