Sceptre has pre-empted the “deeply compelling and funny” debut novel by award-winning author Dur e Aziz Amna.
Francine Toon, commissioning editor at Sceptre, secured world rights, excluding North America, for American Fever from Matt Turner at RCW, to be published in August 2022.
Amna won the 2019 Bodley Head/Financial Times Essay Prize and the London Magazine Short Story Competition, and has been longlisted for the Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award. She is a graduate of Yale College and the University of Michigan Helen Zell Writers’ Program, where drafts of American Fever won the Hopwood and Busch Prizes. Her writing has been featured in the New York Times and Longreads among others.
American Fever is described by Sceptre as “a deeply compelling and funny coming-of-age novel about a teenage girl’s life-changing journey from Pakistan to America, and the challenges of a debilitating illness”.
The synopsis reads: “On a year-long exchange programme in rural Oregon, 16-year-old Hira must swap Kashmiri chai for volleyball practice and understand why everyone around her seems to dislike Obama. An unforgettably witty narrator, Hira finds herself stuck between worlds. The experience is memorable for reasons both good and bad; a first kiss, new friends, racism, Islamophobia, homesickness. Along the way Hira starts to feel increasingly unwell until she begins coughing up blood, and receives a diagnosis of tuberculosis, pushing her into quarantine and turning her newly established world upside down.”
Amna, who is based in Michigan, said: “The questions this novel poses—the push and pull of home, the convenience of immigrant narratives, the trope of the bildungsroman—have all been playing in my mind for more years than I can count. I am so grateful for the attention and care the book has received from Francine Toon. Sceptre is a dream imprint and I am truly honoured to have a home there.”
Toon said: “I'm over the moon to be publishing American Fever. It offers such a unique, contemporary perspective on both American and Pakistani culture, yet feels universal in its humour, heartbreak, romance and culture shock. Having already won awards for her writing, Dur e Aziz Amna is an exciting new talent we are thrilled to be welcoming to Sceptre. American Fever is a rare kind of novel that as soon as I’d finished, I immediately wanted to re-read.”