New titles for the “rentrée” 2020

In French, “la rentrée” is the return to school after the European Summer holidays. But it’s also the comeback to bookshops full of new titles. The Summer is almost over in the Northern Hemisphere and some new titles by authors represented by the Pontas Agency are ready for the “rentrée” of this special year 2020 and to be reaching the bookshops an its first readers during September and October in several countries and languages!

The Democratic Republic of Congo, otherwise known as Congo-Kinshasa or DRC, has had a series of names since its founding. The name of Zaire best corresponds to the experience of the novel’s characters. The years of Mobutu’s regime were filled with utopias, dreams, fantasies and other uncontrolled desires for social redemption, the quest for easy enrichment and the desecration of places of power. Among these events: Zairians’ immigration to Angola during the civil war boycotting the borders inherited from colonization, as if the country did not have its own diamonds, and the occupation of public places by children from outside. Fiston Mwanza Mujila creates the atmosphere of the time through a roundup of characters. As soon as night falls, each character dances and plays his own role in a country mined by dictatorship. Le Danse du Vilain is published in French in September by Éditions Métailié. Translation rights already sold into Arabic (Al Kotobkhan), Danish (Jensen & Dalgaard), English – US & Canada (Deep Vellum), Italian (Nottetempo), German (Zsolnay und Deuticke/Hanser) and Swedish (Rámus Förlaget).

Javier Rodríguez Marcos wrote in the Spanish prestigious literary supplement Babelia: “Elena Medel was born 35 years ago, but she was only 17 when she published her first poetry collection and became the great Spanish poet of the 21st Century. For years, we heard the rumour that she was working on a novel —but where was it? Well, it is finally here and what a statement. With the title Las maravillas, it tells the story of two women from two different generations who move from Córdoba to Madrid. Condemned (but not resigned) to work in whatever they can get, they both have lived a life by the beat of two questions: what would have been their relationship with love, motherhood and family had they had money? and if they had been born men? Without manichaeisms of any kind and in 200 pages that leave you breathless, Medel puts her protagonists against the backdrop of Franco’s death, PSOE’s electoral victory of 1982, the economic crisis and the feminist demonstration of March 8th, 2018. If we were academics, we’d say that narration and style go hand in hand in a literary wonder that is absolutely personal yet reminds you of the audacity of Virgina Woolf, Carmen Laforet’s atmosphere and the sharpness of Rafael Chirbes. If we were journalists, we would say that one of Spain’s best poets has become one of its most important novelists.” Las maravillas is being published in Spanish by Anagrama in October 2020; translation rights already sold into Dutch (Meridiaan Uitgevers), English -UK & Comm. excl. Canada) (Pushkin Press), German (Suhrkamp), Greek (Patakis) and Italian (Einaudi).

What is masculinity? Dominating the world around us, from Trump’s twitter outbursts to deadly gun violence, from male suicide rates to incels on Reddit and 4chan, masculinity is perceived to be ‘toxic’, ‘fragile’ and ‘in crisis’. In is latest non-fiction book Mask Off, JJ Bola exposes masculinity as a performance that men are socially conditioned into. Using examples of non-Western cultural traditions, music and sport, he shines light on historical narratives around manhood, debunking popular myths along the way. He explores how LGBTQ men, men of colour, and male refugees experience masculinity in diverse ways, revealing its fluidity, how it’s strengthened and weakened by different political contexts, such as the patriarchy or the far-right, and perceived differently by those around them. At the heart of love and sex, the political stage, competitive sports, gang culture, and mental health issues, lies masculinity: Mask Off is an urgent call to unravel masculinity and redefine it. Originally written in English and published by Pluto Press, it has been recently published with great praise in German (Hanserblau) and it is about to be launched translated into Finnish (Schildts & Söderstrom), Italian (Edizioni EL), Brazilian Portuguese (Dublinense/ Nao Editora) and Spanish (Paidós).

The second novel The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida by Clarissa Goenawan is going to be launched in the UK, Australia and New Zealand in Octobe by Scribe after having been already published in tne US by Soho Press, in which the author gradually pierces through a young woman’s careful façade, unmasking her most painful secrets. Miwako Sumida has hanged herself, leaving those closest to her reeling. In the months before her suicide, she was hiding away in a remote mountainside village, but what, or whom, was she running from? To Ryusei, a fellow student at Waseda; Chie, Miwako’s best friend; and Fumi, Ryusei’s older sister, Miwako was more than the blunt, no-nonsense person she projected to the world. Heartbroken, Ryusei begs Chie to take him to the village where Miwako spent her final days. While he is away, Fumi receives an unexpected guest at their shared apartment in Tokyo, distracting her from her fear that Miwako’s death may ruin what is left of her brother’s life.

Audiobook rights have been picked by Tantor/Recorded Bools and translation rights have been sold into Bahasa Indonesia (Gramedia), Polish (Bokka) and Russian (Ripol).

The Bridge of the Jews was, more than ten years ago, an unprecedented literary event. More than 100,000 copies have been sold, making it one of the recent best-selling historical novels in the Catalan language. Now, Martí Gironell comes back to his beloved characters and in Jews’ Word, he offers us the sequel that thousands of Catalan readers have been longing for and that we hope may will soon discover in other languages too. A story that revolves around three axes: the reconstruction of the bridge, the rivalry between the Jewish and Christian communities, and the importance of the book and the word in Jewish culture. All this when the master builder Pere Baró was commissioned by the royal town of Besalú to rebuild the bridge which was built by Prim Llombard three hundred years earlier. The power of words, the strength of convictions, love and respect as basic foundations upon which to build a bridge of understanding between the two religions. An endeavour that will not be easy, as they discover people on both sides who are willing to prevent it.

Just published in its original language as the Catalan Summer ends by Columna and also available translated into Spanish by Editorial Planeta.

For more information about any of these titles, please contact Maria Cardona  – maria@pontas-agency.com

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