Gallic snaps up Laguna's 'haunting' tale of abandoned girl

Gallic snaps up Laguna's 'haunting' tale of abandoned girl

Gallic Books has acquired a “quick, cruel, coming-of-age tale” about an abandoned girl from Miles Franklin winner Sofie Laguna.

The Choke follows “in the vein of recent remarkable works on dangerous girlhoods and disjointed families” , said Gallic.

Jane Aitken, founder and m.d. of Gallic, bought UK, Europe and Commonwealth rights excluding Australia and New Zealand from Maggie Thompson, an associate at Australian independent press Allen & Unwin. The Choke will be published in the UK in March next year.

The author “has already wowed readers with her brilliant, haunting portrayal of a child navigating an often-uncaring world of male power, violence, poverty and neglect”, according to the publisher.

The Choke has scooped a number of nominations and awards such as the Australian Indie Best Novel since being published by Allen & Unwin last September. Laguna also won the 2015 Miles Franklin Literary Award for The Eye of the Sheep (Allen & Unwin).

Described as “Mesmerising, harrowing, yet ultimately uplifting", the literary novel focuses on a young girl’s complicated early-adolescence in the isolated, rural Australian outback. Abandoned by her mother as a toddler and rarely visited by her volatile father, Justine is begrudgingly raised by her grandfather, Pops. But there is no one to protect her from danger: her father is a criminal, and the world to which he exposes her can be lethal.

Justine is overlooked and underestimated, a shy and often silent observer of her chaotic world. She learns that she has to make sense of it on her own in spite of a lack of education, adequate nutrition, or support. She has to find ways to survive so much neglect. She must hang on to friendship when it comes, she must hide when she has to, and ultimately she must fight back. 

Laguna is an Australian novelist who originally studied to be a lawyer before moving to Melbourne to train as an actor. She worked for many years as an actor before she began to write – both for children and adults.

Aitken said: “Justine is a child-narrator like no other, and Laguna’s uncommon talent lends itself to the telling of her story. The Choke touches on a number of difficult themes – domestic violence,  sexual assault, PTSD and disability – but it is the beauty of Laguna’s writing that draws the reader in, making this a novel sure to touch the hearts of all who read it.”