Grove Press UK to publish ‘surprising and fresh’ debut from Vauhini Vara

5th May 2021

Grove Press UK has acquired The Immortal King Rao, an “epic” debut novel about family, modernity and technology from Canadian-born American writer Vauhini Vara.

The novel will tell a rags-to-riches story of a Dalit Indian computer scientist who migrates to America and eventually becomes the most famous person in the world. The interlaced story will move from a coconut grove in 1950s Andhra Pradesh to Seattle during the early tech boom to a future world where the nation state has given way to a corporate global government, and the devices of the Coconut corporation have reshaped the world. The title will ask “powerful” questions about ethics, the American Dream and the social values of digital captains of industry, says the publisher.

Peter Blackstock, publisher, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, from Peggy Boulos-Smith at Writers House, on behalf of Susan Golomb. North American rights were acquired by Alane Mason at W W Norton. Publication is scheduled for spring 2022.

Blackstock said: “I am thrilled to be bringing Vauhini’s thought-provoking novel to the Grove Press UK list. It is an extraordinary debut with a surprising and fresh voice, and an impressive character study that takes us evocatively into widely varying settings. It asks prescient questions about technology and capitalism that are ever more relevant as we move into a future that feels more uncanny by the day.”

Vara commented: “I’ve long admired Peter Blackstock’s work in the US — and Grove, in general — and was excited to hear about his new role as Grove Press UK’s publisher. After a decade spent writing this book, I feel extraordinarily lucky that Grove will be playing a major role in bringing it into the world.”

Vara is a graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop. She began her career at the Wall Street Journal and she later edited and wrote for the New Yorker. She is currently a story editor at New York Times Magazine. Her fiction has received an O Henry Award, along with honours from the Rona Jaffe Foundation, the Canada Council for the Arts, the MacDowell Colony and the Yaddo Corporation.