Hodder & Stoughton has snapped up Rachelle Atalla’s debut novel The Pharmacist, as well as a second novel by the author.
Editorial director Eve Hall acquired world English rights from Cathryn Summerhayes at Curtis Brown. The book will be published in hardback, e-book and audio in March 2022, and in paperback later that year.
Set in the near future, The Pharmacist follows Wolfe, a 34-year-old pharmacist living in a post-war nuclear bunker. The synopsis reads: "Forming an unlikely alliance with the young Doctor Stirling, her troubled teenage assistant Levitt, and Canavan, a tattooed giant of a man, Wolfe has to navigate the powder keg of life underground, while knowing her every move is being watched by increasingly erratic and paranoid authority figures. It's not long before she is forced to question the sacrifices she's made for her own personal survival, and how much more she is willing to give to stay alive."
Atalla is a fiction writer and editor based in Glasgow, who previously worked as a community pharmacist for a decade. Her short stories have been published widely in literary journals including The Good Journal, Gutter Magazine and Thi Wurd, and in 2018 her story "Milk" was highly commended in the Costa Short Story Award. She is also the co-editor of New Writing Scotland, and recently she completed Scottish Film and Talent Network’s Write4film programme and Scottish Shorts development scheme; her short film "Trifle" was commissioned by SFTN and BFI, and will be released later in the year.
She commented: "I’m delighted that my debut The Pharmacist has found its home at Hodder & Stoughton, in the company of so many books and authors I truly admire. I feel grateful to be working with Eve and her team, who are incredibly supportive of both my work and me. It’s a real dream."
Hall said: "The Pharmacist blew me away. Rachelle writes so beautifully. She manages to combine hugely compelling storytelling with writing that is so polished and evocative that you can find something new every time you read it. This book challenges you to question what you would do for your own survival, and what it means to really live. Rachelle is very talented, and I cannot wait to share The Pharmacist with more readers."