Hamish Hamilton To Publish Debut Novel That Atwood Calls "The 1001 Nights Of Its Time"
May 8, 2012 (Toronto) — Hamish Hamilton is thrilled to announce the acquisition of Fire in the Unnameable Country, an explosive debut novel by Canadian author Ghalib Islam, who caught the eye of Margaret Atwood when he was her graduate student in the Creative Writing program at the University of Toronto.
Atwood calls Islam’s work "the 1001 Nights of its time — rooms opening into rooms, stories opening into stories in the same literary mansion as Calvino, Burroughs, David Foster Wallace, and the meta-fabulist satirists. Often very funny in a dark, horrifying way … A funhouse mirror of the actual state of certain parts of the world, in our age."
Scheduled for publication in February 2014, the novel was acquired in an exciting pre–empt by Hamish Hamilton Publisher Nicole Winstanley with Islam’s agent, John Pearce of Westwood Creative Artists.
Says Winstanley, "I knew I wanted to publish Fire in the Unnameable Country after reading its opening sentences. The prose is an almost indescribable combination of ambition, innovation, and originality, and the pages contain a deep wisdom that never really leaves you. Ghalib Islam is a formidable talent, and I’m really proud to have him on the Hamish Hamilton list."
Says Islam, "I am thrilled Fire in the Unnameable Country will be published by Hamish Hamilton alongside such talented and prominent literary voices as Arundhati Roy, Philip Roth, and Zadie Smith."
Fire in the Unnameable Country begins high in the sky, as a baby boy is born on a flying carpet thousands of feet above an obscure land whose leader has manufactured the ability to hear every unspoken utterance of the nation and records the contents of his citizens’ minds onto magnetic tape reels for archival storage. Later in his still young life, as the unnameable country collapses into disarray around him, he begins a rambling, hypnotic epistle, where, interspersed with accounts of contemporary terrorist attacks and the outbreak of a mysterious viral epidemic, he invokes the memories of generations past to hark back upon the troubled history of the country and expose the root of the current crisis. A fever dream of dystopian scenarios evolving by shotgun mitosis on the page, Fire in the Unnameable Country could easily be the result of William S. Burroughs, Philip K. Dick, and M.C. Escher collaborating on a sequel to Inception set on the Arabian Peninsula in the aftermath of a Reagan–era imperial intervention.
About Ghalib Islam
Ghalib Islam was born in Bangladesh and immigrated to Canada at age seven. He has a BA in Political Science from McMaster University, where he focused on international relations, and is a graduate of the University of Toronto’s Creative Writing MA program, where he studied under Margaret Atwood.