Century has signed In Case of Emergency, the "utterly hilarious and brillaintly observed" debut novel by writer and journalist Poorna Bell.
Editor Sonny Marr acquired UK and Commonwealth rights at auction from Rowan Lawton at The Soho Agency. It will publish in hardback, trade paperback, e-book and audio in summer 2022 with a paperback following in 2023.
The book tells the story of Beryl “Bel” Kumar, a woman who has a near-death experience at work and is mortified to find that her boss has notified an ex-boyfriend from years ago, still listed in HR’s records as her next of kin. The synopsis says: “This reunion leaves Bel questioning everything. She is happy and successful with lots of friends and a flat in London. How can a woman who has it all find that she has no one to turn to in an emergency? Now Bel is determined to revisit and repair her most important relationships in order to figure out who in her life she can really depend on.”
Poorna Bell is an award-winning journalist and author of 15 years, and former executive editor and global lifestyle head for HuffPost. She won Stylist’s Rising Star award for 2019, Red magazine’s Big Book Award for 2019, and was named as one of Marie Claire’s top 30 women. A judge for the Mind Media Awards, she has written for Red, the Telegraph, the Times, Stylist, the BBC, the Guardian and Grazia. Her non-fiction titles, published by Simon & Schuster, include Chase the Rainbow and her second book In Search of Silence is out now.
She said: “A lot of us, I would venture to say, have seen the tectonic plates of our relationships change over the last year, and it's a process that happens over and over again during the course of a lifetime. I wanted to make people laugh, give them something to think about in their own lives, and fall in love with Bel who learns the hard way that the markers of success aren't actually what we think they are. And also, that depending on our intersections, we all go through such different experiences around identity and how we view the world. Working with an editor such as Sonny Marr is a dream because she understands exactly the story I am trying to tell, and Century is the perfect home for my first fiction book.’
The publisher added: "Utterly hilarious and brilliantly observed, In Case of Emergency confirms Poorna as a voice of reason in a world of uncertainty and will appeal to fans of Dawn O’Porter and Dolly Alderton. Bel is an instantly relatable heroine who you root for from the start and we can’t wait to introduce her to scores of readers. We have ambitious plans for the release of In Case of Emergency and could not be more excited to be launching Poorna’s fiction career.”