Weidenfeld & Nicolson has pre-empted a “breathtaking” memoir from Tanya Shadrick about waking from a coma “determined to stop sleepwalking” through life.
Editorial director Lettice Franklin acquired UK and Commonwealth rights in The Cure for Sleep from Robert Caskie at Caskie Mushens. It will be published as hardback, trade paperback, e-book and audiobook in spring 2022
Its synopsis explains: "The Cure for Sleep is a story about a woman who woke from a deep sleep. About a small only child who grew up in a remote bungalow on a lampless lane, unvisited and yearning year after year for the father who abandoned her. About a country girl who met a miner’s son with whom she could feel safe and hibernate; with whom she burrows in, so that they pass their 20s and early 30s like figures in a fairy tale. About a woman who, at the age of 33, begins dying, fast and without warning—and wakes from a coma determined to stop sleepwalking through her one wild and precious life. It is the story of the moments when Tanya woke up: to love, motherhood, her body, and what she had to give.”
She said: “The Cure for Sleep is an exploration of unlived lives—mine, others’—and what it takes to break the spell of longing for love, approval, rescue, ease. I grew up in a rural working-class family surrounded by people who, if they talked about the past at all, had only a few vivid memories of possibility. What mattered more was to avoid gossip, be respectable, stick to one’s own. It took my own sudden near-death to wake me up to risk, chance and connection. This is the story of what happened when I did. Lettice Franklin thrilled me with her editorial vision for the book, and it’s a privilege to be with W&N which has published so many of the authors I most admire.”
Shadrick is a former hospice scribe and writer who works in public spaces, with stints as writer-in-residence at a treehouse near Lake Geneva and Virginia Woolf’s garden on the Sussex Downs among other places. She is editor and publisher of the Wainwright Prize-longlisted Wild Woman Swimming (Selkie Press) and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. This is her first book.
Franklin added: “Tanya Shadrick’s prose intoxicated me from the moment I read it. Hers is an electrifying new voice and her book has the quality of a fable that teaches us how to live, how to step out of the confines we have made for ourselves, how to wake up. It reminds me of the very best memoirs—of Joan Didion’s autobiographical writing, of Lorna Sage’s Bad Blood and of Maggie O’Farrell’s I Am, I Am, I Am. I cannot wait to publish it.”
Caskie said: “Tanya has that very rare combination of stillness and energy. Her stories captivated me instantly and her experimentation with style and genre impressed me greatly. I am delighted to represent her and thrilled she has found such a perfect fit with Lettice and W&N. Now more than ever it is important to empower voices and enhance creativity."