Bluemoose Books will publish Devika Ponnambalam’s debut novel I Am Not Your Eve as its lead title for 2022.
The Hebden Bridge indie acquired UK and Commonwealth English language rights from Jonathan Ruppin at The Ruppin Agency.
The novel will tell the story of Teha’amana, the 13-year-old girl who was sold to artist Paul Gauguin during his first stay on Tahiti in 1891. Teha’amana can be seen in some of Gauguin's most famous works, such as "The Spirit of the Dead Keeps Watch", and is written about in Gauguin's journals.
The story will incorporate the origin myths that underpinned Tahitian society before French colonists’ arrived on the island, as well as diary entries from Gauguin’s daughter Aline, who was the same age as her father’s new wife.
Ponnambalam said: "When I first saw Teha'amana's image, lying naked on a bed, looking out towards the man who'd painted her, I was curious. I soon realised she had been silenced by history, used to make Paul Gauguin famous, and I was determined to give her voice, to tell a beautiful story while exploring the themes of power, abuse, and colonialism."
Bluemoose publisher Kevin Duffy said: "Sometimes you come across a book that just demands attention and I Am Not Your Eve by Devika Ponnambalam is that book. Devika has written a novel of such quality and beauty I can’t wait to get it into readers’ hands."
Ruppin commented: "Devika’s manuscript is the most distinctive I’ve ever had in my inbox and I’m thrilled Bluemoose have fallen in love with it as much as I did. My bookselling days taught me that they’re a publisher who know just how to get both the trade and readers enthusiastic about their titles. As well as being an outstanding work of imagination in its own right, Devika’s novel couldn’t be a better example of how I set up the agency to play a part in broadening the range of stories and voices in UK publishing."