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Atlantic Books acquires The Diaries of Mr Lucas

Atlantic Books is delighted to announce the acquisition of The Diaries of Mr Lucas, a vivid, one-of-a-kind account of queer life in London prior to the partial decriminalisation of gay sex in 1967, by journalist Hugo Greenhalgh.

James Pulford, senior editor at Atlantic Books, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights from Eli Keren, associate literary agent at United Agents. Audio rights were sold to W. F. Howes. Translation and adaptation rights are handled by United Agents. The Diaries of Mr Lucas will be published in hardback and eBook in May 2024.

For 60 years Mr Lucas lived a double life. By day he was a high-ranking civil servant at the Board of Trade, but by night – unable to live openly as a gay man – he was a fixture of London’s underground queer scene. He was also an obsessive diary writer.

Starting in 1960, Mr Lucas had a passionate and fraught affair with Peter Byrne, a rent-boy, petty criminal and friend of the Kray twins. Between them, Lucas and Byrne represent the spectrum of gay criminality prior to the partial decriminalisation of gay sex in 1967.

Decades later, while researching a documentary about male prostitution, journalist Hugo Greenhalgh met Mr Lucas and discovered his staggering record of queer life in the capital. When Mr Lucas died in 2014 he left the diaries to Hugo.

In The Diaries of Mr Lucas, Hugo guides readers through Lucas and Byrne’s relationship, and Lucas and Byrne lead readers from the respectable life of an affluent Londoner into the murky world of the capital’s ‘meat market’ and, eventually, face-to-face with the Kray twins themselves. Between Mr Lucas’s heart-wrenching and deliciously indiscreet diary entries, and Hugo’s razor-sharp insights, they uncover a period of LGBTQ+ history that has been written out of the official record.

In 2019, Mark Gatiss gave a sold-out reading from the diaries at London’s Bishopsgate Institute.

Hugo Greenhalgh has been a journalist for more than 25 years, mainly for the Financial Times and now, for the past four years, as the LGBTQ+ editor of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the corporate foundation of Thomson Reuters, the global news and information services company.

Hugo Greenhalgh says:

‘I am incredibly excited to see The Diaries of Mr Lucas make it into print. I knew Mr Lucas – never George, as that would be too informal – for almost 20 years before he died in 2014. He would be delighted to know that his diaries, a vivid record of a lost queer London, will soon be read more widely. As soon as I saw them I knew the diaries were gold dust: a mixture of waspish daily entries, detailing the sex he had with guardsmen and male prostitutes, and photographs, clippings and all manner of collected ephemera; they offer a glimpse into a life led, sometimes literally, in the shadows. But now, as he emerges, blinking, into the sunlight, the diaries will stand as one of the definitive records of queer life in the 1960s.’

James Pulford says:

‘Mr Lucas’s diaries are often very funny, sometimes sad, occasionally sleazy,  usually indiscreet and at times outrageous, but they are never less than utterly enthralling; they give an extraordinary, unvarnished account of a London – and a way of life – that have ceased to exist, and they couldn’t have found a better custodian than Hugo, whose intelligence, wit and commitment to LGBTQ+ activism will make this an unforgettable account of queer life. We’re thrilled to be publishing The Diaries of Mr Lucas.’

Corvus signs ‘utterly compelling’ debut The Silence Project

Corvus Publishing Director Sarah Hodgson has acquired UK and Commonwealth rights in Carole Hailey’s debut The Silence Project from Marina de Pass at The Soho Agency. The Silence Project will be Corvus’ lead debut for the first half of 2023, publishing in hardback, export trade paperback and ebook on 2nd February 2023.

Carole Hailey completed the six-month Guardian/UEA novel writing course taught by Bernardine Evaristo, who imbued her with such a love for writing fiction that she abandoned her career in law to undertake an MA in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths, followed by a PhD in Creative Writing at Swansea University. Carole was a London Library Emerging Writer 2020/21. The Silence Project was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize Peggy Chapman-Andrews First Novel Award 2020 and highly commended by the judges.

The Silence Project asks what it would be like to be the daughter of a woman who started a cult that changed the world, and takes the form of a fictitious memoir.

