Simon & Schuster imprint Scribner is to publish Heatwave by Victor Jestin, translated by Sam Taylor, this summer.
Described as a novel of "sweltering intensity", the thriller follows the story of a 17-year-old who witnesses the death of another teenager while on holiday. They synopsis explains: "Leonard is an outsider, a 17-year-old uncomfortable in his own skin who is forced to endure a family holiday in the South of France. Tired of awkwardly creeping out of beach parties after only a couple of beers, he chooses to spend the final Friday night of the trip in bed. However, when he cannot sleep due to the sound of wild carousing outside his tent, he gets up and goes for a walk. As he wanders among the dunes, he sees Oscar, one of the cooler kids, drunk in a playground, hanging by his neck from the rope of a swing.
"Frozen into inaction, he watches Oscar struggle to breathe until finally his body comes loose and falls lifeless to the ground. Unable to think straight, he buries Leonard in the sand and returns to the campsite where, oppressed by the ferocious heat and the weight of what he did and did not do, he battles to keep a hold of his sanity while all around him holiday life—the fighting, the flirting, the swimming, the drinking—continues as normal, oblivious to the tragedy that has unfolded."
Editorial director Chris White acquired UK and Commonwealth rights from Scribner US.
Commenting on the acquisition, White said: "I read this before it was translated and my French is so rusty it should be taken out for scrap. The hook, though, was so intriguing that I couldn’t wait for the translation, so with my Kindle in one hand and Google Translate in the other, I tore through it in an afternoon. This novel is hot in every sense of the word. It’s at once a thriller, coming-of-age story and psycho-philosophical investigation into the meaning of good and evil. Sam Taylor’s translation is sheer perfection: a real gift for Anglophone readers. If you’re anything like me, you’ll emerge at the end of this novel breathless and blinking, struggling to compute what has just happened."
Jestin is a 26-year-old writer and screenwriter. He grew up in northwestern France and now lives in Paris. Heatwave is his debut novel. Originally published by Flammarion under the title La Chaleur, it won the Prix Femina des Lycéens and was nominated for the Prix Medicis and Prix Renaudot.
Sam Taylor is the author of four novels and the award-winning translator of more than 60 books from French, including Laurent Binet’s HHhH, Leïla Slimani’s Lullaby, and Maylis de Kerangal’s The Heart. Heatwave won the Prix de la Vocation and the Prix Feminina des Lycéens in its native France.
Jestin said: "I have been a writer since I was a child and the publication of my first novel in France has brought me tremendous joy. To see it now translated by Sam Taylor and published by Chris White at Scribner is an honour. It gives me the strength to keep writing and the hope to see my work once again find its way in a foreign language. At this period of confinement, I can’t think of a better way to travel. Thanks so much and happy reading!"
Scribner will publish in hardback on 22nd July.