HarperCollins has snapped up world English rights to M., the "extraordinary" debut from Peng Shepherd.
Natasha Bardon, publishing director at HarperFiction, and Emily Krump, editor at HarperCollins US, acquired the title from Alexandra Machinist at ICM Partners and Felicity Blunt at Curtis Brown.
Scheduled for publication in 2018, M. is a described as a "vivid, touching and original tale" following the effects of an extraordinary catastrophe on very ordinary people. Set in the near future, a mysterious disaster that begins at an outdoor market in India is causing people's shadows to disappear. The soon-to-be worldwide phenomenon doesn’t stop there. Its victims pay a horrible price: their memories.
Two years after the disaster Max’s shadow disappears. For husband Ory, life with Max will never be the same again, the pain of watching it disappear memory by memory seems almost unbearable. Struggling to come to terms with their future, they each search for answers to their own questions: for Ory, questions of love, survival, hope; and for Max, the rumour of a mysterious new force growing in the south that may hold the cure.
Shepherd attended NYU’s Creative Writing MFA Programme. This year, she won a $35,000 (£28,760) emerging writers grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation based on an early draft of her novel, and was also a finalist for the Asian American Writers’ Workshop’s The Margins 2016 fellowship.
Bardon said: "Everything about M. felt original. The high-concept mixed with heartbreaking personal accounts of loss were incredibly moving and made me question just what I would do were in their shoes. Peng imbues her characters with such emotion and her writing sweeps you through this wonderful story. I am so excited to publish this extraordinary novel."
Machinist said: "I am thrilled that Harper will be publishing Peng Shepherd's masterful epic of a debut novel in the English language throughout the world".
Blunt said: "M. is a virtuoso debut by an unparalleled talent. Peng Shepherd has created a world filled with big ideas about mortality and self but it is the small intimate moments that pierce and stay with you long after you’ve finished reading".