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An electrifying novel of passion, connection and transformation from ‘a writer of show-stopping genius’ (Guardian), Burntcoat will be published on 10 October 2021. Hall began writing the novel on the first day of national lockdown in March 2020. 

You were the last one here, before I closed the door of Burntcoat. Before we all closed our doors.

In the bedroom above her immense studio at Burntcoat, the celebrated sculptor Edith Harkness is making her final preparations. The symptoms are well known: her life will draw to an end in the coming days.

Downstairs, the studio is a crucible glowing with memories and desire. It was here, when the first lockdown came, that she brought Halit. The lover she barely knew. A presence from another culture. A doorway into a new and feverish world.

Sarah Hall said: 

‘On the first day of lockdown in March last year I woke up very early and started writing. That morning, everything felt eerily shrouded and in jeopardy. I remember a similar feeling from childhood. You’d wake to heavy silence, a sense of event. Some spring snow would have obliterated the valley overnight, and you’d have to dig out. Every morning, I got up and wrote while it was still dark. I was homeschooling my daughter, so I only had those hours. I’m not saying I was particularly equipped. But some part of me – a kind of first responder – wanted to work. I’ve been heartbroken by the last year, in so many ways. We all are. Like Burntcoat’s protagonist, I know art can’t really offer a cure. But I had to write this book.’

Alex Bowler, Publisher at Faber, said: 

‘In years to come, Burntcoat will be regarded as one of the major literary landmarks of this era. The story of two new lovers confined, it is a sublime and scorching experience, an elegy burning with resistance, which no reader will forget.’

Faber has acquired UK & Commonwealth (inc. Canada) rights. Custom House will publish in the US in November 2021. Rights have also been acquired by Ambo Anthos (Dutch), Sellerio (Italian) and Bourgois (French). 

Sarah Hall was born in Cumbria. Twice nominated for the Man Booker Prize, she is the award-winning author of five novels and three short story collections – The Beautiful Indifference, which won the Edge Hill and Portico prizes, Madame Zero, winner of the East Anglian Book Award, and Sudden Traveller, shortlisted for the James Tait Black Prize for Fiction. She is currently the only author to be four times shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award, which she won in 2013 with ‘Mrs Fox’ and in 2020 with ‘The Grotesques’.

Sarah Hall image (copyright Richard Thwaites)

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Sarah Hall

An electrifying novel of passion, connection and transformation from ‘a writer of show-stopping genius’ (Guardian).