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Allen & Unwin UK to publish debut novel The Funeral Cryer

28th July 2022

Allen & Unwin have acquired UK & Commonwealth (ex Canada) rights to The Funeral Cryer, the first novel by Wenyan Lu, a Cambridge-based writer, teacher and translator. Senior Editor Kate Ballard bought the rights from Kemi Ogunsanwo at The Good Literary Agency.

Told from the perspective of an unnamed woman in contemporary rural China, The Funeral Cryer tells the tale of a middle-aged woman who long ago accepted the realities of her life: avoided by fellow villagers because of the stigma attached to her job as a professional mourner, and under-appreciated by The Husband, whose fecklessness has pushed the couple close to the brink of break-up. But just when things couldn’t be any bleaker, The Funeral Cryer takes a leap of faith – and in so doing things start to take a surprising turn for the better . . .

The Funeral Cryer is an unforgettable depiction of one woman’s mid-life reawakening – dark, moving and wry, it’s both a stark portrait of female desire and an illuminating depiction of a ‘left-behind’ society.

Wenyan Lu is the Chinese-born-and-raised winner of the SI Leeds Literary Prize 2020. Her unpublished historical novel The Martyr’s Hymn was also longlisted for SI Leeds Literary Prize 2018 and Bridport First Novel Prize 2019. Wenyan holds a Master of Studies in Creative Writing as well as a Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching Creative Writing from the University of Cambridge. She lives in Cambridge.

Wenyan Lu comments: ‘I am thrilled to be publishing my debut novel The Funeral Cryer with Atlantic Books. I am grateful to my editor Kate and the team at Atlantic for their dedication and their belief in me. I would also like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to my agent Kemi for her passion in my writing and her ongoing support. As a debut author, it has always been in my dream to see my novel on the bookshelves, and I look forward to publication day in 2023.’

Kate Ballard comments: ‘I was fascinated by the idea of funeral-crying as a profession, and then immediately caught up in the narrator’s story thanks to Wenyan’s singular, striking voice on the page. I was rapt as her protagonist’s tragi-comic midlife coming-of-age tale unspooled in a bleak, moving and utterly unforgettable way to reveal a contemporary ‘left behind’ society we so rarely see depicted in fiction. This novel will have really broad appeal and I can’t wait to share The Funeral Cryer’s tale with readers far and wide when we publish in hardback next Spring.’

The Funeral Cryer will publish in hardback and e-book in May 2023 as a lead title on the Allen & Unwin imprint of Atlantic Books.