Michael Joseph has acquired The Hollow Sea by Annie Kirby, a literary debut about grief, recovery, and identity, set to be a lead hardback for 2022.
Editorial director Clio Cornish acquired world all languages rights in the book from Sue Armstrong at C&W.
The Hollow Sea follows Scottie, who has spent years trying to become a mother. The synopsis reads: "As the novel opens, facing the devastating realisation that the life she’s dreamt of may never be hers, Scottie makes a snap decision: to leave her home and seek a new start on the remote North Atlantic archipelago of St Hia. There, Scottie finds herself drawn to the local legends. In particular, the story of Thordis, who was brought to St Hia as a young bride—and departed as a murderess."
Kirby said of the book deal: "The story of Scottie and Thordis is very close to my heart because I wanted to write something that reflected my personal experience of being involuntarily childless, especially the impact on mental health and sense of self-worth. But I also wanted to tell a beautiful story and indulge in my love of sea myths, whales, seals and remote, storm-lashed islands. I’m thrilled that Michael Joseph is going to publish The Hollow Sea and I feel very privileged to be working with Clio and Sue."
Cornish added: "At once other-worldly and grounded by raw emotion, The Hollow Sea is an extraordinary, unforgettable novel. From the moment I started reading Annie’s debut I knew I was in the hands of an exceptional new talent, whose skill as a writer is matched only by her phenomenal imagination. I’m thrilled to be welcoming Annie to Penguin Michael Joseph."
Armstrong said: "I was instantly captivated by Annie’s writing, which is as imaginative and immersive as it is powerfully emotive. The Hollow Sea showcases Annie as a remarkable new voice in fiction and I’m so happy she will be published by Clio and the marvellous team at MJ."
Kirby, who lives on the south coast of England where she works part-time as a university researcher, has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia and a PhD in American Studies. She has published short stories in anthologies and previously won the Asham Award for short fiction. She was also part of Penguin's WriteNow programme in 2018 and received funding from Arts Council England while writing The Hollow Sea.