Every time a book is sent to us (and there are hundreds every month), there is the thrilling possibility that this might be the first sighting of a brilliant new writer. This hope never goes away and just sometimes this hope is fulfilled.
A few weeks ago I was sent the manuscript of a novel by a young Irish writer, Belinda McKeon. From the first pages I was enthralled: this was a writer who was talented and assured beyond her years and, I soon felt, a writer at the start of a glittering career. I just had to meet this author, talk to her about the book, and make sure we gave ourselves the best possibility of persuading her to be published by Picador. After a complicated series of arrangements (Belinda lives in Brooklyn but was over in Europe for a few days; I was away on holiday), I managed to meet Belinda. And with the support of my colleagues who had also fallen in love with this book, we were able to acquire the novel, Solace and a second novel on a synopsis.
Solace is the story of a young man who is torn between his family and the girl he meets. The genius of this book - and it really is genius - is the way in which Belinda describes how these two worlds collide: the older world of rural Ireland, the family, the feuds and the farm; and the world of contemporary Dublin, cut-throat and exciting, drunken and hung-over, flash and grubby.
As always you want to get the book out there to its readers as soon as possible, especially when it is so accomplished with very little editorial work to be done. But these things do need time and we will have to wait till next year to deliver it to the world. But when we do publish, I hope you will feel that same thrill in the discovery of a wonderful new voice and in a writer who will be with you for years to come.
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