W&N acquires Australia’s literary star Charlotte Wood

Charlotte Wood
© Wendy McDougall

Federico Andornino, Commissioning Editor at Weidenfeld & Nicolson, has acquired UK & Commonwealth rights (excluding Australia, New Zealand and Canada) in Charlotte Wood’s THE WEEKEND. Andornino bought rights at auction in a deal struck by Veronique Baxter at David Higham Associates on behalf of Jenny Darling & Associates. North American rights were pre-empted by Sarah McGrath, VP and Editor in Chief at Riverhead.

Charlotte Wood is one of Australia’s leading literary voices, a recipient of the Stella Prize, the Indie Book of the Year and Novel of the Year awards and the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Fiction. Her novels have received universal critical acclaim and have been called ‘beautiful and savage’ (Paula Hawkins), ‘an unforgettable reading experience’ (Liane Moriarty) and ‘a masterpiece’ (GUARDIAN).

Set over three scorching hot days in a house overlooking the ocean, THE WEEKEND is a raw and powerful novel of friendship and betrayal. Jude, Wendy and Adele have been friends for decades. Now in their seventies, they gather to say goodbye to their friend Sylvie who has recently passed away. Sylvie was the thread keeping the four women together and with her gone Jude, Wendy and Adele struggle to remember whythey have remained friends all these years. But when disaster strikes and secrets are revealed, their friendship will turn out to be the only thing keeping them alive.

Federico Andornino, editor said: ‘THE WEEKEND is literary fiction with huge appeal, Liane Moriarty’s BIG LITTLE LIES as written by Alice Munro, and Charlotte Wood is a complete genius. She explores the lives of older women in a way that’s rarely seen in contemporary fiction: these are people who have been discarded by society, by their colleagues, even by their loved ones, betrayed by their failing bodies, treated with contempt, constantly patronized. And yet they are fierce and full of life, and readers will find it impossible to look away. Forget about A LITTLE LIFE’s Jude & JB & Willem & Malcolm: it’s time Jude & Wendy & Adele & Sylvie claimed their rightful place in the spotlight.’

Charlotte Wood, author said: ‘Because my parents died young I’ve carried an intense awareness of my own mortality since I was nineteen. But as I approached middle age, a shocking new question arose: how might I cope with the strange prospect of living long into old age? I began to write towards an answer, imagining my way into the kind of woman I might be in 20 years or so. Novels with elderly protagonists can sometimes seem rather patronising. Characters are either ‘cute or cranky’ and live in a kind of stasis, obsessed with their vanished youth. I wanted to write a book about ageing that was about the present and the future, peopled by fully rounded adults with power and agency. Out of this desire grew my characters Adele, Jude and Wendy: no frail old ladies but feminist firebrands of their generation. THE WEEKEND explores ideas of friendship and growing old. How can we continue to find life interesting? How do we retain any dignity in a culture that so despises ageing women? And if we become more and more solidly ourselves as we age, what does this mean for friendship? I’m so delighted that Federico and W&N find these questions as urgent as I do, and that they’ll be guiding THE WEEKEND into the world.’

Charlotte Wood is the author of five novels and two books of non-fiction. Her novel THE NATURAL WAY OF THINGS won the 2016 Stella Prize, the 2016 Australia Indie Book of the Year and Novel of the Year and was joint winner of the Australian Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Fiction. In 2016 Charlotte was named the Charles Perkins Centre’s inaugural Writer in Residence at the University of Sydney, a radical initiative bringing science and art together in a world-class research facility.

THE WEEKEND will be published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson as one of their lead titles of summer 2020 in hardback, export trade paperback, ebook and audio with the mass market paperback to follow in Spring 2021.