Atlantic Books has signed a memoir by one of the West Memphis Three Damien Echols, who spent 18 years on death row in American after being wrongly convicted of murder.
Teenager Echols was convicted in 1993, alongside two of his friends, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr, of murdering three eight-year-old boys in Arkansas. Following false testimonies and tampered evidence, Echols was sentenced to death at his trial and Baldwin and Misskelley to life in prison.
After a long campaign backed by celebrities, the three were dramatically released last year, and now Echols has penned the memoir Life after Death, which documents the struggles he faced on death row. Atlantic’s editor in chief, Ravi Mirchandani, bought UK and Commonwealth rights to the title from Hal Fessenden at Blue Rider/ Penguin US, and it will be published in June 2013.
Mirchandani said: “Damien Echols’ book is an extraordinarily powerful—and strikingly well-written—memoir of life in prison, a book that deserves to sit alongside Gregory David Roberts’ Shantaram. . . The story Echols has to tell is a powerful one, but it is the way that he tells it that makes the book what it is. I’m delighted and proud to be publishing it at Atlantic.”
The book also has an endorsement from John Grisham. He said: “Life After Death is a brilliant, haunting, painful, and uplifting narrative of a hopeless childhood, a wrongful conviction, a brutal incarceration, and the beginning of a new life.”