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. 

4th Estate acquires Gregory Norminton's THE DEVIL'S HIGHWAY

Helen Garnons-Williams at 4th Estate has acquired THE DEVIL'S HIGHWAY by acclaimed novelist Gregory Norminton, from Isobel Dixon at Blake Friedmann. 4th Estate will publish in Spring 2018, and have acquired British Commonwealth rights excluding Canada.

Set on and around the Devil’s Highway – a Roman road that crosses north Surrey and Hampshire – it is a vivid and deftly constructed novel spanning three thousand years and charting the ways in which one place can become many places over time. An ancient British boy, discovering a terrorist plot, must betray his brother to save his tribe. In the twenty-first century, two people – one traumatised by war, another by divorce – clash over the meaning of a landscape. Centuries in the future, with England now a burning desert, a gang of feral children struggles to reach safety in a broken land.

Helen Garnons-Williams says, ‘I acquired Gregory’s first novel, THE SHIP OF FOOLS, for Sceptre 15 years ago, when I was struck by the breadth of his imagination and the freshness of his voice. In the intervening years my admiration for his writing has only grown. We are all thrilled to welcome him to 4th Estate and to be publishing this extraordinarily original, affecting and urgent new novel.’

Gregory Norminton says, ‘I am very excited to be joining 4th Estate, especially with a novel that, for all its scope, is my most personal yet. In THE DEVIL'S HIGHWAY I have returned to the landscape of my youth – I have come home, so to speak, as I have come home, in another sense, to Helen Garnons-Williams, my first editor.’

‘It’s not just the pleasure of this particular author-publisher reunion that gladdens the heart,’ says Isobel Dixon. ‘I know that many will rejoice at Gregory Norminton’s return with this striking new novel. With all its brio and brilliance, its vision and fierceness, THE DEVIL'S HIGHWAY maps an unforgettable journey for character and reader, changing the way you see the world.’

Praise for Gregory Norminton:

‘Norminton’s measured, elegant prose makes beauty and menace sing in perfect harmony … his scaling of the treacherous cliffs of the human heart will take your breath away.’  - Neel Mukherjee, Sunday Telegraph

‘Anything by Gregory Norminton is a pleasure to read.’  - Time Out

‘Norminton is a fine writer, his imagery is often striking, his turn of phrase can be wonderful.’  - John Mackenna, Irish Times

‘Whatever Gregory Norminton turns to next will be worth waiting for.’ - Alastair Mabbott, The Herald

Gregory Norminton trained as an actor, and is the author of four widely-praised novels. His short stories have been published in many journals and anthologies and Comma Press will publish his second collection The Ghost Who Bled in 2017. He teaches Creative Writing and English at Manchester Metropolitan University.