Picador has won a four-way auction for the “meditative and powerful” debut collection by poet James Conor Patterson.
Poetry editor Don Paterson acquired UK and Commonwealth rights, including audio, from Niki Chang at David Higham Associates. The collection, bandit country, will be published in autumn 2022 in trade paperback.
The publisher said: “Bandit country is written in the very particular dialect of the Irish border, as Ulster Scots and Ulster Gaelic shade into the language and culture of post-Celtic Tiger Ireland. Spectres of characters both mythic and real thread through these poems, giving them a slippery, ghostly quality. Bandit country is a haunting exploration of this place and its people, looking back to the Troubles and forward towards Brexit – and to the ever-looming fences and boundaries with which we must reckon, collectively and urgently.”
Paterson said: “We’re delighted to have acquired bandit country, a remarkable, innovative and timely first collection by a brilliant young talent – and a book that uses its border setting not only to unsettle, surprise and shock, but take chances with the language in a way that feels like genuine risk.”
Patterson is from Newry, in the north of Ireland. He won an Eric Gregory Award for bandit country in 2019 and fragments and versions of these poems have appeared in such publications as Magma, the Moth, New Statesman, Poetry Ireland Review, the Poetry Review, the Stinging Fly, Poetry London and the Tangerine. A selection of his poems was recently shortlisted for the White Review Poet’s Prize. His journalism and non-fiction work has been published in the Guardian, i-D and Irish Times among others. He is editor of the forthcoming anthology The New Frontier: Writing from the Irish Border, which New Island is publishing in October.
He commented: “Placing bandit country with Picador is an absolute dream come true. To be hosted on the same list alongside some of my literary heroes such as Colette Bryce, Rachel Long and Raymond Antrobus is very humbling indeed, not to mention having the opportunity to work with the incredible Don Paterson! A topical and politically charged work like this one naturally requires an attentive and courageous publisher, and I have more than found that in Picador.”