Orion has acquired a novel by former journalist Jem Lester, who won the 2013 PFD/City University Prize for Fiction.
Commissioning editor Jemima Forrester bought world and translation rights, excluding USA, to Shtum from Laura Williams at PFD.
Shtum is a tragi-comic story about a father struggling to cope with his severely autistic 10-year-old son while he and his wife are separating.
Father and son move in with the elderly grandfather, throwing together three generations of men who have never quite figured out how to communicate.
Forrester said: “When I finished reading Shtum for the first time, I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. It’s illuminating about the joys, frustrations and day-to-day slog of having an autistic child. It’s heart-breaking in places, but tempered with real lightness and laugh-out-loud humour.’
Lester said: “I faced every hurdle with Shtum filled with excitement and anxiety. It meant so much to me, both as a writer and – more personally – as a father to my own autistic son, to find a publisher for my debut novel.”
Shtum will be published in trade paperback and e-book in spring 2016.