Vintage imprint Jonathan Cape will publish Checkout 19 by Claire-Louise Bennett, author of Pond (Fitzcarraldo Editions, 2015).
Michal Shavit, publishing director, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights from Peter Straus at Rogers, Coleridge and White. The novel will be published in autumn 2021.
Billed as a "deeply felt, original and devastatingly moving" novel, the synopsis reads: "[Checkout 19] follows a young woman who finds herself in love, in conflict with life and death, and in a life made of books, where the act of turning the page is a way of carrying on living. Fearlessly inventive in its from, merging linguistic ingenuity and a searing emotional depth, the book explores class, the notion of freedom, adolescence, transcendence, sexual politics and artistic synthesis."
Shavit commented: "I have long been in awe of Claire-Louise Bennett's writing and I couldn't be more excited to be publishing her at Cape and Vintage. She is without a doubt one of the most exciting writers of her generation and this novel is one of the most beautiful and moving books I have ever read. It's ultimately a novel about girlhood and womanhood and what it means to be a whole when there are so many individual pieces that make up each of our cosmoses. It's about freedom and passion, about longing and desire, about men and women, creativity and belonging, all the things that make us human and that pull us between the opposite poles of life and death."
Bennett said: "I had a terrible time trying to write a second book. Then, in order to wrongfoot some of the pressure I felt, I told myself it need only be a small, short, book. In the end, Checkout 19 became much more than I'd imagined, and writing it turned out to be incredibly exhilarating and freeing. Michal Shavit's response to it was astute and impassioned—I was bowled over, and am really looking forward to working with her. At the core of this novel is a love of books, and so it is with enormous pleasure, and a smidgen of pride, that I am publishing it with Jonathan Cape, which, since its inception almost 100 years ago, has brought the work of so many marvellous writers into the world."