Hamish Hamilton scoops Ayanna Gillian Lloyd’s mythic Trinidad-set debut


A report by Katherine Cowdrey for The Bookseller.

Our thanks to Robert Lee for bringing this item to our attention.

Hamish Hamilton has acquired Ayanna Gillian Lloyd’s debut The Gatekeepers, and a further novel, at auction.

Hermione Thompson, editor at Hamish Hamilton, bought UK and Commonwealth rights from Tracy Bohan at the Wylie Agency. US rights have also been sold by Jacqueline Ko to Margo Shickmanter at Doubleday in a pre-empt, and Canadian rights sold by Tracy Bohan, pre-empted by Amy Black at Bond Street Books.

The Gatekeepers is a love story and a ghost story, set in modern day Trinidad, that, according to the publisher, blends “the mythic and timeless with the sharply contemporary”.

The synopsis reads: “Darwin is a down-on-his-luck gravedigger, newly arrived in the city, struggling to hold onto his Rastafarian faith, young and beautiful and lost. Yejide is trying to grieve her mother while coming to terms with the legacy that has now passed on to her: the power to talk to the dead. They will find one another in Port Angeles, where the dead lie uneasy and where trouble is brewing…”

Thompson said: “Ayanna is an extraordinary storyteller, conjuring voices and places with mesmerising rhythm and an exuberant, life-giving warmth that I would follow anywhere. The Gatekeepers is a hopeful novel but also one that gestures powerfully to the violent history of its setting – creating space for this legacy and, ultimately, reclaiming and transforming it. In its synthesis of folkloric magic with intimate human experience, Ayanna’s work is in conversation with Arundhati Roy, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Toni Morrison and Jean Rhys. Resistance is futile – prepare to discover your new favourite writer.”

Lloyd, who is now working on her second novel, is a writer from Trinidad & Tobago and a graduate of the University of East Anglia Creative Writing MA programme as well as a postgraduate researcher in Creative-Critical Writing at UEA.

She said: “I am thrilled to be working with Hamish Hamilton to publish my debut novel, The Gatekeepers, amongst so many incredible authors I have long admired. I could never have imagined the enthusiasm and support the book has received thus far and I can’t wait for readers to meet Darwin and Yejide. I hope that everyone drawn into the world of The Gatekeepers – from the hills of Morne Marie and the winding streets of Bellemere to the gritty energy of Port Angeles – finds love there among the living and the dead, a love that is its own kind of reckoning.”

Hamish Hamilton will publish The Gatekeepers in spring 2022, with a second novel, Dark Eye Place, to follow in 2024.

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