Chatto & Windus has won a six-way auction for organic food grower Claire Ratinon's “beautiful and moving” memoir Unearthed: On Race and Roots, How the Soil Taught Me I Belong.
Editorial director Poppy Hampson acquired UK and Commonwealth rights from Rachel Mills at RML, for release in 2022.
Mixing nature-writing, memoir and storytelling, Chatto said the book “will urge all of us to look to the world outside for the belonging, connections and home we seek, and will open readers’ eyes to a new way of thinking about nature”.
The synopsis explains: “It’s the story of how author Claire Ratinon found belonging through falling in love with growing plants. When her troubled relationship with the land of her birth left her feeling uprooted, coming back to the soil and reconnecting with nature is how she learned to put down roots in a country she had never felt part of.
"Like many diasporic people of colour, Claire felt disconnected from the natural world. She lived in cities, reluctant to be outdoors, and stuck with the belief that success and status could fill the space where belonging was absent. Through learning the practice of growing food, she unpicked the stories she believed about who she ought to be and beneath the tangle, found a pathway back to nature’s embrace and the grounding that she had been longing for.”
Ratinon, a former TV producer based in East Sussex, has grown edible plants in a range of roles from growing organic vegetables for the Ottolenghi restaurant Rovi, to delivering growing workshops to audiences including East London primary schools, community centres and corporate clients. She has presented features for Radio 4’s “Gardeners’ Question Time” and her writing has been featured in Waitrose Food Magazine, Bloom and The Modern House Journal. Her first book, How To Grow Your Dinner Without Leaving The House, was published in August 2020 (Laurence King).
She said: “I’m really excited and honoured to be working on this deeply personal book with Poppy and the team at Chatto. I’m hopeful that with their support I’ll be able to share my story of reconnection to the land and encourage those who read it towards a more meaningful relationship with the natural world.”
Hampson added: “We couldn’t be more thrilled to be publishing Claire’s beautiful book at Chatto. She’s bringing us a whole new approach to nature writing, and to how we think about nature—who it belongs to, what working on the land means—and I believe her story has the potential to make real change.”
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