Weidenfeld & Nicolson has acquired 25-year-old Andrea Abreu’s Donkey’s Belly. It proved a literary sensation in Spain this summer, and has already been reprinted seven times by Seville-based Editorial Barrett.
Lettice Franklin, editorial director at W&N, acquired world English-language rights in the book at auction from Marina Penalva at Casanovas & Lynch. Translation rights have sold in eight territories, and the film rights are currently being negotiated.
A short novel about a long, very hot summer, Donkey’s Belly is set in Tenerife in 2005, in a small island village far from the sea, and features the holidaymakers whose houses the narrator’s mother cleans. The novel follows the explosive, all-consuming friendship between two pre-pubescent girls as they navigate feelings of admiration, envy, jealousy and sexual desire.
Abreu wrote the novel when she was 24 and working in a shop in Madrid. The author is a poet, journalist and co-director of the Young Poetry Festival in Alcalá de Henares. The novel is written in Canary dialect and, according to W&N, it combines "poetry, prose, reggaeton lyrics and flashes of nature writing".
Franklin said: "Andrea Abreu is an extraordinary new voice, and as soon as I encountered her prose I was desperate to bring her to the W&N list. Donkey’s Belly is one of the most exciting débuts I have read in a very long time—it is fizzing with life, it is vivid, gleeful, fearless, bodily, funny, shocking and totally unique."
Abreu said: "I had always wanted to talk about that childhood moment when we first experienced our sexuality through our friends, especially our best friend. Usually, as adults, when we are asked what our first kiss was, we give the name of a boy (that is our official story), but, most of the time, we are lying. Probably, our first great love was our best friend and our first kiss was with her too. Donkey's Belly can be understood as a story of first love, the wildest, the least domesticated, the most genuine one."
Penalva said her "head exploded when I read Andrea's novel for the first time. It's free and wild, and it chimes with the current zeitgeist. It is a huge honour that Lettice, one of the most talented young editors in the UK, will be bringing it to the world in English".
Donkey’s Belly will be published by W&N in 2022.