Weidenfeld & Nicolson has bought a "poetic and political" debut literary novel about the English identity crisis.
Lee Brackstone acquired world all language rights in The Paper Lantern by Will Burns from Becky Thomas at Johnson & Alcock. Foreign rights sales have already been concluded with Nijgh & Van Ditmar in Holland and Penguin Random House in Spain.
Set in Buckinghamshire in a village adjacent to the Chequers estate, The Paper Lantern follows a single narrator as he charts the shifts in mood and understanding that have defined the lockdown period, while simultaneously interrogating both his own history and that of the surrounding area.
Editor Brackstone said: "It is incredibly rare to find a literary novel that speaks to and for the moment with rigorous intelligence and elegance but The Paper Lantern is a miraculously relevant book – not only to the UK but internationally, as we see governments failing and the social fabric of our shared world under threat, from populism to climate disaster. Poetic and political in equal measure, it is a poignant novel about our symbolic unravelling and failings as a nation. Will Burns is a new literary novelist of extraordinarily intuitive gifts."
Burns is a poet and writer based in Buckinghamshire. In 2014 he was named a Faber & Faber New Poet, and since then he has also published poetry pamphlets with Clutag Press, Rough Trade Books and his first full collection, Country Music, with Offord Road Books in 2020. He is also a long-time contributor to the online nature writing journal Caught by the River. He said: "The truth is I’m as surprised as I am happy to find myself thinking about the publication of this book after the last year or so, which has obviously been so difficult and strange in so many ways. Writing this felt like the only substantial, real thing going on in that rather unreal period of the strict lockdown restrictions. To be working with [Brackstone] and everyone at W&N is hugely exciting."
The Paper Lantern will be published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson on 1st July 2021 in hardback, e-book and audio.