Catherine Cho: What I’m Looking For

Actively looking for: digital bestsellers; debut fiction; upmarket and literary novels; fascinating high-concept stories; love stories, family dramas, magical realism, speculative fiction; narrative non-fiction in science, social issues, psychology, history, lifestyle.

I’m actively building my list in adult fiction and non-fiction. As Manager of Digital Rights, I’m also looking to build the agency’s portfolio of digital authors. This encompasses commercial fiction of all genres.

I’m looking for:

*Upmarket and literary fiction, I am drawn to character-driven and voice-driven stories with a strong sense of place. I am particularly drawn to novels that explore relationships and family dramas. Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane and The Dutch House by Ann Patchett are two recent favourites. I also loved Pachinko by Min Jin Lee and Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Adichie, both of which are ambitious and encompass so much in their stories. I admire Alice Munro and the precision of her prose, the way she creates a fully realized story within a few sentences.

My favourite writers in this area include Elizabeth Strout, Jennifer Egan, Lionel Shriver, Ann Patchett, Curtis Sittenfeld and David Nicholls.

*Writing with a distinctive, unique voice. I love to be captured by a voice, whether it’s upmarket psychological suspense or a reading group novel. I loved The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and Fingersmith by Sarah Waters. I also admire Liane Moriarty and Jeffrey Eugenides.

*High concept and genre-defying novels – I am drawn to novels with a unique premise, novels like Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel, The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffnegger and The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold.  I want to be transported by a story, and I have a particular fondness for time travel stories and anything involving magical realism. My dream would be to find something like The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. My favourite writers in this area include Margaret Atwood, Kazuo Ishiguro, Claire North and Kate Atkinson, they transcend genre and combine beautiful writing with strong stories.

Ultimately, I’m looking for a good story – a story that transports me, that moves me. I always remember a book that makes me cry.

*Non-fiction on science, history, philosophy, social issues, true crime, lifestyle, memoir – my taste in non-fiction is broad. I’m looking for books about fascinating topics, particularly those written by experts in their fields. I want to find books that reveal something about the world or show an unusual perspective or inspire people to live their lives differently. I admire writers like Malcolm Gladwell, Seth Godin and Yuval Harari. I’m looking for powerful narratives, something like The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot or The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee. This includes memoir, such as Wild by Cheryl Strayed or When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalinithi. I also enjoy essay collections, someone like Jia Tolentino, Leslie Jamison or Emilie Pine.

My Favourite Novels:

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Americanah by Chimamanda Adichie

Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

The Passage by Justin Cronin

Us by David Nicholls

My Favourite Non-Fiction

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalinithi

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

Paula by Isabel Allende

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Sapiens by Yuval Harari

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Quiet by Susan Cain

The Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit

Just Kids by Patti Smith