The Bookseller – Rights – Oneworld wins auction for foreign rights director’s debut

Oneworld has landed The Nursery, the debut novel by literary agent Szilvia Molnar, after winning a “competitive” auction.

Publisher Juliet Mabey acquired British and Commonwealth rights (excluding Canada), including serial and audio rights, from Kate Johnson at New York agents Wolf Literary. Oneworld will publish The Nursery as a superlead hardback in May 2023, while Pantheon will publish in North America.

Narrated by a woman who has just given birth, The Nursery is a “raw, intimate” story of new motherhood. “Miffo is not coping,” the synopsis says. “Her husband is supportive but she is finding it impossible to leave her flat. The joyful early days of her pregnancy are interspersed with the anxiety of caring alone for the baby and as she begins to lose grip on the passage of time, the repetitiveness and insularity of the new world she has been abruptly thrust into gradually becomes surreal and tortuous.

“For fans of Rachel Cusk and Hanya Yanagihara, The Nursery is a transgressive novel about maternal anxiety and its looming madness, showing how fragile, sometimes Kafkaesque, those postpartum days can be, and how vital love is to pull anyone out of the dark.”

Molnar, who is the foreign rights director of Sterling Lord, has worked in publishing for the past 14 years. She will be attending the London Book Fair.

“One of the most violent things that changed my sense of self was to give birth and none of the literature I had read before my daughter’s arrival had explained the madness, the darkness, and the absurdity of it all—how to crawl towards light and love when so much is asked of you,” she said. “SW The Nursery is my attempt to explain the complex and conflicting emotions that can arise when motherhood is suddenly knocking at your door, like some pesky neighbor complaining that your baby is crying.

“I have admired Juliet Mabey for many years and I am overjoyed to work with her in this capacity. To join such a rich and diverse list as Oneworld’s is a dream come true. I am so grateful to my agent Kate Johnson for making this happen.” .”

Mabey said: “We are so excited to be introducing Szilvia Molnar to British readers, an author so many of us in publishing will know from her work as a literary agent. This is an incredibly visceral and emotive account of a new mother’s first few days on her own and is something, sadly, I could easily identify with. In crystalline, wonderfully affecting prose Szilvia has really captured the intense love, fragility and seesawing emotions that can beset new mothers in an unforgettable, immersive read.”

Johnson noted: “The mix of raw emotion and subversive humor in Szilvia’s novel resonated with me immediately and its portrayal of new motherhood’s crazy-making claustrophobia will speak to anyone coming out of lockdown.”

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