Oneworld scoops novel from Women's Prize-winner Jones

Oneworld scoops novel from Women's Prize-winner Jones

Oneworld has scooped another novel from Women’s Prize-winner Tayari Jones, a “compelling story of two half-sisters bound by family secrets”.

Publisher Juliet Mabey acquired UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada and ANZ, for Silver Sparrow from Kendra Poster at Algonquin, on behalf of agent Jane Dystel.

Mabey said she struck the “strong” five-figure deal in the weeks before Jones picked up the Women’s Prize for Fiction in May for An American Marriage (Oneworld).

The synopsis for the novel, first released in the US in 2012, explains: “‘My father, James Witherspoon, is a bigamist’. So begins the breath-taking story of a man's deception, a family's complicity, and the two teenage girls caught in the middle. Silver Sparrow focuses on the corrosive ambiguity of a unique dynamic spanning three generations. At the heart of the novel are two half-sisters growing up in Atlanta. One of the girls is acknowledged by their father whilst the other is kept a secret. Written with the same wisdom, precision and sensitivity that drew so many readers to An American Marriage, Silver Sparrow has all the signs of a classic in the making; raising the story of one family to address universal themes of honesty and trust between the people we love.”

Oneworld will publish in April 2020, with international deals signed in Australia, France and Germany. It will be launched with a “high impact” marketing campaign, including special edition bound proofs. There will also be a six city UK tour including London and key literary festivals in May.

Mabey said: “What I love about Tayari Jones’ writing is that she boldly explores emotionally loaded issues, as we saw with her multi-award-winning An American Marriage. Weaving deceptively simple plots around incredibly complex and nuanced characters, she creates these meticulously controlled, multi-layered, meaningful stories that just haunt you. She’s addictive!”

Jones added: “I am so delighted that Silver Sparrow is being published by Oneworld. I hope that it will connect with readers in the UK - after all it’s a family story and the only theme more universal than family is family secrets.”

Film rights for Silver Sparrow have already been optioned by Issa Rae, lead actress and creator of HBO’s hit series “Insecure”, with Jones in discussion to write the script.

Jones said: “There is no one better equipped to tell the stories of young black women than Issa Rae. She knows all our complexities. She sees our pain and our promise. I could not be more thrilled.”