In our eternal optimism, Wendy and I are constantly uttering “you
never know” to each other. What we mean is, you never know when your
next great talent is sitting in the submissions inbox and you never
know when the next bestseller is going to emerge from the barrage of
hopeful emails. But today we sold a book. It was an interesting road
to publication, but one that began in the submissions inbox with an
email from an unknown writer whose gorgeous prose leapt off the page.
I immediately brought the writer’s letter to Wendy’s attention and she
found the story as arresting and the sentences as inspiring as I did.
The query began, Bonaventure Arrow didn’t make a peep when he was born
and the doctors nearly took him for dead. That gripping first line will
now find its way into book stores. The writer went on to describe a
magical realist tale of a young boy who, though born mute, is gifted
with a rare and amazing silence that lets in sounds no one else can
hear. By the time he was seven, the boy was listening to “flowers grow,
the color blue, and the miniature tempests that raged inside
raindrops.” Then, one day, when he is old enough, he hears the “festering
sounds of family secrets.” Pitched as Flannery O’ Connor meets Alice
Hoffman and set in 1920s-1950s New Orleans, I was sold.
The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow by Rita Leganski has found a home
with the talented young editor Maya Ziv at Harper Perennial and we
couldn’t be happier. To us, this is a match made in literary heaven
and proof that “you never know.”