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Ethiopian-American writer Maaza Mengistee secured Fourth Estate as the UK publisher for her upcoming novel A Brief Portrait of Small Deaths, set to be published in 2025.

Fourth Estate won a six-publisher auction for Mengiste’s novel, acquiring UK and Commonwealth rights. The US rights were sold to Doubleday last year. Read our book news announcement here.

A Brief Portrait of Small Deaths is set in Berlin and features a Black German woman named Milli who works as an artist’s model, dancer, and sex worker during the Weimar republic and Nazi Germany. Milli is forced to shoot a racist propaganda film against her wishes, but things intensify when the Nazis search for a missing painting of her, declaring it degenerate art. What will happen when suspicions fall on Milli?

Kishani Widyaratna, editorial director of Fourth Estate, remarked:

A Brief Portrait of Small Deaths’ electric and innovative storytelling, and staggering exploration of power, fascism and art, blew all of us at 4th Estate away. Maaza is a remarkable and visionary writer, one who illuminates our past in such a manner that it radically recasts our understanding of both the present and what our future might hold.

Mengiste is an Ethiopian-American writer, born in Addis Ababa but moved to the US at the age of four when her family fled the Ethiopian revolution. Her debut novel Beneath the Lion’s Gaze was named of one of the 10 best contemporary African books by the Guardian in 2012. Her second novel The Shadow King (2020) was shortlisted for the Booker Prize.

Stay tuned for the preorder link for A Brief Portrait of Small Deaths!