The Borough Press has acquired Little Boxes, the debut novel by poet and playwright Cecilia Knapp, developed with Arts Council funding and mentoring from writer Kerry Hudson.
Publicity director Ann Bissell bought UK and Commonwealth rights from Becky Thomas at Johnson & Alcock.
The book's synopsis states: "After Matthew’s grandfather dies suddenly, four friends struggle to face the trauma of their pasts in the wake of this fresh tragedy. Leah and Jay, a couple since their school days, find their relationship tested, while Nathan deals with a vast and unrequited love, and Matthew grapples with his sexuality. In the days that follow, Matthew begins to unearth his grandfather’s past. He finds a different life, full of secrets, and discovers that he and his grandfather may have had more in common than he once thought.”
Bissell said: “Little Boxes is a coming-of-age story about friendship and love, loss and survival. But it’s also a story of sacrifice, violence and growing up different—told against the heat and claustrophobia of a seaside city in summer. Cecilia writes with a lyrical simplicity that cuts to the bone: there is a beautiful, vivid cadence to her words. I think she is brilliant, and I’m so excited to launch Cecilia’s career as a novelist at Borough.”
Hudson said of the author: “Cecilia Knapp is a rare, rare talent. The sort of writer you get excited to have found and then look forward to devouring more of their work. This book in particular is a work of craft, heart and beauty, and I envy new readers their first opportunity to meet these characters and spend time in this world.”
Knapp has read work all over the UK and internationally, with residencies from Paris to Johannesburg. Commissions include the Tate, Puffin Books, the Guardian and BBC, and she has written for the Huffington Post, Dazed and the Stage. She has been featured in Vogue as one of the UK's young writers to watch. Her poems have appeared in Magma and Bath magazines, and have also been anthologised in 2018's Against the Salt Air (Burning Eye), while her latest play, "Losing the Night", recently premiered at the Roundhouse, enjoying a sold-out run before a UK tour.
She said: “I’m absolutely elated that Borough are behind my book. I’ve lived with these characters and wanted to tell their stories for the longest time. To bring them, and what I hope they represent, out into the world honestly feels like a dream. What kept me going when writing this book was the belief that this is an important story worth telling, a story that looks at subjects so incredibly close to my heart. It means everything that I get to share it.”
The book will be published in hardback in spring 2022. Becky Thomas at Johnson and Alcock is handling film rights.