Transworld has acquired rights in a "significant" pre-empt to an untitled memoir by first-time author Julie Yip-Williams, "a powerful book about living". The book explores how Yip-Williams' survived a traumatic childhood in Vietnam to become a Harvard-educated lawyer, and, latterly, how she deals with a diagnosis of Stage Four cancer at the age of 37.
The deal for UK and Commonwealth rights (excluding Canada) was done by Doug Young and Andrea Henry through Caspian Dennis at Abner Stein acting on behalf of David Granger and Chelsey Heller at Aevitas.
According to Transworld, Yip-Williams was born virtually blind, and her grandmother tried to have her euthanised, but the herbalist earmarked for the job refused. Then, as one of the so-called "Boat People" fleeing political upheaval in the late 1970s, she was loaded onto a ricketty boat with 300 other refugees, making it first to Hong Kong and then to a new start in Los Angeles. US surgery restored partial sight, and against the odds she became a Harvard-educated lawyer, with a husband, a family, a life. Then, in 2013, aged 37, she received he diagnosis of Stage Four cancer.
Set against this backdrop of personal history, for four years Yip-Williams has been blogging her journey through cancer and to death − 'to completion', in the author's words − for those who will come after her.
According to Transworld, the book is "not just a book about cancer" but for anyone who has endured hardship as also a book "about truth and honesty, fear and pain, our dreams, our jealousies and our anger".
Henry, editorial director at Transworld, said: "This is an extraordinary piece of writing which made us all stop in our tracks. Julie’s voice is really special. She articulates how she feels so beautifully, and with such emotion, that you feel it too and weep and rage with her. This is a really extraordinary book, and it’s for anyone whose life has been blighted by struggle."