Hamish Hamilton has won the rights to publish Marlon James’ new literary fantasy trilogy, dubbed the “African Game of Thrones”, in the UK.
The Dark Star Trilogy, described as a "dazzlingly ambitious” new project from the Man Booker-prize winner, will be a trio of literary fantasy novels informed by African myth and heritage while exploring the nature of power, identity and truth itself.
James' A Brief History of Seven Killings published in the UK by independent publisher Oneworld made him the first Jamaican writer to win the Man Booker Prize in 2015. The Bookseller understands Oneworld publisher Juliet Mabey was given the option to bid for Marlon James' new series, and put forward a "substantial" six-figure offer, but was outbid. Last month it was reported that Riverhead Books had scooped the rights in the US.
James said he was excited to find a home with the Penguin imprint and that his new novels would be "tapping into thousands of years tradition” to bring readers "brave kings, cunning queens, wise witches and horrendous monsters”.
Simon Prosser bought British and Commonwealth volume, audio and serial rights from Claire Roberts on behalf of Ellen Levine at Trident Media.
First in the series of three interlinking novels, Black Leopard, Red Wolf, will publish in autumn 2018. The trilogy will be completed by titles Moon Witch, Night Devil and The Boy and the Dark Star.
Prosser said: "I couldn't be more excited about a project. Marlon James is an outstanding writer and the energy and ambition of this work-in-progress is extraordinary. The writing just burns off the page, hooking the reader from the very first lines. It is going to be a thrilling journey, seeing where Marlon takes us over the course of the trilogy. And I am certain it will be a major landmark in contemporary writing.”
James said: "One of the things I love about Amos Tutuola, Flora Nwapa, Tolkein, Ursula le Guin, and Margaret Atwood, is that they know that myths are the wellspring of all storytelling, and draw from them directly, shaping them into new myths. I am excited about doing the same with African myths, histories and folk tales, many of which survived the middle passage, and became crucial in how we see ourselves. I like to think I'm doing something new, but I'm just tapping into thousands of years tradition and using it for invention. But that also means there will be brave kings, cunning queens, wise witches and horrendous monsters.
"I am so excited to find a home at Hamish Hamilton, home to so many of my heroes and peers. They have a distinguished literary tradition of being anything but traditional, which makes them perfect for writers like me. I look forward to working with them."