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Sphere signs debut author Jane Yang

Tilda Key, Publishing Director at Sphere Fiction, has acquired The Lotus Shoes and one other book by debut author Jane Yang, in a pre-empt.

UK & Commonwealth rights (excluding Canada) were acquired from Madeleine Milburn at The Madeleine Milburn Literary, TV and Film Agency. Publication is slated for January 2025.

Set in 1800s China, The Lotus Shoes traces the extraordinary journey of two women from different worlds, one sold into slavery and the other into marriage. Little Flower is talented and clever but poverty forces her to become a muizai, a slave to Linjing’s wealthy family. Linjing has been betrothed to satisfy her father’s career ambitions – but scandal will strike, and both women will find their fortunes turn, yet remain inextricably bound together.

Tilda Key said: ‘The Lotus Shoes is a glorious, heart-rending story of loss and love, betrayal and sisterhood, tragedy and triumph. Jane has written a beautiful first novel, which explores the fortunes of women in 19th century China, the practice of foot binding, and the tensions between tradition and progress. I am honoured that Sphere has the opportunity to bring this unique story to readers everywhere.’

Jane Yang said: ‘I’m thrilled that Sphere is publishing The Lotus Shoes, and I love working with Tilda already! I want to thank my amazing agent, Madeleine, for all her support and guidance. I hope readers will connect with Little Flower and Linjing’s journey, which is inspired by the ancestral stories of the women in my family. Growing up as a migrant child, I didn’t have much in the way of entertainment but library books, especially historical fiction, spirited me away to distant times and captivating places – I feel so fortunate to see my own novel in print soon.’

Madeleine Milburn said: ‘The Lotus Shoes is a fascinating and vivid insight into how women survived in a strictly regulated culture and the cruel act of foot-binding, that has rarely been explored against the backdrop of embroidery and a truly heartrending love story. It feels particularly of the moment at a time when we’re striving for female emancipation and the need for female solidarity, and the story feels even more authentic as Yang drew her inspiration from her low-born great-great-aunt whose exceptional embroidery skills won her a genteel marriage and the freedom to pursue her art, despite her natural feet.’

About Little, Brown Book Group

Four-time winner of the Publisher of the Year Award, Little, Brown Book Group is one of the most diverse and successful trade publishers in the UK. Its imprints are Abacus, Atom, Blackfriars, Constable, Corsair, Fleet, Orbit, Piatkus, Robinson, Sphere, The Bridge Street Press, Virago and Little, Brown Audiobooks. It is an Hachette UK company.