Daunt Books signs 'lyrical' western debut

Daunt Books signs 'lyrical' western debut

Daunt Books Publishing has acquired a debut novel by Hernan Diaz entitled In the Distance.

Originally published in October 2017 by Coffee House Press in the US, the novel was an "indie hit" and went on to be named as one of Publishers Weekly’s Top Ten Books of 2017, said Daunt Books.

Co-publisher Željka Marošević acquired British Commonwealth rights from Lucy Luck at C&W acting on behalf of Coffee House Press. Daunt Books will publish the novel in June 2018 as a paperback original. 

In the Distance is a "lyrical western" set during the Gold Rush in 19th century America. It follows the story of Håkan Söderström, a young Swedish immigrant who arrives in America separated from his older brother and determined to find him. Despite speaking no English and having no money, from California he sets out alone on a journey east, moving against the tide of history, encountering early capitalists and colonialists, explorers and early scientists, and witnessing the formation of America and the betrayal of its dream. 

Marošević said the novel "surprised and moved" her. 

"In the Distance is a novel about radical foreignness – about being lost in a country that does not yet exist", she said. "This is the west before cowboys and saloon bar clichés. Instead, we are confronted with a vast wilderness against which Diaz explores isolation and longing. Diaz is a hugely talented new writer and his debut follows in the footsteps of Annie Proulx and Sebastian Barry but remakes the genre into a timely reflection on America, immigration and masculinity. Written in a radiant, visceral, searching language, this novel surprised me and moved me, and I can’t wait to bring In the Distance to readers."

Diaz said: "It is so thrilling that, thanks to Daunt Books, In the Distance, a story about displacement that begins with a transatlantic journey, is finding its way across the Ocean."

Diaz was born in Argentina and grew up in Argentina and Sweden. He lives in New York, where he is associate director of the Hispanic Institute at Columbia University. This is his first novel.