Jen Beagin’s “Big Swiss” Bidding War

Jen Beagin’s Novel About Sex Therapy Sparked a Hollywood Bidding War

By Emily Gould

When she got the call that would change her life completely, Jen Beagin was in the middle of using a hair dryer to warm up the freezing sheets of her bed in a beautiful but unheated 300-year-old Dutch farmhouse in Hudson, New York. “I was 47, and I’d been waitressing full-time for seven years, writing in the early mornings, and I was burnt out.” At first, she thought the Whiting Foundation was a scam. “I kept saying, ‘Writing foundation?’ We went back and forth like that for a while.” Beagin eventually accepted that she was among the 2017 recipients of a $50,000 grant for emerging writers. The foundation was honoring her first novel, Pretend I’m Dead, an idiosyncratic book narrated by a house cleaner who gets too involved with her clients. (When she wasn’t waitressing, cleaning houses was among the jobs Beagin held down over the years.) She did try to dissuade the caller. “I said, ‘That book’s really short,’ and they were like, ‘No, you deserve this.’ They kept saying that, ‘You deserve this.’”

The Whiting money plus the advance that Simon & Schuster paid for Pretend I’m Dead enabled Beagin to finally quit her job and write full-time. Vacuum in the Dark, a sequel to Pretend I’m Dead, was published in 2019. February 7 brings readers her most exciting book yet: the idiosyncratic love story Big Swiss. Jodie Comer is adapting the book into a TV series for HBO that she’ll star in as the titular character, after winning a 14-way bidding war for film rights. Read the full story at Vulture.

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