In her first fiction acquisition as publishing director at Bloomsbury, Emma Herdman has bought Metronome, Tom Watson's debut novel.
UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, and audiobook rights were acquired from Karolina Sutton at Curtis Brown in a one-book deal.
The publisher's synopsis for Metronome reads: "For 12 years, Aina and Witney have been living on an island as punishment for a crime they committed together, tethered to their croft by a pill they have to take for survival every eight hours. So, told they’re on an island, they can never get quite far enough to work out the truth. Until now, that hasn’t mattered. They have everything they need; and they’ll soon be up for parole. But on the morning of their supposed release, no one arrives to collect them. Then Aina discovers a sheep on their land. And sheep can’t swim. As Aina begins to question where they really are and why they’ve been abandoned, she discovers that perhaps Witney has been keeping secrets from her: and she begins to keep her own."
Herdman said: "Tom’s novel is one of the most atmospheric and visual books I’ve read in a long time. It’s speculative but deeply recognisable; beautifully written but with a plot that keeps you compulsively turning the pages. We are so delighted to welcome Tom to the Bloomsbury list and can’t wait to help readers discover his accomplished, unsettling debut."
Watson added: "I couldn’t be more delighted to work with Emma and the team at Bloomsbury to publish Metronome. They’ve shown such enthusiasm and support, and I feel humbled to see Metronome at the same house as legends such as Madeline Miller, Ben Myers, and so many other heroes."
Watson began his writing career while working for a Japanese trading house. His fiction has been shortlisted for the Bristol Short Story Prize, the Bridport Prize, and was runner-up in the Seán Ó Faoláin Prize. He holds an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia, and in 2018 he was awarded the Curtis Brown Prize in memory of Giles Gordon. He lives in London.
Metronome will be published by Bloomsbury in spring 2022.