Quercus triumphs at auction for Pace-Humphreys memoir on rural racism

Quercus triumphs at auction for Pace-Humphreys memoir on rural racism

Quercus will publish Black Sheep by Sabrina Pace-Humphreys, a "searing" memoir of mixed-raced life in rural Britain, after a four-way auction. 

Editorial director Jane Sturrock bought UK and Commonwealth rights from Sarah Such at the Sarah Such Literary Agency at auction within days of submission. Publication is slated for June 2022. 

Pace-Humphreys is a 43-year-old mother of four and grandmother of two, an award-winning businesswoman, an ultrarunner, a social justice activist and a recovering alcoholic. She is a mixed-raced woman, the daughter of a white Scottish Roman Catholic woman and a Black Church of England man. When she was two, her parents separated and Pace-Humphreys, her mother and her white-presenting younger sister moved to a small market town where no-one looked like her. From as young as she can remember, she was the subject of verbal and physical racist abuse, says the publisher. 

In Black Sheep, the author will discuss growing up in a home, a school and a town where no-one looked like her and her subsequent struggle to understand and find her identity. The memoir will explore her lived experience of rural racism; her experience becoming a teenage mother and her determination to break that stereotype; her battle with alcoholism and her management of mental health conditions, including anxiety and depression; how running saved her life; and how someone can not only survive but thrive in spite of their past.  

Sturrock said: "Black Sheep is the moving and inspiring story of a woman who has long surpassed the expectations others had of her. Sabrina is an extraordinary woman and in sharing her experience of growing up as a mixed-race woman in rural Britain, Sabrina is shining a light on a part of the conversation about racism in this country that is often forgotten about or ignored: rural racism."

Pace-Humphreys commented: "The murder of George Floyd last year was the spark that opened up a Pandora’s box of locked-in trauma for me. Committing a series of stories to paper, re-living them and understanding more fully how rural racism impacts on the lives of people of colour who live ‘in the sticks’ continues to be my powerful journey, and one that I feel is important to share with those who want to better understand how racism affects those living in rural spaces.

"But stories of triumph are important too. A balance must be reached. And my dream is that my stories of hope in the face of adversity inspire readers to strive forward in greatness. I am so happy to be entering into this publishing relationship with Quercus, a publishing house which works with other Black authors who inspire me and are leading voices on issues of racism and its impact on them personally and wider communities. I feel my book is in the best possible hands."