Weidenfeld & Nicolson pre-empts ‘thrilling’ Lipstein debut

Weidenfeld & Nicolson has pre-empted a “thrilling story of fame, fortune, and impossible choices” by debut novelist Andrew Lipstein after discovering it in the slush pile.


Federico Andornino, publishing director, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, in Last Resort. The deal was struck with Devon Mazzone at FSG after an initial unsolicited submission by the author, writing under a pseudonym, to Andornino and American editor Jonathan Galassi. Last Resort will be published by W&N in export trade paperback on 18th January 2022, followed by hardback, e-book and audio digital download editions on 17th March 2022.


Andornino explained: “I had heard the stories before—editors who had come across new talent by reading unsolicited submissions in their inboxes—but I thought there were just that: wild, made-up stories. Then I opened an email by an author writing under a pseudonym and realised the urban legends were in fact real. I devoured the first three chapters of Last Resort in half an hour and wrote back asking for more; I spent a day reading the rest and then tried to pre-empt world rights; and when FSG beat us to it, I immediately went back, pre-empting UK and Commonwealth rights. “This is one of the most assured, wildly entertaining and thought-provoking books I have read in a while and I feel incredibly privileged to be able to introduce a writer of Andrew’s calibre to the world.”


The book’s synopsis explains: “Caleb Horowitz is 27, and his wildest dreams are about to come true. His manuscript has caught the attention of the literary agent, who offers him fame, fortune and a taste of the literary life. He can’t wait for his book to be shopped around to every editor in New York, except one: Avi Dietsch, a college rival and the novel’s ‘inspiration’. When Avi gets his hands on the manuscript, he sees nothing but theft—and opportunity. And so Caleb is forced to make a Faustian bargain, one that tests his theories of success, ambition and the limits of art.”


Advance praise has come from Gary Shteyngart, Joshua Ferris and Meg Mason, who said: “If Less by Andrew Sean Greer left a hole in your life, good news: Last Resort will fill it. Fast and funny, it feels like a backstage pass to the book world.”


Lipstein is a writer based in Brooklyn who works on the product design team at Kabbage, a fintech start-up, and was previously at Meural, an art tech start-up. He founded and runs 0s&1s, a digital bookstore featuring interviews, and co-founded the Neu Jorker and Paul Ryan magazine. His writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books, the MillionsVICE, McSweeney’s, the RumpusElectric Literature and elsewhere. He graduated from Haverford College with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics.


The author said: “It seems like a fantasy, really, to have sold this book to these two legendary publishers—and to have done so in this way, and after so many false starts. I can’t name how many failed novels came before this one, but I see now that those experiences weren’t for naught; Last Resort is, after all, about an overambitious writer who will stop at nothing to see his dream come true. And readers will find the play of fantasy and reality doesn’t stop there. I shopped the book under a different name: a dire choice the protagonist also makes—and finds disaster waiting on the other side.”