Harvill Secker has picked up an “astonishing” novel from Ciarán McMenamin set in Ireland after the First World War.
Publishing director Liz Foley acquired UK and Commonwealth rights to The Sunken Road by from James Gill at United Agents. It will be published in March 2021, in time for the centenary of the Partition of Ireland in May.
The novel tells the story of Annie, Francie and Arch, close friends until 1914. Its synopsis explains: “When Arch is seduced by the drama of the war in Europe, he persuades Francie to join up with him. They leave Annie behind. But eight years later, Arch is gone, and Francie is hiding out in the barn of Annie’s farm. He hasn’t seen her since the day they left.
“Most men came back from the Great War expecting a land fit for heroes but Francie came back to another war. Now he’s on the run, a wanted man in the fight for Irish independence that is still igniting along the new border. The British officer obsessively pursuing him is his old sergeant from the Western Front. Their hatred for each other took root on the fields of France and its poison must mean the end for one of them. To get back over the border to safety, Francie’s going to need Annie’s help. He’s going to have to explain himself, and what really happened to Arch.”
Foley said: “We are thrilled to welcome such a talented writer as Ciarán to the Harvill Secker list. After I first read The Sunken Road I found I couldn’t get it out of my head and had to keep talking to people about it. It’s a book that gives many gifts: a page-turning thriller, a moving depiction of love and friendship and a powerful war novel.”
McMenamin added: “The Sunken Road is many things. A sprinkle of buried family history, a study of war and friendship, but ultimately, it is a tale of true love. This story has been a pleasure to tell and now thanks to Liz Foley and the team at Harvill Secker, it will be a pleasure to share. I’m thrilled to be part of this incredible list.”