Borough Press has scooped a debut novel by British author Joe Mungo Reed, described as “dazzling” by his professor George Saunders.
London-born Reed studied on the Syracuse Creative Writing MFA programme in New York where he was taught by Man Booker-winning Saunders.
We Begin Our Ascent follows a professional cyclist, Sol, who is on the cusp of being a star and his wife Liz, a geneticist verging on a major discovery. The “punishing exploration of ambition” is billed as “powerful, gripping and blackly comic” and will be published in July 2018 to coincide with the Tour de France.
Jack Fogg, publishing director at HarperFiction, acquired rights for UK and Commonwealth, excluding Canada, from Marie Florio at Simon & Schuster US. It will be published in hardback, e-book and audiobook on 5th July with an r.r.p. of £12.99.
Saunders has described the novel by the University of Edinburgh graduate as “a dazzling debut by an exciting and essential new talent: fast, harrowing, compelling, masterfully structured, genuinely moving”.
“Reed is a true stylist and has, like James Salter before him, a gift for making a physical world that is very naturally imbued with rich metaphorical meaning,” said Saunders. “This novel is a heartening reminder of what happens when a keen intelligence is applied to a rarefied subject.”
Fogg said: “We Begin Our Ascent sees the arrival of a remarkable young British talent in Joe Reed. It is an incredibly assured debut by a writer with an amazing future ahead of him and I am thrilled that Joe has chosen to work with us at HarperCollins.”
Reed, who has lived in London and Gloucestershire and now resides in Edinburgh, described the deal as “a real honour”.
He said: “As a debut novelist, my experience of writing this book has been all about discovery: the trial and error of working to transfer my vision onto the page. It is reifying and utterly thrilling to imagine sharing this book with readers.”
Reed has a master’s in philosophy and politics at the University of Edinburgh and an MFA in creative writing at Syracuse University, where he won the Joyce Carol Oates Award in Fiction. His short stories have appeared in literary magazine the Virginia Quarterly Review and US literary journal Gigantic as well as the Best of Gigantic.
Saunders won the Man Booker prize for his debut novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, in October.