Canongate to publish Catch-22 for our times

Canongate Books has pre-empted UK rights in two books by PEN/Hemingway award-winning writer Ben Fountain.

BILLY LYNN’S LONG HALFTIME WALK is a dazzling debut novel, recently described by Karl Marlantes as “the Catch 22 of the Iraq War”.  Canongate Senior Editor Tif Loehnis acquired UK & Commonwealth rights from Felicity Blunt of Curtis Brown on behalf of ICM’s Heather Schroder.   Canongate will publish the novel in June 2012, followed in 2013 by BRIEF ENCOUNTERS WITH CHE GUEVARA, a story collection which has drawn comparisons in the US to Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, Robert Stone and John Le Carre.

Ben Fountain was the focus of a recent New Yorker article by Malcolm Gladwell on late blooming geniuses.  His fiction has appeared in Harper's, The Paris Review, and Zoetrope: All Story, and he has been awarded an O. Henry Prize, two Pushcart Prizes, and the PEN/Hemingway Award. 

Loehnis says:

“BILLY LYNN’S LONG HALFTIME WALK is a contemporary war story of extraordinary power and scope – a dagger-sharp satire, but told with heart-breaking tenderness and humanity.  It is also wickedly, painfully funny.  Billy Lynn’s story is a soldier’s tale but the battlefield is the home front: the dangerous disconnect between the war at home and the war abroad, the wounds inflicted by the rituals and contradictions of 21st century America.  I’ve not read such an era-defining novel since Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities.  I couldn’t wish for a more exciting first acquisition in my new role at Canongate.”

Lee Boudreaux at Ecco is publishing the novel in the US in May 2012.  It has already drawn the following quotes:

"Ben Fountain’s Halftime is as close to the Great American Novel as anyone is likely to come these days—an extraordinary work that captures and releases the unquiet spirit of our age, and will probably be remembered as one of the important books of this decade." —Madison Smartt Bell

“Passonate, irreverent, utterly relevant, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk offers an unforgettable portrait of a reluctant hero. Ben Fountain writes like a man inspired and his razor sharp exploration of our contemporary ironies will break your heart.” - Margot Livesey

“This book will be the Catch-22 of the Iraq War. Instead of skewering the military, however, it skewers the society responsible for sending it to war, namely us. This funny, yet totally sobering, dissection of the American way of watching war will have you squirming at the same time you are laughing out loud; Fountain applies the heat of his wicked sense of humor while you face the truth of who we have become. Live one day inside Billy Lynn’s head and you’ll never again see our soldiers or America in the same way.—Karl Marlantes, bestselling author of MATTERHORN

Translation rights are being handled by Helen Manders of Curtis Brown.  All enquiries to Helen@curtisbrown.co.uk

Press contact: Anna Frame, Publicist – anna.frame@canongate.co.uk / 0131 557 5111

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