On Emilia Morris’s thirteenth birthday, her mother Rachel moves into a tent at the bottom of their garden. From that day on, she never says another word. Inspired by her vow of silence, other women join her and together they build the Community. Eight years later, Rachel and thousands of her followers around the world burn themselves to death.

In the aftermath of what comes to be known as the Event, the Community’s global influence quickly grows. As a result, the whole world has an opinion about Rachel – whether they see her as a callous monster or a heroic martyr – but Emilia has never voiced hers publicly. Until now.

When she publishes her own account of her mother’s life in a memoir called The Silence Project, Emilia also decides to reveal just how sinister the Community has become. In the process, she steps out of Rachel’s shadow once and for all, so that her own voice may finally be heard.

Carole Hailey says:

“I am thrilled that The Silence Project has found a home at Corvus – the love that Sarah and the team have already shown for it is beyond anything I could have imagined. I’m so excited to work with them to send Emilia, Rachel and her Community out into the world.”

Sarah Hodgson, Publishing Director, Corvus, says,

“The unique and arresting premise of The Silence Project caught my attention as soon as I opened Marina’s submission email, and the novel itself only exceeded my expectations. Carole’s writing has both a simplicity and a depth to it that is utterly compelling, I’m over the moon to welcome Carole to the Corvus list, and can’t wait to share The Silence Project with readers – you’ll need to clear your schedules for this one, because it really is unputdownable.”

For translation, North America and film and TV rights, please contact marina@thesohoagency.co.uk.

Allen & Unwin UK to publish ANNA

Allen & Unwin UK have acquired UK and Commonwealth (ex-Canada) rights to Amy Odell’s biography of Anna Wintour from Paul O’Halloran at Gallery Books/S&S. Anna: The Biography will be published in hardback, export trade paperback and e-book 5th May 2022, while audio rights have been sold to WF Howes.

Based on extensive interviews with Anna Wintour’s closest friends and collaborators, including some of the biggest names in fashion, journalist Amy Odell has crafted the most revealing portrait of Wintour ever published. Weaving Anna’s personal story into a larger narrative about the hierarchical dynamics of the fashion industry and the complex world of Condé Nast, Anna charts the relentless ambition of the woman who would become an icon.

Amy Odell is a fashion and culture journalist. Her work has appeared in New York magazine, The Economist’s 1843, Bloomberg Businessweek and numerous other publications. She is also the author of Tales from the Back Row.

Amy Odell says:

‘After a long and challenging reporting and writing process, I’m thrilled that Allen & Unwin will bring this book to an even wider global audience.’

Clare Drysdale, group associate publisher of Atlantic Books, says:

‘Amy Odell has written a scrupulous and extremely fair account of an underexamined icon, arguably the most powerful woman in media. This is a book which will thrill any Vogue reader and admirers and detractors alike of the fascinating Anna Wintour.’

The Raven’s Nest by Sarah Thomas lands with Atlantic

Atlantic Books is happy to announce that it has acquired The Raven’s Nest by writer and filmmaker Sarah Thomas. Karen Duffy, Associate Publisher and Head of Campaigns, bought UK & Commonwealth rights in a three-way auction from Matthew Marland at Rogers, Coleridge & White. The Raven’s Nest will be published in hardback and eBook in July 2022, with a paperback to follow in summer 2023.

Artfully weaving nature writing, memoir and travelogue, it is a story about resilience and learning to belong through love and language, set in the elemental landscape of Iceland’s bewitching Westfjords.

In 2008, on a short trip to Iceland for a film festival, Sarah Thomas found herself spellbound by its otherworldly landscape. An immediate love for this country and a man she meets there, Bjarni, turns that first week-long visit into a profoundly transformative half-decade, one which radically alters Sarah’s understanding of herself and of the natural world. She finds a place where the midwinter full moon is brighter than daylight, where fierce storms shake iron-clad houses and northern lights pattern the night sky, where the meaning of the word for yes – já – is imbued with ambiguity when spoken on an inbreath. A place in which, and with which, it is possible to think differently.

Cal Flyn, author of the Baillie Gifford-shortlisted Islands of Abandonment, is one of the book’s early readers:

“Sarah Thomas’ lyrical, thoughtful prose takes us on a journey, both physical and emotional, to the far north – a region about which stories are increasingly essential, especially from those who live there. One senses her filmmaker’s eye in her crisp visual imagery, and in her careful portraits of both people and place.”

