2019 Approved pic Joseph O'Connor - credit Urszula Soltys.jpg

US rights to SHADOWPLAY by Joseph O’Connor have been acquired by Michael Reynolds at Europa Editions. The deal was concluded by O’Connor’s agent Isobel Dixon of Blake Friedmann. Europa will publish in April 2020.

Harvill Secker published SHADOWPLAY in the UK and Canada in June 2019: I t was described as a ‘literary highlight of 2019’ by The Sunday Times and has received rapturous reviews. W.F. Howes published audio in the UK and Dreamscape will publish the US audio edition. Rights have been sold in seven translation markets so far: China (Shanghai Elegant People), Croatia (Fraktura), France (Editions Rivages), Hungary (Helikon), Italy (Guanda), Serbia (Carobna Knjiga) and Sweden (Natur Och Kultur). A film deal is under negotiation with a major producer.

1878: The Lyceum Theatre, London. Three extraordinary people begin their life together, a life that will be full of drama, transformation, passionate and painful devotion to art and to one another. Henry Irving, the Chief, is the volcanic leading man and impresario; Ellen Terry is the most lauded and desired actress of her generation, outspoken and generous of heart; and ever following along behind them in the shadows is the unremarkable theatre manager, Bram Stoker.

Fresh from life in Dublin as a clerk, Bram may seem the least colourful of the trio but he is wrestling with dark demons in a new city, in a new marriage, and with his own literary aspirations. As he walks the London streets at night, streets haunted by the Ripper and the gossip which swirls around his friend Oscar Wilde, he finds new inspiration. But the Chief is determined that nothing will get in the way of his manager’s devotion to the Lyceum and to himself. And both men are enchanted by the beauty and boldness of the elusive Ellen.

SHADOWPLAY explores the complexities of love that stands dangerously outside social convention, the restlessness of creativity, and the experiences that led to Dracula, the most iconic supernatural tale of all time.

Michael Reynolds says: ‘Joseph O’Connor is one of the canniest and most accomplished novelists working in English. He can seemingly turn his hand to any subject with extraordinary results. But it is evident that with SHADOWPLAY he has found a subject that ignites a deep affinity and a group of characters whose ambitions, preoccupations and talents somehow echo his own. The effect is impressive – his prose sings and his sure-handed storytelling is a delight. SHADOWPLAY will be a super-lead for the Spring and we at Europa look forward to bringing this thrilling novel to a broad and admiring readership in the U.S.’

SHADOWPLAY front cover.jpg

Joseph O’Connor says: ‘I am grateful and excited for SHADOWPLAY to have found its American home at Europa Editions, where the publishing ethic is so strong and impressive. Europa's books, gorgeous objects in themselves, contain some of the most beautiful writing around. I am truly honored for a book of my own to encounter such company.’

Isobel Dixon says: ‘I cannot wait for Bram Stoker, Henry Irving and Ellen Terry, as so unforgettably depicted by Joseph O’Connor in SHADOWPLAY, to cross the Atlantic. and win over fresh audiences there. This is a book I’ve seen so many readers fall in love with, and then press into other hands. I’m delighted that Michael Reynolds and Europa also feel so passionately about this tour de force and look forward to their US launch in 2020.’

Praise for Joseph O’Connor and SHADOWPLAY:

‘There are few living writers who can take us back in time so assuredly, with such sensual density, through such gorgeous sentences. Joseph O’Connor is a wonder, and SHADOWPLAY is a triumph.’ – Peter Carey

‘As much as this is a hugely entertaining book about the grand scope of friendship and love, it is also, movingly – at times, agonisingly – a story of transience, loss and true loyalty.’ – Sadie Jones, The Guardian

‘Joseph O’Connor is a very great artist and storyteller. The quotient of enjoyment in his extraordinary new novel is stupendous.’ – Sebastian Barry

‘Wonderful. The writing is beautiful.’ – Derek Jacobi

‘A hugely entertaining and atmospheric novel, one can almost smell the greasepaint.’ – Deborah Moggach

‘Seriously fascinating’ – Colm Tóibín, The Observer

‘A virtuoso act of literary ventriloquism. SHADOWPLAY is funny, smart, tender, wise and written with inch-perfect precision.’ – Colum McCann 

‘A great writer performing Olympian literary storytelling.’ — Bob Geldof

 About the Author
Joseph O’Connor was born in Dublin. His books include nine novels: COWBOYS AND INDIANS (Whitbread Prize shortlist), DESPERADOES, THE SALESMAN, INISHOWEN, STAR OF THE SEA (American Library Association Award, Irish Post Award for Fiction, France’s Prix Millepages, Italy’s Premio Acerbi, Prix Madeleine Zepter for European novel of the year), REDEMPTION FALLS, GHOST LIGHT (Dublin One City One Book Novel 2011), THE THRILL OF IT ALL and SHADOWPLAY. His work has been published in forty languages. He received the 2012 Irish PEN Award for outstanding achievement in literature and in 2014 he was appointed Frank McCourt Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Limerick.

