Fig Tree has pre-empted a debut novel about what it is like living through the coronavirus pandemic from poet and playwright Clare Pollard.
Publishing director Helen Garnons-Williams acquired UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, to Delphi, from Jenny Hewson of Lutyens & Rubinstein. North American rights have been pre-empted by Lauren Wein at Avid Reader Press. The book will be published in hardback in summer 2022.
The unnamed narrator is living in South London with her 10-year-old son and husband, and is writing a book about prophecy in the ancient world when the Covid-19 pandemic strikes. The publisher said: "As the events of 2020 unfold, with the spectre of a Trump re-election and the tightening grip of lockdowns, she becomes obsessed with Cassandra—a character from Greek mythology who has the gift of prophecy but is never believed—and the idea of predicting the future through everything from chiromancy (prophecy by palm reading) and zoomancy (prophecy by animal behaviour), to psephomancy (prophecy by lots or ballots) and oenomancy (prophecy by wine). Increasingly surprised by her own choices and behaviour, she turns to dreams and Tarot cards to get a handle on the fates. But while doing so, she fails to notice the future creeping into the heart of her very own home, and what that future brings will upend everything."
Pollard has published five collections of poetry with Bloodaxe, the latest of which is 2017's Incarnation. Her play "The Weather" premiered at the Royal Court Theatre and her translation projects include a version of Ovid’s Heroines (Bloodaxe), which she toured as a one-woman show.
Garnons-Williams said: "Delphi is a marvel, and we are delighted and excited to be publishing it on the Fig Tree list. The ridiculously talented Clare Pollard breathes fresh life, and poetry, into the novel form with a book that is both funny and profound, epic and intimate: a barometer of modern life in all its comedy and tragedy."
Pollard said: "Having felt destined to write fiction all my life, I’m so happy that in my forties the stars have finally aligned for my debut novel. Delphi was written very quickly, in a kind of fever, largely this spring once my children’s homeschooling ended—as if telling a story were the only way I could process the chaos of this last year. I’m so thankful to both Helen Garnons-Williams and my agent, Jenny Hewson, for their belief in my vision. It is an utter thrill to think of Delphi reaching its future readers."