Jonathan Cape has won a 10-publisher auction for Fire Rush, the “phenomenal” debut novel by Jacqueline Crooks.
Senior editor Ana Fletcher acquired UK and Commonwealth rights from Nicola Chang at David Higham Associates, for publication in summer 2022.
The synopsis explains: “An explosive debut novel about dub reggae, love, loss and freedom set in late 1970s and early 1980s London, Bristol and Jamaica: Fire Rush tells the story of Yamaye, a woman in her 20s unsure of who she is, but with dreams of being a DJ and MC. Yamaye lives for the weekend, when she can go raving with her friends at The Crypt, an underground club in the industrial town on the outskirts of London where she was born and raised. Everything changes for Yamaye when she meets Moose, the man she falls deeply in love with, and who offers the chance of freedom and change. When Moose is killed in police custody, Yamaye goes on a dramatic journey of transformation that takes her first to Bristol – where she gets caught up in a criminal gang – and then to Jamaica, where past and present collide with devastating consequences.”
Crooks’s debut short story collection, The Ice Migrations (Peepal Tree), was longlisted for the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction in 2019. She has been shortlisted for the Wasafiri New Writing Prize and the BBC National Short Story Award. Fire Rush draws on her own experiences of living with an underworld gang and spending time in the dub reggae scene of the 1970s and 80s.
She said: “I’m excited to be working with the teams at Jonathan Cape and David Higham to bring Fire Rush into the world. I am privileged to have these outstanding teams supporting me in realising my vision for this story.”
Fletcher added: “Fire Rush is a novel that makes you feel alive to the world. Original, compulsive and deeply moving, it’s the story of a young woman coming into her power through love, loss and music. The story may unfold against the background of first England then Jamaica in the late 70s and early 80s, but it reaches back centuries, showing us how the past continues to exist alongside the present. Jacqueline Crooks is a blazing new literary talent and we couldn’t be prouder to be publishing this phenomenal debut novel at Cape and Vintage.”