W&N signs 'Italian Franzen'

Rights - Fiction Friday, 12 April 2019

Marco Missiroli’s Fidelity sells in 13 territories with film rights to Netflix

Federico Andornino, commissioning editor at Weidenfeld & Nicolson, has acquired World English language rights in Marco Missiroli’s Fidelity in a deal struck with the MalaTesta Literary Agency.

One of the biggest international titles coming out of this year's LBF, rights for the novel have been sold in 13 territories so far (Italy: Einaudi; WEL: W&N; Germany: Wagenbach; France: Calmann-Lévy (pre-empt); Spain: Duomo Ediciones (pre-empt); Spain Catalan language: Angle Editorial (pre-empt); Romania: Editura Trei; Czech Republic: Argo; Croatia: Fraktura; Albania: Dudaj; Sweden: Contempo; Slovenia: Cankarjeva Založba; Poland: Sonia Draga).

TV rights have gone to Netflix after auction, with the novel set to be adapted into a multi-part drama series.

Fidelity (Italian title Fedeltà) was published in Italy by Einaudi this February and became a #1 bestseller on publication. It has just been longlisted for the Premio Strega, the Italian equivalent of the Booker Prize.

According to the acquisition statement: 'Carlo, a part-time creative writing professor, and Margherita, and architect-turned-estate agent, are in love, but it happens that their desires stray beyond the confines of their own bedroom: Carlo longs for the quiet beauty of one of his students, Sofia; and Margherita fantasises about his physiotherapist Andrea.

'The dream of a new flat in the heart of Milan might just be what Carlo and Margherita need to strengthen their relationship. But it is love, with its unassuming power, which ultimately pulls them from the brink, aided by Margherita’s mother Anna, the couple’s anchor and lighthouse.

'After eight years of repressed desires and the birth of a son, however, when the past resurfaces in the form of books sent anonymously, not even Anna might be strong enough to save them.'

Andornino said: "I hate the term 'literary sensation' but there just isn’t another way to define Marco’s novel: Fidelity has generated a huge debate in Italy, and there is nothing more thrilling for a publisher than a book that can truly spark a conversation.

'This is an intimate portrait of a small cluster of characters – all circling around Anna, the wise and unforgettable seamstress at the centre of the book – but also a state of the nation novel in the vein of the American greats. I am sure this book will resonate with readers everywhere, and I couldn’t be prouder to welcome Marco to the W&N family.'

Missiroli said: "I had been thinking about this novel since my father told me he had never cheated on my mother. We were walking around Rimini, the Italian coastal town I come from, and he suddenly shared this intimate detail, completely out of the blue. He seemed vaguely sad, almost embarrassed while he confided in me. I asked him if he was happy with his choice; he nodded but then added, 'It meant giving up a part of myself, of course.'

"That’s how the question that dominates Fidelity came to me: if we are faithful to others, do we betray our true self? And if we choose to be faithful to ourselves – truly faithful – to what degree do we then betray the people around us? These are universal questions and I am excited that Federico and W&N have agreed to introduce a whole new set of readers to the dilemma at the heart of my novel."

The author was born in Rimini and now lives in Milan; he writes for the culture pages of the Corriere della Sera. His first novel Senza Coda (2005) won the Campiello Opera Prima (the Italian equivalent of the Costa First Book award). His latest novel, Atti osceni in luogo privato (Feltrinelli, 2015), became a bestseller in Italy, selling over 150,000 copies, and is currently being adapted for the screen.

Fidelity will be translated by Alex Valente whose translation of Elena Varvello’s Can You Hear Me? won an English PEN award and was shortlisted for the Translators Association First Translation Prize in 2019.

Fidelity will be published by W&N next summer in hardback, export trade paperback, ebook and audio with the mass market paperback to follow in Spring 2021.

Pictured: Marco Missiroli (cr Valentina Vasi)

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