Quercus imprint riverrun has acquired a debut short story collection Friday Black by American writer Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah.
The collection, which according to its publisher has already been branded "an excitement and a wonder" by Man Booker Prize-winner George Saunders, tackles racism and cultural unrest through blending surrealism and humour.
UK and Commonwealth rights were acquired from Meredith Kaffel Simonoff at DeFiore and Company and Quercus will publish in October in hardback. The collection was pre-empted by HMH in the US, where it will publish on the same date.
Adjei-Brenyah said he was inspired to write the stories in the book by "questions that pressed on me daily". These, he said, included: "Who do we as Black members of a community turn to when it's been made clear that in the eyes of the state we are worth less? How many people have to be trampled in the mall ... before we admit there is a sickness in our consumer culture? Why despite, all the bad there is to see, do I know there is hope?"
"It is a great honour to have Friday Black published abroad in the UK," he commented. "The stories often jump over the fence of realism to engage these questions in a way that feels real to me and they often use humour to mitigate the pain of their subjects."
Niamh Mulvey, senior commissioning editor ar riverrun, said: "Nana’s writing put me in mind of Vonnegut and Saunders, but it’s so very much its own thing. I read it with huge excitement which was shared immediately by everyone at riverrun and Quercus. I’m thrilled to publish this brilliantly entertaining, mind-bending work and introduce this vital new talent to readers in the UK and Ireland."
The acquisition follows a boom in sales for short story anthologies, reported on earlier this year, with sales reaching their highest level in seven years.
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