W&N pre-empts Mathews' 'extraordinary' debut

W&N pre-empts Mathews' 'extraordinary' debut

Weidenfeld & Nicolson has pre-empted a debut from Iowa Writers' Workshop graduate Sarah Thankam Mathews.

Lettice Franklin, editorial director at W&N, pre-empted UK and Commonwealth rights in All This Could be Different from Anna Webber at United Agents, on behalf of Bill Clegg at the Bill Clegg Agency. Lindsey Schwoeri, senior editor at Viking, will publish in the US. 

All This Could be Different will be published by W&N in summer 2022 in hardback, e-book and audio. 

The blurb reads: "All This Could be Different introduces us to Sneha. A recent college graduate freshly arrived in Milwaukee, she occupies her days with rote, stressful work as a young consultant for a battery production corporation. Her nights are spent ordering furniture off the internet, trying out the newfangled invention of dating apps and avoiding confrontation with the terrifying property manager who lives below her. There follows a budding friendship with the charismatic and freewheeling Tig; a quiet obsession with Marina, a ballet dancer who she runs into again and again; and the ability to send money by wire transfer to her parents, two oceans away in India. Piece by piece she gathers and nurtures the fragments of a good life. But then the walls start to creep in."
Franklin said: "Her extraordinary debut tells a story about being young; about the stress and precarity of the corporate world; about what it is to be an immigrant and long desperately for the safety and trappings of a settled, bourgeois life. About friendship and sex and love and hope—and how they just might get you through. It is fizzing with life, anger, love and wit, and I cannot wait to publish it."

Mathews, a writer who grew up in Oman and India, said: "I wanted to work in the classic tradition of the bildungsroman as well as undermine it—to ask what it means to be a young person trying to assume one’s place in the frequently cruel and senseless world one has inherited. All This Could be Different is a character-driven novel centring a deeply unheroic Indian-American protagonist in the American Midwest, her search to build a decent life, and the people she falls for along the way. Sneha, Tig, Thom, Marina—these characters, working people with dreams and foibles and secrets, set up residence in my head and would not leave."

She added: "What emerged on the page were their interconnected stories and a novel interested in the precise textures of friendship and family, capitalism and community, and love."

A recent graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Mathews has been published in Best American Short Stories (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), the Kenyon Review and Agni. In March 2020 she founded the mutual aid network Bed-Stuy Strong in Brooklyn, New York.