W&N has landed the “virtuoso” debut novel from poet Sam Riviere in a multi-publisher auction.
Editorial director Lettice Franklin acquired UK & Commonwealth rights in Dead Souls from Anna Webber at United Agents. It will be published in spring 2021.
The synopsis states: “Dead Souls follows the course of a single big night - most of which is spent in the bar at the Travelodge just off Waterloo Bridge. There the unnamed narrator meets Solomon Wiese, a poet who has been ostracized by the community after failing to pass a technology-based authenticity test. Solomon Wiese’s account of his rise and fall is a story that takes him the entire night and the remainder of the novel to tell. It is a story that touches on - amongst many other things - childhood encounters with ‘nothingness’, a retreat to the east of England, a love affair with a woman carrying a signpost, and Wiese’s plans for a triumphant return to the capital, through the theft of poems, illegal war profits and faked social media accounts – plans in which the narrator discovers he is obscurely implicated.”
Riviere is the author of poetry books 81 Austerities (Faber), for which he won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection, and Kim Kardashian’s Marriage (Faber). He currently lives in Edinburgh, where he runs the micropublisher If a Leaf Falls Press.
He said: ‘Writing this thing has already changed my life in ways I couldn't have anticipated. I'm elated Dead Souls will be published by W&N. I thought it would be too weird...it's a novel about poets, plagiarism, love, technology, feuds and affairs, cancellation and revenge, and how writing really does alter reality. It's for poets everywhere. I feel dizzy.’
Franklin added: “Already a highly acclaimed poet, Sam Riviere is a writer of the rarest talent. With Dead Souls he has written a novel of profound intelligence and great wit, in virtuoso prose. I very rarely read the first page of a novel and know immediately that it is a book I want to publish - but I was bowled over the from very first sentence of Dead Souls and feel certain it is destined to be a modern classic.”