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Cameroonian Novelist Signs Million-Dollar Book Deal at Frankfurt Book Fair

Saturday 11 October 2014

frankfort-book-fair-2014

It is rumored that US publisher, Random House, paid, at least, a million dollars each to secure the US rights to two novels—The Girls by Emma Cline and The Longings of Jende Jonga by Cameroon-born Imbolo Mbue. This all happened in Frankfurt a few days ago. Publishers came to Frankfurt ahead of the book fair, which begins today, to shop for new writers and promising manuscripts. Publishers Weekly reports that David Ebershoff of Random House snagged the US rights for Mbue’s novel after a bidding duel with with Susan Golomb, the agent who discovered Jonathan Franzen.

If you’ve never heard of Mbue, it’s probably because she’s never published anything. At least, not yet. Her first ever published story will be out soon in the Threepenny Review.

The Cameroonian writer, who moved to the US in 1998, has written an immigrant novel that clearly has publishers very excited.

“Mbue’s The Longings of Jende Jonga…opens in New York City in 2007 and focuses on the West African immigrant of its title, who lands a job as a chauffeur for a high level executive at Lehman Brothers. Jende’s family becomes close to his employer’s—Jende’s wife is quickly hired by the exec’s wife—only to have both families thrown into disarray when the 2008 financial collapse hits.”

The way I see it, if publishers are willing to pay this much for a debut novel, the story must be of-the-charts amazing.

Golomb—a front runner in the bid for the novel—not only compares Mbue to Adichie but also notes that her novel is built around “some of the most delightful and refreshing characters seen in recent fiction.”

I’m guessing it won’t take much for Mbue to be admitted into the new elite African writers club where she’ll be in good company with the likes of Chimamanda Adichie (Half of a Yellow Sun), NoViolet Bulawayo (We Need New Names), Teju Cole (Open City) and Dinaw Mengestu (How to Read the Air), Taiye Selasi (Ghana Must Go), Lauren Beukes (Broken Monsters), and others.

Congrats to Mbue! We can’t wait for her novel to be published.

Read the full report at Publisher’s Weekly HERE.

- See more at: http://brittlepaper.com/2014/10/cam...

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