Helen Garnons-Williams, Publishing Director at 4th Estate, has acquired at auction UK & Commonwealth rights in Michael Donkor's debut novel, HOLD - from Juliet Pickering at Blake Friedmann.
Set in Ghana and London, HOLD is the story of bright and sensible Belinda, a housegirl sent from Ghana to London, and the wayward Amma, born to Ghanaian parents in Brixton - and of Belinda's young friend Mary, left behind in Kumasi.
Beautifully exploring themes of home and identity, rejection and belonging, HOLD is about two young women navigating their way uncertainly into adulthood, and all the passion, despair and excitement that inspires. It is a rich, evocative coming-of-age story, marking the arrival of a powerful new British literary voice.
Michael Donkor was born in London, to Ghanaian parents, and teaches English Literature to A-level students in West London. Many of the issues in this novel are close to his heart, and his writing won him a place on the Writers’ Centre Inspires Scheme in 2014, where he received a year’s mentoring from Daniel Hahn.
Garnons-Williams says: 'HOLD is a rare and special novel, whose characters spring off the page. It is poignant, funny and fresh - and incredibly emotionally compelling. Michael is a hugely accomplished and empathetic storyteller and we couldn't be happier to welcome him to 4th Estate.'
Donkor says: 'I am so thrilled that HOLD is being published. I have carried Amma, Belinda and Mary around with me for an inordinately long time and the prospect of sharing them with others is hugely exciting. When writing the novel, one of my principal hopes was that this story would generate conversations among readers - about suffering, about the nature of friendship, about the challenges and rewards of negotiating multiple cultural identities - and I am so looking forward to contributing to and learning from these discussions.
For the novel to have found a home at 4th Estate is wonderful. They are an ambitious and distinctive house and their list of authors is luminous. Adichie and Lessing’s novels and short stories have been especially important in shaping my sense of what it means to be a writer and in underscoring my belief in the transformative power of storytelling.'
HOLD will be published in July 2018.