Sarah Thomas is a writer and filmmaker. Her films have been screened internationally, and she is a contributor to the Dark Mountain journal. Her writing has also appeared in the Guardian and the anthology Women on Nature. She was longlisted for the inaugural Nan Shepherd Prize, and shortlisted for the 2021 Fitzcarraldo Essay Prize for the proposal for this book.

Karen Duffy says:

“Written in beautifully vivid prose, The Raven’s Nest is a profoundly moving meditation on place, identity, and how we might live well in an era of environmental disruption. I think anyone who reads the opening pages of Sarah’s wonderful book will just know that they are embarking on a very special journey. The landscape, the raven, Bjarni and his family and other Westfjordian characters are captured with a visceral precision. One of the many things I admire about this book is that it seems to come from a place of curiosity and love.  Sarah’s relationship to her new Icelandic community is one of learning, adapting, accepting. I am certain there are many readers hungry for a book as original and moving and disrupting as The Raven’s Nest and Atlantic will be doing all it can to get the book to them.”

Sarah Thomas says:

“It has been a richly rewarding experience to work with my agent and with Atlantic, a publisher who has approached this book with such care, curiosity and openness to doing things slightly differently. It was a fated match: following an exciting auction, it was a joy to get the call about Atlantic’s final offer as I sailed, on the North Atlantic, into the village where the raven’s nest of the title is housed. I hope that this intricately woven tale, which has been many years in the living and the writing, will immerse readers as I was immersed, in an unbounded way of being and thinking – one in which we might really live in and with the world, with agency and respect. I cannot wait to share this beautiful country and the lifelong impact it has had on me.”

Journalist and political satirist P.J. O’Rourke (14 November 1947-15 February 2022) has passed away

Our dear friend and cherished Grove Atlantic author P. J. O’Rourke passed away this morning from complications of lung cancer. A journalist and political satirist, O’Rourke wrote over twenty books on subjects as diverse as politics, cars, etiquette, and economics, including his two #1 New York Times Bestsellers, Parliament of Whores and Give War a Chance.

Patrick Jake O’Rourke was born in Toledo, Ohio, on November 14, 1947. He attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and graduate school at Johns Hopkins where he was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow. After receiving an M.A. in English, O’Rourke worked at small newspapers in Baltimore and New York.

In the 1970s, O’Rourke became editor-in-chief of The National Lampoon, where he created with Doug Kenney, the now classic 1964 High School Yearbook Parody. He was the Foreign Affairs Desk Chief for Rolling Stone, a position that allowed him to expose the hypocrisies of world politics from the Persian Gulf to the Philippines. O’Rourke was also a regular correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly, and his writing appeared in publications including Automobile Magazine, Esquire, Vanity Fair, Car and Driver, The Daily Beast, and The Weekly Standard.

In the early 1990’s he left Washington DC for his beloved New Hampshire where he continued to write. He was the H. L. Mencken Research Fellow at the Cato Institute, a regular panelist on NPR’s Wait Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me, and editor-in-chief of the web magazine American Consequences.  He leaves behind his wife Tina O’Rourke and three children.

Morgan Entrekin, CEO and Publisher of Grove Atlantic said:

“P. J. was one of the major voices of his generation. He was also a close friend and partner for more than 40 years. P. J.’s loyalty and commitment to first Atlantic Monthly Press and then Grove Atlantic enabled me to keep the company independent. For that I will forever be in his debt. His insightful reporting, verbal acuity and gift at writing laugh-out-loud prose were unparalleled. From his classics Modern Manners and Parliament of Whores to How the Hell Did This Happen, a result of his dismay at the 2016 election—P. J. kept providing fierce, smart, always amusing reports on the American condition.  His passing leaves a huge hole in my life both personal and professional. My thoughts and prayers are with Tina and their children.”

Black Mamba snapped up by Atlantic

Atlantic Fiction has acquired UK Com + translation (ex Can) rights for Black Mamba by William Friend from Jordan Lees at The Blair Partnership. Black Mamba will be published in HB, TPB and E-book in June 2022.

