ORDINARY PEOPLE FACE EXTRAORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCES: MISS LAILA, ARMED AND DANGEROUS OUT THIS THURSDAY

MISS LAILA by Manu Joseph, Myriad FINAL.jpg

MISS LAILA, ARMED AND DANGEROUS by Manu Joseph is out on May 17 with Myriad in paperback and ebook as their lead novel for 2018. As Zoë Heller has said: ‘Manu Joseph's new novel is a daring, page-turning thriller, filled with anger and wit and some of the loveliest sentences you will read this year.’ For a tantalising taster, you can hear Manu read from the novel and talk about it (from Bangalore) with Mariella Frostrup on BBC Open Book here.

Myriad won a closely-fought auction for Manu’s insightful and provocative new novel, buying UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding India and Canada, from Isobel Dixon and fast-tracking its publication to May. Publishing Director Candida Lacey said, ‘MISS LAILA, ARMED AND DANGEROUS is a cracking novel. It is a joy to read, and every bit as beguiling and surprising as its title. Cunning, sympathetic and fiercely original, it is a perfect fit for the ambitious and diverse list of literary fiction we’re developing with our partners at New Internationalist. We’re thrilled and very proud to be publishing such a magnificent and deservedly lauded novelist.’ 

Manu said: ‘Fiction cannot compete with real India. But an Indian novelist tries to make an honourable match of it. In the reactions of Candida Lacey and Myriad, I feel I may have come close. I feel blessed to find a British publisher who is able to see both the Indianness of the novel and the universality of its themes.’

Isobel said: ‘I was thrilled to hear about Myriad's collaboration with New Internationalist, as I've long admired Candida Lacey's publishing and think this is a perfect partnership – and now Manu Joseph's profound, wry and fierce novel has found a perfect UK home.’

On the day that Hindu nationalists and their controversial leader have won a spectacular election victory, a large apartment building collapses in Mumbai. The rescue operation finds a single survivor trapped under a beam. The only person able to reach him is Akhila Iyer, a medical student who is also a notorious social media prankster. Small enough to crawl along to administer medicine as rescuers try to dig him out, she finds him mumbling in delirium that two people are on their way to carry out a terror attack. Elsewhere, a young intelligence agent, Mukundan, is assigned to shadow the two terror suspects, one of whom is the teenage Laila, the sweetheart of her street. Time is running out.

MISS LAILA, ARMED AND DANGEROUS is a gripping chase novel that poses searching questions about the workings of power and its effects on the ordinary people — the watchers and the followers, and those who are trapped when buildings fall. Mariella Frostrup speaks of the novel’s ‘searing prose’ and Ben East in the Observer called it ‘caustic, comic and determinedly controversial’, talking of ‘the thriller lurking beneath it’. HarperCollins India published in India in 2017 and Podium publish the Dutch edition. Manu Joseph will be in the UK for publicity later this year, and will also take up a writer’s residency in Amsterdam.

Manu Joseph lives in Delhi and is a columnist for The Mint Lounge. He used to write the ‘Letter from India’ column for The International New York Times. His debut novel SERIOUS MEN (2010) won The Hindu Literary Prize and the PEN/Open Book Award, and was shortlisted for The Man Asian Literary Prize, the regional Commonwealth Prize and the PG Wodehouse Prize for the Best Comic Novel. His second novel THE ILLICIT HAPPINESS OF OTHER PEOPLE (2012) was shortlisted for the Hindu Prize and longlisted for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature and IMPAC Dublin Prize for Literature. Both the novels have been translated into several languages.

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Praise for MISS LAILA, ARMED AND DANGEROUS:

‘Manu Joseph's new novel is a daring, page-turning thriller, filled with anger and wit and some of the loveliest sentences you will read this year’— Zoë Heller

‘Stylish and deceptively witty… one of most engaging and insightful interpreters of our times… a page-turning thriller that poses searching questions about the workings of power and its effects on the ordinary people.’ — Deirdre Falvey, The Irish Times

‘The latest satirical novel from Manu Joseph, an Indian journalist, is an unflinching portrait of his country... MISS LAILA, ARMED AND DANGEROUS sits comfortably on the bestseller shelves of bookshops across the country.’ — The Economist

