HQ pre-empts Windrush crime novel

HQ pre-empts Windrush crime novel

HQ has pre-empted a debut novel about the Windrush community in a “significant” six-figure pre-empt.

This Lovely City by Louise Hare is described by HQ as “a timely and powerful novel that shines a light on cultural tensions in the 20th and 21st century, and shows that being in the wrong place at the wrong moment in history can have devastating consequences”.

Clio Cornish, editor at the HarperCollins imprint, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights excluding Canada from Nelle Andrew at PFD in This Lovely City and one other book for “a significant six-figure” through pre-empt, the publisher said. It will be published in hardback, e-book and audio book in spring 2020.

A murder mystery set in 1950s London, This Lovely City follows Lawrie, who left the Caribbean on board the Windrush. He now tours Soho’s music halls as a jobbing musician by night, walking the streets of Brixton as a postman each morning, the synopsis reads. One such morning, crossing a misty Clapham Common, he makes a terrible discovery. Face-down in a pond is a baby: swaddled in a blanket, stone-cold to the touch and with skin as dark as Lawrie’s. Far from being celebrated for raising the alarm, Lawrie finds himself swept up in the tragedy of the case. And as the police pursue the child’s murderer, dark secrets threaten the city Lawrie calls home and the people who live there – especially its newest inhabitants.

Hare is a London-based travel expert and studied part-time on the MA Creative Writing at Birkbeck, University of London. She was shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish College Fiction Prize in 2017, judged by Andrew, and her short story "The Odyssey of Dee Lennox" was shortlisted for the 2016 Just Write Creative Writing Competition (in association with Writing Magazine and John Murray Press).

“From the first page, I knew This Lovely City was a book I had to publish,” Cornish said. “It’s flawlessly atmospheric – post-war London leaps out in all its smoggy, fragile beauty – and the plot twists land so perfectly the pages practically turn themselves. Powerful and effortlessly compelling, it’s a perfect addition to the HQ list from an incredible new voice – I couldn’t be more excited to work with Louise, and Nelle, on this landmark debut.”

Earlier this year, the 'Windrush Scandal' broke when many immigrants who arrived from the Commonwealth decades ago as children, were told they were living in the UK illegally.  The term is a reference to the ship MV Empire Windrush, which arrived at Tilbury Docks in Essex on 22nd June 1948, with workers from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and other islands, in response to post-war labour shortages in the UK.