Yewande Omotoso‘s new book The Woman Next Door, an endearing story of two women living in Cape Town, South Africa, is ready for the world.
In the new book, Hortensia James and Marion Agostino are neighbours and sworn enemies. They share hedge and hatred and prune both with a zeal and vim that belies the fact that they are both over eighty. Marion, troubled by her inertia in the face of apartheid, nevertheless resents the intrusion of a black woman into her white neighbourhood. Hortensia, weary of the hypocrisies of South Africa and blind to her own, has no capacity for social graces or friendship.
One day an unforeseen event forces the women together and gradually the sniping and bickering softens into lively debate and memories shared and, finally, just possibly, into something that looks a bit like a (rather spiky) form of friendship.
Speaking about her novel Yewande Omotoso added: ‘I wanted to tell a story about an unlikely relationship. I was also moved, through conversations with my grandmother, to explore what it might mean to have the bulk of your life behind you. In the case of this story, along with their accomplishments, they’ve made all the mistakes we hope to avoid and had all the unhappiness already.
The world rights for the book, including all languages, have been picked up by Random House imprint Chatto & Windus. The novel was acquired the novel from Elise Dillsworth at the Elise Dillsworth Agency. Chatto & Windus is also the publisher of 2013 Man Booker Prize-shortlisted author NoViolet Bulawayo.
Its been a very busy time for our Yewande. She is a Miles Morland Scholar this year and should be working on another book on the story of loss and a mother’s attempt to come to terms with the death of her daughter. That book should hopefully be done by the end of the year. She is also curating the Long Story Short project.