4th Estate has won a five-way auction for a memoir by drag troupe leader ‘Glamrou’, exploring their journey from “god-fearing Muslim boy to an influential drag queen”, in a six-figure deal.
Anna Kelly at 4th Estate won the five-way auction to publish Unicorn by Amrou Al-Kadhi, the leader of renowned drag troupe Denim, which has just finished a third sell-out run at the Soho theatre. World English rights were sold by Jon Elek and Millie Hoskins at United Agents for six figures.
Al-Kadhi, whose stage name is ‘Glamrou’, was raised by “conservative Muslim parents who weren’t too keen on having a son who was gay, let alone one with cravings to wear dresses and make-up”, according to a 4th Estate spokesperson. Al-Kadhi grew up to be one of the UK’s leading drag performers and Unicorn promises to be full of “wit, warmth and generosity of spirit with plenty of surprises along the way”.
According to the blurb, it tells the story of how Al-Kadhi went from “being a god-fearing Muslim boy to an influential drag queen celebrating the power of being queer”.
“Every now and then a book comes along that is everything you’ve been looking for as an editor,” Kelly said. “This is going to be an important book about timely issues, but at its heart is a universally human subject: how to be true to yourself. The story is extremely moving – almost unbearably sad in parts – but Amrou’s gift is to have the reader falling over them-selves laughing even as they feel they should probably be crying.
“It’s rare to be able to see your own experiences with as much perspicacity as Amrou does – and even more rare to be able to transform pain and struggle into a book that is as triumphantly, uproariously joyous and defiant as Unicorn.”
Al-Kadhi added: “I am so delighted to be working with Anna Kelly and 4th Estate on Unicorn, and so grateful to have the opportunity to tell my story. I've always believed that the personal is political, and in a context of global Islamophobia and far-right-populism, I want to invite people to see what it’s like to have an intersectional identity far outside the mainstream.
“Unicorn is a memoir about hope, and about how all forms of trauma can be sublimated into forces for good and love – in our terrifying political landscape, I hope the book provides a triumphant take on the world. And even though my experience of being a Muslim drag queen is very specific, I hope Unicorn's themes of searching for belonging will resonate with readers far and wide.”
On Wednesday, Ebury revealed it had acquired a memoir from Crystal Rasmussen, the drag persona of journalist Tom Rasmussen, for release in February 2019.