Scribner UK has acquired a book by Justin Trudeau’s foreign policy advisor Omer Aziz, following an auction.
Senior commissioning editor Chris White acquired UK and Commonwealth rights excluding Canada, with audio, to Brown Boy: A Story of Race, Religion, and Inheritance at auction from Juliet Mushens at Caskie Mushens on behalf of Bonnie Nadell at Hill Nadell. The memoir will be published in hardback in early 2021.
The book charts Aziz’s journey from a lower middle class suburb outside Toronto to becoming a Yale educated advisor to the Canadian prime minister. “His story is one that is common to many but one that is rarely told,” the synopsis reads. “It is the story of growing up the child of immigrants and trying to progress in a society where the realities of racism and xenophobia are all too obvious.”
Scribner said: “It gives voice to the experience of finding oneself caught between worlds and the concomitant feelings of shame, insecurity and powerlessness that this can engender. As he describes it, he found himself ‘a hyphenated man’ struggling to create an identity that fused East and West.”
Aziz was born to working-class Pakistani-Canadian parents in Toronto and was educated through scholarships at Queen's University, the Paris Institute of Political Studies, Cambridge University, and Yale Law School. He has written for publications such as the New York Times and the Atlantic, and has worked for politicians such as the Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau as well as the country's foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland.
Aziz said: “I am honoured to be working with Scribner UK and to have my book published by them in Britain and the Commonwealth. When I set out on this project, it was very important to me that we find the right editor in Britain. Parts of the book are set in Cambridge and London, and the story of race and alienation I am telling will, I believe, have particular resonance in Britain where the complex intersections of class, race and empire continue to haunt the nation.”
White said: “Brown Boy is a hugely important and desperately needed book, which asks the most important questions and answers them in a way that is sometimes uncomfortable but always incredibly stimulating. What’s more, Omer writes like a dream and Brown Boy more than bears comparison with the Richard Wright classic that inspired it. Like Black Boy [Wright's memoir published in 1945], Brown Boy will be read for years to come. It is an enormously significant contribution to the contemporary debate around race and identity and a work of deep literary sensitivity that will stand the test of time."