Bloomsbury has snapped up an "exquisite" novel and a short story collection about flawed masculinity from Benjamin Myers six weeks after he scooped the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction for his book published by Bluemoose Books.
The Offing is a novel set in Robin Hood’s Bay focused on an “unlikely friendship” between a young man and an older woman, while Male Tears explores “masculinity and morality” as well as “strong women”.
Bloomsbury’s announcement comes shortly after Mysers took the £25,000 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction with The Gallows Pole, published by small Yorkshire-based independent press Bluemoose Books. The author revealed at the time that he would use the prize money to see "the original line-up of Guns ‘N’ Roses in Reykjavik". Bluemoose has also published two of his previous novels in 2012 and 2014.
Alexa von Hirschberg, senior commissioning editor at Bloomsbury, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights in the novel and short story collection from Jessica Woollard at David Higham Associates. The Offing will be published in spring 2020 and the date for Male Tears is not yet confirmed.
Set in the former smuggling village of Robin Hood’s Bay in the aftermath of the Second World War, The Offing is the story of an unlikely friendship between Robert, a young man from the Durham coalfields, and Dulcie, an eccentric older woman mourning the death of her female poet lover. Dulcie educates Robert about poetry and food, turning the course of his life around.
Meanwhile a Bloomsbury spokesperson described “the stories in Male Tears are broadly concerned with masculinity and morality - weak men, inadequate men, cruel men, but also strong women”.
One of the stories was a runner-up for the Tom Gallon Prize, awarded by the Society of Authors last month.
“Ben Myers is an incredibly talented writer who I have admired for quite some time,” Von Hirschberg said. “The Offing is an exquisite novel that I am confident will bring him even more devoted fans. Less dark and violent than his previous work, but no less complex, it explores land, class, literature and friendship in beautiful prose. And, as with all his work, it immerses us in the glorious northern landscape. I am thrilled to be bringing Ben to Bloomsbury.”
Myers replied: “Bloomsbury are purveyors of the finest quality literature – not just in their superior content, but they make books that look amazing and feel great in the hand, and these things matter. They punch above their weight in terms of success and were top of my dream list of publishers. In fact, no-one else was on the list. I’m very excited and flattered to be a part of their formidable roster of writers.”
Woollard commented: "Ben Myers has had an amazing prize-winning year, Alexa von Hirschberg likewise. Bringing these two creative people together is going to be really exciting. With Alexa and her talented team at Bloomsbury behind him, Ben Myers, who is already such a prolific and multi-talented writer is someone we’re all going to be talking a lot about in the years to come."
As well as The Gallows Pole which also won the Roger Deakin Award, Myers’ previous books include Beastings (2014, Bluemoose) winner of the Portico Prize For Literature, the recipient of the Northern Writers’ Award and longlisted for a Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Award, Pig Iron (2012, Bluemoose), winner of the inaugural Gordon Burn Prize, and Richard (2010, Picador). He has also published two "folk crime" novels, Turning Blue (Mayfly Press) and These Darkening Days (Moth Publishing).