Harvill acquires novel from Batuman

Harvill acquires novel from Batuman

Harvill Secker has acquired the debut novel by journalist Elif Batuman, following a "highly contested" auction.

Editorial director Michal Shavit bought UK and Commonwealth rights excluding Canada to The Two Lives by Elif Batuman from Sarah Chalfont at The Wylie Agency. Harvill Secker will publish in spring 2015. Shavit published Batuman's first book, non-fiction The Possessed, while working at Granta.

Batuman was inspired by Chekov's comment that we all lead two lives: a public one, full of falsehood, and a secret one, meaningful and essential. In the last six years, while working as a journalist, Batuman came to feel she was writing only about the first life, and leaving out the second. The novel, a fictionalised account of her experiences, follows the journalist narrator through the stories she reports and the ones she doesn't, as she tries to figure out how to fit love into a human life.

Shavit said: "We are over the moon to be publishing Elif Batuman's debut novel. Over the last few years Elif has come to be recognised as a very significant new voice in international literature. She is clever, funny and utterly brilliant and this book marks a major departure for her as she ventures into fiction and explores the untrammelled terrains of the secret life that her non-fiction doesn't allow for."