The Borough Press has pre-empted a “spectacular” debut novel from US writer and visual artist J K Chukwu.
Editor Ore Agbaje-Williams acquired UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, for The Unfortunates from Rachel Clements at Abner Stein, on behalf of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, where Millicent Bennett is the acquiring editor. UK publication is slated for spring 2022.
Its synopsis explains: “The darkly funny debut tells the story of 19-year-old Sahara, who is black and queer, attending an elitist university that never imagined her body existing inside of it. As these halls make her skin crumble with self-hate; she is trying not to kill herself—at least until she can get her degree and get out. However, surviving feels near-impossible when fuelled by cheap vodka, lines [of drugs] and toxic friendships. Using her thesis as a means of documenting her experiences—and giving out advice to the next generation of those lucky enough to attend university—Sahara reveals the truth about what it’s like to live inside her head while black students are disappearing and dying, racism is thriving and her depression is living with her rent-free.”
Chukwu said: “We need more stories of sad and messy black queer women who are trying their best. I was done waiting for someone else to write this story—and then to have Ore Agbaje-Williams understand my protagonist's hurt and humour so deeply and naturally is just a true honour. What a thrill to be so readily welcomed into the Borough Press family.”
Agbaje-Williams added: “I knew Jennifer’s novel was something spectacular after the first sentence. It’s that elusive thing that every editor looks for and every reader wants: a unique proposition, an incredible voice and an unforgettable story. The Unfortunates is a novel as brilliant as its author and I’m so excited to work with Jennifer and the team to bring it to readers everywhere.”