Sunjeev Sahota is moving to Harvill Secker with “extraordinary” new novel China Room, reuniting him with deputy publishing director Kate Harvey.
Harvey, who published Sahota's Booker-shortlisted The Year of the Runaways and his debut Ours Are the Streets at Picador, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights, including audio, from Will Francis at Janklow & Nesbit. It will be published in summer 2021. Lindsey Schwoeri at Viking acquired US rights from P J Mark at Janklow & Nesbit Associates at auction, with Canadian rights going to Louise Dennys at Knopf Canada.
The new book's synopsis reads: “A multigenerational novel of love, oppression, trauma and the pursuit of freedom inspired in part by the author’s own family history, China Room twines together the stories of two characters separated by more than half a century but united by blood. Mehar, a young bride in rural 1929 Punjab, is trying to discover the identity of her new husband. She and her sisters-in-law, married to three brothers in a single ceremony, spend their days hard at work in the family’s ‘china room’, sequestered from contact with the men.
"When Mehar develops a theory as to which of them is hers, a passion is ignited that will put more than one life at risk. Spiralling around Mehar’s story is that of a young man who in 1999 travels from England to the now-deserted farm, its ‘china room’ locked and barred. In enforced flight from the traumas of his adolescence – his experiences of addiction, racism, and estrangement from the culture of his birth – he spends a summer in painful contemplation and recovery, before finally finding the strength to return ‘home’.”
Harvey said: “China Room is extraordinary. If the humanity of Sunjeev’s last novel touched its readers to the core, this new book might just shatter them. There’s incredible courage, compassion and storytelling genius at play, with a risk-taking maturity that is more than earned and an emotional instinct that is peerless. Working with Sunjeev is one of the great joys of my career and I couldn’t be more excited to bring China Room into the world.”
Sahota’s most recent novel, 2015's The Year of the Runaways, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, the International Dylan Thomas Prize and the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award, and won the Encore Prize, the European Union Prize for Literature, and the South Bank Sky Arts Award. He was chosen as one of Granta’s Best Young British Novelists in 2013.
He said: “I’m so happy that China Room is with Kate and the team at Harvill, who’ve welcomed me into the fold with such warmth, and I’m delighted to be working with Lindsey in the US. I feel all sorts of conflicting things about this book, which has surprised me in so many ways, but, right now, mostly I feel elated."
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