Firmin and Sam Savage then came to the attention of the Spanish publishers Seix Barral, part of the International Planeta Publishing Group. Seix Barral bought world rights for a six-figure sum in 2007, the largest rights deal Coffee House Press had ever done.
Seix Barral sent the book around the world, and it has been sold so far in fourteen countries to date, including Japan, Italy, Holland, Brazil and Israel. Six more offers are pending. Incredibly, it has also been sold back to the US: Bantam Dell, part of the Random House US group, has bought the rights to publish it again in the States.
In Firmin’s mind, he is a great actor reciting Shakespeare, a sophisticate quoting Noel Coward, or a passionate lover reading Emily Bronte. He becomes a citizen of the world and lives a thousand lives far away from the rat hole. But in the mirror he is a dirty rat, shunned and abused by society, who can produce only squeaks instead of sonnets.
As Firmin navigates the shadowy streets of his decaying area, looking for understanding, his excitement, loneliness, fear and self-consciousness become touchingly human. But the days of the bookshop and the close community are numbered: the area has been marked for “regeneration” and soon the faded glory of his home will be reduced to rubble.
Brilliantly original and richly allegorical, Firmin brims with charm and a wistful longing for a world that understands the redemptive power of literature.
James Pressley, Bloomberg.com
"Firmin is a hero in the Dickensian mode . . . with the sardonic shadings of Vonnegut, and the same explicit tenderness. . . . Savage has captured the essential tragedy of a world in which the artistic impulse kneels before the bulldozer. . . . [A] moving and wildly inventive novel."Los Angeles Times Book Review
"[An] alternately whimsical and earnest paean to the joys of literature."
Firmin is his first novel. I'll bet it is not his last.