Frankfurt Book Fair 2017: The Nonfiction Novel Knopf Bought in a Prison

It is the title one scout known as the “secret publication of Frankfurt” and its pedigree–acquired un-agented by an editor at Knopf from the author, who was writing it in prison–is among the matters that have piqued the interest of festival-goers at Germany.

Cherry, by Nicholas Walker, is a fictionalized accounts of the author’s exceptional life. An Iraq veteran who obtained commendations as a medic in the war, Walker came back floundered and home, suffering from an extreme case of PTSD. What set him apart was that the salve he found because of his condition.

Walker landed in 2012 and also his case–by rapping 10 branches in four months, he became one of Ohio’s most prolific bank robbers–and his case caught a reporter’s eye. Back in 2013 Buzzfeed profiled Walker at a story by Scott Johnson known as “The way the War Here Became a Serial Bank Robber.”

Knopf’s Tim O’Connell, who acquired Cherry, informed PW he discovered concerning the author through a friend at the indie label Fat Possum Records. Fat Possum’s Matthew Johnson started a correspondence with him and achieved to Walker. When curiosity about a possible film about Walker’s life began to surface, Johnson, according to O’Connell, invited Walker to try his hand at writing a book based on his life.

“As it happens, Nico was indulged in Ernest Hemingway and Thomas McGuane and, even more unbelievably, was cut from much the identical cloth,” O’Connell said. “Nico found a typewriter and he started hammering out passages that would eventually develop into Cherry. Right away, I watched the electricity –a voice so raw and fresh.”

After viewing pages O’Connell went to meet with Walker in prison. From there, there has been a deal hammered out. Since O’Connell put it : “I visited Nico with Matthew at the national facility where he has been held in Ashland, Ken. We sat there all day, ate fries, and discussed the term ‘ajar’ for more than an hour. That is how it started. I knew I had a winner.”

Jason Richman at UTA is now shopping for film the publication.

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