A simple favor

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denise shannon literary agency inc

London Book Fair 2016

Foreign rights to titles described below are controlled by DSLA and its co-agents.
Darcey Bell A SIMPLE FAVOR (Harper)

**“THE twisty psychological thriller to beat at the moment!”**

**Major option deal with Studio Fox 2000 for feature development**

**19 Foreign Rights sold in two months**
A compulsive, addictive debut thriller, somewhere between GONE GIRL, GIRL ON A TRAIN and THE ICE TWINS. HarperCollins pre-empted and will make it their lead fiction title for Spring 2017. Stephanie, a famous mommy blogger, is star-struck and jealous of fashion executive Emily; their sons are in the same class. Ecstatic to befriend Emily and to have a new confidante, Stephanie is shocked when Emily suddenly disappears without a trace, leaving her son and husband with no warning. All sorts of twists and turns follow from this beginning, including betrayals, shocking revelations, and a complicated revenge scheme with the ever-revolving question of who’s duping whom. As we learn, the two characters become the fish and the expert poker player…“You know the fish is going to lose, but not when....” Darcey Bell keeps you wondering until the very end. A feverish and expertly-plotted read, A SIMPLE FAVOR will satisfy literary and commercial readers alike.
Publication Date: March 2017
Foreign rights sold: Pan Macmillan/UK, Bertrand/Portuguese in Brazil, Rizzoli/Italian, Prometheus/Dutch, Vulkan/Serbian, HarperCollins/German, G.E.C Gads Forlag A.S/Danish, Dogan Egmont/Turkish, Hugo & Cie/French, Citic Publishing Group/Chinese (simplified), Świat Książki/Polish, AST License Limited/Russian, Leda Spol/Czech, Gabo Kiado/Hungarian, Penguin Random House/Spanish, Hemiro Limited/Ukrainian, Delight Press/Simplified Chinese (Taiwan), Grup Media Litera/Romanian, and Bertrand/Portguese in Portugal

Chanelle Benz is a new writer who is already making her mark. Her stories have won the O. Henry Prize and been on Top 10 Long Reads of the Year. In her debut collection, she draws from imaginative, wide-ranging historical settings, including a dark, McCarthy-esque Old West, a post-apocalyptic future, the eighteenth-century South, modern day Beirut, and 16th century England (in an askew pastiche of Early Modern English told from the perspective of a monk at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries). Her themes are identity, abandonment, violence, broken families, outsiders, the way that bodies are tied to land, and the things we do which can never be undone.
Chanelle Benz was born in London and lives in Houston, TX.
Publication Date: Winter 2017

Chanelle Benz THE GONE DEAD (Ecco)
THE GONE DEAD, a big, atmospheric debut novel set in the Mississippi Delta, centers on Addison Davis and her return after thirty years to the town she left to sort out the mysteries in her life and the mysteries of her long-estranged father’s death. Addison was there the night her father died some thirty-years before, but she was four-years-old. It's hard and perhaps almost impossible for her to separate what she remembers with what she's invented. Profoundly alone with only her dog and her gun, Addison struggles to trust her father’s younger brother, the enigmatic but down-on-his-luck Uncle Dee. But over time her initial impressions of her erratic neighbors, her father's bitter ex-girlfriend, and the bumbling scholar of her father's work are overturned. Ultimately, Addison must decide if what she wants is justice, revenge, or closure with the truth she comes to learn.
Delivery Date: November 2016

Kevin Canty THE UNDERWORLD (Norton)
THE UNDERWORLD is set in a small struggling working-class town in Idaho dominated by the silver mine around which the town developed.  Through multiple points of view, Canty tells the story of a community in the aftermath of a deadly mine disaster. In the vein of Russell Bank's THE SWEET HEREAFTER, Canty powerfully conjures a whole world in this one.  It's not a long book, but I believe it's a big one. Kevin Canty’s short stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Esquire, GQ, Story, Tin House and Glimmer Train. He is the author of four previous novels, INTO THE GREAT WIDE OPEN (1996), NINE BELOW ZERO (1999), WINSLOW IN LOVE (2005), and EVERYTHING (2010).
Everything is one of those stunning rare novels with beautiful language, an intriguing structure and a gripping narrative. We are fortunate that Kevin Canty, already a great storyteller, has just written his finest work.” (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)
Foreign rights sold: Albin-Michel/French and DeHarmonie/Dutch
Publication Date: March 2017

