Canongate has acquired the second novel from New York Times bestseller Imbolo Mbue.
Commissioning editor Jo Dingley acquired UK and Commonwealth rights, including audio, in How Beautiful We Were from Peggy Boulos Smith at Writers House on behalf of Susan Golomb. Canongate will publish in hardback in June 2020, alongside Random House in the US.
How Beautiful We Were is a "masterful exploration of what happens when the reckless drive for profit, coupled with the ghost of colonialism, comes up against a young woman’s willingness to sacrifice everything for the sake of her people’s freedom," said Canongate.
"Set in the fictional African village of Kosawa, it tells the story of a people dependent on their land and river for subsistence, until an American oil company arrives," reads the synopsis. "Now pipeline spills have rendered farmlands infertile and toxic waste pollutes the river. In danger of annihilation, the people of Kosawa decide to fight back against their the oil company and their self-serving government. But their fight will come at a steep price, one which generation after generation will have to pay."
Mbue was born in Cameroon. She holds a BS from Rutgers University and an MA from Columbia University. Behold the Dreamers (Fourth Estate), her critically acclaimed debut novel, was named a book of the year by the Observer, New York Times and Washington Post, was an Oprah Book Club pick, won the 2017 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and was a New York Times bestseller. In the UK, it sold 3,457 copies through TCM. She lives in New York City.