Sceptre snaps up war veteran's debut

Sceptre snaps up war veteran's debut

Sceptre editorial director Drummond Moir has pre-empted an "intense and beautifully written" debut novel by a young American veteran of the war in Iraq, Kevin Powers.

Moir pre-empted British and Commonwealth rights (excluding Canada) to The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers with a "significant" offer from Peter Straus at Rogers, Coleridge and White. Michael Pietsch of Little, Brown US will edit for concurrent publication in the summer and autumn of 2012.

The novel is about a young soldier in Iraq. "Combining heartbreaking characters, profound insight, addictive levels of tension, a masterful use of language and a timely indictment of the corrosive experience of war on both soldiers and their families, The Yellow Birds is unforgettable," Moir said. He promised the novel would do for the Iraq conflict  "what All Quiet on the Western Front and A Farewell to Arms did for the First World War, and Catch-22 did for the Second", calling it one of the "defining novels of our

Powers was born in Virginia and joined the army at 17, serving a year as a machine gunner in Mosul and Tal Afar, Iraq. After an honourable discharge, he later graduated with a bachelor's degree in English from Virginia Commonwealth University. He is currently a Michener Fellow in Poetry at the University of Texas at Austin and also facilitates a poetry group for veterans in the Austin area.

Author Colm Tóibín has praised The Yellow Birds, saying is is "written with an intensity which is deeply compelling". Novelist Chris Cleave said: "Reading The Yellow Birds, I became certain that I was in the presence of a text that will win plaudits, become a classic, and hold future narratives of the war to a higher standard."

RCW has taken pre-emptive offers from Bonniers in Sweden, Gyldendal in Norway, Companhia das Letras in Brazil, Shanghai 99 in China and Modan in Israel. Dutch rights have gone to Prometheus, German rights to Fischer Verlag, and Italian rights to Einaudi. There are ongoing auctions in France and Denmark.