Serpent’s Tail has pre-empted UK & Commonwealth rights to The Accusation, a collection of short stories by North Korean writer, Bandi - a man who is still living under the regime and writing under a pseudonym.
The Accusation is a collection of "deeply moving" stories written with "pathos, unexpected beauty, and precision". The book "transports the reader to the world of 1990s North Korea", the publisher has said.
"Like all good fiction this collection is full of characters we can strongly empathise with, from the wife who struggles to make breakfast every day during a famine, to the factory supervisor who does his best not to denounce a family friend while staying on the party's good side, to the mother who brings up her child in a world filled with frightening propaganda," the publisher said. "These are profound and eye-opening stories that recall aspects of some Soviet writers."
North American rights have been pre-empted by Grove Press. The collection has been published in South Korea by Chogabje and the French edition will be published by Éditions Philippe Picquier in March. Rights have also been sold in Japan and Taiwan. World Spanish rights have been sold to Libros del Asteroide and there are offers in other territories.
UK & Commonwealth (excluding Canada) rights were bought from Barbara Zitwer at the Barbara J. Zitwer Agency.
Hannah Westland, Serpent’s Tail publisher, said: "There’s such an informational black hole around North Korea that anything that slips across the 38th parallel deserves attention. But The Accusation isn't just a book with a good story behind it: in fact, it’s a collection of perfectly crafted novellas that, like Solzhenitsyn’s work, speak with the dissident’s authority and truth-to-power directness."
She added: "The stories have a classical construction that makes you think back to the great early practitioners of the form – Gogol, Maupassant, Chekov even; an absurdist approach to satire that recalls Ionesco’s Rhinoceros; and a biting wit that reminds you of that other great Russian literary dissident, Mikhail Bulgakov. Of course, the fact that Bandi has almost certainly never had access to either of these two latter writers underlines the quality of his own work. We look forward to working with Grove in the US and Bandi's international publishers to ensure this groundbreaking book is one of the major publishing events of 2017."
Serpent’s Tail will publish The Accusation in spring 2017.