Lydia Davis CAN’T AND WON’T: STORIES (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

**Winner of 2013 Man Booker International Prize**

**Winner of the MacArthur (“Genius”) Fellowship**

**National Book Award Finalist for VARIETIES OF DISTURBANCE**

**Chevalier & Officier of the Order of Arts and Letters (France)**
Can’t and Won’t is the most revolutionary collection of stories by an American in twenty-five years. Here, indeed, are objects in all their eerie mystery—knapsacks, nametags, rugs, frozen peas—vibrating with possibility; but here, too, is consciousness dramatized in a truly new way, behaving with the stubborn inertia of those very same objects . . . No story writer alive has put sentences under so much pressure, so well, so consistently. In dealing with mortality, though, Davis’s observational gaze has acquired a new warmth and depth.” (John Freeman, The Boston Globe)
“Reading a Lydia Davis story collection is like reaching into what you think is a bag of potato chips and pulling out something else entirely: a gherkin, a peppercorn, a truffle, a piece of beef jerky. Her stories look light and crisp, with their unadorned prose and flat-footed style, but on closer inspection they are pity, knobby, savory, chewy, dense. They are also mordantly, slyly funny in their exposure of human foibles. Can’t and Won’t . . . is evidence of a writer who is in total control of her own peculiar original voice; its pleasures are unexpected and manifold . . . Davis . . . shares with Samuel Beckett a sharp playfulness and antipathy toward ornamentation, as well as a tendency to subvert dramatic expectations that is, in the aggregate, startlingly dramatic.” (Kate Christensen, Elle)

“Her stories are briny and often delicious, after all, though also a bit impudent and stunted. You devour them as if they were on toothpicks…All are wizened and witty in a cosmic way…” (Dwight Garner, The New York Times)

CAN'T AND WON'T is Lydia Davis' first collection since winning the prestigious Man Booker International Prize in 2013. In a March 2014 New Yorker profile, Dana Goodyear calls Davis’ work “cerebral, witty, well built…” and Davis herself “one of the most original minds in American fiction today.”
Publication date: April 2014
Foreign rights sold: Atlas Contact/Dutch, Hamish Hamilton/UK, Droschl/German, Cappelen Damm/Norwegian, Munhakdongne/Korean, Bur (RCS)/Italian, Compania das Lettres/Brazil, Edicions del 1984 Publishing House/Catalan, Eterna Cadencia Editora/Spanish, Forlaget Vandkunsten/Danish, Christian Bourgois Editeurs/French, Sekwa/Swedish, Relogio d’Agua/Portuguese in Portugal, Geopoetika/Serbian, Encore/Turkish, Chu Chen Books/Chinese, and Ofoq Publishers/Iran

Aryn Kyle HINTERLAND (Riverhead)

Following Aryn Kyle's bestselling and highly-acclaimed debut novel THE GOD OF ANIMALS, her next novel, HINTERLAND, is the story of a turbulent relationship between a married father and the gifted, troubled, charismatic woman he’s known since college, and how her sudden death—one he feels he could have saved her from—changes the course of his life and that of his family.

