Picador has bagged a “groundbreaking and essential” new work of non-fiction by Olivia Laing in a six-figure deal.
Publisher Philip Gwyn Jones and commissioning editor Kishani Widyaratna acquired UK and Commonwealth rights for Here: In Search of a Common Paradise from Rebecca Carter of Janklow & Nesbit.
This summer, Laing began to restore a neglected and overgrown walled garden in Suffolk that once belonged to the home of a renowned garden designer. In Here, she uses that experience to launch a wide-ranging investigation into what the paradise of a garden means and what it has cost over the centuries. Laing will explore the legacy of the enclosures, and search out the stubborn utopias of resistance that have arisen through time. She will also investigate the hidden violence of England’s seemingly sublime gardens, examining their hidden relationship with the slave plantations of America and the West Indies.
Picador said: “Here is a story of revolutionary dreams and queer enclaves, of gardens in bomb sites and utopias at war. Above all, it asks a question for our own century: must paradise be exclusive, a luxury getaway, or is there a possibility of a fertile republic, a paradise that is shared?”
Laing is an acclaimed writer and critic who, in 2018, was awarded the Windham-Campbell Prize for non-fiction for The Lonely City (Canongate), which has been translated into 17 languages and has sold more than 100,000 copies worldwide. Her début novel Crudo (Picador) won the 100th James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction. Her next major work of non-fiction, Everybody, will be published by Picador in April 2021.
She said: “With Everybody, published by Picador next spring, I investigated the subject of freedom and why it’s so imperilled. Now I want to turn to utopia. Over the past few years, there are two questions I’ve been asked more than any others: when are you going to write a book about gardens, and do you think there’s any hope for the future? Here is my answer. It explores the possibility of utopia by way of the fact of the garden, examining questions of privilege and exclusion without losing sight of the dream of Eden, more crucial than ever in the era of climate change.”
Gwyn Jones and Widyaratna commented: “At Picador, we have always been amazed by how each of Olivia’s books feels like the perfect next step forwards in her work, from the majestic The Lonely City to the daring and unexpected Crudo, to the sweeping and rousing Funny Weather to the unflinching insight of her ambitious forthcoming book Everybody. Yet again, Here: In Search of a Common Paradise feels like a book that only Olivia could write: daring, political, surprising, ambitious, utopian and profoundly humane. We could not be more proud to be her publisher, and are certain that this new book will not only speak to existing fans, but also reach out to an even wider readership.”