Super-agent Andrew “The Jackal” Wylie may inherit another large chunk of the world’s literary talent

What would Pablo Neruda have to say about this?
What would Pablo Neruda have to say about this?
Image: AP/Laurent Rebours
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Andrew Wylie, one of the world’s most powerful literary agents, may soon gain even more sway as the representative of three more Nobel Prize-winning authors.

Known as ”the Jackal” for his ruthless client-poaching, Wylie was in talks with Barcelona-based agent Carmen Balcells to merge their two agencies. But on Sunday (Sept. 20), Balcells passed away at 85, leaving the fate of Nobel-winning clients like Mario Vargas Llosa, and the estates of Gabriel García Márquez and Pablo Neruda, in limbo.

Last year, the legendary agent of the Spanish-speaking world’s literary elite announced she would combine forces with Wylie, after many failed attempts at courtship by the US agency. At that time, Balcells signed a letter of intent to form Balcells-Wylie agency. According to The New York Times, however, the merger talks had not ended by the time she passed away. Quartz reached out to both agencies for a statement, and will update here with comment.

Wylie already represents writers like Orhan Pamuk, Chimamanda Adichie, and Salman Rushdie, and the estates of Susan Sontag, Vladimir Nabokov, and Italo Calvino, among many others. If the deal goes through, he will represent an even bigger portion of the world’s best writers. Clients like Isabel Allende and the estates of Clarice Lispector and Adolfo Bioy Casares will move from Barcelona’s Avenida Diagonal to his offices in New York and London.

Balcells, or “La Mamá Grande,” was known for being a nurturing confidante and champion to her clients. She has been described by Allende to the Times as “generous and splendid and over the top.”  Wylie, on the other hand, is a respected but oft-vilified agent who once described himself to the Guardian as a “ravenous dog.”