Francesca Main has acquired a "timely" and "moving" debut for her new imprint at Orion, To Fill a Yellow House, by British-Ghanaian author Sussie Anie, plus a second novel, in a six-figure pre-empt conducted in 48 hours.
Anie's debut story of identity, community and belonging marks the first book Main and Juliet Mushens, Anie's agent, have shared since Jessie Burton’s The Miniaturist, and it will be "a lead title" in hardback for Main's new imprint in spring 2022.
UK and Commonwealth rights were acquired in the two-book deal from Mushens of Mushens Entertainment, while North American rights were acquired in a six-figure deal, at auction, by Katherine Nintzel at HarperCollins’ Custom House imprint, from Jenny Bent at The Bent Agency, on behalf of Mushens.
Set between the summer of 2008 and the eve of the EU referendum, Orion is hailing Anie's debut "this generation's Brick Lane". It tells the story of an unlikely friendship between a young second-generation immigrant, Kwasi, and the white middle-aged owner of a local charity shop.
"The British high street is dying, and with it Rupert’s shop, the Chest of Small Wonders, which he has run for decades," the synopsis reads. "Most people won’t miss it. But for teenager Kwasi, the Chest is a refuge he can’t live without, where he finds respite from school bullies and his irrepressible aunties (who may or may not have overstayed their visas...). Rupert, too, finds solace in the shop, his home painfully empty since the death of his wife. As Kwasi and Rupert forge their friendship, political tensions escalate around them, and soon both face difficult choices that will force them to confront their prejudices."
Anie lives in London and has a BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from the University of Warwick, plus an MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, where she was a recipient of the 2018-19 Kowitz Scholarship. She was recently shortlisted for the White Review Short Story Prize 2020.
Main commented: "I couldn’t wish for a more exciting novel than To Fill a Yellow House, which has exactly the kind of distinctive, story-driven and emotionally powerful writing the new imprint aims to champion. Sussie Anie is an extraordinary new talent—lyrical, compassionate, wise and humorous, she’s a born storyteller and her characters are imbued with rare insight and depth. I feel sure this marks the beginning of a stellar career and can’t wait for readers to discover her."
Mushens said: "To Fill a Yellow House is a novel about family, friendship and belonging. Kwasi’s voice bubbles from the page, and his relationship with Rupert, and the way it changes both of them, is cleverly evoked. Sussie is incredibly gifted, and I know this is just the start of a long career."
Anie said: "I am overjoyed to be working with Francesca Main to publish my debut novel, and super excited to join Orion’s new imprint. It has been an incredible journey so far and I can’t wait for readers to meet Kwasi and Rupert and discover the Chest of Small Wonders."
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