24 December 2007

University of Queensland Press author Karen Foxlee has secured a six-figure US rights deal for her debut novel after a bidding war between top American publishers.

Foxlee’s The Anatomy of Wings has been picked up by publishers Knopf, who count Anne Rice, Bill Clinton and Nobel Literature Prize winners Toni Morrison and V. S. Naipaul among their authors.

A registered nurse from Gympie, Ms Foxlee’s story is set in an Australian mining town and narrated by a 10-year-old girl who tries to solve the mystery surrounding her sister’s death.

The novel won the Best Emerging Author section of the 2006 Queensland Premier's Literary Awards and was published by UQP in September as part of the prize.

This latest coup comes after the US rights to another UQP title – Rebecca Sparrow's The Year Nick McGowan Came to Stay – were secured in similar circumstances last year.

Premier Anna Bligh said the latest international deal was a stunning success for a debut novelist.

"Karen's story will inspire other Queenslanders to back their talent and follow their dreams," she said.

"It's fantastic to see an emerging writer from a regional Queensland town recognised by the top level of the publishing world."

UQP publisher Madonna Duffy said foreign rights sales of over six figures only happened a handful of times each year for Australian authors.

"We're just delighted that on this occasion it was a UQP author whose talent has been recognised and rewarded," she said.

"Even though The Anatomy of Wings is set in a small Queensland town, its themes - the grief of loss, family relationships and growing up - have struck a chord with international readers."

Ms Foxlee is no stranger to winning prizes with her work picked from thousands of entries not once but twice for the One Book Many Brisbanes short story anthology – one of only two authors to do so.

General Manager Greg Bain said the expanding reach of UQP titles was pleasing considering the Press celebrates its 60-year anniversary next year.

“We have been working hard over the past four years to increase our presence in international markets, through rights sales and distribution,” he said.

“This latest success shows that the books we are publishing resonate not only with Australian readers, but have the potential to appeal to readers all around the world.”

Since its Australian release, the novel has been awarded the 2008 Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book (South-East Asia/Pacific) and also the 2008 Dobbie Award for a First Published Woman Writer.

The Anatomy of Wings will be published in the United States in early 2009. The American rights to Ms Foxlee’s second book have also been acquired by Knopf as part of the deal.

Media: Premier's Office (07 3224 4500) or Meredene Hill at UQP (0401575143, 07 3346 7932, meredeneh@uqp.uq.edu.au)