Lightning Books has bought the second novel by the Scottish-born winner of Australia’s richest literary prize, Ryan O’Neill, about a 19th century short story reimagined 99 times.
O’Neill has reworked the classic Australian short story, 'The Drover's Wife' by Henry Lawson, 99 times with variations including a Year Eight essay, a pop song, a sporting commentary, an insurance claim and a cryptic crossword. The original short story is about a woman and her children left alone in the Australian outback.
Scott Pack, Lightning's editor-at-large, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Australia and New Zealand, direct from the author.
Lightning will publish The Drover’s Wives in the UK in 2019. It will be published in Australia later this year, and has been described by Australian writer Frank Moorhouse as "a cerebrally imaginative tour de force".
The publisher has announced the acquisition of the author’s second book on the eve of the UK publication of Their Brilliant Careers, O’Neill’s debut novel which won the Australian Prime Minister’s Award for Fiction.
Pack said: “I have already been yelling on social media about Their Brilliant Careers, and how it is one of the most inventive works of fiction I have ever read. The reaction from booksellers in advance of publication has been phenomenal, so signing this follow-up was a no-brainer.”
O’Neill was born in Glasgow in 1975 and lived in Africa, Europe and Asia before settling in Sydney, Australia. His short story collection The Weight of a Human Heart was shortlisted for the 2012 Queensland Literary Awards.
Lightning Books is the fiction imprint of Eyestorm Media, which operates a co-publishing model. It was founded by Eye Books owner Dan Hiscocks, a former director of the Independent Publishers’ Guild, in 2015 to “shake up the publishing industry”.
Their Brilliant Careers is published in hardback by Lightning Books on 26th April, retailing at £14.99.