18.10.19 Free

At the Frankfurt Book Fair 2019.

Hall 6.0, C95

Non-fiction leads the way as climate titles dominate discussion at the Buchmesse

by Hafsa Zayyan and Teaching My Brother to Read by Derek Owusu.” Meanwhile, D H H Literary Agency m.d.

The main thing I’ve noticed is the breadth and diversity of non-fiction... It feels like few topics are off the table

Rachel Mills, agent

David Headley, and Karen Sullivan, publisher at Orenda Books, have had great interest in thrillers. Both hailed the fair as a success. Headley said: “It’s been a hugely positive fair. Publishers are again looking for well-writen historical and crime drama/thrillers. I can’t remember atending a more optimistic fair.” Sullivan has had her “best fair ever” in



on-fiction has reigned supreme at an upbeat Frankfurt Book Fair, as agents reported a surge of interest in titles on wellbeing and personal development. “Up-lit”, climate titles and biographies have also sold well. Peters Fraser + Dunlop international rights

director Rebecca Wearmouth said global publishers were “hungrier for non-fiction” than ever. “It feels a very buzzy and buoyant fair, with the most remarkable takeaway being the focus on non-fiction. A number of publishers who have traditionally published fiction have requested narrative non-fiction for the first time,” she said. “In recent years there’s been an impression that international publishers were reluctant to buy on proposal— this fair has dispelled that myth.” Rachel Mills of Rachel Mills Literary said the latest non-fiction trend was “stealth help:

books which make you reflect and think, and help you that way, rather than being overtly prescriptive.” She added: “The main thing I’ve noticed is the breadth and diversit of non-fiction people are buying. It feels like few topics are off the table.” For The Bent Agency’s Molly Ker Hawn, up-lit has been a big trend. “Almost all of our meetings have included commiserations about Brexit and the state of the world. Feel- good escapism seems to be on everyone’s wish-list,” she said, adding that publishers in big European territories have pulled back on YA, as Middle Grade experienced an uptick. Cornerstone rights director Amelia Evans

also noted the narrative non-fiction trend. She said: “It’s been a very busy fair—the atmosphere on the PRH stand is incredibly upbeat. I’m thrilled with the response to our #MerkyBooks titles, We Are All Birds of Uganda

My FBF: Drummond Moir Day Planner Breaking news INSIDE

Global bestseller charts Streaming revenues Finland’s Guest of Honour Horace Bent

terms of rights sold, with 14 deals agreed so far. “It’s been an incredibly buzzing fair. Trends have included original, high-concept novels and, in particular thrillers, and I’m being offered a lot of climate fiction and stuff that might once have been considered dystopian,” she said. “International publish- ers want books that are different: fresh and sophisticated. The UK market is so risk-averse, homogeneous and flat, so this fair has been a breath of fresh air—and hugely invigorating.” Publishers Association c.e.o. Stephen Lotinga hailed a “fantastic fair”, which showed “the UK publishing industry remains ready to do business with the rest of the world”.

Reporting Katie Mansfield

Hot début

Dialogue the biggest fan of Diamond Hill

Dialogue Books has scooped a “mighty” novel from Kit Fan, set in the last shanty town in Hong Kong before its 1997 handover to China. Publisher Sharmaine Lovegrove acquired UK

and Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, for Diamond Hill from Matthew Turner at RCW. The novel will be published in spring 2021. The book follows the story of a recovering heroin addict, Buddha, as he tries to salvage what’s left from Diamond Hill, a place he hoped to forget. Fan, born and educated in Hong Kong, moved to the UK at the age of 21. Writing both poetry and narrative fiction, he won a Northern Writers’ Award in 2018 for Diamond Hill as a novel-in-progress. Lovegrove said she had followed his work since

judging The Guardian Fourth Estate BAME Short Story Prize, which Fan was shortlisted for. Lovegrove said: “Diamond Hill is dramatic yet subtle, global yet local, historical yet contemporary, and in Kit Fan’s hands the world, its character, and the politics of Diamond Hill soar majestically.”


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