International Bestsellers: Different Books From Elsewhere

International buzz is building over Mizé, the Portuguese novel by Ricardo Adolfo that appeared last year from Dom Quixote. Berlin Verlag recently nabbed German rights and in a hush hush deal, film rights were just sold to a major film company, so far nameless. Rumor has it the location will be changed from Lisbon to a British city, possibly Manchester or Liverpool. The novel centers on Palha, a young man who still lives with his parents in the unglamorous suburbs of Lisbon, who desperately wants to fall in love. His life proceeds as expected until one magical night when he finds himself drinking with Mizé, the beautiful and sought-after neighborhood hairdresser. After a night of unprecedented passion, she agrees to marry him. Soon after he begins conjugal life in a small apartment, Palha is faced with an insurmountable project at work and seeks advice from his old bar cronies. As is typical, they completely misunderstand his predicament, thinking he’s received a big promotion instead, and so they rent a couple porn movies to celebrate. To his horror, Palha discovers the star of the movies is his own Mizé. After confronting her, his life begins a downward spiral which culminates in his attempted murder of a leading porn producer. Palha seeks solace with Mizé’s best friend, Carla, who shares with him the difficulties of being a single mom. They get to know each other better and eventually, it dawns on them that they themselves had shared a night of passion several years before. For more information, contact Bernat Fiol at the Antonia Kerrigan Agency (

Hovering just below the top ten in Germany, Lousy Karma (Rowohlt) makes the case for cultivating positive kismet. Penned by the popular and international Emmy Award winning TV host, David Safier, this debut novel follows the trials of Kim Lange, a TV personality whose drive for success above all else garners some serious cosmic repercussions. On her quest for television domination, Kim cheats on her husband, neglects her daughter, and mistreats her staff. It all seems worth it when she wins the biggest German television award, but on her way home from the event, she’s killed when a sink mysteriously falls from a Russian space station. When she meets Buddha in the afterlife, Kim learns she has a long road of reparation ahead of her. Reincarnation as an ant teaches her a few lessons about humility, but her turn as an insect is just the first step toward becoming human again. Next as a guinea pig and finally as a fat burger flipper, Kim gains human form just in time to stop her husband from marrying her back-stabbing best friend. One critic said “Lousy Karma is the snappiest chick lit novel that German publishing has put out yet. Pointed, spirited, absurd, sharp, funny, sad, Safier’s stormy mix demolishes the boundaries of the dusty genre.” Rights sold to Korea (Gimmyoung). Contact Kristina Krombholz (

Also redefining modern chick lit is Danish crime writer Sara Blaedel whose latest novel, Just One Life continues to chronicle the mysterious cases of detective inspector Louise Rick. This time, Louise is called in from Copenhagen police headquarters to investigate the death of a young woman found floating in a fjord. The immigration office gets involved when investigators realize the woman is an ethnic minority. Louise’s expertise at solving crimes perpetrated against minority women reveals not only the killer in this case, but the perennial conflicts and hardships faced by immigrants. Louise finds herself in familiar territory. In Blaedel’s 2005 novel, Call Me Princess, Louise becomes enmeshed in the supposedly benign world of online dating. A murderer posing as a potential suitor has met, raped, and killed many women and Louise must assume the identity of “Princess” to bring him to justice. A critic says of Blaedel, a veteran journalist and director of several TV programs with Danish Television, that she “knows how to fuse the likes of Bridget Jones’s Diary with the gripping, fact-based detective novels so popular in Anglo-American fiction.” Contact Bengt Nordin (

In her recent autobiography, The Stormer of the Sky (Heyne), Rebiya Kadeer writes of her incredible success as the richest and most powerful Chinese businesswoman and her subsequent imprisonment as an outspoken and despised human rights leader for her people, the Islamic Uigurs of northwestern China.
Nominated last year for the Nobel Peace Prize and winner of the Rafto Prize in 2004 (typically seen as predictive of the Nobel), Kadeer raised eleven children while building a department store empire in China and finally devoting her life to liberating the Uigurs. Her moving memoir, co-written with Alexandra Cavelius, opens with Kadeer in prison, awaiting trial and assuming she will be executed in several hours.
Denied the right to see her children one last time, she looks in the mirror instead and meditates on the symbol she has come become for her people. After recalling details of what she assumes would be her last meal, Kadeer tells of how she was brought to trial in a massive police caravan where, unexpectedly, she is released. Kadeer continues to detail the many injustices and violations against the Uigur people in her memoir, one of few Western books by or about Kadeer who, come Nobel time, will surely be back in the news. All rights are available. Contact Gesche Wendebourg (