In a piece of fortuitous timing on this election Tuesday, Fourth Estate has acquired the UK rights to the first book by American writer, actress and director Lena Dunham, who is trailed wherever she goes by a string of fretful internet thinkpieces and whose recent cute, mildly suggestive Obama endorsement had at least one Republican politician wondering aloud about whether or not she might take advice from the same source as Obama and Putin, namely the great Satan hisself.
Dunham – the 26 year old inferiority complex-inducing creator and star of the HBO show Girls and writer-director of the film Tiny Furniture – signed a deal with Random House about a month ago for US publication of the essay collection Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s Learned, a deal that cost the publishing house over $3.5 million at auction. The New York Times explained the bidding war by suggesting Dunham’s book could replicate the massive success of her show-creating/writing/starring compatriot Tina Fey, whose memoir Bossypants sold over a million copies and 150,000 Fey-narrated audiobook downloads in the US alone.
Random House places the book ‘in the tradition of Helen Gurley Brown, David Sedaris, and Nora Ephron’, with Fourth Estate also citing Ephron alongside Caitlin Moran and Woody Allen, all of which suggests that even if Dunham isn’t quite the cause célèbre on these shores yet that she is in the US (despite the best efforts of the Telegraph this past weekend – grubby indeed), the book could still stand to do well on its own merits.
In fairness, Girls has just started its run on Sky Atlantic within the past couple of weeks, so by the time the book is published there is a strong possibility that Dunham will have built up at least enough of a cult following in the UK to shift more than a few copies for Fourth Estate – even if they’re not quite as forthcoming as Random House about how much they paid for it.