Hachette Children’s Group has acquired two YA novels from debut author Adiba Jaigirdar, including two "heart-warming" queer romances based in Dublin featuring Bengali protagonists.
Kate Agar, editorial director at Hachette Children’s Group, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights in a two-book deal with Witt Phillips, international rights manager at Macmillan US, on behalf of Page Street Publishing Co.
The Henna Wars will publish in e-book in October 2020 and in paperback on the Hodder Children’s Books imprint in January 2021. This will be followed by Hani & Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating in May 2021.
In The Henna Wars, Nishat comes out to her parents, who say she can be anyone she wants—as long as she isn't herself. The synopsis reads: "Nishat doesn't want to hide who she is, but she also doesn't want to lose her relationship with her family. And things only get harder once a childhood friend walks back into her life. Beautiful and charismatic, Flávia takes Nishat’s breath away. But as their lives become tangled, they’re caught up in a rivalry that gets in the way of any feelings they might have for each other. Can Nishat find a way to be true to herself… and find love too?"
Hani & Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating, meanwhile, tells the story of Hani and Ishu. "The two couldn't be less alike," reads the book's description, "and they definitely don’t like each other. But when a twist of fate sees them pretending to date each other, things start to get messy. And it becomes clear that some people will do anything to stop two Bengali girls from achieving happily ever after."
Agar said: "Reading Adiba’s love stories feels like a warm hug in book form—something we could all do with more of in this strange year. Adiba’s characters sing out from the page, and she weaves together issues of race, sexuality and culture into a narrative that readers will fall head over heels for."
Jaigirdar, born in Bangladesh and living in Ireland since the age of 10, has a BA in English and History, and an MA in Postcolonial Studies. She is also a contributor for Bookriot and an ESL teacher. She commented: "I’m so excited about The Henna Wars and Hani & Ishu finding a home with Hachette in the UK and Ireland. It really feels like they’re coming home, because ultimately both books are about Bengali-Irish girls navigating their own queerness and finding love. I can’t wait to share these books with British and Irish readers."