Hodder & Stoughton imprint Sceptre has scooped a “voice-driven masterpiece” by début novelist Abi Darè, following a “fierce” five-way auction.
UK and Commonwealth rights for The Girl With the Louding Voice were acquired by editorial director Emma Herdman from Felicity Blunt at Curtis Brown. It will be published as Sceptre’s lead début fiction title in March 2020.
The title, which won the 2018 Bath Novel Award, was inspired by the housemaids who lived with Darè when she was growing up in Nigeria. It tells the story of 14-year-old Adunni, who is seeking her “louding voice”: an education that will mean she is heard. Instead, Adunni’s father sells her to a local man who is hoping for a son and heir. She will not be quiet, refusing to give up on her dream, and her quest takes her to Lagos, where further traps await.
Herdman said the novel was “a voice-driven masterpiece that teaches us something about the world and the strength of the human spirit. It’s a compelling story that will introduce a character readers will fall in love with for generations to come. I think of it as The Help meets Matilda. Abi has true star quality, and we are so excited to be her publisher.”
Darè grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, and has lived in the UK for 18 years. She studied law at the University of Wolverhampton, before being awarded an MSc in international project management from Glasgow Caledonian University and an MA in Creative Writing at Birkbeck, University of London. She said: “I was awed by [Sceptre’s] enthusiasm and support for the novel, and Emma’s editorial insights and energy.”