Earlier this year, following President Donald Trump's first attempt to issue an executive order suspending refugee admission to the U.S. and restricting immigration from seven Muslim countries, literary agents across the publishing industry announced a collective open call for submissions by Muslim writers. This month, a writer who secured an agent through that call has now signed a book deal.
The U.K.'s Borough Press has announced that its publicity director, Ann Bissell, has made her first acquisition, buying U.K. and Commonwealth rights to The Pact We Made, by Layla AlAmmar, from Ben Fowler at Abner Stein, on behalf of Melissa Edwards at Stonesong. Borough Press calls The Pact We Made the "first of the novels discovered through the open call to find a publisher." It will be published in hardcover on March 7, 2019.
The novel, which is AlAmmar’s debut, tells the story, the publisher said, of Dahlia, "who is staring down the barrel of her thirtieth birthday, the age when a Kuwaiti woman from a good family is past her prime marrying years. Dahlia straddles two worlds: one in which she’s a modern woman living in a modern city, and another where she can’t have male friends, or leave the country without her father’s permission." The publisher has compared the book to Kate Chopin's The Awakening.
AlAmmar, who grew up in Kuwait with an American mother and a Kuwaiti father, has a masters in creative writing from the University of Edinburgh. She was a finalist for the Aesthetica Magazine Creative Writing Award in 2014.
"I'm thrilled to be signing this deal with The Borough Press," AlAmmar said in a statement. "It's an impressive imprint whose titles I love, and I am so proud to be working with them on my debut novel."