Little, Brown has acquired an epic novel from Chigozie Obioma, author of the Man Booker-shortlisted debut The Fishermen (Pushkin Press), to publish in 2019.
Commissioning editor, Ailah Ahmed, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights in the book, An Orchestra of Minorities, from Jessica Craig at Craig Literary. Judy Clain, vice president and editor-in-chief at Little, Brown US acquired North American rights.
An Orchestra of Minorities is about the life of a troubled young poultry farmer who sacrifices everything to win the woman he loves. Set between Nigeria and Cyprus, according to Little, Brown it is "a modern epic of Igbo civilisation", dealing with myth, spirituality, life, death, obsession and ownership. It can also be read as a parable about a civilisation lurching towards modernity, sometimes at the cost of abandoning the wisdom of elders.
Ahmed commented the new book would be "just as beautiful" as his debut and Little, Brown had an "energetic" campaign in store. It will be published in both the UK and US in spring 2019.
Obioma, born in Akure, Nigeria, currently lives in the United States where he is now an assistant professor of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His debut novel, The Fishermen (Pushkin Press), was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2015, the Guardian First Book Award, and won the FT/OppenheimerFunds Emerging Voices Awards. It was also shortlisted for the Best Debut Fiction category in the British Book Awards and longlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize for Fiction. It is next going to be adapted for the stage by Nottingham-based theatre company New Perspectives.
Ahmed said: "Chigozie Obioma is one of the most exciting young writers at work today. I loved The Fishermen and couldn’t quite believe he had written it at the age of 25 – he then went on to be shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. An Orchestra of Minorities is just as beautiful as The Fishermen, and is filled with compassion, empathy and insight into complex characters and human lives, as well as some of the most ambitious and stylish storytelling I have come across. I feel lucky to be working with Chigozie who has a very bright future ahead of him as he builds on his early successes to become one of the most original and compelling writers of our generation. We have a very energetic campaign lined up for the novel."
Obioma said: "I'm thrilled at the prospect of making this book with Ailah and the folks at Little, Brown, UK. Their enthusiasm for An Orchestra of Minorities and The Fishermen has been great, and I couldn't feel more satisfied to be working with such a wonderful editor in Ailah. It is pleasing that she will be working with Judy Clain, also at Little, Brown US, in a collaboration I'm convinced will yield great results."