With the impeachment of President Trump continuing, the UK tearing itself apart over Brexit, Londoners coping with the aftermath of another terrorist attack in the city, Malta enveloped in scandal, China accused of brainwashing Uighur Muslims in ‘prison’ camps and all of this set against the ongoing climate change narrative, it is easy to feel depressed, even despairing.
Step forward the Turkish novelist, writer and human rights activist Elif Shafak with How to Stay Sane in an Age of Division. Jonny Geller at Curtis Brown in London sold English language and Commonwealth rights to Cecil Gayford at Profile Books in London for publication in July 2020. Profile will publish jointly with the Wellcome Collection, the museum and library in London that covers science, medicine and art.
At the time of going to press Arabic rights in the short work had not yet been sold, but Curtis Brown’s Daisy Meyrick confirmed that Rana Idriss at Shafak’s long-time Arabic publisher, Dar Al Adab in Beirut, Lebanon, would be given first refusal on the title.
Shafak argues that 20 years ago, we lived in a time of optimism where it seemed as though fascism had been defeated and liberal democracy had triumphed. “Today, the pendulum has swung to the other extreme – we have entered the age of pessimism,” the publisher says. “In a rallying cry for hopefulness, Elif Shafak explores how writing can nurture democracy, tolerance and progress. Drawing on her own experiences and drawing upon her TED talks, Shafak examines the urgent questions of our time in this passionate plea for hope and truth.”
She says: “As the world becomes increasingly polarized, beset with anxiety, anger and tribalism, it’s time for us to turn to the art of storytelling for wisdom, connectivity and much-needed empathy.”
At Profile, Gayford says: “Elif is an extraordinary, inspiring voice even at the best of times – and now, in what has come to feel like it might just be the worst of times, her words are a vital resource for us all. We are extraordinarily proud to be publishing How to Stay Sane in an Age of Division.
It is a good month for Shafak – her novel 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World (Viking in the UK) has just triumphed in a vote by Blackwell’s booksellers across the UK to be named Blackwell’s Book of the Year. On hearing the news, Shafak said: “I am utterly delighted and honoured to learn that 10 Mins was selected Blackwell’s Book of the Year. May 2020 be the year of storytelling!”