Weidenfeld & Nicolson has pre-empted a “dazzling” novel by author and lecturer Stephanie Bishop about a trip to a literary prize ceremony which has tragic consequences.
Lettice Franklin, publishing director, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights for Outro from Emma Paterson at Aitken Alexander Associates. The book will be published in spring 2023 in hardback, e-book and audio. Vanessa Radnidge, publisher at Hachette Australia, has acquired Australian and New Zealand rights in the novel. Italian rights were pre-empted by publisher Marsilio and German rights were sold in a five-way auction to publishing house DTV.
Outro is narrated by Lucie Blackwood, a novelist living in London. The synopsis reads: “Lucie has been awarded a major literary prize which she must collect at a ceremony in New York. She tacks the trip on to the end of a cruise she has already booked to celebrate her wedding anniversary. Her much older husband Patrick, a filmmaker, is burnt out, disillusioned and reluctant to travel but Lucie convinces him that a break from it all might be just the thing he needs. On the cruise, they rediscover the physical desire that first sparked their relationship many years ago, when Lucie was just a student and Patrick her beguiling, maverick professor. But when a storm hits and Patrick drowns, the search for his body, and for something like the truth, begins.”
Franklin said: “Outro is a story about a husband falling from the deck of a cruise ship, while his wife looks on; a story about marriage, art and power. It is that extremely rare and special thing: an exceptionally well-written, thrillingly clever literary novel with an addictive, compelling, stay-up-all-night plot. Its crystalline prose, its deep intelligence, its propulsive storytelling reminded me of Patricia Highsmith, Siri Hustvedt, Gillian Flynn, Gwendoline Riley, Susanna Moore and Deborah Levy. Everyone on the team here was dazzled by Outro and we are totally ecstatic to be publishing it.”
Bishop is the author of several previous books including The Other Side of the World (Tinder Press), named Literary Fiction Book of the Year at the Australian Book Industry Awards 2016 and winner of The Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction 2015. She holds a PhD from Cambridge and is currently a senior lecturer in creative writing at the University of New South Wales. In 2017, she was a visiting scholar at Oxford University’s Centre for Life Writing. Her short fiction and criticism have appeared in the London Review of Books, the TLS and the Sydney Review of Books.
She said: "At its core Outro is an examination of the power of art and the art of power, particularly in the context of our most intimate relationships. For me, it’s a book about desire: the desire for authority and transformation, and the risks of this. The book came about through a collision of obsessions. For a long time I’d been preoccupied by the question of who earns the right to tell a story, whose story is heard, and whose story is most rewarded.”
Paterson said: “Stephanie Bishop is one of the very first authors I was lucky enough to represent and so, six years on, it is especially thrilling to see her electrifying new novel acquired by an editor with such talent, vision and energy. Outro is a book of multiple pleasures: erudite, addictive, devastating. I can’t wait for readers to meet its unforgettable narrator.”