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Borough Press, part of HarperCollins UK, has bought a highly unusual first novel that brings to life one of cinema’s best-loved fictional characters, Quint, the hard-bitten seaman in Peter Benchley’s Jaws.
Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of Stephen Spielberg’s classic film and Borough Press is hoping to capitalize on the attention. Quint is by Robert Lautner, a fan of the film who uses the famous character to bring to life a forgotten tragedy of the Second World War when the USS Indianapolis was sunk and almost 1000 crew were lost in shark-infested waters. This tragedy is recalled by Quint in the film in one of his most famous speeches.
The publisher says: “Quint, played in the film by Robert Shaw, is a cult figure, who famously survived the Second World War sinking of the USS Indianapolis, where almost 1,000 men died in shark-infested seas. The novel follows his life from the aftermath of that incident until his arrival on the island of Amity, and flashes back to the scene of the tragedy in a heart-stopping, vivid first-person narrative.”
Lautner describes his novel as “a character story – a novel about a man, and someone I feel I know. I hope it’s also a tribute to the hundreds of sailors and marines from the USS Indianapolis who lost their lives in the most horrific circumstances imaginable, and a tribute motivated by arguably one of the greatest speeches in cinema”.
Suzie Dooré, editor at large at Borough Press, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights from James Gill at United Agents. Quint will be published in hardback in February 2024, on the 50th anniversary of the release of Jaws.
Dooré said: “This book is a masterpiece, and that is not something I say often. Taking a beloved cult character as his inspiration, Robert Lautner has performed an extraordinary feat of literary ventriloquism and written a novel of unprecedented invention, savagery and authenticity – having read it, and then had a lie down to calm my pounding heart, I emerged convinced that if it came to it, I could capture a Great White on the open seas.
“I should say that the Benchley Estate are aware of this project and have given their permission for it, for which we thank them wholeheartedly, and that the author supports shark and ocean conservation.”