Visit Joseph O’Connor’s website

Read the Publishers Weekly story


We’re delighted to have so many exciting Blake Friedmann titles published in 2019 – many of these have already been recognised as books to look out for, so here’s a taster of what’s being said …

MANDALAY: Recipes and Tales from a Burmese Kitchen by MiMi Aye (Bloomsbury Absolute, June)

‘June sees the launch of MANDALAY, a new book by MiMi Aye featuring nearly 100 simple Burmese recipes – from the national dish of mohinga (a fish chowder with rice noodles and lemongrass, traditionally served at breakfast) to lahpet thoke, a classic Burmese salad of pickled green tea leaves.’ — Olive Magazine, The 2019 Foodie Trend Report

‘Burmese food is set to become more popular with the publication of Mimi Aye’s MANDALAY.’ — Evening Standard, Veganuary 2019

‘Compared with its Thai neighbour, Burmese food is relatively unknown in the UK. That’s about to change, thanks to MANDALAY: Recipes and Tales from a Burmese Kitchen, a sumptuous cookbook by MiMi Aye, published by Bloomsbury in June.’ — The Times, The Biggest Food Trends of 2019

LOWBORN front cover.jpg

LOWBORN: Growing Up, Getting Away and Returning to Britain’s Poorest Towns by Kerry Hudson (Chatto & Windus, May)

LOWBORN will be a Book of the Week on BBC Radio 4

Kerry Hudson looks back at her impoverished childhood, and travels around Britain asking what being poor means today.’ — The Guardian, 2019 in Books: What You’ll Be Reading This Year

‘Kerry Hudson’s memoir LOWBORN: Growing Up, Getting Away and Returning to Britain’s Poorest Towns… arrive[s] with a sense of urgency.’ — New Statesman, Back to the Future: What to Read in 2019

'Powerful and moving... An emotional and important read.' — iNews, 10 Best Books to Read in 2019

THE HOUSE ON COLD HILL by Peter James (Stage Production)

Peter James’s THE HOUSE ON COLD HILL has now been adapted for stage, starring BAFTA nominated actor and 2017 winner of BBC1's Strictly Come Dancing Joe McFadden as Ollie Harcourt, alongside Rita Simons (who played Roxy Mitchell in EastEnders) as Caro. The chilling sequel, THE SECRET OF COLD HILL, will be published in hardback by Pan Macmillan in October 2019.

See more about the tour schedule for THE HOUSE ON COLD HILL here.

‘There is an argument to be made that Peter James should have been on our “people who have had a great 2018” list. Two books out, including one to add to his famed Roy Grace series, Peter has certainly been busy in the past 12 months. This year is sure to be no different as the HOUSE ON COLD HILL show, based on his 2015 novel, goes on tour. While Peter may not be part of the show itself there is no doubt that the touring production will shine a further light on the book and the success or failure of the tour will affect him hugely. That is why he makes this list.’ — The Argus, Five Sussex Stars Who Will Have a Great 2019

SHADOWPLAY by Joseph O'Connor cover.JPG

SHADOWPLAY by Joseph O’Connor (Harvill Secker, June)

‘Fans of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, meanwhile, will be keen to get hold of Joseph O’Connor’s SHADOWPLAY which follows Stoker as he wanders the fog-bound streets of Victorian London.’ — Irish Times, Books to Look Forward to in 2019

High res SAFE cover.jpg

SAFE edited by Derek Owusu (Trapeze, March)
‘In an impressive roster of contributors, journalist Musa Okwonga’s chapter “The Good Bisexual” is a long overdue – and delicate – insight into the challenges black bisexual men face, from queer puberty, the double burden of racism and homophobia, homophobic harassment in the workplace, and ultimately, self-acceptance. A refreshing insight, given that black, bi men’s experiences are routinely rendered invisible.’ — Dazed, 11 New LQBTQ Books to Read in 2019


EAT IT ANYWAY by Eve Simmons and Laura Dennison (Mitchell Beazley, January)

‘In EAT IT ANYWAY, journalists Simmons and Dennison – founders of the website Not Plant Based – aim to dispel dietary myths and help others, who like them, have suffered from eating disorders, to rediscover their love of food.’ — The Irish Independent, The 72 Books We’ll Be Talking About in the First Half of 2019

THE CATALOGUE OF SHIPWRECKED BOOKS: Christopher Columbus, His Son, and the Quest to Build the World’s Greatest Library by Edward Wilson-Lee (Scribner, March)

‘This isn’t only a biography of Christopher Columbus and his son Hernando; it’s also a paean to the family library, which at its peak contained 20,000 printed materials, including music and images, obsessively collected from all over Europe.’ – Publishers Weekly, ‘Most Anticipated Books of Spring 2019’

And here’s a reminder of the Blake Friedmann titles and authors mentioned in Best of 2018 lists.


