Granta Books has signed Strange Labyrinth, a non-fiction debut by Will Ashon about wandering through Epping Forest for two years.
Senior editor Max Porter bought UK & Commonwealth rights from Patrick Walsh at Conville and Walsh.
The book sees Ashon set out on a journey of self-discovery, as he "walks his way into the past and present of the forest, wondering what to do with his life".
Strange Labyrinth is subtitled Outlaws, Poets, Mystics, Murderers and a Coward in London’s Great Forest and takes in the stories of such extraordinary inhabitants of the forest as Margaret and Jacob Epstein, Penny Rimbaud, Ken Campbell and John Clare.
Porter said: “This beautiful maze of a book is full of curious tales, remarkable characters, compelling deviations and exquisite writing. It is a deeply intelligent and peculiar literary walk through the woods, through mid-life, through the fundamental questions ‘why would you walk in the forest?’ and ‘why would you write a book?’. Strange Labyrinth has the makings of a modern classic and Granta Books is thrilled to welcome this brave and brilliant writer to the list.”
Ashon was founder and m.d. of record label Big Dada, where he signed acts ranging from Roots Manuva and Diplo to Kate Tempest and Young Fathers. Ashon has published two novels Clear Water (2006) and The Heritage (2008) with Faber.
Strange Labyrinth: Outlaws, Poets, Mystics, Murderers and a Coward in London’s Great Forest will be published in 2017.