Picador has snapped up an “astonishing” new novel by Sarah Moss, inspired by her lockdown confinement.
Sophie Jonathan, editorial director, has acquired UK and Commonwealth print, digital and audio rights to The Fell from Anna Webber at United Agents, for publication in November. FSG will publish the novel in the US.
The synopsis states: “At dusk on a November evening in 2020, a woman slips out of her garden gate and turns up the hill. Kate is in the middle of a two-week quarantine period, but she can’t take it any more—the closeness of the air in her small house, the confinement. And anyway, the moor will be deserted at this time. Nobody need ever know. But Kate’s neighbour Alice sees her leaving and Matt, Kate’s son, soon realises she is missing. And Kate, who planned only a quick solitary walk—a breath of open air—falls and badly injures herself. What began as a furtive walk has turned into a mountain rescue operation. Unbearably suspenseful, witty and wise, The Fell asks probing questions about the place the world has become since March 2020, and the place it was before.”
Moss is the author of eight novels, including the Sunday Times top-10 bestseller Summerwater (Picador) and Ghost Wall (Granta), which was longlisted for the Women’s Prize. She teaches English and creative writing at University College Dublin.
She explained: “This book is a love letter to the places I miss in lockdown and also a story about different kinds of risk and consequences. Contagion is one of the oldest stories, but our fears of each other and for each other have been remade in the last year. I couldn’t help writing about those fears, and writing myself and my readers into forbidden places.”
Jonathan commented: “The Fell is astonishing. Sharply observed, darkly funny and so tense that it is impossible to look away. No author inhabits their characters’ every thought the way Sarah Moss does, and the result in The Fell is startling: this is a novel that will move you to tears—of rage, of sadness, at the kindness of others.
“The world of The Fell is one we all recognise, and I can’t think of an author better placed to explore just what the last year has done to us all. Because ultimately this isn't a book about outrage and blame, this isn't a book about whether or not we should police our neighbours' every move, it is a book about compassion and about survival. I adore every word.”