Liz Hyder’s debut adult novel, The Gifts, has been bought in a two-book deal by Bonnier Books UK’s new literary imprint Manilla Press in a six-figure pre-empt.
Publishing director Sophie Orme acquired world rights to the novels from Anwen Hooson at Bird Literary Agency, and Manilla Press will publish it in February 2022.
Set in 1840, The Gifts opens with a young woman in agony, staggering alone through a forest in Shropshire as a huge pair of impossible wings rip from her shoulders. Meanwhile, when rumours of a "fallen angel" cause a frenzy across London, a surgeon desperate for fame and fortune finds himself in the grips of a dangerous obsession, one that will place the women he seeks in the most terrible danger...
Orme said: "As soon as I began reading The Gifts, I knew I had to publish it. It’s an astonishing novel, exploring themes of science and nature, enlightenment and religion, the role of women in society, and the dark danger of ambition. Told through five different perspectives, it’s an ambitious, multi-layered and—above all—fantastically gripping novel, absolutely perfect for fans of The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock, The Essex Serpent and The Miniaturist. I can’t wait for readers to get their hands on it because I’m frankly blown away by Liz’s talent—her luminous storytelling shines from every page."
Last year Hyder published the YA novel Bearmouth with Pushkin Press, and it won both the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize for Older Readers and the Branford Boase Award. Bearmouth has sold in multiple territories across the world, and a film adaptation is currently in development with Binocular Productions.
Hyder said she was "over the moon" that The Gifts had found its home with Manilla Press. "Sophie’s passion for the book and deep understanding of the story I wanted to tell was evident in abundance even before she’d finished reading it for the first time," she said. "It’s genuinely a dream come true to get to work with both her and the Manilla team—I am one very lucky writer."
Hooson said: "The Gifts has all the hallmarks we’ve come to expect from Liz: sublime writing, world-creation to die for, a propulsive narrative, and the sort of nuanced storytelling that nudges the reader into asking big questions about life and society. Sitting in that beautiful spot between historical fiction and literary thriller, I think readers will completely devour it."