Foreign rights to THE GOD OF ANIMALS (2007) sold: Rizzoli/Italian, Weidenfeld & Nicolson/English in UK, Nieuw Amsterdam/Dutch, Gallimard/French, Goldmann/German, Ecus/Chinese (complex), Editora Rocco Ltda/Portuguese in Brazil, Shanghai 99/Chinese (simple), Olympia/Czech, Munhakdonge/Korean, Smak Slowa/Polish, Mehta Publishing/Marathi, Ediciones Ámbar/Spanish, and Aletheia/Portuguese in Portugal
Delivery date: June 2016

Reif Larsen I AM RADAR (Penguin Press)

“The promise shown in [Larsen’s] first novel is more than fulfilled in the grandly ambitious I Am Radar, another masterpiece of geekhood…If Larsen’s debut looked like a Donald Barthelme assemblage, this one resembles something by Thomas Pynchon…Larsen’s brainy book is no ephemeral performance piece. He grapples with time-honored questions of free will, predestination, man vs. nature and the tensions between parents and children. But it’s the ingenuity with which he does so, rather than the themes themselves, that elicits admiration… I Am Radar is a dazzling performance.” (The Washington Post)

Chameleonic, ambitious, epic, fantastical, whimsical, thought-provoking, arcane, philosophical, exhaustive, and completely bonkers... It’s an estimable, and completely insane idea that has all the hallmarks of a film by Michel Gondry or Jean-Pierre Jeunet, who incidentally also directed the equally dazzling movie adaptation of T.S. Spivet... Larsen’s fare is unquestionably one of the more adventurous entries into the literary landscape, and his skill and flair for quirky, innovative works that cross over into the historical and the literary will always have an admiring... audience. It’s a performance, that’s for sure, and Larsen is a keen player.” (Boston Globe)

“Large, robust, even intimidating: I Am Radar is never a laborious read. Sentence to sentence, the reader will find small gems (“How intimate, to trace a person’s geography”) and beautiful descriptions of typically ugly places — like the Meadowlands…Larsen’s eloquence never caves into didacticism; and so I Am Radar’s scientific and philosophical longueurs challenge and surprise but never sour. And the black-and-white images that offset the novel’s massive blocks of prose gently jar the mind, prompting the reader to remember that he is reading a novel, a creation, a fact that is likewise conjured by bits of metafictional prose.” (Flavorwire)

In Reif Larsen’s kaleidoscopic second novel, a love-struck radio operator named Radar Radmanovic discovers a secret society offering mind-bending performance art in war zones around the world. He falls in with the strange group of puppeteers and scientists, and his story becomes entangled with terrible events in Yugoslavia, Norway, Cambodia, the Congo, and beyond. As Radar uncovers the mysterious circumstances of his birth, he is forced to leave the security of suburban New Jersey, where he still lives with his parents, and confront the true nature of his identity. I AM RADAR is a sophisticated, highly addictive reading experience that draws on the furthest reaches of quantum physics, forgotten history, and performance art. The novel is a breathtaking and unparalleled joyride through the worst that humanity has to offer only to arrive at a place of shocking wonder and redemption.

Publication date: February 2015

Foreign rights sold: Harvill Secker/English in UK, Penguin/English in Canada, Fischer/German, Editions Nil/French, Nieuw Amsterdam/Dutch, and Phuong Nam Books/Vietnamese

Ian McGuire INCREDIBLE BODIES (Bloomsbury UK, 2006)
Ian McGuire’s new novel, THE NORTH WATER, has just published in the U.S. and U.K. and has critics and fellow writers raving:
“Brilliant….It's a fast-paced, gripping story set in a world of gruesome violence and perversity, where 'why?' is not a question and murder happens on a whim: but where a very faint ray of grace and hope lights up the landscape of salt and blood and ice. A tour de force of narrative tension and a masterful reconstruction of a lost world that seems to exist at the limits of the human imagination.” (Hilary Mantel, author of Wolf Hall)
“This is a novel that tales us to the limits of flesh and blood. Utterly convincing and compelling, remorselessly vivid, and insidiously witty, The North Water is a startling achievement.” (Martin Amis)
“The novel is a stunning achievement, by turns great fun and shocking, thrilling and provocative… Behold: one of the finest books of the year.” (Independent)
His first book, INCREDIBLE BODIES, a brilliant and hilarious academic satire, was published in the U.K. and Germany, but we feel this is a terrific moment to sell this book in new territories.
Thirty-something Morris Gutman is a chronically indecisive temporary lecturer at the University of Coketown. Life hasn’t turned out as he planned: he has a demanding wife, an insomniac child, and teaches demeaning courses to ungrateful English students. However, he is willing to do whatever it takes to negotiate a permanent departmental job, even if it means finding his way through the minefield of ferocious gamesmanship and back-biting.
“McGuire wittily exposes his characters’ pretensions and frustrations … Outwitted and exploited every step of the way, Gutman and his story are at once very funny and disconcertingly sad.” (Sunday Times)
“A wincingly entertaining portrayal of academia with its pants down. And a reminder that when things are at their worst they’re also at their funniest.” (Liz Jensen)
“McGuire’s humour, eye for detail ... and agile prose lift this way above the crowd.” (Arena)
Foreign rights sold: Goldmann/German

