Sceptre editorial director Melissa Cox has acquired debut novel Suicide Club by Rachel Heng after a "heated" auction to be its "super-lead" title in 2018.
The book is set in a near-future New York where life expectancy is 300 years and immortality has become an obsession for "the genetically superior". It follows Lea, an organ trader, who has perfect genetic code, and Anja, a mysterious character who draws Lea into Suicide Club, an outlawed activist group fighting for people's right to live and die as they choose.
Cox acquired British Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, from Juliet Mushens at Caskie Mushens at auction. US rights were acquired by Libby Burton at Holt in a six-figure auction from Sasha Raskin at UTA on behalf of Juliet Mushens, and rights have also sold in Sweden and Portugal so far.
Cox said it balanced big questions with "hell-for-leather" pacing, while Mushens called it "timely" and "provocative" with a human story at its heart.
“We are living in an era of self-care obsession," Cox said. "YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram are full of images of people living their ‘best lives’ through diet, exercise, meditation and a carefully constructed lifestyle aesthetic. Suicide Club imagines a world in which all technology lives in service to maintaining health, and wellness has a governmental mandate. It asks big questions but is also an electrifying, hell-for-leather kind of book. I knew from reading Rachel’s stories that she was a talent to watch and her novel really delivered on that promise. I see her as a big future star of the Sceptre list and it’s a tremendous privilege to be publishing her in the UK.”
Mushens said: “I read Suicide Club in one, compulsive gulp and was struck by how timely it is, how provocative, but also by how human the story is at heart. Rachel is a talent to watch and I am delighted that Sceptre will be launching her career.”
Heng was born in Singapore and, following her studies in Comparative Literature & Society at Columbia University, now lives and works in London as an investment manager. She will soon be pursing her MFA in Fiction and Screenwriting at the Michener Center For Writers, UT Austin, in August.
She said: “I wanted to write a book about our societal obsession with youth and eternal life, our relationships with our oozing, shedding, deteriorating bodies, our age-old fear of mortality. I'm absolutely thrilled that Suicide Club has found its home with Sceptre in the UK and Henry Holt in the US, both of whom have such a great history of publishing ambitious and thought-provoking literary fiction.”
The book will publish as hardback and e-book in August 2018. It will be published simultaneously in the US by Burton at Holt.
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