Serpent's Tail is to publish an "iconic London debut" from novelist and short story writer Gurnaik Johal, a "bold" first novel from Waterstones bookseller Nat Ogle and a first UK publication for Pola Oloixarac, as part of its 2022 fiction list.
All three acquisitions were made by new commissioning editor Luke Brown, and are his first for the Profile imprint. He acquired world rights for In the Seeing Hands of Others by Ogle, from Anna Webber at United Agents. The novel will publish on 13th January 2022.
Ogle said: "Booksellers develop soft spots for certain publishers and Serpent’s Tail has always been one of mine. My title came from Frank O’Hara’s idea of ‘life held precariously in the seeing/hands of others’. I come from a family of nurses so I think a lot about what it means to care, or harm, and about the ways that language can be healing, or harmful. I'm interested in how storytelling – testimony and witnessing – can treat individual and societal failures to care, even outright cruelty."
We Move by Gurnaik Johal, publishing in April 2022 is the first in a two-book deal, with a second novel, Saraswati to follow. World rights were bought from Laurie Robertson at PFD.
Johal said: "I've been working on some of the stories in We Move since I was a teenager so I can’t wait to see them out in the world. All of the stories, both contemporary and historical, take place in the West London neighbourhood where I grew up, and chart the intersecting lives of multiple generations of immigrants. At its core, it's a collection about community and connection, and in that spirit, I'm so grateful to be working with the wonderful team at Serpent's Tail and hope that the book connects with readers far and wide."
Mona by Pola Oloixarac, translated by Adam Morris, will be published on 3rd February 2022, and UK and Commonwealth rights were obtained from Gabriela Ellena at Casanovas & Lynch in Barcelona.
Commenting on the trio, Brown said: "I’m very happy to be commissioning fiction again and all these writers are perfectly Serpent’s Tail: independent, brave and original. As a small press publisher I used to specialise in regional British fiction, and am glad that my first buy for Serpent’s Tail is from another northerner, Nat Ogle, and that In the Seeing Hands of Others is bold and provocative, set in the NHS and risking imaginative leaps in its attempts to examine what it is to care for or to harm another.
"Similarly wide-ranging and daring in its empathy is We Move by Gurnaik Johal, an iconic London debut to sit beside White Teeth, Brick Lane and The Buddha of Suburbia. I taught Gurnaik creative writing when he was undergraduate and knew then I would one day see his books in the shops, but I didn’t expect him to sell his first book when he was only 22, or that I would be his editor. This collection will whet the appetite for a novel we’ve also bought, Saraswati, which will be a lead in 2024.
"I’ve been obsessed with Argentina since Mexico 86, and wrote a novel set in Buenos Aires. It’s amazing to me that Pola Oloixarac has never been published here before. She has a truly original intellectual vision: as challenging and funny as Houellebecq, as stylish and countercultural as Bolaño: such an invigorating novelist. She is an Eccles Fellow at the British Library and with luck we will be seeing a lot of her next year."
Hannah Westland, publisher, said: "Luke has exceptional taste and is phenomenally good at spotting talent – he has breathed fresh energy into our commissioning and I couldn’t be more delighted to be welcoming his new generation of bold, original writers to Serpent’s Tail."