Kirstin Valdez Quade NIGHT AT THE FIESTAS: STORIES (Norton)

**Winner of NBCC’s John Leonard Prize**

**NBCC’s 5 Under 35 Winner**

**Best American Short Stories Winner**

**O. Henry Prize Winner**
“It’s become cliche to say that a writer’s short stories have the weight of novels, but in Kirstin’s case it happens to be true. Her New Mexico is a crucible where individual desire is forged, lost, and reconstituted amid a backdrop of colliding histories and cultures. The result is as close to flesh and blood as black ink on white paper can come. She is a story writer of searing vision.” (Anthony Marra, author of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena)
“…haunting and beautiful….This is a variety of beauty too rare in contemporary literature, a synthesis of material and practice and time and courage and love that must have cost its writer dearly.” (The New York Times Book Review)
“In almost every story, Quade goes for vivid spectacle and theatrical plot twists. They often involve the ‘miracle-laden, medieval Hispanic Catholicism’ she has said she grew up with in northern New Mexico, where much of her fiction is set…If Quade ever yearned to escape her archaic Catholic heritage and redefine herself, let’s be glad she didn’t. Her vision has thrived on its fierce, flesh-conscious desire for transcendence.” (The Atlantic)
NIGHT AT THE FIESTAS explores a landscape of contradictions shaped by love and loss, wealth and poverty. Set primarily in northern New Mexico, these ten stories reveal a history marked by conquest and re-conquest, and the way in which the native cultures of the area have been at times both romanticized and denigrated. Morally complicated but unrelentingly hopeful, NIGHT AT THE FIESTAS is defined by its strong and visceral sense of place and by its concerns of tradition and heritage, wealth and poverty, family and coming of age.
Kirstin Valdez Quade, originally from New Mexico, was a Jones Fellow and a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. Quade is assistant professor at Princeton University.
Publication date: February 2015

Kirstin Valdez Quade VIA DOLOROSA (Norton)
Quade's first novel is an expansion of her much-praised New Yorker story, "The Five Wounds." It opens during Semana Santa (Passion Week) in a small town in northern New Mexico.  Amadeo Padilla has been given the part of Jesus in the Passion procession, and he is preparing for this role, which he believes will redeem him and transform his life, when his pregnant fourteen-year-old daughter Angel shows up on his doorstep.  It is an exploration of the painful complexities of family obligation and is inspired by the work of writers such as Alice Munro and Antonya Nelson. Written in alternating third-person points of view, it is a book about surviving the pressures of personal and cultural history and about the limitations of faith, as the characters discover that their pasts can be a source of both destructive pain and also great sustenance, and that the binds of family are not a birthright but must be constantly made anew.
Delivery date: January 2017

Part meditation, part travelogue, part memoir, STILL LIFE is a deeply personal book about stone. Richly illustrated with black-and-white and color photographs and written with the same narrative drive and curiosity for which critics praised his award-winning INSECTOPEDIA, Hugh Raffles’ new book leads us on a journey across continents and time, drawing on fieldwork in Berlin, New York, China, Iceland, Japan, and Scotland, and on a deep knowledge of literature, history, and science. These encounters with the most ubiquitous and enigmatic of substances reveal the unexpected and often profound ways in which our lives are bound up with stone. STILL LIFE examines stones that are both massive and distant and comprise the galaxies, planets, those that travel as continents and meteors, and those most intimate to us—the stone that forms in our bladder and kidneys and makes up our bones.

