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Monday, June 23, 2008

Gift of Rain and other debuts

Spy Mouse reminds me that one of the warm and fuzzy stories of London publishing is the remarkable success of Tan Twan Eng's debut novel, The Gift of Rain, set in Penang during the Japanese occupation in WW2. Rejected by just about every major publisher, the first thirty pages landed in the slush pile at Jane Gregory's literary agency, to be fished out by a perceptive reader, who fell in love with it. Published in March 2007 by the spanking new press Myrmidon Publishers, it received rave reviews. The first indication the publishers and agent had that it was longlisted for the Booker was a blizzard of e-mails from the editors who had rejected the novel, exclaiming in extravagant London fashion, "Congratulations! You did it, and we grovel."

The Gift of Rain is just out in paperback. Spy Mouse whispers that another find is an Australian writer, Stephen Scourfield, whose debut, The Other Country, has been shortlisted for the 2008 Commonwealth Best First Book award. And look out for Absolution, by Caro Ramsay.

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