William Collins has picked up debut writer J S Tennant’s “brilliantly original” history of Cuba.
Publishing director Arabella Pike bought UK and Commonwealth rights to Mrs Gargantua and the Idea of Cuba from Rebecca Carter at Janklow & Nesbit, to be published in 2022.
The synopsis explains: “Mrs Gargantua and the Idea of Cuba eschews the often over-exoticised narratives to give an unconventional, deeply researched meditation on the revolutionary island of Cuba and its relationship with the outside world. Combining travel, history, biography and reportage, Tennant’s boundless curiosity and unexpected encounters with Cubans over a decade of travel and study reveal an island that has too often been, to outsiders, an imagined or fantastical space, as much as a real one. From Columbus’ distortions to the Missile Crisis, the Castros and Guantanamo, Tennant reveals previously unknown aspects of the country and explores its enduring ability to harbour secrets."
Tennant’s work for the proposal has already led to him being the first English-language winner of the Michael Jacobs Award from the Gabriel Garcia Marquez Foundation and Michael Jacobs Foundation. Mrs Gargantua was subsequently shortlisted for the 2020 Fitzcarraldo Editions Essay Prize and is currently shortlisted for the £20,000 Eccles Centre and Hay Festival Writer's Award.
He said: “I'm delighted to have been given the chance to work with the team at William Collins and grateful to Rebecca and Arabella for their support and close, discerning reading. Mrs Gargantua will be an entertainment while, simultaneously, serving as a primer for today’s visitor to Cuba. Now is an important time to dwell on its past, right as the island moves into a new era.”
Pike added: “There have been many excellent books about Cuba but none as original or ground-breaking as this. It is no surprise that J S Tennant’s proposal has already attracted the attention of prizes. We hope and believe the finished book will do the same.”
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