“As inventive and wide ranging and full of astonishing surprises as the vast insect world itself. Raffles takes us on a delirious journey, zooming in and out from the microscopic to the global, from the titillating to the profound, from Niger to China, from one square mile above Louisiana to the recesses of his own mind.” (New York Times)

“[A] big, beautiful testament to the glory of paying attention.” (Anthony Doerr, The Boston Globe)

“The coolest, most beautifully written book on bugs imaginable.” (San Francisco Chronicle)
“Sings with scholarship, deft writing, and an authentic fascination with the six-legged creatures that have so long roamed the Earth.” (Seed Magazine)
Foreign rights sold to INSECTOPEDIA: Contact/Dutch, Book 21/Korean, Matthes & Seitz/German, Editions Wildproject/French, River Gauche/Taiwan (complex), and Ad Marginem Press/Russian
Delivery date: June 2017

Jess Row THE NEW EARTH (Ecco)
Jess Row's second novel, THE NEW EARTH, is about a fractured Manhattan family of eccentrics, intellectuals and spiritual seekers who reunite for the wedding of their only living daughter, an immigration lawyer, to an undocumented immigrant from Chiapas.

The novel has many strands—from Holocaust art to the Zapatistas, from Buddhist logic to American immigrant law, climate change to the sensibility of northeastern liberals. Like THE CORRECTIONS or Norman Rush’s MORTALS, the author combines narrative drive with a sense of expansive, inclusive curiosity, but the book will also be one that steps outside the single, privileged authorial consciousness that dominates those novels. What he’s hoping to create is a novel that feels balanced between an accretion of old wounds, resentments, and histories and a sense of radically new possibility that lies outside the imagination of this very analytic, intellectual, privileged family—a novel that is intimately connected to its central characters but also aware of what they can’t (or won’t) see, about themselves and about the world.

Manuscript delivery date: December 2016

Jess Row YOUR FACE IN MINE (Riverhead)
Your Face in Mine has the kind of capital-P premise that borders on the techno-sensational. What if doctors were able to push plastic surgery further, as they surely will? What if it were possible to change not merely your sex but your race? Would this lead to, as a character in this novel argues, the worst ‘reverse-eugenics experiment since Tuskegee’ and ‘some kind of bioethical genocide’? Or would such surgery add to the aggregate happiness of the world, allowing humans to be who they most want to be? To quote a joke about the French, as the author does, ‘It may work in practice, but will it work in theory?’…. This novel…puts him on another level as an artist.” (Dwight Garner, New York Times)
Your Face in Mine is flat-out brilliant…Kelly is an astonishing character, tormented, compromised but self-aware enough to know it, cynical but without self-deceit…in the interstices of the action, in the darkness and confusion of [a] conflicted consciousness, Row finds his most radical honesty and insight.” (David Ulin, Los Angeles Times)
As the reviews above imply, YOUR FACE IN MINE was one of the most talked-about and praised novel debuts of the year. The author’s first book, the short story collection THE TRAIN TO LO WU was a finalist for the 2006 PEN/Hemingway Award for best first fiction, His stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Tin House, Conjunctions, Ploughshares, Granta, American Short Fiction, Harvard Review, and elsewhere, have been anthologized three times in The Best American Short Stories. He was named a “Best Young American Novelist” by Granta. 
Publication date: August 2014
(UK rights controlled by Riverhead, rest of the world by DSLA and its coagents)
Foreign rights sold: Leya/Portuguese in Brazil