William Friend studied English, French and Italian at university. He lives in Hertfordshire with his partner. Black Mamba is his first novel.

Grief Is the Thing with Feathers meets The Haunting of Hill House in a debut of loss, ghosts and sexual desire…

Daddy, there’s a man in our room. This is the chilling announcement Alfie hears one night, when he wakes in his quiet, suburban house to find his twin daughters at the foot of his bed. It’s been nine months since Pippa – their mother – suddenly died and they’ve been unsettled ever since, so Alfie assumes they’ve probably had a nightmare. Still, he goes to check to reassure the girls. As expected he finds no man, but in the following days the girls begin to refer to someone called Black Mamba. What seemingly begins as an imaginary friend quickly develops into something darker, more obsessive, potentially violent. Alfie finds himself struggling, and so he turns to Julia – Pippa’s twin and a psychotherapist – for help. But as Black Mamba’s coils tighten around the girls, Alfie and Julia must contend with their own unspoken sense of loss, their unacknowledged attraction to one another, and the true character of the presence poisoning the twins’ minds.

James Roxburgh, Publishing Director for Atlantic Fiction, says:

Black Mamba is a fabulous novel, fluent in the grammar of horror writing but also a deeply sophisticated account of sublimated grief and sexual desire. It’s particularly good at challenging our assumptions of what modern families look like, what might be the emotional and psychological cost of wanting to be a parent in a family that might fall outside of the ‘perfect’ dominant-cultural paradigm. It makes me think of Babadook or Hereditary, work that’s both challenging and moving, but also able to have its dark fun with us, making our bones feel cold and leaving us checking under the bed before lights out.’

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

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.

Blackstock acquires New Yorker staffer Rebecca Mead’s memoir

Peter Blackstock, Publisher of Grove Press UK and the US editor of Douglas Stuart, Bernardine Evaristo, and Sayaka Murata, has acquired Home/Land: A Memoir of Departure and Return by New Yorker staff writer Rebecca Mead. Blackstock bought UK Commonwealth rights (ex-Canada) from Susanna Lea on behalf of The Robbins Office. Home/Land will be published in hardback and ebook on 21st April 2022.

Rebecca Mead has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1997. She has profiled many subjects and has contributed more than two hundred pieces to the Talk of the Town. She is the author of One Perfect Day and The Road to Middlemarch, a New York Times best seller. She has served as a McGraw Professor of Writing at Princeton University and is the recipient of a 2020 Guggenheim Fellowship. She lives in London.

When the New Yorker writer Rebecca Mead relocated to her birth city, London, with her family in the summer of 2018, she was both fleeing the political situation in America and seeking to expose her son to a wider world. With a keen sense of what she’d given up as she left New York, her home of thirty years, she tried to knit herself into the fabric of a changed London. The move raised poignant questions about place: What does it mean to leave the place you have adopted as home and country? And what is the value and cost of uprooting yourself?

In a deft mix of memoir and reportage, drawing on literature and art, recent and ancient history, and the experience of encounters with individuals, environments and landscapes in New York City and in England, Mead artfully explores themes of identity, nationality and inheritance. She recounts her time in the coastal town of Weymouth, where she grew up; her dizzying first years in New York where she broke into journalism; the rich process of establishing a new home for her dual-national son in London. Along the way, she gradually reckons with the complex legacy of her parents. Home/Land is a stirring inquiry into how to be present where we are, while never forgetting where we have been.

Rebecca Mead says,

Home/Land is a book about both giving up and making a home, and I am delighted that it has found its own home in the UK with the nimble and thoughtful publishing team at Grove Press.’

Peter Blackstock says,

‘As a Brit who has lived in New York for more than a decade, I was predisposed to love Home/Land – but I was delighted when my Atlantic Books colleagues all felt as strongly as I did. Rebecca Mead is an extraordinary writer, with the gift to make these well-known cities new through her brilliant perspective. At a time when the Atlantic Ocean feels wider than ever, Home/Land is a joy to read.’

Atlantic buys two novels from Camilla Grudova

Atlantic Fiction has acquired UK Com, Ex Can, rights for two books by Camilla Grudova from Sophie Scard at United Agents. Children of Paradise will be published in HB, TPB and E-book in June 2022.

