Debut novel Ravelling acquired by Lilliput after 2020 Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair
The Lilliput Press, recently awarded The Bookseller Small Press of the Year in Ireland, has signed rising star of Irish fiction Estelle Birdy for her ‘explosively original’ novel Ravelling. Lilliput acquired worldwide rights against stiff competition and international interest for the most talked-about novel of this year’s Irish Writers’ Centre Novel Fair. Lilliput’s win was aided by international rights agent Marianne Gunn O’Connor. The hotly contested debut is due for release in spring 2021 with rights sales being brokered by Gunn O’Connor at Frankfurt this autumn.
Described as ‘Fast-paced, funny and eye-popping, descending from Trainspotting, White Teeth and Milkman in its portrayal of urban life in the twenty-first century’, its synopsis explains ‘A group of eighteen- and nineteen-year-old young men mitch off school in Dublin’s city centre to say goodbye to their homeless friend, Jack, who died by suicide. Deano, Hamza, Oisín, Benit and Karl encounter Jack’s sister, Candy, and mother, Marian – a local madam – ganglord Wino Nestor, and, later, Deano’s addict mother. They deal with parties, their Leaving Certificate, race, poverty, violence and Garda harassment, and they wonder what it means to be a man through a happily drug-fuelled haze. With scenes from street dealing to park brawls, to a brothel and a hospital ward, the group’s fateful interactions at Jack’s funeral set in motion a chain of events that threatens their bonds, safety, and the very stability of the world around them.’
Publisher Antony Farrell says, ‘We feel we pulled off a remarkable coup by signing Estelle Birdy and offering a pre-empt for her remarkable novel Ravelling, set in Dublin’s Liberties. Its diverse, captivating cast of characters, rendered in pin-sharp dialogue reminiscent of Roddy Doyle, leaves the reader with an immersive sense of multi-cultural Ireland coming to terms with the new dynamics of identity and change in the ferment of modern times.’
Speaking about signing with Lilliput, Birdy says, ‘When I was invited to the Irish Writers’ Centre Novel Fair, I never imagined that within weeks I would be working with the wonderful people at high- quality Irish independent publishers Lilliput Press and have the added bonus of the inimitable Marianne Gunn O’Connor dealing with international rights for my book. It’s the perfect literary relationship for me and is like a dream come true.’
Author bio: Estelle Birdy, long-time resident of Dublin’s Liberties, is a recent graduate of UCD’s Masters in Creative Writing, with teachers Anne Enright and Sebastian Barry. Her reviews and nonfiction have appeared in the Sunday Independent, the Irish Times and others. She has won or been shortlisted in Dalkey Creates, Penfro Book Festival, Verve Poetry Festival and IWC Novel Fair competitions. She is a paid reader for the RTÉ Francis MacManus Short Story Competition.
Ravelling – [EXTRACT]
Inside the church, the guest of honour is already there, lying in a wicker coffin on a trolley near the altar. There’s a table with a framed photo of Jack, smiling and looking a lot fuller in the face than anyone remembers. A wreath of blood-red roses lies at the foot of the trolley. Garish paintings of the stations of the cross line the walls. Back in the ’80s, some priest had notions – commissioned a Polish modern artist, known for the gruesomeness of his pictures of life under the Commies. One of the green electric candles that light the paintings is flickering on and off. So that Jesus falling for the third time looks like a scene from Insidious.
—Fuck, they’ve Jack like a basket of chips in Zaytoon, Deano whispers into Oisín’s ear.