A new book by British Turkish Cypriot author Chimene Suleyman generated a four-way bidding war among publishing houses, with Weidenfeld & Nicolson (W&N) emerging victorious and acquiring the rights for The Chain.
Described as “spellbinding” and “explosive”, Suleyman’s powerful memoir The Chain delves into the control one man has over many women, the trauma this causes and the vital sisterhood it creates in his wake.
The book’s synopsis reads: “In January 2017, Chimene Suleyman was on her way to an abortion clinic in Queens, New York with her boyfriend, the father of her nascent child. It was the last day they would spend together. In an extraordinary sequence of events, Chimene was to discover the truth of her boyfriend’s life: that she and many other women had been subtly, patiently and painfully betrayed.”
The Turkish Cypriot author, who is renowned for her forthright views, said: “I wrote The Chain for every woman who has doubted her voice then found it again through the women around her. It is a deeply personal story, but tragically also a universal one.”
Part personal testimony, part social commentary, The Chain lays bare the deep-rooted misogyny in society. Its bold themes and Suleyman’s literary style have struck a chord with all who have read the book and prompted strong interest from multiple publishers.
Trade publication the Bookseller confirmed W&N had won the bidding war, penning a deal with Suleyman through her literary agent Lisa Baker at Aitken Alexander for UK and Commonwealth rights to The Chain. The book will be published in March 2024.
According to W&N website, the publishing house is “one of the most prestigious and dynamic literary imprints in British and international publishing, home to a wide range of literary fiction and non-fiction, modern classics, prizewinning debuts and worldwide bestsellers.”
W&N’s list of authors include African American novelist Alice Walker, Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, Monty Python’s Sir Michael Palin, and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones.
Remarking about their acquisition of The Chain, Jenny Lord, the executive publisher of W&N, said: “Spilling over with hard-won wisdom and written with a fierce heart and an intoxicating rhythm, no one could tell this story quite like Chimene. The Chain is one of the most outstanding memoirs I’ve ever read, and we can’t wait to share it with readers everywhere.”
About Chimene Suleyman
London-born Chimene Suleyman first made literary waves with ‘Outside Looking On’ (2014, Influx Press), her debut poetry collection about loneliness and boredom, where she used the Docklands as allegory and symbol.
The poems received rave reviews, with the Guardian naming ‘Outside Looking On’ as one of their ‘Books of the Year 2014′, while Huffington Post described Suleyman as “not merely an outstanding writer, but an important one.”
Suleyman’s experiences of racism and British colonialism shaped her hard-hitting essay My Name is My Name that appeared in The Good Immigrant (2016), a crowdfunded publication which brought together 21 talented and newly emerging black, Asian and minority ethnic writers in Britain whose stories explored why immigrants come to the UK, why they stay and what it means to be ‘other’ in a country that doesn’t seem to want you.
Fiercely proud of her Turkish Cypriot roots, Suleyman has been open about her family’s tragic past including that her grandfather was tortured and killed by Greek Cypriot militia by their village in Baf / Paphos in 1964 following the outbreak of the Cyprus Conflict and that her father, Recep Suleyman, became a mucahit (freedom fighter) at the tender age of 13 to try and protect the family. A decade later, in 1974 Chimene’s father was taken as a prisoner of war by Greek Cypriots and held for 101 days.
In December 2019, Suleyman gave a 3-hour lecture to students at Eastern Mediterranean University (pictured top) in the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus. Her talk covered race politics, identity and migration, and also gave tips on publishing and writing.
Suleyman has written on the politics of race and immigration and her work has featured in the Guardian, the Independent, and on the BBC, NPR and Sky.