Karen Russell SLEEP DONATION (Atavist Books)
The idea of deadly insomnia isn’t purely science fiction: There is an extremely rare, genetic disease known as fatal familial insomnia. In this novel, Ms. Russell creates a new illness. She describes its hold over a futuristic America with “Twilight Zone”-like inventiveness and the energy and brio of a natural fantasist with a proclivity for blending the real and surreal, the psychological and the sci-fi. She has touched on the subject of insomnia before — one of the fablelike tales in her 2006 collection, St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, featured a “sleep disorder camp” for children suffering from narcolepsy, sleep apnea, teeth grinding and other problems — and in these pages, she immerses the reader in a world that is both recognizably familiar and nightmarishly dystopian. The novella becomes, at once, a kind of meditation upon the transmission of stories and dreams (something that books, paper or digital, do with magical ease), and an allegory about our overstimulated, sleep-deprived society and the sometimes self-serving sanctimony of NGOs and manic do-gooders, reluctant ever to let a crisis go to waste… another testament to her fertile powers of invention." (Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times)
“Sleep Donation is a beautifully crafted story. We'll get to the language, but what really excited me was how effortlessly it integrates several different high-voltage ideas. Big number one is survivor guilt. Rudy, one of the Sleep Donation crew [the Slumber Corps organizes sleep donations from the healthy to the sick, similar to the blood banks of today], is a bad recruiter; he ‘turns the solicitations into a game of coercion.’ Trish, on the other hand, is great at it, because her sister Dori died of insomnia, and Trish now uses Dori as a recruiting tool. This doesn't assuage her guilt but intensifies it. Big number two is the morality of forced donation. One life (that of Baby A [who is discovered to be a universal sleep donor]) is repeatedly interfered with to save the lives of many. Sounds OK, but it's an ethical conundrum, isn't it? With the consent of the parents (father reluctant, mother sort of fanatical), the Sleep Van folks are almost literally strip-mining an infant to get her normal sleep. Big number three is the story's subtext, where the spread of the deprivation disease, beginning with Patient Zero, is similar to the spread of AIDS. Added to this is the fear that the supply of "good sleep" has been contaminated by a malignant and recurring nightmare from Donor Y. All of this is handled with a light, sure touch…this is a really big fish.” (Stephen King writing for goodreads.com)

In Pulitzer finalist Karen Russell's 32,000-word novella, SLEEP DONATION, sleep deprivation has become a national epidemic and reached deadly proportions. Sleep clinics, sleep donation drives, and Night Worlds (pop-up carnivals that cater to the sleepless with black market remedies, such as moonlamps that ease the dreariness of unremitting wakefulness and cave medicines derived from ancient myrtles and lichenshave) have sprouted up all over America to keep people alive. Trish Edgewater is an employee of Slumber Corp, a dubious humanitarian organization that has devised a method to provide life-saving sleep transfusions. Her own sister, Dori, died from the effects of sleeplessness, and so she has made it her life’s mission to help spread sleep to those who need it, even if it means taking it from the most unlikely of sources. In SLEEP DONATION, the best-selling author of VAMPIRES IN THE LEMON GROVE and SWAMPLANDIA! grapples with a world in crisis, conflicts of conscience, and the strange relationships that are born out of the strangest circumstances.

TV rights to SLEEP DONATION have been optioned by ABC.
Publication date: March 2014
(UK rights controlled by Atavist Books, rest of the world by DSLA and its coagents)
Foreign sales: Record/Portuguese in Brazil and Siren/Turkish

Harvey Sachs TOSCANINI: A BIOGRAPHY (Norton)
When Harvey Sachs' first book, a biography of Toscanini, was published in 1978, it was proclaimed as the best book on the subject. Sachs is now close to finishing a complete rewriting of Toscanini's life, using the extraordinary amount of new material that is only now available. This includes 100-plus tapes of Toscanini talking to family and friends at the end of his life, on which he goes into great detail about many periods and events from his childhood on, and discusses singers, instrumentalists, composers, other conductors, etc. Sachs will also be drawing on the archives of several key opera houses, starting with La Scala, and, above all, the Toscanini family archives, which were still in limbo in the '70s and uncatalogued until the '90s. No one who could do the job that Sachs can. He has written for the New Yorker, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Times Literary Supplement (London), La Stampa, Corriere della Sera, Guardian, Observer and dozens of other newspapers and periodicals (his published items now number well over 600). Sachs now lives in New York City, but earlier he lived for three years in England, twenty-three in Italy, and three in the Italian canton of Switzerland.
Delivery date: November 2016

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