Fourth Estate has snapped up a collection of stories and an "extraordinary" debut novel by Sunday Times Short Story Prize-longlisted writer Jamel Brinkley after a five-way auction.
Kishani Widyaratna, editorial director, acquired British Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, in physical, e-book and audio from the Wylie Agency. North American rights were acquired by Jenna Johnson at FSG and German rights were acquired by Kein & Aber.
Witness is a collection of nine short stories set in contemporary New York, reflecting women and men in search of an anchor. "At times, the characters are literally haunted, with a discernible sense that their own existence, too, is slipping away," the publisher said. The title story of the collection was selected by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie as a 2021 O Henry Prize winner and the story "Comfort" was longlisted for the 2021 Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award. The stories will publish with Fourth Estate in hardback in 2023.
Brinkley’s debut novel, Another Life, is described as "a deeply tender, immaculately drawn and extraordinary novel of family and grief". It follows the Carter family as they weather three life-altering losses. As the novel opens a sudden turn of events fractures the family, leaving Jade, the eldest daughter, and Richard, the only son, most vulnerable. Another Life "seeks to explore a crucial question of African American history: how do people endure, survive—and even thrive, innovate, create, and become transformative—in the face of so much pain and loss?"
Widyaratna said: "I have long admired Jamel Brinkley’s work so it is a great pleasure to welcome him to Fourth Estate with Witness and Another Life—two books that took the team by storm. Another Life is extraordinary and one of the most compassionate and finely written novels I’ve had the privilege to encounter. I marvelled at how Jamel could make these characters feel as real and affecting to me as if they were my own family. It promises to be an important book."
Brinkley said: "I am truly honoured that Fourth Estate will be bringing this collection and my first novel to readers in the UK. I’m so pleased to be joining Fourth Estate’s incredible family of writers."
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