Third Man Books, the publishing arm of Jack White‘s Third Man Records, has made its first British signing: The Gallows Pole by Ben Myers.
The Nashville-based imprint, which launched four years ago, specialising in poetry, non-fiction and speculative fiction, said it "couldn't be happier" to have Myers on the list as its first UK author. It will publish a US edition of the West Yorkshire novelist's historical rural noir The Gallows Pole in November/ December 2019.
The Gallows Pole, about criminal coin clipping in 18th-century Cragg Vale, originally published in May last year with Bluemoose Books. Billed as "a rarely-told alternative history of the North", it blends a true tale of resistance with poetry, landscape, crime and historical fiction. It went on to win the £25,000 Walter Scott Prize for historic fiction and, according to Myers, is now on its fifth print run.
Commenting on the deal to expand its readership to the US and Canada, done through Jessica Woollard at David Higham Associates, Myers told The Bookseller: "Quite out of the blue Third Man got in touch last year to say they were fans of my writing and asked to see what I was working on. We then chatted about music for several months, and then suddenly they made an offer on The Gallows Pole. I think though the story is very much rooted in time and place, the themes – greed, power, corruption, rich versus poor – are universal and, given that it is based upon historical research and actually happened, makes it especially prevalent today. It also bears similarities to a Western, but transplanted to the uplands of West Yorkshire.
"In the UK many of us grew up fascinated by American culture, but we tend to forget it works the other way too. As an independent publisher with their roots deeply-embedded in underground culture, Third Man Books is the ideal home for the novel."
Ben Swank, Myers' editor at Third Man Books, said the press had been delighted to reel in the novel to American shores as its first British acquisition.
"We love everything about this book, how it was written and Mr Myers himself," said Swank. "One of our many pre-occupations is mini-universes created by real artists, and with The Gallows Pole Ben Myers has crafted a living breathing landscape of time and place haunted with ghosts and rich with larger-then-life characters re-born straight from real (bloody) history. We couldn't be happier to have Myers - our very first UK author - on Third Man Books, and we're delighted to bring this beast of a novel to American shores."