The holocaust still continues to fascinate and Pan Macmillan has gone into this week’s virtual Frankfurt Book Fair with the memoir of one of the last remaining eye-witnesses. The Happiest Man on Earth is the memoir of Eddie Jaku, now 100, who survived Buchenwald and Auschwitz. It has been sold in 22 languages so far, including Hebrew (Tchelet), French (Michel Lafon), Turkish (Kronik) and German (Droemer Knaur). In the US it is being published by HarperCollins.
Ingrid Connell, editorial director at Pan Macmillan UK, bought UK and Commonwealth rights from Cate Blake, non-fiction publisher at Pan Macmillan Australia. The publisher says: “Eddie Jaku always considered himself a German first, a Jew second. He was proud of his country. But all of that changed in November 1938, when he was beaten, arrested and taken to a concentration camp. Over the next seven years, Eddie faced unimaginable horrors every day, first in Buchenwald, then in Auschwitz, then on a Nazi death march. He lost family, friends, his country.
“Because he survived, Eddie made a vow to smile every day. He pays tribute to those who were lost by telling his story, sharing his wisdom and living his best possible life. Despite everything he has endured, he now believes he is the ‘happiest man on earth’.”
Jaku said: “I’m so delighted that readers all around the world will soon be sharing my story. I hope that it will make them smile, and help them to remember those we have lost. Life is a gift and happiness is in your hands.”
The title has been a number one bestseller in Australia since its publication just after Jaku’s 100th birthday. Pan Mac Australia describes it as “an uplifting story of resilience in the face of terrible adversity”.
Sophie Brewer, associate publisher, said: “In a year where all our relationships have had to be remote and book fairs have been moved to entirely digital affairs, it’s heartening and exciting to see a title that offers such hope being picked up by publishers around the world. The rights team have done an incredible job to re-create a Frankfurt ‘buzz’ around this book while working away from each other and unable to meet their contacts face to face.”