Canongate acquires Cullhed's 'ferociously dazzling' debut adult novel

Canongate acquires Cullhed's 'ferociously dazzling' debut adult novel

Canongate is to publish Euphoria by Elin Cullhed, a fictionalised account of poet and writer Sylvia Plath's life in the year before she died. 

Hannah Knowles, editorial director at Canongate, acquired world English language rights from Astri von Arbin Ahlander at the Ahlander Agency. Euphoria will publish in January 2023 in hardback, translated from the original Swedish by Jennifer Hayashida.

Set from 1961 to 1962, the novel explores Plath's mindset set in the context of her struggle between the domestic sphere and her creativity.

The synopsis explains: "Ending before her suicide in February 1963, the novel seeks to reframe the narrative about one of the 20th century’s most famous (and infamous) poets to centre on her life — rather than death. Elin Cullhed’s Sylvia Plath is luminous, and her irresistible litany lends a collective voice to women everywhere who stand with one foot in domesticity and the other in artistic creation. With Euphoria, Elin Cullhed has written an acutely modern story belonging to our own particular cultural moment, when a woman’s fight to claim her terrain is up against a presumption of equality. Written as though in a fever, the novel hurtles into the literary canon like the woman it portrays, with fierce intelligence, manic irreverence, and a perfect pitch."

Cullhed made her debut with 2019 YA-novel The Gods (Gudarna). Euphoria is her first novel for adults. Cullhed became obsessed with the life and work of Sylvia Plath when she found herself in a similar position: mother to several young children, wife of another writer, struggling to find space and time for her own work. Euphoria is a  researched work of historical fiction, drawing from Plath’s own journals and work from this time.

She said: "Having Euphoria translated into English, Sylvia Plath’s own language, is a dream come true. So much of this novel is about dreams – Plath’s dream of England being one of them. As with all dreams, there are feelings of fear and loss of control connected with it. My hope is that English readers will see my attempt to truly care for Plath's own voice and my desire to explore if there was a possibility to realise the actual, living Plath in this her last year, when life was still life."

Commenting on the acquisition, Knowles said: "Euphoria is a truly incandescent piece of writing, in which Cullhed not only reclaims Plath as a figure of blazing strength and creative fire (rather than a tragic figure), but also speaks for women whose potential has been crushed by the expectations and demands of a patriarchal society. I’m elated that this ferociously dazzling novel has found a home on the Canongate list."