Rights to Mandela book stirs up Frankfurt fair

The Frankfurt Book Fair got a buzz on Thursday from news that rights to South African icon Nelson Mandela’s work Conversation with Myself were on the market.

Betsy Robbins from the Curtis Brown agency told Agence France-Presse she could not comment on the deal, however, because negotiations were still taking place with publishers in several major countries.

British rights to the 100 000-word book, said to include Mandela’s unseen diaries, letters and personal thoughts, had been secured by Pan Macmillan, which also declined to comment at the fair.

The work spans Mandela’s lifetime, including the 27 years he was held in prison on Robben Island and the five years he served as South Africa’s president.

A unit of the publishing group La Martiniere had won the bidding for France, Robbins said.

The trade publication The Bookseller Daily, in a special edition from the world’s largest literary trade fair, quoted Jonny Geller from Curtis Brown as saying: “Virtually every major territory is bidding at the moment—it’s all happening.”

The book is due for release in late 2010.—AFP

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