Jonathan Cape has acquired two books by American author Maggie Nelson, who was revealed as one of this year's $625,000 MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Grant recipients yesterday (22nd September).
The so-called "genius" grants provided by the John D and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation are given to people of "exceptional creativity" who need more "flexibility" to pursue projects, with previous recipients including "Hamilton" playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Bluets, scheduled for publication in June 2017, is a book of poetry that was first published in 2009 by Wave Books, an independent poetry press based in Seattle, Washington, but never before in the UK. It is said to "wind its way through depression, divinity, alcohol, and desire, visiting along the way with famous blue figures, including Joni Mitchell, Billie Holiday, Yves Klein, Leonard Cohen, and Andy Warhol", as a "pillow book" to her lifelong obsession with the colour blue, and part of coming to terms with the painful end of an affair and the grievous injury of a dear friend.
The Red Parts, to publish as a Vintage paperback in June 2017, is a memoir, an account of a trial, as well as a provocative essay exploring the American obsession with violence and missing white women, as it reflects on the 1969 murder of the author's aunt and explores the nature of grief, justice, and empathy.
Michal Shavit, publishing director at Jonathan Cape, acquired UK & Commonwealth rights to both from PJ Mark and Stephanie Koven at Janklow & Nesbit in New York.
Shavit said: “Maggie Nelson has established herself as one of the most exciting and innovative writers at work today. With Bluets she has written a cult classic that defies literary categorisation. We are thrilled to be publishing her at Jonathan Cape and Vintage”
Nelson, based in Los Angeles, is a poet, critic and the author of five books of non-fiction. Her books include The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning and The Argonauts, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, as well as five collections of poetry. She teaches in the School of Critical Studies at CalArts.