Hogarth in the UK and US have pre-empted world rights to an “astonishing” debut by 2015 Caine Prize winner Namwali Serpell.
Poppy Hampson, editorial director at Chatto & Windus and Hogarth UK, bought world rights to The Old Drift in a “major” joint acquisition with Alexis Washam, executive editor, Crown and Hogarth US. Rights were acquired from PJ Mark and Will Francis at Janklow & Nesbit.
The Old Drift is a “sweeping, ambitious tale of three families who are plagued by a curse over the course of generations, following them from India, Italy, and England until their tangled fates converge in Zambia”.
Hampson said: “It is hugely exciting to discover a new writer who approaches her work with such bold freedom - this is powerful and epic story-telling accompanied by deliberate playfulness and eclecticism, and a constantly surprising and compelling range and originality. We are delighted that Namwali is joining us at Hogarth.”
Serpell was born in Zambia and now lives in California where she is associate professor of English at UC Berkeley. In 2014 she was selected as one of the Africa 39, a Hay Festival Project to identify the 39 best African writers under 40.
She won the Caine Prize for African Writing with her short story "The Sack" this year. She shared her £10,000 prize money with her fellow shortlistees.
Washam said: “It is thrilling to welcome Namwali Serpell to Hogarth – an astonishing talent like hers is a rare discovery, and The Old Drift promises to be a novel that will push boundaries, electrify readers and introduce the world to a stunning new voice in literary fiction.”
Serpell said: “I am so thrilled to work with Poppy Hampson and Alexis Washam on The Old Drift. And I feel honored to join imprints that publish William Empson, Virginia Woolf, and Toni Morrison.”
The Old Drift will be published in 2018.