Jonathan Cape has snapped up an “exquisite” memoir about the challenges facing gay men today from acclaimed poet and Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year shortlistee Seán Hewitt.
Robin Robertson, associate publisher, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights to All Down Darkness Wide from Matthew Marland at RCW. The book is slated for release in 2022.
Through a “deeply moving" love story, the writer traces the aftermath of his partner Elias' suicide attempt and “asks why the mental health of queer people remains, still, an unaddressed issue and a social scandal”.
Its synopsis explains: “All Down Darkness Wide follows the couple in the year following Elias’s dramatic rescue from suicide. As Seán deals with the 24-hour care, and comes to terms with his partner’s inner struggle, he also re-examines his own sexuality, the relationships and encounters in his adolescence and early adulthood. Interweaving these memories with snapshots from the lives of literary figures of history, Seán leads us to a powerful reckoning with a troubling reality: depression rates in the LGBT population currently stand at 52%.
“Moving between Liverpool, Cambridge, South America and Sweden, Seán’s story explores the continuing social stigma around homosexuality, and finds solace and freedom in the natural landscapes where he has always felt complete. This is an achingly beautiful book that fearlessly explores the darkest moments of the gay male experience, with pride burning defiantly throughout.”
Hewitt’s debut poetry collection Tongues of Fire was published by Cape in April 2020 and he is currently shortlisted for the Sunday Times/University of Warwick Young Writer of the Year Award. He won a Northern Writers' Award in 2016, the Resurgence Prize in 2017 and an Eric Gregory Award in 2019, and in 2020 he was selected among the Times' "30 Under 30" most promising artists in Ireland, alongside fellow writers Sally Rooney and Naoise Dolan. He lectures in English literature at Trinity College Dublin, and is a book critic for the Irish Times.
He said: “I’m really delighted to be working with the team at Jonathan Cape on this new book. It’s a project unlike anything I’ve done before – part coming-of-age memoir, part cultural history, part love letter to the natural world. I hope that the book, which delves deep into my own life and into the history of queerness, will not only counter prejudice and shame, but also illuminate modes of consolation and defiance.”
Robertson added: “Seán Hewitt brings all his sensitivity and muscular lyricism to this prose memoir: an urgent and arresting book which offers a necessary flame to the darkness.”