Duckworth Books publisher Rowan Cope has signed Priscilla Morris' Black Butterflies and Carmel McMahon’s In Ordinary Time, as her first acquisitions since joining the publisher in August.
Morris’ Black Butterflies will take readers inside the siege of Sarajevo through the eyes of Zora, an artist and teacher who finds herself trapped in the Bosnian capital. While the siege deepens, she tries to withstand the unstoppable degradation and destruction, eventually escaping to safety with her daughter in England during the bitter winter of 1992.
Cope acquired UK and Commonwealth rights from Sophie Lambert at C&W, for publication in May 2022.
Mc Mahon’s non-fiction debut In Ordinary Time is a hybrid work of essays, poems and photographs drawing on the author's family story and those of Irish women in the Celtic, early Christian and modern eras to explore themes of trauma, time, memory, and how we construct and record our history.
World English language rights were acquired from Paul Feldstein at the Feldstein Agency, for publication in February 2023.
Cope said: "I am thrilled to announce these two books, both by supremely talented and stimulating writers, as my first acquisitions for Duckworth. Both these titles and authors fit so well with the exciting direction in which we are taking the Duckworth list. Priscilla Morris’ debut novel set during the siege of Sarajevo is captivating, heartrending – an irresistible and beautifully crafted portrait of a woman and her city falling apart. As one is swept up in Priscilla’s storytelling, one also inevitably calls to mind the still-shocking fact that this siege, the longest in modern warfare, and the larger Balkans conflict of which it was part, happened on our doorstep and in our lifetime. We will publish to mark the thirtieth anniversary of the start of the siege (1992–96).
"Where the action of Black Butterflies focuses intensely on one unfolding event, Carmel Mc Mahon’s brilliant In Ordinary Time takes a broader view, reaching back into Irish history to tell a personal yet universally engaging story about family, class, trauma, grief, addiction, time and reconciliation. It is one of the most thought-provoking and absorbing works of creative non-fiction I have read all year, and recalled to me books such as Notes to Self, Motherwell and A Ghost in the Throat, though Carmel’s gift is all her own. Both these books mark the start of outstanding publishing careers."