Independent publisher OWN IT! is to publish Sean Godfrey's "magnetic" coming of age debut novel, Sasha Knight.
The novel portrays the perils of toxic masculinity and the damaging effects of emotional trauma. It also touches on the deep-seated class and colour divide in Jamaican society during the late 1970s and 1980s, and is described as "genre bending mashup" that "shakes the senses and tears at the heart".
The synopsis explains: "Alternating between past and present, shifting back and forth from Jamaica and the United States, [Sasha Knight] picks apart the puzzle left behind when 11-year-old Sasha disappears. Everyone seems convinced that she has simply run away. Sometimes, on the good days, when she isn’t talking to him, her nine-year-old best friend Mathew believes it too."
The novel was formerly titled A Brown girl in the Ring, but Godfrey and his editors updated this in acknowledgement of Nalo Hopinkson's novel of a similar name.
Godfrey, who is based in Texas, is the first overseas writer the press has published. He said: "What a thrill it is to be publishing my debut novel with OWN IT!. The process has been a blast. More than that, the team has made me feel welcomed into their amazing family".
Creative director and editor Jason Morgan acquired world rights directly from the author for the novel.
Morgan said: “[Sasha Knight] is the kind of gem you dream of finding in the unsolicited submissions. What first drew me to it was Sean’s unbelievable ability to bring me back to the feeling of being a kid and having a best friend. What Sean does after that is quite remarkable. Characters that live on long after the page has turned, twists and turns you never see coming and a richness of language that is subtlety magnetic but always intoxicating. Sean is the first overseas writer we have published, and his work joins our burgeoning list of debut novels. Something we at OWN IT! are immensely proud of championing."
The book will publish in spring 2022.