Harvill Secker acquires two new books from STAR OF THE SEA author Joseph O’Connor

© Gerry Sandford

© Gerry Sandford

Harvill Secker has snapped up two new titles by award-winning novelist Joseph O’Connor, including the author’s first thriller. SHAWDOWPLAY and MY FATHER’S HOUSE will be published in 2019 and 2021 respectively. Liz Foley, Harvill Secker Publishing Director, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights from Isobel Dixon at Blake Friedmann.

SHADOWPLAY is a masterful account of Bram Stoker’s life as a young man in London working with Henry Irving, the world’s first superstar actor, as they both fall under the spell of dazzling actress Ellen Terry. A domineering personality of volcanic charisma and mesmerizing talent, Irving hires an unremarkable Dublin clerk to help him with his daring project: to open his own London theatre, and make it the greatest playhouse in the world. Through Bram Stoker’s extraordinary experiences at the Lyceum, his tempestuous relationship with Irving and the bittersweet closeness he finds with Ellen Terry, Stoker will be inspired to pen DRACULA, the most iconic supernatural tale of all time. SHADOWPLAY is a captivating novel about desire, celebrity, the creation of art, ambition and love. Rights for SHADOWPLAY have already been bought by Natur Och Kultur in Sweden and Guanda in Italy.    

MY FATHER’S HOUSE is a powerful literary thriller set during the Second World War. It is based on the true story of Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty, an Irish priest in the Vatican who risked his life to smuggle thousands of Jews and escaped Allied prisoners out of Italy under the nose of his nemesis, the Nazi Lieutenant Colonel Herbert Kappler. A deadly high-stakes battle of wits ensues in this astonishing, unforgettable story of love, faith and sacrifice, exploring what it means to be truly human in the most extreme circumstances.

Liz Foley said, ‘We are delighted to have two such exciting projects in the works from one of our most accomplished and well-loved authors’

Joseph O’Connor said, ‘In thirty years of being an author, I have never got over the thrill that goes with a book being accepted for publication. I am truly delighted to be working with Secker and Vintage again. To see your work appear on those iconic lists is an absolute honour, as well as a joy. I have high hopes for these two novels about remarkable people who defied convention and changed the troubled world they found themselves in.’

Isobel Dixon said, ‘Two remarkable stories from a truly remarkable author – and for me the thrill of this deal is heightened by the anticipation of the pleasure SHADOWPLAY and MY FATHER’S HOUSE will bring to readers around the world. Harvill Secker have sensational plans, translation rights are already sold in Italy and Sweden, and there is much, much more to come.’

Joseph O’Connor was born in Dublin. His books include eight novels: COWBOYS AND INDIANS (Whitbread Prize shortlist), DESPERADOES, THE SALESMAN, INISHOWEN, STAR OF THE SEA (American Library Association Award, Irish Post Award for Fiction, France’s Prix Millepages, Italy’s Premio Acerbi, Prix Madeleine Zepter for European novel of the year), REDEMPTION FALLS, GHOST LIGHT (Dublin One City One Book Novel 2011) and THE THRILL OF IT ALL. His work has been published in forty languages. He received the 2012 Irish PEN Award for outstanding achievement in literature and in 2014 he was appointed Frank McCourt Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Limerick.

Visit Joseph O’Connor’s website

Praise for Joseph O’Connor:

‘A masterful storyteller.’ — Neel Mukherjee, The Times

'Like Joyce, O'Connor combines his panoramic range with a close eye to the grain and texture of the phrase ... An astonishingly accomplished writer.' — Terry Eagleton, The Guardian
‘Once again. Joseph O'Connor proves that along with Banville, Tóibín, Doyle and the others of that golden Irish generation, he's right up there alongside them.’ — Bob Geldof

‘O’Connor’s prose is satisfyingly sensitive to his protagonists and enchantingly rhythmical, his pacing is perfect, his dialogues masterful at revealing what is really swimming to-and-fro between characters.’ — Sunday Independent

‘O’Connor has a lovely touch for the nuances of important moments – he captures how relationships start, and how they fall apart, beautifully. — Evening Standard