Sceptre acquires tragicomic debut Tiepolo Blue at auction

Sceptre acquires tragicomic debut Tiepolo Blue at auction

Sceptre has acquired Tiepolo Blue, a satire set in the art world of 1990s London, at auction. The book, charting the fall from grace of an esteemed Cambridge professor, is the debut of James Cahill, a critic and academic at King’s College London.

Associate publisher Juliet Brooke has bought UK and Commonwealth rights in the book from Samuel Hodder at Blake Friedmann for publication in spring 2022.

Described as both "compassionate" and "fiercely satirical", Tiepolo Blue charts a year in the life of Professor Don Lamb, an authority in the work of the Italian master Tiepolo and his skies.

The synopsis reads: "Don Lamb is an expert in art, in academia, in opinion, but a novice in feelings and experience. Forced to leave the cloistered world of Cambridge University, he enters the brave new art world of 1990s London, where ideas about censorship and beauty are hotly debated ... Tiepolo Blue is an exquisitely written portrait of self-discovery, powered by a malevolent friend, a sexual awakening, and an explosive piece of contemporary art."

Cahill has worked in both the art world and academia for the last 10 years, combining writing and research with a role at a leading contemporary art gallery. He is currently a fellow in Classics at King’s College London, and his writing has been published in the TLS, the Los Angeles Review of Books, the London Review of Books.

Brooke said: "Tiepolo Blue is a glorious read and marks the debut of an exceptional new voice. Filled with moments of ridicule and absurdity, as well as tragedy and empathy, with shades of the humour of Evelyn Waugh and the tender intimacy of John Williams’ Stoner. It’s an astonishingly assured and richly layered first novel, teeming with ideas that feel incredibly timely and relevant to today – censorship, whose voice matters, cancel culture, sexual liberation, and the value and purpose of art in a modern political world."

Cahill said: "I am thrilled that my first novel will be published by Sceptre, whose list of literary fiction and non-fiction I hugely admire. I feel that Tiepolo Blue – as a novel about art, and the way that art mirrors and shapes human lives – has found its perfect home, and I am delighted to be working with Juliet Brooke on its publication."