An Island by South African author Karen Jennings, which was recently longlisted for the 2021 Booker Prize, will be published in Nigeria by independent publishing house, Masobe Books. The acquiring publisher and executive director, Othuke Ominiabohs, calls this immersing book “deserving of every accolade it receives.”
Masobe Books is a small but dedicated publishing outfit always on the lookout for talented African voices. “We care about the books that Nigerians are reading and this one is a must-read, for not just every African but for anyone who loves a powerful and an unforgettable story,” says Ominiabohs.
Set on an island off the coast of an unnamed African country, the novel’s action spans four days, but shows the effect of a country’s turbulent political history on one man, the lighthouse keeper, Samuel.
Originally published in the United Kingdom by Holland House Books, and in South Africa by Karavan Press, rights to An Island have been sold in the countries / territories listed below.
About An Island
Samuel has lived alone for a long time; one morning he finds the sea has brought someone to offer companionship and to threaten his solitude…
A young refugee washes up unconscious on the beach of a small island inhabited by only Samuel, an old lighthouse keeper. Unsettled, Samuel is soon swept up in memories of his former life on the mainland: a life that saw his country suffer under colonisers, then fight for independence, only to fall under the rule of a cruel dictator; and he recalls his own part in its history.
In this new man’s presence, he begins to consider, as he did in his youth, what is meant by land and to whom it should belong. To what lengths will a person go to ensure that what is theirs will not be taken from them?
A novel about guilt and fear, friendship, and rejection; about the meaning of home.
Praise for An Island
“An Island concerns itself with lives lived on the margins, through the story of a man who has exiled himself from the known world only to find himself called to the service of others, themselves exiled from the world by cruelty and circumstance. It is on these grounds that this writer deftly constructs a moving, transfixing novel of loss, political upheaval, history, identity, all rendered in majestic and extraordinary prose.”
The judges of The Booker Prize 2021
“A gripping, terrifying and unforgettable story.”
Elleke Boehmer, Professor of World Literature, Oxford
“An Island is a small but powerful book, with the reach of a more capacious work, compounding merciless political critique and allegory rendered in tender prose.”
Catherine Taylor, The Guardian
About the author
Karen Jennings is a South African author. Her debut novel, Finding Soutbek, was shortlisted for the inaugural Etisalat Prize for African Fiction. Her memoir, Travels with my Father, was published in 2016, and in 2018 she released her debut poetry collection, Space Inhabited by Echoes. Currently living in Brazil, last year Karen completed post-doctoral research at the Federal University of Goiás on the historical relationship between science and literature, with a focus on eusocial insects. Karen works with the mentorship programmes run by Writivism and Short Story Day Africa, both of which promote writing in Africa. Her interests lie in colonialism, historically, and in the lasting impact that it has had on the continent of Africa and beyond. She is particularly concerned with the quiet lives of the everyday people who have been mostly forgotten by the politicians, big businesses and the rest of the world. In this way, she strives to give the ordinary a voice that can be heard and appreciated. Karen was a Miles Morland Foundation Scholar while writing this book.
RIGHTS SOLD: SOUTH AFRICA, NAMIBIA, BOTSWANA (KARAVAN PRESS), ANZ (TEXT PUBLISHING), GREEK (GUTENBERG, PREEMPT), RUSSIAN (EKSMO, PREEMPT), AUDIO (W.F. HOWES, ENGLISH LANGUAGE EXCL. ANZ AND NORTH AMERICA), ENGLISH NORTH AMERICA (HOGARTH, AT AUCTION), ARABIC (KOTOB KHAN), INDIA/SOUTH ASIA (PAN MACMILLAN INDIA), NIGERIA (MASOBE BOOKS), BRAZIL (VERUS/RECORD), GERMANY (BLESSING VERLAG), ITALY (FAZI EDITORE) AND DUTCH (COSSEE).