When Holly applies for a job at the Paradise — one of the city’s oldest cinemas, squashed into the ground floor of a block of flats — she thinks it will be like any other shift work. She cleans toilets, sweeps popcorn, avoids the belligerent old owner, Iris, and is ignored by her aloof but tight-knit colleagues who seem as much a part of the building as its fraying carpets and endless dirt. Dreadful, lonely weeks pass while she longs for their approval, a silent voyeur. So when she finally gains the trust of this cryptic band of oddballs, Holly transforms from silent drudge to rebellious insider and gradually she too becomes part of the Paradise — unearthing its secrets, learning its history and haunting its corridors after hours with the other ushers. It is no surprise when violence strikes, tempers change and the group, eyes still affixed to the screen, starts to rapidly go awry…

Camilla Grudova lives in Edinburgh. She holds a degree in Art History and German from McGill University, Montreal. Her fiction has appeared in The White Review and Granta. Her critically acclaimed debut collection, The Doll’s Alphabet, was published in 2017. This is her first novel.

James Roxburgh, Publishing Director for Atlantic Fiction, says:

‘Credit to my former colleague, Bobby Mostyn-Owen, for bringing Camilla to Atlantic, but their enthusiasm very much represented the rest of the company’s: Camilla is a stunning, original writer, and her novel is a gorgeous, surrealist take on cineastes and sex, misfit friendships and corporate exploitation. It’s as if Angela Carter had written The Dreamers, and we’re hugely proud to give such an inventive writer a long-term home.’

Camilla Grudova says,

‘I am ecstatic to find a home at Atlantic Books and writing more weird things!’

Two novels by Danny Denton to Atlantic

Atlantic Books has acquired UK Comm (ex. Canada) rights to two novels by Danny Denton. Publishing Director for Fiction James Roxburgh bought them in a pre-empt from Tracy Bohan at The Wylie Agency. The first of these novels, All Along the Echo, will be published in hardback, trade paperback, and eBook in April 2022, and has been described by Lisa McInerney as a ‘boisterous chorus, brimming with humanity… It feels like a living thing, dancing and dodging, surprising and poignant’.

Tony Cooney, a middle-aged radio talk-show host, takes a road trip across Ireland with his producer, Louise (Lou) Fitzpatrick, as part of a publicity stunt organized by a local car dealership. Their aim is to give away to one lucky winner the Mazda 2 that they’re driving, the catch being that it must go to one of the many emigrants who have recently returned home to escape a wave of escalating terror attacks in London. But as they navigate dual-carriageways and Holiday Inns, giving airtime and narrative to the great cacophony of voices calling into the show, the car competition transforms into a surreal quest – Tony to find his first love, Lou to find answers to impossible questions, all of us to discover whether our lives ever add up to more than the stories we tell ourselves and each other.

Danny Denton is a novelist and a lecturer in creative writing at University College Cork. His first novel, The Earlie King & The Kid In Yellow, was nominated for ‘Newcomer of the Year’ at the Irish Book Awards and also shortlisted for the Collyer-Bristow Prize. Among other publications, Denton’s work has appeared in The Stinging Fly, Southword, Granta, Winter Papers, The Dublin Review, Guardian, Irish Times and Big Issue.

James Roxburgh, editor, says:

All Along the Echo is about the tremendous static of life, and how from that static we assemble for ourselves our own intimate sense of meaning, of place, of reality. So much of contemporary literature is about the narrow signals – a dynamic here, a relationship there – whereas Danny Denton’s brilliant, bravura capturing of modern Ireland is about the glorious noise of existence, in all its huge and fabulous totality. I think he’s one of the smartest and most fearless writers of his generation and giving such an author as Danny a long-term home on our list feels to me a particularly eloquent example of the ambition of Atlantic Fiction.’

Danny Denton says:

‘I couldn’t be more thrilled to have found a home for my work at Atlantic. Not only have they spent the last twenty years publishing work of the highest, most interesting quality – books I’ve utterly lost and found myself in – but they are also one of the bravest publishers I know of. So, it’s the greatest thing to be working with James and his brilliant team. And, in an industry where publishers increasingly commit to ‘books’ as opposed to ‘authors’, I’m so very grateful for the opportunity to work with them long-term.’