Tatamkhulu Afrika’s BITTER EDEN sold to Picador USA


Isobel Dixon of Blake Friedmann is delighted to announce a new deal for the Estate of Tatamkhulu Afrika, the acclaimed South African poet and novelist who died in 2002.

Stephen Morrison of Picador USA has acquired North American rights to Bitter Eden, a powerful autobiographical novel which was first published in the UK by Arcadia in 2002, shortly before the 82-year-old author's death.

Isobel Dixon says: 'Stephen and I first corresponded about this extraordinary novel more than a decade ago, when he said he had read the novel "in one fell swoop on a cold Saturday afternoon and was unable to put it down".  He described it as "powerful, provocative and incredibly moving" - but added regretfully that he wouldn't be able to offer. But it made such an impact that he asked to keep the copy for his personal library and we've spoken about it at intervals since, at several different publishing houses. I'm thrilled that as publisher of Picador US, he's now been able to return to this truly unforgettable story and acquire it for the 2014 list.'

Tatamkhulu Afrika was born in Egypt of Arab/Turkish parents who moved to South Africa while he was still a baby, but died in the influenza epidemic of 1920. He was adopted, but later, after learning the full details of his history, he converted to Islam, became active in his opposition to apartheid, and changed his name to Tatamkhulu Afrika ('Grandfather Africa' in Xhosa). Starting to write in earnest late in life, he published seven prize-winning volumes of poetry and several novellas. He was included in the Carcanet anthology Ten South African Poets. Bitter Eden was his last novel. A new edition has recently been published in Italy by Playground.

Praise for BITTER EDEN:

'Bitter Eden is one of those rare books that is both tender and tough, that is a punch to the stomach and a caress to the face. This is an exploration of men in war, and though it rings absolutely true to the experiences of Allied prisoners in the Second World War, it also transcends the specific and the historic to be a moving and unsettling chronicle of the ferocious bonds and dangerous conflicts that emerge when any group of men are pushed to extremes. Bitter Eden is earthy and lyrical,  caustic and moving. It is a thrilling read.' -- Christos Tsiolkas, author of THE SLAP
'Harsh, exquisite and concise, an astonishing story about men in close quarters forging relationships that border on trust and betrayal - and how love, in war, is an ambivalent bond.' -- The Independent
'An extraordinarily powerful novel… it reads like an epic prose poem - or a kind of deathbed confession.' -- Mark Simpson, Independent on Sunday  (Books of the Year, 2002)