White Rabbit has signed the third novel from David Keenan, a St Petersburg and St Andrews-set tale about sex, singer-songwriters and magical coincidences.
Publisher Lee Brackstone acquired world rights for Xstabeth from Imogen Pelham at Marjacq Scripts. Set for publication in hardback, e-book and audiobook in November 2020, it is the first novel acquired for Brackstone's recently launched Orion imprint.
The synopsis explains: “The novel is narrated by a Russian girl, Aneliya, who is torn between the love of her father and her father’s best friend. When an angelic presence named Xstabeth enters their lives – a presence who simultaneously fulfils and disappears those she touches – Aneliya and her father’s world is transformed. Moving from Russia to St Andrews, Scotland, Xstabeth tackles the metaphysics of golf, the mindset of classic Russian novels and the power of art and music to re-wire reality.”
Keenan published his first two novels with Brackstone at Faber. His debut, This is Memorial Device, won the Collyer Bristow/London Magazine Award for Debut Fiction in 2018 and was shortlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize. His second novel, For the Good Times, won the Gordon Burn Prize in 2019 and has been shortlisted for the Encore Award.
He said: “I have little memory of the writing of Xstabeth, but I believe it took place just after, or just before, the publication of my first novel, This is Memorial Device. In other words, it was written in a state of possession. And then it disappeared. I moved onto something else and forgot I had even written it. Then I stumbled across it one day while tidying files on my computer and finally read it for the first time. And it spoke to me in an unrecognisable voice, a voice that seemed fathomless, bottomless. I came to the point of figuring out what my own book was about, or rather, more, what it wanted to be. There is no resolution in life, people simply disappear.”
Brackstone commented: “Over the past five years, David Keenan has arrived on the literary scene with enough demonic energy and visionary aptitude for an army of assembled Russian and Scottish novelists of the ages. Xstabeth is a mystery about romance, and a romance about mystery. It is the only novel I ever want to read about golf. It is the first novel we are publishing at White Rabbit and I am so proud it is by a writer whose literary legacy will be as rich and intriguing as any of his peers and contemporaries.”
As part of the campaign, readers who pre-order the book will be able to access an exclusive digital prequel, The Towers The Fields The Transmitters, delivered two weeks ahead of publication.