Ugandan Asian exile novel signed by Picador

Rights - Fiction Friday, 15 March 2019

Two-book deal for debut author Neema Shah; Kololo Hill tells the story of a family of Ugandan Asians expelled by Idi Amin


Ansa Khan Khattak, editor at Picador, has acquired UK & Commonwealth rights in two books: Kololo Hill, and a second novel, by Neema Shah from Jenny Savill of Andrew Nurnberg after an auction.

According to the acquisition statement: 'Kololo Hill tells the story of a family who are forced to leave their home in Uganda – and the lives they've built there – when Idi Amin gives Ugandan Asians ninety days to leave the country. Ninety days in which to decide what to take, what to leave behind, whether to take the keys to their former homes, or not to bother. When deciding where to go – England? India? – the family soon discover that forces outside of their control might separate them forever.'

Neema Shah lives in London and works in marketing. Her parents and grandparents left India to make their homes in East Africa and later in London, where Neema was born. She has been shortlisted for the Bath Novel Award and was runner-up in the First Novel Prize. Kololo Hill is her first book, and she is working on her second.

Khan Khattak said: "I fell in love with Kololo Hill. There are many ways in which Neema Shah’s debut is extraordinary, and not least of these is the profoundly moving human story that she tells: the family dynamic between the characters in the book is so well drawn that the pain of their separation is palpable.

"This is also, of course, a novel that tells another, larger story: that of the forced displacement of the Asian population of Uganda. I have never read a book that gives such a clear-eyed and evocative account of what the last days in a place that you call home – but are being forced to leave – must be like.

"Neema Shah is an incredibly talented writer and I’m absolutely delighted that she will be joining the Picador list."

Shah said: "I'm thrilled to become a Picador author and can't wait to work with the team. I felt utterly at home at Picador and it's clear that they feel as passionately about the novel as I do." Kololo Hill will be published in spring 2021.

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