Bloomsbury has acquired Irish writer Louise Kennedy’s debut collection of short stories and her first novel in a “fiercely contested” nine-way bidding war, as the debut author was hotly tipped ahead of this month’s Frankfurt Book Fair.
Publishing director Alexis Kirschbaum bought UK and Commonwealth rights to short story collection The End of the World is a Cul de Sac and novel When I Move to the Sky from Eleanor Birne at PEW Literary. The deal concluded following a nine-way auction. Birne told The Bookseller that editors’ reactions to Kennedy’s work was “absolutely extraordinary”.
Set against the background of the Troubles, When I Move to the Sky is a novel about ordinary people trying to balance their personal lives with the wider political landscape of 1970s Northern Ireland.
The collection The End of the World is a Cul de Sac will include Kennedy’s story “In Silhouette”, which was recently shortlisted for the Sunday Times Audible Short Story Prize and described by judge Sarah Churchwell as "a mystery novel in 6,000 words". Bloomsbury will publish The End of the World is a Cul de Sac as a lead title in 2021.
Short stories by Kennedy have been published in the Stinging Fly and the Tangerine. She has also won the Ambit Short Fiction (2015), Wasifiri New Writing (2015), John O’Connor (2016) and Listowel Los-Gatos (2016) prizes. A PhD candidate at the Seamus Heaney Centre, Queens University Belfast, Kennedy lives in Sligo, in the north of Ireland.
Kennedy said: “I’m beyond delighted that my writing has found a home at Bloomsbury, a publisher I have always admired, and can’t wait to work with Alexis and the rest of the team there.”
Birne said: “We were overwhelmed by the response from publishers to Louise’s stories and novel-in-progress. Alexis Kirschbaum and the whole team at Bloomsbury immediately connected with her work and already have terrific plans in place for launching her here. I’m delighted that Louise has found such a great home.”
Kirschbaum added: “I am incredibly excited to be welcoming Louise Kennedy to Bloomsbury. It’s thrilling to think how natural her talent is, given the fact that she only started writing a few years ago, and to realise how much left she has to achieve. She is a real writer and a rare talent, with the potential to make a deep impression on the public imagination.”