Petina Gappah Signs Transatlantic Contract

22 Aug 2008

One of International PEN’s main objectives is to encourage literature. Over the years the South African Centre of International PEN has published eight volumes of new writing – with great pleasure and consistent with the global purpose of our parent body! The most recent of these books was published by New Africa Books in 2007 and was entitled African Pens. Three authors whose work appeared in African Pens were on the short-list of five for the £10 000 Caine Prize for African writing. The winner of the 2007 HSBC/SA PEN Literary Award was Henrietta Rose-Innes, whose story “Poison” also won the Caine Prize for 2008. A new series of such PEN books will be published in 2009, 2010 and 2011 under the PEN/STUDZINSKI Literary Award project, also with annual Awards of £10 000.

But this insert is to highlight the achievement of another SA PEN Literary Award winner, Petina Gappah, featured below. Congratulations Petina on a transatlantic publishing contract with Faber in the UK and Farrar Strauss & Giroux in the US. This great achievement means that your career as a writer will be rewarding professionally – as well as literarily significant.

Zimbabwe rising!

Write! Africa Write!

Anthony Fleischer
South African PEN


Petina GappahFaber’s UK and US arms have made their first joint acquisition, obtaining the world English-language rights to a collection of short stories and a novel by Zimbabwean author Petina Gappah.

A pre-emptive offer was made via agent Claire Paterson at Janklow & Nesbit. The short stories anthology An Elegy for Easterly will be published in the UK first, with an April 2009 launch, coming out in the US in June. The novel The Book of Memory has been scheduled for publication in spring 2010.

Both works deal with issues faced by Zimbabweans, including the ongoing hyper-inflation and life under president Robert Mugabe’s regime. Lee Brackstone, publishing director for fiction at Faber in the UK, described Gappah as “the voice of contemporary Zimbabwe”. He added: “These stories and the accompanying pages for a novel in progress are exhilarating-unflinching in their portrait of a country and people in torment yet full of spirit, humour and humanity.”

Mitzi Angel, publisher at the US arm Faber Inc, added: “I’m delighted to be publishing this talented writer in America, and equally delighted that this will be the first shared acquisition for Faber in the UK and Faber in the US.”