W&N buys Malik on dangerous myths behind status quo

W&N buys Malik on dangerous myths behind status quo

Weidenfeld & Nicolson is to publish We Need New Stories, a "vital" book about dangerous myths that are maintaining the status quo by Guardian features writer Nesrine Malik.

Jenny Lord, publishing director for Weidenfeld & Nicolson Non-fiction, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights from Karolina Sutton at Curtis Brown. 

"The human instinct to tell stories is universal. Individually and collectively, we use them to comfort and affirm, to animate us into a shared sense of camaraderie and direction. Some of our shared myths are useful. But many are not", said the publisher.  

"In times of instability or subordination, dictatorship or demagoguery, the impulse to cleave to myths that divide and instil a sense of superiority over others intensifies. Now, as the centre ground is being eroded, the narratives that have been used for decades to stave off progressive causes are in danger of being exposed as falsehoods. We are beginning to understand that the myths that we have allowed to take hold – be it of sexual liberation or a white non-identity – are increasingly at odds with our lived experience." 

The publisher added: "In We Need New Stories, Nesrine Malik guides the reader through the dangerous myths that are maintaining the status quo, and challenges them to find new narrators whose stories can fill the void and unite us behind a shared progressive vision.

"Have women mistaken access for arrival? Has the concept of political correctness been weaponised to avoid ceding space to those excluded from power? Is freedom of speech being leveraged against the vulnerable? Is whiteness an identity that erects high social barriers to entry? These are some of the questions at the centre of Malik’s radical and compelling book."

Lord said: "I knew that we had to publish Nesrine’s vital book before I’d reached the end of the first page of her proposal. Her book is THE response, the rallying cry, that I have been waiting to see on the current culture wars we are living through. Powerful, provocative and intellectually argued, We Need New Stories is also a hopeful book that pleads the case for a radical rethink of the damaging myths that have persisted for too long."

Malik said: "The response to the recent political upheavals in the UK and the US has been bewilderingly passive, and I believe that is because we are caught in a pattern of repeating comforting myths to ourselves about some path of inexorable progress that Western societies are on. These stories and the narrators who tell them need to be challenged if we are to stop dismissing serious and worsening problems as minor or temporary setbacks. There is a crisis of nativism, a regression in gender equality, and an establishment of voices who is not fit to guide us through the times.

"In Weidenfeld & Nicolson I am fortunate to have found a publisher and editor who are committed to interrogating ideas and the business of serious non-fiction."