William Heinemann is publishing a new work by Goldsmiths and IMPAC prize winner Nicola Barker, called I Am Sovereign. Set over 20 minutes on a Tuesday afternoon in North Wales, the publisher has promised it will be "a novelistic tour de force in miniature form".
Publishing in July 2019, Barker's "hilarious hand grenade of a book ... twists the novel into new shapes as the characters seemingly sabotage the fictional world they inhabit", according to William Heinemann, as "religious epiphanies bump up against declarations of love, examinations of subjectivity hurtle into meditations on the history of Jewish culture, the role of self-help guides in our narcissistic society and the medicinal properties of quince".
Publisher Jason Arthur acquired UK and Commonwealth rights (excluding Canada) in Barker's new novel from Matthew Marland at Rogers, Coleridge & White, predicting it will be "a highlight of the literary year".
Key characters in the book include Charles, a 40-year-old Welshman of Bulgarian descent and boutique teddy bear maker, who is trying – and failing – to sell his house in Llandudno, Wales.
The publisher's blurb reads: "Avigail, his estate agent, is trying – mostly in vain – to rein in Charles’s most unhelpful eccentricities during house viewings, including his repeated recounting of a burglary that took place 12 years ago. When Wang Shu and her daughter, Ying Yue, visit the house, a series of seemingly innocuous events distorts the reality of the characters’ lives, causing Avigail to revaluate her beliefs – and all of the characters to question their very existence ... nothing is quite as it seems, and when Gyasi ‘Chance’ Ebo enters the narrative, followed in quick succession by an elderly, partially-sighted burglar called Denny, our entire understanding of the book – and, indeed, of the boundaries between fiction and real life – is radically upended."
Arthur said: "A new work by Nicola Barker is always a treat and something to be treasured, and I Am Sovereign is no exception; it is full of her signature ambition and sense of adventure. Nicola truly is a unique talent –exhilarating, fiercely sharp, funny and joyful – and a new book from her is guaranteed to be a highlight of the literary year."
After publishing with William Heinemann in July 2019, a Windmill paperback will follow in 2020.
The book follows 12 previous novels from Barker, including Wide Open, Darkmans, The Yips, The Cauliflower, and H(A)PPY, the last of which was longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction and won the Goldsmiths Prize.