Galley Beggar lands Schwartz's 'beautiful' debut novel

Galley Beggar lands Schwartz's 'beautiful' debut novel

Independent publisher Galley Beggar Press is to publish After Sappho, the "transcendent" debut novel by American writer Selby Wynn Schwartz.

Galley Beggar co-directors Eloise Millar and Sam Jordison acquired world rights to the novel from the author. After Sappho will be published in autumn 2022 or spring 2023.

The indie publisher has dubbed the book as “a queer collective biography and poetic reimagining of intertwined circles of feminists, sapphists, artists and writers in turn-of-the-century Europe: women whose half-lives are still volatile in our own time.”

Miller said: “After Sappho is about so many things and it wields such magic that it’s hard to give any sort of nutshell summary... perhaps as the story of two generations of late 19th and early 20th-century women and lovers as they fight for liberation and control over their lives. With appearances from a glorious array of famous and outspoken characters from history, it’s a novel that bears witness to the structural obstacles that women were up against, from property laws, to coerced marriage, to the institutionalisation of ‘difficult’ women. It is also a celebration of their tireless attempts to forge new identities, to challenge traditional notions of role and self, and fashion new ways of living.”

Jordison commented: "I fell in love with After Sappho from the very first line – and as well as brimming with ideas, it’s one of those books that you can feel making your heart bigger.  There’s real anger and emotion and sorrow. The rage at the injustices so many women have had to endure sets the pages alight and this just makes the many passages of grace and beauty all the more transcendent. Selby has also structured her book in such a beautiful way: told in a series of cascading vignettes, with a multitude of voices, it’s one of the most intensely enjoyable reading experiences I’ve ever had."

Schwartz's first book, The Bodies of Others: Drag Dances and their Afterlives (University of Michigin Press), was a 2020 finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in LGBTQ Nonfiction. Her creative work has appeared in Speculative Nonfiction, Lammergeier and Passages North. Her first novella, A Life in Chameleons, won the 2021 Reflex Press Novella Award and is forthcoming in 2022.

Selby said: “From the moment when Eloise first wrote to me about the manuscript, I felt that she and Sam had grasped the book at its tender strange heart and it was impossible not to harbour the hope that they might want to bring it into the world."