Penguin acquires novel set during Chernobyl disaster

Penguin acquires novel set during Chernobyl disaster

Penguin has acquired a debut novel by Irish author Darragh McKeon, with the story set predominantly in 1986 in the Soviet Union around the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Viking commissioning editor Will Hammond pre-empted the novel, All That is Solid, by 33-year-old McKeon from Anna Webber at United Agents, for a "five-figure sum".

He said: "It's a classic multi-perspective, third person, big, big style novel. It's set mainly in the Soviet Union and it's about the disintegration of that society; the Chernobyl disaster, and the literal and metaphorical collapse of the society; the mishandling of the clean-up and the mishandling of the cover-up of the clean-up. It's the story of six characters whose lives we find to be interlinked."

He added: "We were just so confident about it, we put our best foot forward . . . By today's standards for a literary debut, it was a substantial amount."

Viking plans to publish at the beginning of 2014.

Author McKeon won the Texaco Art Competition when he was 17, and has recently worked as a theatre director.