Bloomsbury has secured 27-year-old novelist and mathematician Stephen Buoro's debut novel, The Five Sorrowful Mysteries of Andy Africa.
Associate publisher Alexis Kirschbaum acquired UK and Commonwealth rights in an eight-way auction, for a six-figure sum, from Nicola Chang at David Higham Associates.
North American rights were acquired separately in a six-figure pre-empt by Daniel Loedel at Bloomsbury US. The book is on submission in multiple territories; German rights have been pre-empted by Rowohlt and are under offer in Spain.
The novel is narrated by Andrew Aziza, a teenage boy who lives in North Central Nigeria.
The synopsis explains: "He loves poetry and maths and has a fetish for white girls. Inevitably, Andy falls hopelessly in love with the first white girl he lays eyes on at church, for she represents everything he desires. However, the arrival of communal violence and the revelation of the paternity of the father he never knew changes the course of his life forever.
"A major work of fiction which grapples with identity, inheritance, religion and colonialism, The Five Sorrowful Mysteries of Andy Africa will put readers in mind of J D Salinger, Anthony Burgess, Philip Roth and more recently Junot Díaz and Paul Beatty."
The novel was ranked second place in the Deborah Rogers Foundation Writers' Award. The judges included Max Porter, who praised its "hilarious energy [and its] satirical but also wildly philosophical framework", Sarah Perry, who called it "unashamedly, brilliantly intelligent", and Ian Rankin, who said it "exudes a wonderfully vivid sense of place…it’s a narrative of depth that also manages to be instantly engaging".
Kirschbaum said: "The Five Sorrowful Mysteries of Andy Africa is an astonishing debut: full of energy, playful erudition, humour and pathos, and driven by one of the most memorable protagonists I have encountered in recent years."
Buoro was born in Nigeria in 1993. He has an MA in creative writing from the University of East Anglia as the recipient of the 2018 Booker Prize Foundation Scholarship, and also has a first-class degree in mathematics. He is currently studying for his PhD in creative and critical writing at UEA. Commenting on the deal, he said: "I’m incredibly delighted to work with Alexis Kirschbaum and Bloomsbury to publish my debut, The Five Sorrowful Mysteries of Andy Africa. I can’t wait for readers to meet Andy and his droogs, to discover his mysteries and his world."
Chang said: "I fell for this novel from its very first line. Exhilarating, subversive, tragicomic, The Five Sorrowful Mysteries of Andy Africa is a tour de force: a bildungsroman, a novel of ideas, an anti-state-of-the-nation novel and a teenage love story rolled into one. Stephen is an irrepressible talent and I am thrilled that this inimitable, ambitious and moving work of fiction has found a home with Alexis Kirshbaum and Bloomsbury."
Bloomsbury will publish the novel as a lead title in 2022.
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