‘Manu Joseph’s thrilling third novel casts a keen eye on not just law enforcement officials and politicians in flared shorts, but also investigative journalists, environmental activists and the good folks.’ — Mint

‘Manu lampoons the entire system- not just politicians, the bureaucracy, law enforcement officials and lackeys, but investigative journalists, social activists, and indeed the common man.’ — The Hans India

THE LAST PILOT BY BENJAMIN JOHNCOCK SHORTLISTED FOR THE EAST ANGLIAN BOOK AWARDS 2015

THE LAST PILOT by Benjamin Johncock has been shortlisted for the 2015 Jarrolds/EDP East Anglian Book Awards, the showcase for the region’s best creative talent. The awards are now in their eighth year and are staged in partnership between the EDP, Jarrold, Writer’s Centre Norwich and UEA. The other shortlisted titles for Fiction are MR MAC AND ME by Esther Freud and WALLFLOWER by Eliza Robertson - the winners will be announced on November 4th.

Vesna Goldsworthy, the judge in the Fiction category, felt THE LAST PILOT to be of an exceptionally high standard, and noted that "it is richly researched and written in clear, precise, beautiful prose. In one of its many endorsements, Jon McGregor describes the novel’s dialogue as ‘desert-dry' and that description sums up the book for me.”

 THE LAST PILOT was published in July both in the UK (Myriad Books) and in the US (Picador), assembling an enthusiastic following with a rave review in The Washington Post, who say ‘the effect is supercharged Hemingway at 70,000 feet’; People magazine call it ‘ingeniously plotted, deftly written and engrossing,’ and Jane Ciabattari from BBC Culture says ‘Johncock is superb at crafting suspenseful scenes’. Mail on Sunday also praised THE LAST PILOT, ‘a remarkably accomplished debut'. It has been selected as Amazon’s Best Book of July 2015, Barnes & Noble’s 2015 Discover Great New Writers Pick and one of SJ Watson’s Best Summer Reads for The Independent. There's a full list of his many and incredible reviews on Ben's blog.

Early October, 1947, Jim Harrison is a test pilot in the United States Air Force, flying flimsy aircraft high above the Mojave desert. When a terrible tragedy befalls his young family, Harrison's life grinds to a halt - so when he's offered a ticket to the moon, he takes it, and joins NASA's new training programme. Set against the backdrop of one of the most emotionally-charged periods in modern history, THE LAST PILOT is a mesmerising story of loss and finding courage in the face of it.

Benjamin Johncock was born in England in 1978. His short stories have been published by TheFiction Desk and The Junket. He is the recipient of an Arts Council England grant and the American Literary Merit Award, and is a winner of Comma Press's National Short Story Day competition. He also writes for the Guardian. He lives in Norwich, England, with his wife, his daughter, and his son.

Praise for THE LAST PILOT

‘The dense layering of real events, seriously technical language and sustained US vernacular makes for a big, muscular novel, but this is tenderly undercut by the quite different theme of a marriage and a family under unbearable stress... A cowboy in a silver suit he may be, but Jim Harrison’s descent into hell is convincing and moving.’ – Jane Housham, Guardian

‘Jim’s story is fascinating, and the author writes with a strong ear for dialogue, which rattles the pages with intensity. A marvellous, emotionally powerful novel.’ – Publishers Weekly

‘Benjamin Johncock has written one of the most American novels of the year … With remarkable accuracy, capturing the emotional weight of a time in history … The story is well paced and chock full of an array of inspirational characters … exuberant life beaming from the gorgeous prose. Johncock follows in the footsteps of the impressive list of writers that have been capable of creating lifelike dialogue by eliminating quotation marks and a large amount of tags in what is often pages of back forth between its characters. … reminiscent of the great Cormac McCarthy … The exposition is packed with detail, word choices and sentence structures that add up to equal a distinct and unique new voice in fiction … shows the careful and precise guidance of the authorial voice that can be trusted fully and wholeheartedly. Johncock writes paragraphs that are often only seen by master craftsman with many books already to their name … This debut novel is undoubtedly one of the most authentic pieces of fiction set in America in years.’ – Steven Petite, The Huffington Post

Visit Benjamin’s website and follow him on Twitter.

View the animated video of the cover for THE LAST PILOT, click here