Jonathan Cape has signed a “radical” in-depth exploration of the global water crisis by South African journalist Rosa Lyster.
Publishing director Michal Shavit acquired UK and Commonwealth rights to Level Water from Tracy Bohan at The Wylie Agency. The book will be published in 2022. US rights were sold to Robin Desser at Random House, and Canadian rights to Jordan Ginsberg at McClelland & Stewart.
Cape said the book would explore “one of the most urgent environmental challenges of our times”.
The publisher said: “It starts with what is happening in Cape Town, Lyster’s home city, which has been teetering on the brink of annihilation since its water shortages were declared a national disaster in 2018. From there Level Water flows out to explore the wider global questions—about rising sea levels and pollution, government policies and everyday habits—at the centre of the crisis. Combining cutting edge reportage with her own personal experience and moving testimonials, Lyster presents an illuminating and disarmingly human story about the water crisis’ impact on our lives, now and in the frighteningly near future. A powerful call to action, Level Water reveals what we actually mean by this dreadful, impossible fact: the world is running out of useable water.
Lyster has written for the London Review of Books, the New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post, the Guardian and many others. She is the recipient of a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.
She said: “The desire to write this book comes from the belief that there are many different ways to write about the global water crisis, and many ways of talking about what’s happening that move beyond terrifying statistical projections. I’m thrilled that it has found a home with a publishing house as extraordinary as Jonathan Cape, with an editor as brilliant as Michal Shavit. I’m grateful to so many people, especially my agent Tracy Bohan, who saw what this book could be before I did.”
Shavit added: “Level Water is a hugely ambitious and important book that throws light on the true impact of one of the world’s biggest environmental crises. Rosa Lyster brings her humane, inquisitive and personal lens to a crisis of global proportions. We are very excited to be publishing this extraordinary writer and activist at Cape.”