Canongate to publish Kerri ni Dochartaigh's debut book, Thin Places

Canongate has secured the first book by Northern Irish nature writer and essayist Kerri ní Dochartaigh following a six-way auction.

Commissioning editor Jo Dingley acquired world rights to Thin Places excluding North America and including audio, from Kirsty McLachlan at David Godwin Associates. The book will be published in Spring 2021.

The publisher said: “Kerri ní Dochartaigh was born in Derry at the height of the Troubles, to a mixed-religion teenage couple. As a result, her childhood was one of trauma and violence – not least when, aged eleven, a homemade petrol bomb was thrown through her bedroom window. The ‘thin places’, spaces in nature where it feels as though anything is possible, were what saved Kerri in this period – and continue to do so now.”

Thin Places combines memoir, history, nature writing and political commentary. Canongate said it “explores how nature comforted her and helped her heal; how violence and poverty are never more than a stone’s throw from beauty and hope, and how we are, once again, allowing our thin places to become solid, our borders to become hard and violence to creep back in”.

ní Dochartaigh has won a variety of awards, including the 2016 Mark Avery Wildlife and Politics Prize, and writes about nature, literature and place for publications which include Caught By The River, New Welsh Review and the London Magazine

She said: “This story is one about crossing borders, of courage and hope; it speaks of things once thought unnameable. Canongate are a brave, dedicated and deeply inspiring publisher. More than that, though, they are a group of humans who want the right words to make their way into our world; and that is a truly special thing indeed. Jo’s understanding of this story, coupled with her commitment to its delicate telling, made it very clear she is the editor for this book. I am incredibly grateful for the chance to work alongside this team.”

Dingley says: “Kerri is an exceptionally talented and sensitive writer with a unique way of seeing the world – always finding the beauty in it. Hers is a story with many moments of darkness, but it is ultimately about compassion, acceptance and hope. With the recent horrifying and tragic events in Derry, there can be no doubt that we need writers like Kerri more than we ever have.”