Canongate pre-empts Salena Godden's 'visionary' debut novel

Canongate pre-empts Salena Godden's 'visionary' debut novel

Canongate will publish poet and performer Salena Godden’s debut novel, described by the publisher as an “electrifying genre- and form-defying firestarter”.

Hannah Knowles, senior commissioning editor at Canongate, pre-empted world rights to Mrs Death Misses Death from Crystal Mahey-Morgan at OWN IT! Canongate will publish the title on 4th February 2021, retailing at £14.99 hardback.

At the heart of the novel lies the friendship between Wolf, a troubled young writer, and Death, whom Godden personifies as a homeless black woman who shape-shifts. The synopsis reads: “Enthralled by her stories, Wolf becomes Mrs Death’s scribe and begins to write her reminiscences and memoirs. Using their desk as a vessel and conduit, Wolf and Death time-travel to witness historic deaths of past and present and discuss what the future holds for humanity.”
“As Godden swoops between literary forms in Mrs Death and Wolf’s interactions, she sparks questions about class, race, gender and mental health,” Canongate said. “And ultimately, while mortality lies at the heart of the novel, Mrs Death Misses Death is a bold, visionary celebration of life, hope and resilience.”

Knowles said: “Getting to publish Salena’s electrifying genre- and form-defying firestarter of a novel is nothing short of a career highlight.”

Godden is a high-profile poet and performer based in London. She is also an activist, broadcaster, memoirist and essayist and is widely anthologised. She has had several volumes of poetry published, the latest work was Pessimism is for Lightweights (Rough Trade Books) and a literary childhood memoir, Springfield Road (Unbound). A BBC Radio 4 documentary was broadcast in December 2018, following Godden’s work-in-progress on the novel over 12 months.

She added: “I am so excited to become part of the brilliant Canongate family. It will be a big dream come true to see this work in print. Mrs Death Misses Death is a celebration of the everyday miracle of our survival, it is a salute to this life, this world and our short time here.”

Canongate c.e.o. Jamie Byng said: “I’ve been a fan of Salena Godden’s writing for many years, coming across her poetry as I did back in the 90s when she would regularly blow audiences away with her wild delivery of her anarchic, soulful, filthy and funny poems. But nothing could quite prepare me for this pulsating, dark and delicious debut novel, Mrs Death Misses Death.

He added: “Salena’s ability to blend literary forms, weave stories and reclaim myth is dazzling and I am certain that Mrs Death and her amanuensis, Wolf, are going to haunt the imaginations of readers the world over.  As well as capture their hearts.  I could not be more excited about us publishing this audacious novel by this utterly original writer.”