Fleet has acquired Adelle Stripe's debut novel, Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile, first published in July by Hull-based indie Wrecking Ball Press and shortlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize.
The book was inspired by the life and work of the Bradford playwright, Andrea Dunbar, best known for her 1980s black comedy, Rita, Sue and Bob Too. Dunbar wrote three plays before she died in 1990 aged 29 from a brain haemorrhage. Her first, The Arbor was based on her experience of stillbirth aged 15.
Stripe's portrayal of the working-class playwright is described by Fleet as "an unforgettable piece of kitchen-sink noir" that reveals how a shy and skint teenage girl defied her circumstances to become one of her generation’s greatest dramatists. It features both real and imagined characters and is set on the Buttershaw council estate in Bradford during the Thatcher years.
Ursula Doyle, publisher of Fleet, commented: "Adelle’s novel is a moving but never sentimental portrait of the artist as a young woman – one who died far too soon. Andrea’s genius survives in her work; here Adelle Stripe portrays the struggles that lay behind her extraordinary achievements. It is a truly remarkable novel, which I am very proud to be publishing on the Fleet list."
The deal for the book was handled by Matthew Hamilton of Aitken Alexander. Fleet will publish Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile as a B-format paperback original in November.