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Atlantic buys Colin Walsh’s debut Kala in five-way auction

29th March 2022

Atlantic Fiction Publishing Director James Roxburgh has acquired UK Comm ex Can rights for Kala by Colin Walsh as part of a two-book deal. Won at a five-way auction from Lucy Luck at C&W agency, Kala will be Atlantic’s biggest debut novel of 2023 and will be backed by a significant publicity and marketing campaign. Kala will be published in HB, TPB and E-book in Summer 2023.

Fifteen-year-old Kala Lannan disappeared from the tourist town of Kinlough in November 2003. No trace was ever found – until now, fifteen years later. Remains have been discovered at the building site by Lough Caille. The day after Helen Laughlin, Kala’s best friend and confidante, reluctantly returns to the town she ran from ten years before, it is confirmed that the remains belong to Kala. Helen falls in with two other members of their teenage gang – Mush, scarred and scared to leave the safety of his ma’s café on the high street, and the Famous Joe Brennan, Kala’s boyfriend, a commercially successful but emotionally conflicted musician newly returned in an effort to dry out and reconnect with something authentic in life. Their actions over the following days are propelled by the need to understand what happened to the girl who meant so much to each of them and whose disappearance upended their lives. But to find answers they have to confront their own complicity in the events that led to Kala’s disappearance. Ultimately, they must do what others should have done before them to stop the violent patterns of their town’s past repeating themselves once again.

Colin Walsh’s short stories have won several awards including the RTE Francis MacManus Short Story Prize and the Hennessy Literary Award. In 2019 he was named Hennessy New Irish Writer of the Year. His writing has been published in the Stinging Fly, the Irish Times and broadcast on RTE Radio 1 and BBC Radio 4. Kala is his first novel. He is from Galway and lives in Belgium.

James Roxburgh, Publisher for Atlantic Fiction, says

‘Kala made me think of Mad and Furious City meets Mare of Easttown, brilliant on the glorious, woozy experience of being young and getting off with each other, of being fearless and full of big ideas, of the kind of friendships that feel everlasting and unbreakable – and then showing how those childhood friendships often retreat and fall apart, how adulthood brings with it all kinds of fears and narrow ideas, how getting off with each other has its inherent phantoms of jealousy and regret. And all of this orbiting a set-up of small-town secrets and bones found on a building site, the kind of perfect crime-noir storytelling that left the publicity director half in awe and half resentful of Colin because she’d entered into a death-pact with the book in which she couldn’t put it down till 3am. I think Colin Walsh is a major new voice in literary fiction and bringing him to the list with a two-book deal a major statement of ambition for Atlantic Fiction.’