Hamish Hamilton scoops two from debut novelist Nolan in eight-way auction

Hamish Hamilton scoops two from debut novelist Nolan in eight-way auction

Hamish Hamilton has scooped two "remarkable and devastating novels" by debut author Michael Nolan in an eight-way auction. 

Hermione Thompson, commissioning editor, bought UK and Commonwealth rights to Close to Home and a second novel from Eleanor Birne at PEW Literary. Molly Walls also pre-empted North American rights for both novels on behalf of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, and Job Lisman pre-empted Dutch rights for Prometheus. International submissions are ongoing.

Close to Home is described by the publisher as a "gripping auto-fictional exploration of masculinity, class and trauma". It opens with its narrator, Sean, beating up a stranger at a party. The publisher explained: "The rest of the novel traces the aftermath of this single mistake, which tips Sean’s life into chaos. And it examines, with extraordinary patience and subtlety, the forces which brought him to this point. The creeping horror of finding himself back home after three years at university, educated but unemployable in a city where the jobs have vanished. The widespread poverty of post-crash Belfast, where his mates dream of leaving but never will. The suffering his older brother endured, and shielded him from, as a child, and his mother’s unbearable guilt at failing to prevent it. And the complex legacy of the Troubles which he glimpses, numbly, in half-familiar faces from the past."

Thompson said: "Close to Home is a novel which shines with intelligence and humanity on every page. It maps out, without judgement, a complex terrain of shifting identities, and all the ways a person can be exiled and uneasy in the place they call home. And it shows how this terrain is shaped too by love: an everyday love so fierce and defiant, so unyielding, that it feels like a political act. In this and many other respects, Michael Nolan is a writer of great courage and compassion, and I feel profoundly honoured to be his publisher."

Nolan said: "I'm thrilled that Close to Home has found a home at Hamish Hamilton, and with FSG, two publishers I've always admired with lists I could only dream to be part of. And I'm delighted to have been given the chance to work with Hermione Thompson and Molly Walls – two editors whose reputations very much precede them. It's a privilege, really, and I'm looking forward to getting started."

Nolan was born and grew up in Poleglass, west Belfast. He is now the fiction editor of the Tangerine and his work has appeared in Winter Papers, the Stinging Fly, the Lifeboat and in The 32: An Anthology of Working Class Writing (Unbound). He recently gained his PhD in creative writing from Queen’s University, Belfast.