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‘Musical as hell, pacy and bent as a convict’s conscience’—Canongate to publish new Kevin Barry novel

The Heart of Winter, by Kevin Barry will be published by Canongate in 2024

“It is as if you are never quite sure that what you are reading is a line of verse, a sentence of fiction or a stage direction or, perhaps, all three,” said Michael Cronin, in his Irish Times review of Kevin Barry‘s superb novel Night Boat to Tangier, which was long-listed for the Booker Prize.

Now, after nearly five years, comes a new work by Barry, The Heart of Winter, which will be published by Canongate in 2024.

Francis Bickmore acquired UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, from Lucy Luck at C&W Agency. North American rights were acquired by Lee Boudreaux at Doubleday, who will be publishing alongside Canongate in summer 2024.

The Heart of Winter tells the story of young poet and ballad-maker Tom Rourke, who is “also a doper, a drinker, and a fearsome degenerate”.

Bickmore described the book as a “savagely funny and achingly romantic tale set among the immigrant communities of the Wild West in the 1880s. Musical as hell, pacy and bent as a convict’s conscience, it has echoes of Bonnie and Clyde, Badlands and Deadwood. But at heart, it is a work of pure Barry genius and one that takes his career to a whole new level.” 

Barry said he wrote the first draft of the novel over twenty years ago, after visiting Butte in 1999: “It’s been a long time in the works, and I’m delighted to have finally hit what feels like the right note for it. And it’s a great thrill to continue my relationship with Canongate and all the gang there – it’s always felt like a very natural home for my books.”