Harvill Secker has "swiftly pre-empted" debut novel Highway Blue from Alisa McFarlane, a 23-year-old writer who had never shown her work before sending it to agents.
Deputy publishing director Kate Harvey pre-empted UK & Commonwealth rights from Emma Paterson at Aitken Alexander Associates. Parisa Ebrahimi at Hogarth also pre-empted North American rights.
The book follows Anne Marie when “her estranged husband Cal shows up on the doorstep, clearly in some kind of trouble. Later that night, a gun goes off in an alley and the young couple are thrown together on the open road, heading across a shimmering, almost mythical American landscape to a city that may or may not represent salvation” according to the synopsis.
McFarlane said: “I am so glad to have the opportunity to be published by the wonderful Harvill Secker and Hogarth. To be able to collaborate with such an incredible team is so very exciting and I look forward immensely to our work together continuing.”
Harvey added: “Ailsa McFarlane achieves something extraordinary in this short, fever dream of a novel. Its emotional arc – of a young women’s journey from terrible hurt to individual agency and the possibility of a future – will resonate widely, but what makes it so distinctive is the sensibility of our protagonist Anne Marie. This is a stylish future classic disguised as pulp fiction, told with a visual and rhythmic intensity that is irresistible. I’m incredibly excited to be publishing a young writer with such a sure and spellbinding voice.”