Oneworld has acquired the rights to The Prison Book Club, a memoir by journalist Ann Walmsley, after a “heated” five-publisher auction.
The book is a “unique” account of setting up a book club in a men’s medium-security prison.
Oneworld publisher Juliet Mabey bought UK and Commonwealth rights (excluding Canada) to the title from Westwood Creative Artists.
Mabey said: “This is a book club with a difference - no wine and cheese, plush furnishings, or superficial chat about jobs or recent vacations here. Instead, Ann – recently recovered from a violent mugging in London - met with a group of heavily tattooed inmates to discuss books, meeting Graham the biker, Frank the gunman, Ben and Dread the Jamaicans, and the robber duo Gaston and Peter.
"From The Grapes of Wrath to The Cellist of Sarajevo, and Outliers to Infidel, their discussions became a springboard for frank conversations about loss, anger, redemption, heroism, and loneliness. While the books changed the men, the men changed Ann, allowing her to move beyond her position as a victim.”
She added: “The whole team here is very excited about this book. This is a wonderfully warm and engaging memoir on the transformative power of literature, where readers not only come to know the book club members, but also the books they discuss. It has to be the perfect book club pick - it raises questions, provokes conversation and most simply, it is an original story, brilliantly told.”
The issue of books in prison has been hugely topical, with the government’s ban on prisoners receiving books sent in from outside jail, a stance ruled unlawful by a High Court judge last week to the delight of many authors who had campaigned to reverse it.
The Prison Book Club will be published in the UK in September 2015.