Independent publisher Salt has snapped up Venetia Welby's novel Dreamtime, which was originally scheduled to be published by Quartet in April before the death of its chairman.
Salt director Jen Hamilton-Emery acquired world rights after Welby approached the publisher directly when the book became available again. Grace Pilkington, Quartet's publicist for 10 years, confirmed to The Bookseller the company is closing following the death in February of its chairman Naim Attallah at the age of 89.
Dreamtime will now be published by Salt as a paperback original and as an e-book on 23rd September 2021. It has already been picked as an Observer Book of the Year for 2021.
The publisher said the novel "paints a terrifying and captivating vision of our near future and takes us on a vertiginous odyssey into the unknown". It follows Sol, fresh from rehab, trying to reconnect with her absentee father as aviation grinds to a halt in the face of a global climate meltdown. "To mend their broken past, Sol and her lovelorn friend Kit must journey across poisoned oceans to the furthest reaches of the Japanese archipelago, a place where sea, sky and earth converge at the forefront of an encroaching environmental and geopolitical catastrophe; a place battered by the relentless tides of history, haunted by the ghosts of its past, where the real and the virtual, the dreamed and the lived, are ever harder to define," said the publisher.
Hamilton-Emery commented: "As soon as I started reading the manuscript, I knew that I had to publish Venetia Welby’s Dreamtime, which absolutely deserves to be an Observer book of the year. It reads like a modern reimagining of a classic adventure novel, centred around themes such as the climate crisis, sexual abuse, migration, virtual reality and the US–China geopolitical rift. Utterly terrifying and unputdownable."
Welby added: "I was inspired by my travels as a westerner through a little understood area of Japan: Okinawa. One small island of the former Ryukyu kingdom, it is currently host to 33 US military bases. I wanted to explore a possible future based on past and present colonial crimes there and the ecological catastrophe that threatens all tropical islands."