Oneworld has pre-empted Vietnamese-American author Violet Kupersmith's debut novel.
Publisher Juliet Mabey acquired British and Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, in Build Your House Around My Body from Ben Fowler at Abner Stein on behalf of the Friedrich Agency in New York. The deal also includes serial and audio rights.
Described as "part puzzle, part revenge tale, part ghost story", the novel is set in Vietnam and revolves around a missing woman. The synopsis explains: "This kaleidoscopic novel set in Vietnam spins half a century of history and folklore into the story of a missing woman. Written with wit, ambition and playfulness, it takes us from sweaty nightclubs to ramshackle zoos, colonial mansions to ex-pat flats, sizzling back-alley street carts to the noisy seats of motorbikes. Barrelling towards an unforgettable conclusion, this is a fever dream about possessed bodies and possessed lands, a time-travelling, heart-pounding, border-crossing marvel of a novel."
Commenting on the acquisition, Mabey said: "Violet’s short-story collection was published in the US to critical acclaim, and her first novel is one of the most impressive debuts I’ve read in ages. It defies categorisation—the voice is very much in the vein of Haruki Murakami or Tea Obreht, and structurally David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas comes to mind, while fans of literary magical realism like the works of Isabel Allende and Salman Rushdie will find much to love here. It’s just fabulous."
Friedrich added: "Violet’s novel is insanely ambitious, it dazzles on nearly every page. And can I just say she’s not yet 30? I am in awe!"
Kupersmith has written a short story collection, The Frangipani Hotel (published in the US by Spiegel & Grau). She previously taught English with the Fulbright Program in the Mekong Delta, and was a creative writing fellow at the University of East Anglia. She has lived in Da Lat and Saigon, Vietnam, and currently resides in the US.
She said: "I am beyond thrilled to be working with Juliet Mabey, and honoured that Build Your House Around My Body has found a home among the richly diverse titles at Oneworld. I hope that readers of the novel will discover a Vietnam that subverts their expectations and haunts them even after they've left its pages."
Oneworld will publish the novel as a superlead hardback in August 2021.