Bloomsbury imprint Raven Books has won a debut crime novel by Nigerian author Femi Kayode following a four-publisher auction.
Editorial director of Raven Books, Alison Hennessey, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights excluding Canada to Lightseekers and another title by the winner of the Little, Brown UEA Crime Fiction Award, from Harry Illingworth at D H H Literary Agency, in a four-way auction.
Josh Kendall, editorial director for Mullholland , pre-empted US rights for Mulholland. The novels were also pre-empted in Poland and Italy, the latter in 24 hours, and auctions are ongoing in France and Germany.
Lightseekers follows psychologist Philip Taiwo who is commissioned to investigate the lynching of three young students in a Nigerian university town, a brutal act caught on social media.
"I could not be more delighted to have acquired this extremely talented new author for Raven Books,” Hennessey said. "Femi’s debut was a breath of fresh air - original, exciting and the start of what I know will be a brilliant new series.”
Kayode added: "To say I am excited about being published by Raven Books would be an understatement. I am a great admirer of Alison’s work and feel really lucky to have an award-winning team on my side."
Kayode, formerly a University of East Anglia creative writing student, won the £3,000 Little, Brown prize in October with judges paying tribute to Lightseekers, described as “shocking and emotional”. The author described it at the time as "a kind of love letter to my home country, Nigeria”.