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R.F. Kuang

Dear readers,

I have two very happy updates for you today.

First, more tour tickets have opened up for my Boston event on May 23. I’m a bit sad about it because I love doing events at the Brattle theater (our favorite local indie theater, where we saw Casablanca for the first time!) But as tickets sold out almost immediately, I’m very happy we were able to secure a larger venue. Tickets are available here.

Second, I’m writing more books! This deal has been in the works for a while now, but it was just announced a few hours ago at London Book Fair. Here’s a quote from The Bookseller:

HarperCollins has landed an historical novel and a fantasy from Rebecca F Kuang, author of Babel and forthcoming Yellowface.

May Chen, executive editor at HarperCollins US division William Morrow, negotiated the deal for world English rights with Hannah Bowman at Liza Dawson Associates. Chen will be the editor of the historical novel with executive editor David Pomerico editing the fantasy novel for HarperVoyager. Natasha Bardon acquired UK and Commonwealth rights at HarperCollins UK where the books will be published by HarperFiction and HarperVoyager respectively.

The first novel in the new deal is described by the publisher as an epic, multigenerational saga centred around a Chinese-American family that spans the decades from the Cultural Revolution to the Bush years. “[It explores] the tensions between carving out an individual destiny and being buffeted by the tides of history,” said the publisher.

The fantasy novel is “a story of dusty archives, unreliable sources, and an unstable sense of history that looks at what happens if, in the process of uncovering archives and piecing together the truth, we might reach backwards, grasp the ghosts, and help them push history off its course”.

I’m very excited about the first book mentioned. It should be no surprise that this is really the story of my family – the story I’ve been writing around ever since I started drafting The Poppy War. I want to look beyond landmark historical events like WWII, the Cultural Revolution, and the reform-and-opening up of the 1980s and instead examine the complicated personal experiences of those dreaming students who came to the states seeking a different future after the traumatic events of 1989. What sorts of freedom did they envision-and did they find it? How did they adhere to, or subvert, the assimilationist immigrant narrative? What ghosts did they try to bury? What ghosts are still with us?

This is the novel I have been wanting to write for my entire life; I think I’m at last ready to meet its challenge.

To be clear, neither of these novels are KATABASIS! These are books seven and eight. KATABASIS – book six – which I’m polishing up over the summer, comes out in 2025. Perhaps I’ll take a five minute nap when it does! Then we roll our sleeves up and get back to work…

Love,

Rebecca

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