Viking has pre-empted two novels from British-Nigerian writer Lizzie Damilola Blackburn for an undisclosed six-figure sum.
Katy Loftus acquired UK and Commonwealth rights from agent Nelle Andrew at Rachel Mills Literary. Pre-empting on the same day it was widely submitted, Loftus said she "fell in love" with the book's protagonist "from the first page", hailing the work "era-defining".
Blackburn’s debut, Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband?, is described in the publisher's synopsis as "a contemporary romantic comedy with shades of the hit show 'Insecure', 'My Best Friend’s Wedding' and Queenie, that tackles race, religion and feminism. It follows Yinka, a 31-year-old British-Nigerian woman living in south London, who sets out, aided by a spreadsheet and her best friend (and many interfering aunties), to find a date for her cousin’s wedding."
Loftus commented: "Like all of my favourite fictional characters, from Elizabeth Bennet to Kambili Achike, I fell in love with Yinka on the first page. Lizzie is a born writer: she truly achieves the gold standard of storytelling, making you laugh and cry on the same page. We are overjoyed to be able to launch what I am sure will be an era-defining novel, and a stratospherically successful writing career."
Blackburn said: "I am beyond the moon and stars to be working with Katy and the team at Viking/Penguin. They are just as passionate about my novel as I am and they absolutely 'got it.' Many of my black friends experience the same challenges that Yinka faces and have been longing to read a story like hers. Therefore, this book is a tribute and a gift to them and many others who do not feel represented in the books they read. My mission as an author is to help black women be seen and heard."
Andrew said: "Viking came in so fast and yet so considered with an incredible publication campaign. I was immediately impressed. This is now out internationally and we have so much interest abroad and from film/TV, I can only believe that Yinka will continue to spread her extraordinary charms far and wide..."
The novel will be published in spring 2022.