SelfMadeHero has acquired the English translation rights to the Angoulême award-winning and best-selling French political satire, Quai d’Orsay, based on the life of former PM and Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin, which will be published in English as Weapons of Mass Diplomacy next year.
Set during the leadup to the Iraq war, Quai d’Orsay follows French Foreign Minister Alexandre Taillard de Vorms, who loves making poetic speeches and cosying up to the elite. Familiar world leaders are amongst the large cast but they are all given fictional names.
Written under the pseudonym Abel Lanzac by Antonin Baudry, a former speechwriter to former French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, and who currently heads the Cultural Service of the Embassy of France in New York, Weapons of Mass Diplomacy is illustrated by Christophe Blain. It’s a story that enjoys the same tradition as TV series The Thick of It, Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister. (The book has also been adapted into a film under its original name Quai D’Orsay by veteran French director Bertrand Tavernier, to be released at the end of the year).
A bestseller in France, SelfMadeHero attained the rights from Dargaud at the London Book Fair.
Also a successful mystery writer Baudry took the opportunity to reveal his true identity when he received his award for Quai d’Orsay at Angouleme earlier this year.
“I could not see myself coming on stage to receive my prize with a hood!,” he told Figaro, explaining why he revealed his true identity. ” In fact, there is nothing spectacular about that. I think it was time for my ‘coming out’…
Diplomat friends advised hims to take a pen name, which gave Antonin “a real freedom of writing”, he says, but eventually the unexpected success of the album, the fact that the story is felt today to be a tribute to the French diplomacy, “all convinced me to drop the mask.
“The Quai d’Orsay shows people who work in the background [in diplomatic ciurcles], who meet three or four in the morning, in a small office, in an attempt to manage recurrent crises.”
His former boss isn’t bothered by the book, either, he told Figaro. “In fact, I sent the storyboard to Dominique de Villepin at the beginning of the project. He laughed when he read it!”
SelfMadeHero’s other recent acquisitions include German comic creator Reinhard Kleist’s The Boxer, the biography of Jewish boxer Harry Haft who escaped Nazi concentration camps and became a prizefighter in America and whose final fight was with the legendary Rocky Marciano.
Rights were also acquired in Terra Australis, the story of the founding of Australia, written by Laurent-Frederic Bollée and illustrated by Philippe Nicloux, which will be published to coincide with the bicentenary of one of the book’s central characters, Admiral Arthur Phillip.
All these titles are set to be published in Spring 2014.
• SelfMadeHero: www.selfmadehero.com