Icon to release trio of 'fantastical' non-fiction titles

Icon to release trio of 'fantastical' non-fiction titles

Icon is to publish a trio of books exploring the "hidden depths to the way we see the world".

In The Babel Message, author Keith Kahn-Harris takes a journey into the "heart of language", starting with a warning message in a Kinder Surprise Egg, and the dozens of translations it contains. Inspired by this, the author asks: what makes a language?

The synopsis reads: "From Ancient Sumerian to Zulu, Cornish and even Klingon, he overturns the Babel myth, arguing that the messy diversity of language shouldn’t be a source of conflict, but of collective wonder."

Editorial director Duncan Heath bought UK and Commonwealth rights from Antony Topping at Greene & Heaton. 

Heath said: "Who could fail to be charmed by a book with such an unlikely inspiration? As Keith Kahn-Harris says, the book is really 'a love letter to language', and I’m sure it will be a must-read for book-lovers and a perfect stocking-filler for Christmas 2021." Icon will publish in autumn 2021.

The press will also publish Night Terrors, a debut title by Dr Alice Vernon, who investigates the world of nightmares, hallucinations and sleepwalking. Drawing upon research, scientific, historical and literary sources, as well as the author’s own experiences, Night Terrors will also explore the recent phenomenon of vivid dreams during the Covid-19 lockdown. Vernon is based at Aberystwyth University. 

In Headspace: How the Seventies Lost Its Mind, Found Itself and Taught Us to be Well, Dr James Rile tells the story of the New Age Health movements of the 1970s, and how they formed the basis for today’s contemporary wellness industry. From coastal meditation retreats to the paranoias of darkened flotation tanks, he tells the often-bizarre tale of what happened when the psychedelic generation met the psychiatric profession. Riley’s previous book, The Bad Trip: Dark Omens, New Worlds and the End of the Sixties, was published by Icon in 2018 

Senior commissioning editor Kiera Jamison bought world English rights for both books from Donald Winchester at Watson, Little. Icon will publish both titles in autumn 2022.

Commenting on the acquisition, Jamison said: "Alice and James both have an incredible gift for writing books packed with information, brought to life in vivid colour, and with a thrill of something fantastical troubling the edges of reality. I’m delighted to work with James again as he brings out the strange, troubling and wonderful connections between the wellness industry behemoth and its 1970s roots. Alice’s book, blending the scientific with stories of vampires, witches and ghosts, is sure to keep readers up at night."