Fourth Estate has won a five-publisher auction for the “dazzling” debut novel from PRH assistant editor Kasim Ali, in a six-figure two-book deal.
Helen Garnons-Williams, associate publisher at Fourth Estate, acquired British Commonwealth rights (excluding Canada) to Good Intentions from Juliet Pickering at Blake Friedmann. Fourth Estate will publish it as its lead fiction debut in spring 2022.
Good Intentions tells the story of Nur, a young British-Pakistani man whose attempts to do the right thing by his family, his friends and the woman he loves creates an emotional pressure cooker. The publisher said: “Deftly exploring Millennial relationships alongside the complexities of immigrant obligation and racial prejudice, it is a dazzling, urgent and captivating debut that introduces an incredibly exciting new voice in British literature.”
The synopsis explains: “It’s the countdown to midnight on New Year’s Eve and Nur is steeling himself to finally tell his parents he is dating Yasmina: a woman he loves deeply, has been with for years, but cannot be honest to his family about, for one reason. Yasmina is Black. Nur wants to be a good son to his parents and a good boyfriend to Yasmina. He wants the best for his family, but also the best for his future. Nur has kept Yasmina a secret, putting a growing strain on his first serious relationship, because although his parents want the best for him too, their aspirations do not match his and he doesn’t want to upset them with his choices. But is love really a choice for him, and how does Nur decide where his loyalties lie?”
Garnons-Williams said: “Good Intentions is a beautifully crafted, wonderfully nuanced literary novel that engages, moves and provokes in equal measure. It asks big questions, without offering easy answers, exploring the conflicting dynamics of family, culture and race and introducing us to a cast of characters who too rarely take centre stage in British fiction – for whom we come to care about deeply.’
Ali, 25, works at Penguin Random House and has previously been shortlisted for Hachette’s Mo Siewcherran Prize, longlisted for the Fourth Estate BAME Short Story Prize, and has contributed to The Good Journal. He comes from Birmingham and lives in London.
He said: “Like every author, I’ve imagined this moment infinitely, conducted press interviews in the shower, cast the TV adaptation right before bed. And yet, speaking to Helen and her team, hearing the news from Juliet, it all felt like a hazy dream that I’d soon wake up from. There isn’t enough space to describe my elation at getting to work with Helen on this book, someone who so clearly understands it and me, who sees the characters not only for who they are but who they so desperately want to be. I couldn’t be happier to bring this book to life with the team at Fourth Estate; I’ve been carrying Nur and Yasmina with me for too long, it’s time for the world to see them now.”