Award-winning writer Derek Owusu has moved to Canongate, signing a deal with the publisher for two books, including his "intimate" debut poetry collection Losing the Plot.
Ellah Wakatama, editor-at-large, bought world rights in Losing the Plot and a second untitled novel from Crystal Mahey-Morgan at OWN IT!.
Driven by a desire to understand his mother’s life before he was born, but confronted with her resistance to speak of the past, Owusu pieces together an imagined journey of a Ghanaian immigrant woman striving to find her place in the world as she navigates a cold, hostile and often lonely environment.
The synopsis explains: "In emotionally raw and tender prose and poetry, Owusu pens a poignant glimpse into the experience of a first-generation immigrant mother raising her second-generation children, told through the eyes of both mother and son. This is a window into the emotional turmoil which comes with leaving one's home to create a new one in a place that may not always extend a welcome, and the effects of this displacement on mental health across generations."
The second book is a novel set in the UK and Ghana, following the fortunes of a young writer in search of his family’s past. Losing the Plot is slated for summer 2022, with the second book to follow in spring 2025.
Owusu is a writer and poet who has worked on award-winning podcasts "This is Spoke, the "Penguin Podcast" and "Mostly Lit". He has written poetry and short stories for the BBC and ITV and regularly features on literary prize judging panels. In 2019 Owusu collated, edited and contributed to Safe: On Black British Men Reclaiming Space (Trapeze), an anthology exploring the experiences of Black men. His first novel, That Reminds Me (Merky), won the Desmond Elliott Prize for debut fiction, with judges praising it as a "transcendent work of literature".
Owusu said: "I feel privileged to be able to publish my work with Canongate and to have the incredible Ellah Wakatama guiding and editing me along the way. Losing The Plot is an intimate and revealing look at the life of a West African immigrant. I felt a responsibility to write it and to have it published by hands I knew would understand its texture. Canongate is home to writers I admire and look up to and Ellah has helped shaped the careers of so many authors whose work will stand the test of time. It is a great feeling to work with them."
Wakatama added: "Derek is a writer who speaks of books with palpable excitement, insight and delight. His own writing reflects all these characteristics, elegantly married with a poetic sensibility and courageous willingness to face themes that are difficult. Engaging, challenging and always seeking a deeper truth, Losing the Plot builds on the promise of his debut work as he continues to explore the lived reality of the Black presence in the UK – the trauma of diaspora and the desire to find one’s voice and thrive in a new place called home."