Tendai Huchu. Photo credit: Short Story Day Africa.

Tor has acquired the rights to two books by the Zimbabwean novelist Tendai Huchu. The publishing press’ editorial director Bella Pagan bought world rights from his agent, Jamie Cowen at Ampersand Agency, while the press’ US executive editor Will Hinton acquired North American rights from Pan Macmillan. The first of the books, The Library of the Dead, will appear in spring 2021. Here is a synopsis as reported by The Bookseller:

Ropa dropped out of school to become a ghost talker and now speaks to Edinburgh’s dead, carrying messages to the living. A girl’s gotta earn a living, and it seems harmless enough. Until, that is, the dead whisper that someone’s bewitching children – leaving them husks, empty of joy and life. It’s on Ropa’s patch, so she feels honour-bound to investigate. But what she learns will change her world. She’ll dice with death (not part of her life plan . . .), discovering an occult library and a taste for hidden magic. She’ll also experience dark times. For Edinburgh hides a wealth of secrets, and Ropa’s gonna hunt them all down.

“This is super-dope; I’m thrilled to be working with Bella and the guys at Tor,” Huchu said. “I’m a bibliophile, foremost, and Tor publishes a whole bunch of some of my favourite authors working today. So to be a part of that is pretty cool. This book was a labour of love for me and I hope readers will enjoy meeting Ropa Moyo and her upside-down version of Edinburgh.”

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Pagan commented as well: “I feel I’ve been waiting forever for just this brilliantly inventive book. And now we’ve acquired it, I couldn’t be happier. It’s smart, fast-paced, witty and vividly imagined. Our heroine Ropa Moyo is amazing too, mixing up Zimbabwean magic with her Scottish wit and pragmatism. For those that adore Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series and Netflix’s ‘Stranger Things’, this is the book you’ve been waiting for.”

Hinton had some excited words, too. “Within pages I knew I was in the hands of an absolute magician of a storyteller,” he said. “Huchu takes us to a world as hard-edged as it is enchanting, as unique and believable as its main character. And Ropa Moyo is simply unforgettable, as she carves a path through mysteries and menaces that she’s only just begun to explore.”

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Huchu is the author of the novels The Hairdresser of Harare, which is currently part of our #QueerYourAfricanRead campaign, and The Maestro, The Magistrate & The Mathematician. He has been shortlisted for the Caine Prize in 2014 and for the Nommo Awards in 2017 and 2019. Read his essays on our site here and here.

Best wishes to Tendai Huchu from Brittle Paper.