Desmond Elliott Prize-winner Ros Barber is moving to Oneworld for her second novel.
Barber won the Desmond Elliott Prize, awarded for debuts, in 2013 for The Marlowe Papers (Sceptre), a novel in verse which proposed Christopher Marlowe as the true author of Shakespeare’s plays. It was also longlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction.
Oneworld’s editorial director Rosalind Porter bought UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, to Barber’s Devotion.
The novel is set in a near-future where there are calls to have religious belief classified as a form of mental illness.
Criminal psychologist Logan must assess the sanity of a young woman who has committed a religiously-motivated atrocity, with the novel taking a turn towards a murder mystery when Logan suspects that a former romantic rival might have been involved in his daughter's death, and starts to investigate.
Porter said: “Devotion was unilaterally loved – and admired – by everyone at Oneworld. Ros pulled us into this grief-stricken and slightly eerie world and, without ever condescending us (and without ever asking us to overly suspend our disbelief), kept us wanting to read more.
“On top of that she also made us laugh. Ros clearly has the erudition and the range of a great storyteller.”
Barber was only committed to one book with Sceptre, Barber’s agent Rupert Heath at the Rupert Heath Literary Agency told The Bookseller.
“We always knew we’d expand the range to more publishers for the next [book],” he continued. “Rosalind Porter at Oneworld was the ideal person.”