The Picador team are delighted to announce the acquisition of Marlena, the astonishing debut novel from Julie Buntin.

Picador Editorial Director Francesca Main acquired UK and Commonwealth rights from Julie’s agents at WME.

An intoxicating novel about love, addiction and loss, Marlena is the story of two teenage girls and the wild year that will cost one her life, and define the other’s forever.

The novel already comes garlanded with praise from Lorrie Moore and Jonathan Safran Foer:

‘The gifted young writer Julie Buntin has written a novel of deep and exquisite intelligence, humour and riveting sensitivity. A terrific debut’

‘Julie Buntin captures that unique moment at the precipice of adulthood with emotional honesty and insight. She writes the kind of piercing, revelatory sentences you have to read to whomever is near, sentences you find yourself remembering years later’ 

Francesca Main said:

‘I’m thrilled to have acquired this vivid, heart-stopping and deeply moving first novel and to welcome a writer of Julie Buntin’s prodigious talent to the Picador list. This unflinching story of an obsessive yet enduring friendship and the tragedy of a young life cut short is still haunting me, and the lingering effects of Julie Buntin’s writing are as potent as the world it evokes.

If you loved The Girls by Emma Cline, A Little Life by Hanya Yanigahara or All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews we can’t help feeling you’ll love Marlena. We don’t publish until August 2017 but promise it’ll be worth the wait.

Here's what we can tell you about Marlena . . .

Everything about fifteen-year-old Cat’s new town in rural Michigan is lonely and off-kilter, until she meets her neighbor, the manic, beautiful, pill-popping Marlena. Cat, inexperienced and desperate for connection, is quickly lured into Marlena’s orbit by little more than an arched eyebrow and a shake of white-blonde hair.

As the two girls turn the untamed landscape of their desolate small town into a kind of playground, Cat catalogues a litany of firsts – first drink, first cigarette, first kiss – while Marlena’s habits harden and calcify. Within the year, Marlena is dead, drowned in six inches of icy water in the woods nearby. 

Now, decades later, when a ghost from that pivotal year surfaces unexpectedly, Cat must try to forgive herself and move on, even as the memory of Marlena keeps her tangled in the past.

Julie Buntin is from northern Michigan. She attended NYU’s MFA program in fiction and her writing has appeared in The AtlanticCosmopolitan, Bustle and Slate among other publications. She teaches fiction writing at Marymount Manhattan College and is the Director of Writing Programs at Catapult. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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