Weidenfeld & Nicolson has snapped up the “dazzlingly clever” second novel by This Happy (W&N) author Niamh Campbell.
Lettice Franklin, publishing director, acquired world rights to We Were Young from Matthew Turner at RCW. It will be published in hardback, trade paperback, e-book and audio in February 2022.
We Were Young follows Cormac, a photographer. The blurb reads: “Approaching 40 and still single, he suddenly finds himself ‘the leftover man’. Through talent and charm, he has escaped small-town life and a haunted family. But now his peers are all getting divorced, dying or buying trampolines in the suburbs. And Cormac is dating former students, staying out all night and receiving boilerplate rejection emails for his work, propped up by a constellation of the women and ex-lovers in his life.
“In the last weeks of the year Cormac meets Caroline, an ambitious young dancer, and embarks on a miniature odyssey of intimacy. Simultaneously, he must take responsibility for his married brother, whose mid-life crisis forces them both to reckon with a death in the family that hangs over those left behind.”
W&N said: “Set in Dublin, a city built on burial pits, We Were Young is a dazzlingly clever, deeply enjoyable novel from an exquisite literary voice.”
Campbell’s debut This Happy was shortlisted for Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award 2021, AN Post Irish Book Award for Sunday Independent Newcomer of the Year 2020, the John McGahern Book Prize and the Kate O’Brien Award. She also won the 2020 Sunday Times Short Story Audible Award for “Love Many”.
Franklin said: “I read We Were Young in blissful awe. It is an extraordinarily assured, enjoyable, clever, poignant, witty, beautiful novel. It reminds me of Anne Enright, Jon McGregor and Tessa Hadley. Literary prizes were made for books like this and readers should be ready to fall in complicated love with Cormac and the circle of women that prop him up.”
Campbell, who is based in London, commented: “This Happy and ‘Love Many’ deal with women baffled by men, but this novel aims to flip the perspective: it is a book about male passivity which looks sympathetically at the thought process and feelings behind this passivity.”