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Atlantic Books acquires two more books by Elaine Castillo

7th May 2021

Atlantic Books has acquired two new books by Elaine Castillo, following her critically acclaimed debut novel America Is Not The Heart. UK Comm (ex. Canada) rights to an essay collection, How To Read Now, and a second novel, Sexual History, were bought by Atlantic Fiction Publishing Director James Roxburgh from Emma Paterson at Aitken Alexander.

How to Read Now is a collection of linked essays that explores the politics and ethics of reading, and insists that all of us can and should read better: not just our fiction and our art, but also our people, our shared and entangled histories. Smart, funny, serious and, sometimes, profane, Elaine Castillo attacks the bromide that reading makes us more empathetic, reimagines the cartography of the classics, builds a moral case against the settler colonialism of Joan Didion, tilts at Nobel Prize winners and topples indie filmmakers. It’s as much a decisive and critical intervention on our cultural conversation as it is a deeply personal history of reading from the perspective of one woman of colour, in which the stakes of why we need to think about how we read – what reading can mean, in a life – become intimately apparent.

Sexual History is a roadtrip of a novel in which a queer Filipinx American artist travels with her husband to the funeral of the half-brother who abused her when she was a child. It’s a book about an artist’s life – and yes, her sexual history – but it’s also fundamentally a book that questions the relationship between art and trauma, and celebrates the joys and the erotics of survival. As the protagonist drives across California, stopping for roadside donuts, sleeping on the couches of exes and relatives, hiking among the giant trees of a national park, she struggles with how to tell her story – through science fiction? Crime thriller? Myth? Through other people’s work, other people’s characters, other Asian women in films she has loved? – in short, trying every illuminated exit, until she dares to try an entrance.

Named one of ‘30 of the planet’s most exciting young people’ by the Financial Times, Elaine Castillo was born and raised in the Bay Area.  Her debut novel America Is Not the Heart has been nominated for numerous prizes, including the Elle Award, the Center for Fiction Prize and the Aspen Words Prize.

Elaine Castillo said:

‘Atlantic Books has been my literary home in the UK since London was my physical home, back in 2016, and I continue to be immensely proud of the work we have published and will continue to publish together.  With special thanks to my editor James Roxburgh, whose editorial grace, openness, and humility sets an example not just for how to be better publishers, but in particular, how to be better and more engaged publishers for authors of colour; and to my incomparable agent, Emma Paterson, whose razor-sharp instincts, iconoclastic verve and visionary commitment to effecting actionable change on our shelves (and so in our world) make her, in my esteem, the future of the publishing industry – a future that, for once in these dystopian times, I actually joyfully look forward to being part of.’

James Roxburgh said:

‘I once told a room full of people that Elaine was a writer of such extraordinary talent that I would blindly follow her wherever she went, and both these projects vindicate that deep-held faith – but also gently rebuke the idea of moving through the world with my eyes closed. Her collection is a stunningly significant piece of criticism that asks us not to look away when our shared culture proves so appallingly limited but instead to look harder. To think smarter. To read better.’

Emma Paterson said:

‘Encountering Elaine Castillo’s exhilarating, confronting and ultimately hopeful interrogation of our reading culture is like watching the clouds break. You will remember where you were when you first read How to Read Now, and you will think of it every time you read another book.’

How To Read Now will be published in hardback and eBook in summer 2022 and Sexual History will be published in hardback and eBook in summer 2023.