Stormzy’s Penguin Random House imprint #Merky Books has signed a two-book deal with “Mostly Lit” podcaster Derek Owusu.
Penguin Random House editorial director Tom Avery acquired world rights for two books - That Reminds Me and Teaching My Brother to Read. The deal was negotiated by Crystal Mahey-Morgan at OWN IT! Entertainment. That Reminds Me will be published by #Merky Books on 14th November 2019. The second title will be published in 2021.
That Reminds Me is a novel-in-verse which charts the life of its young protagonist from birth to adulthood, and explores questions of identity, belonging, addiction, sexuality, violence, family and religion. It is also an interrogation of the events that led to the author’s own mental breakdown. “It is a deeply moving and completely original work of literature, and a book that is already receiving critical acclaim from early readers such as Christie Watson, Benjamin Zephaniah, Guy Gunaratne and Yrsa Daley-Ward,” the publisher said.
Teaching My Brother to Read is a year-long project undertaken by the author in order to find a way to connect to his younger brother. Owusu said his brother “was getting into an increasing amount of trouble and rapidly losing interest in his own life”. The publisher said: “Each month, Derek decided, he would give his brother a book (fiction, non-fiction or poetry), and pay him £50 to read it. At the end of the month, they would meet and talk about the book – its content, what it said to them both, and what lessons (if any) it offered." #Merky Books said the result is "a groundbreaking work of non-fiction, and a unique celebration of the transformative power of literature".
Owusu is a writer, poet and podcaster from North London. In 2016 he joined the literature podcast “Mostly Lit”. He also produced the "This Is Spoke" podcast for Penguin Random House and Freemantle Media and has collated, edited and contributed to SAFE: On Black British Men Reclaiming Space, an anthology exploring the experiences of black men in Britain (Trapeze).
Avery said: “Derek Owusu is one of the most talented, dedicated and courageous young writers of today. These are two very different projects that are connected by their urgency, their originality, and by the light they shine on subjects that are all-too-often overlooked, or ignored. We are very proud to be welcoming Derek to #Merky Books.”
Owusu added: “I can’t think of a better home for my novel-in-verse than #Merky Books. Our goals align beyond publishing my first two books, they come together with the desire to get more young people reading. It is an honour to be working with the #Merky Books team.”