Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is one of the most wonderfully engaging fantasy novels of the 21st century, introducing readers to a richly textured world where Jane Austen-style society drama lives side-by-side with magical fantasy reminiscent of Neil Gaiman‘s best work. The novel spawned a limited TV series adaptation in 2015, but Clarke’s only literary follow-up has been the short story collection The Ladies of Grace Adieu. But now Clarke’s fans have something to look forward to, because Bloomsbury announced Monday that it has acquired the rights to two new novels from the author.
Only the first of those two novels is detailed in the announcement, but it sounds wonderful. The book is titled Piranesi, after its main character, but is not set in the same world as Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. Here’s the description: “Piranesi has always lived in the House. It has hundreds if not thousands of rooms and corridors, imprisoning an ocean. A watery labyrinth. Once in a while he sees his friend, The Other, who needs Piranesi for his scientific research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. Piranesi records his findings in his journal. Then messages begin to appear; all is not what it seems. A terrible truth unravels as evidence emerges of another person and perhaps even another world outside the House’s walls.”
“Once in a lifetime do you get to publish a book that becomes encoded in the very DNA of who you are as a publisher. For me and for Bloomsbury, that book was Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell: a book that appeared from the ether like an apparition,” Bloomsbury editor-in-chief Alexandra Pringle said in a statement. “I had thought it couldn’t be equalled; but when I followed Piranesi into his watery Halls, I discovered Susanna’s wit, strangeness and sorrow made new and beautiful in ways I could not have imagined. It will be an honor to open the doors to the House, and show its beauty to the world.”
Piranesi is set to be published globally in September 2020.