Serpent's Tail bags Jayan's 'bittersweet' debut

Serpent's Tail bags Jayan's 'bittersweet' debut

Serpent's Tail will publish a "bittersweet comedy" about class, sex and the internet by 25-year-old Indian debut novelist Aravind Jayan.

Teenage Couple Have Fun Outdoors explores an Indian family's "anxiously acquired middle-status" after it is destroyed by the scandal of their oldest son and girlfriend's unwitting fame in a graphic clip.

The synopsis explains: "Teenage Couple Have Fun Outdoors describes the catastrophes that unfold after a young man and his girlfriend discover an explicit video of themselves circulating online. Told with warmth and humour, Jayan explores the confused sexual mores of contemporary India, the surprising twists and turns that life online can take, and the dangers of letting your life be defined by a single event."

Commissioning editor Luke Brown bought world English-language rights in the debut from Ivan Mulcahy of MMB Creative. Serpent's Tail will publish the novel in hardback and e-book in July 2022 as a lead summer read. International rights have been sold to Guanda in Italy, Actes Sud in France, Suhrkamp Verlag in Germany, and Natur & Kultur in Sweden. 

Brown said: "We are launching a major young talent here. This story about a middle-class family’s anxiously acquired status being destroyed by the eldest son’s unwitting fame in a porn clip reminded me in its mixture of intergenerational conflict and bittersweet comedy of such a classic debut as Goodbye, Columbus by Philip Roth ­reimagined for Gen Z in today’s India."

Jayan grew up in India and has lived in London, where he graduated from City University’s creative writing MA. His work has been published in Out of Print, the Bombay Literary Magazine and the Hindu, among others. He won the Toto Award for Fiction 2017 and was shortlisted for this year’s Commonwealth Short Story Prize.

Describing his debut, he said: "Growing up, I always felt acutely sensitive to shame. Teen Couple started as a way to capture how shame is still a driving force in the world, though it’s also about middle-class life in a fast-changing country and how the internet can throw a spotlight disastrously on a random person. I’m very fortunate that Luke and the wonderful team at Serpent’s Tail saw the book for everything it could possibly be."