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Blackstock acquires Silje Ulstein’s ‘fast-paced and addictive’ debut Reptile Memoirs

7th February 2022

Peter Blackstock, Publisher of Grove Press UK and Deputy Publisher of Grove Atlantic, has acquired World English Language rights from Annette Orre at Oslo Literary Agency for Silje Ulstein’s debut novel, Reptile Memoirs (translated by Alison McCullough). Rights have been sold in 13 territories.

Silje Ulstein has a masters degree in Literature from the University of Oslo and studied creative writing at the Bergen Writing Academy. Reptile Memoirs, a Norwegian bestseller, is her debut novel. She lives in Oslo.

A brilliantly twisty and unusual literary thriller, Reptile Memoirs asks the question: Can you ever really shed your skin?

Late one night, in the aftermath of a party in the apartment she shares with two friends in Ålesund, Liv sees a python on a TV nature show and becomes obsessed with the idea of buying a snake as a pet. Soon Nero, a baby Burmese python, becomes the apartment’s fourth roommate. As Liv bonds with Nero, she is struck by a desire that surprises her with its intensity. Finally, she is safe.

Thirteen years later, in the nearby town of Kristiansund, Mariam Lind goes on a shopping trip with her eleven-year-old daughter, Iben. Following an argument Mariam storms off, expecting her young daughter to make her own way home . . . but she never does. Detective Roe Olsvik, new to the Kristiansund police department, is assigned to the case of Iben’s disappearance. As he interrogates Mariam, he instantly suspects her –but there is much more to this case and these characters than their outer appearances would suggest.

A biting and constantly shifting tale of family secrets, rebirth and the legacy of trauma, Reptile Memoirs is a brilliant exploration of the cold-bloodedness of humanity.

Silje Ulstein says,

‘It has been so wonderful for me to meet and work with the excellent staff at Grove Press UK, and I am deeply moved by how they’ve embraced my first novel. I am truly convinced that Reptile Memoirs has found the best possible UK home. I am also absolutely thrilled by the early reviews, and I really look forward to going to festivals and book signings if the situation allows it. And to my UK readers, I hope you’ll find that my dark and quirky thriller lives up to your expectations. Please forgive me if the snake keeps you up.’

Peter Blackstock says,

‘I first read Reptile Memoirs at a very distracted time, back in October 2020, with no vaccine in sight and the US elections around the corner and was completely whisked away by Silje Ulstein’s brilliant and surprising plotting, and the evocative writing for which translator Alison McCullough also deserves credit. Reptile Memoirs is fast-paced and addictive, but thought-provoking too. It’s a brilliant crime novel and much more besides. I hope that readers and reviewers are as taken with it as I was.’

Alison McCullough is a Norwegian to English translator and writer. She was awarded a National Centre for Writing Emerging Translator Mentorship in 2017. She lives in Stavanger, Norway.

Reptile Memoirs will be published in hardback, trade paperback and ebook on March 17th 2022, and Silje Ulstein will be appearing at UK literary festivals throughout the year.