Scribner has pre-empted rights for an "intensely moving" debut novel from Elvin James Mensah in a two-book deal.
Editorial director Chris White pre-empted UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, for Life Savings, from Juliet Mushens at Mushens Entertainment. Scribner plans to publish the book in hardback as a lead title in early 2023.
Life Savings charts the evolving friendship between Harley, a Black, gay, working-class young man dealing with mental health issues and his flatmate Muddy. It has been pitched as for fans of Dolly Alderton’s Ghosts (Penguin) and Raven Leilani’s Luster (Picador).
The synopsis reads: "It is 2005 and Harley has just dropped out of an undergraduate course in music journalism, having led his estranged father to believe that he was training to become a chemical engineer. Moving back to a shared flat in Kent, and in the midst of an unfulfilling affair with an abusive older white man, he feels lost and isolated. But when his attempt to finally end things is interrupted by his flatmate, Muddy, his perspective on life changes. Muddy is everything Harley isn’t: confident in his masculinity, ostensibly heterosexual, warm and straight forward. Slowly, their friendship blossoms as Muddy introduces Harley to the things he loves—birdwatching, Oasis, rugby—and Harley starts to believe that life may, after all, be worth living. In turns a moving depiction of mental health, queerness, race and masculinity, as well as a sometimes hilarious coming-of-age story, Life Savings is a breath-taking first novel that marks the arrival of a major new talent."
Mushens said: "Life Savings made me laugh out loud several times, but I also found it intensely moving—it’s a novel that deals with dark themes but which is also full of joy, humour and love. Elvin is a brilliant new talent and I was bowled over by Chris and his team’s enthusiasm to publish him."
Mensah added: "I’m so excited to work with Chris and everyone at Scribner. His enthusiasm has blown me away, and I’m so delighted that we share the same vision for the book. I’m also eternally grateful to my agent Juliet for finding such a brilliant home for Life Savings, and I can’t wait to share Harley and Muddy’s story with everyone. I hope people find in it the same warmth and hopefulness that I did as I was writing it."
White commented: "The moment I started reading Life Savings, I was hooked. The characters felt so real, so cleverly, sensitively, subtly and intelligently drawn that by the time I had finished I felt I knew them all intimately. I cared about every one of them and wanted to make sure they were ok. It’s dealing with similar issues to a novel like A Little Life (Pan Macmillan) and has a comparably immersive feel, but it has a much warmer sensibility. It’s one of the most moving, humane and nonjudgemental works of fiction I’ve read in a long time. Elvin is hugely gifted and a truly lovely guy. I can’t wait for the world to meet Harley, Muddy and the rest of the gang. I just know they’re going to fall in love with Life Savings in the same way that I did."
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