Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell author Susanna Clarke is publishing her second novel, sixteen years after we were introduced to the first. The new novel will be titled Piranesi.
Due for release in September 2020, Clarke’s Piranesi will follow the story of its titular hero, who resides in the ‘House’ with “hundreds if not thousands of rooms and corridors, imprisoning an ocean. A watery labyrinth.”
Piranesi records his findings in his journal and when messages begin to appear “a terrible truth unravels as evidence emerges of another person and perhaps even another world outside the House’s walls.”
Bloomsbury announced on Monday that the novel is included in a two-book deal.
Susanna Clarke, author
It is said that Clarke’s first novel, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, took her more than 10 years to write and runs to over 1,000 pages.
The fictional world is an alternative version of 19th-century England, where magic has almost become a thing of the past. The 2004 novel proved hugely popular and sold over 4m copies, winning literary prizes including the Hugo and World Fantasy awards.
Clarke has since published a collection of short stories set in the same universe, The Ladies of Grace Adieu, candidly saying in interviews that ill-health had unfortunately slowed progress.
Clarke’s agent, Jonny Geller, said that there are “a few moments in an agent’s life when something so unexpected and so wonderful pops up in your inbox, you can’t quite believe it”.
“Susanna hinted she may be writing again after such a long hiatus, but I never really believed a fully imagined world, a perfectly constructed novel, would just be sitting there,” said Geller.
Clarke’s UK editor, Alexandra Pringle, said that she had thought that Jonathan Strange, which “appeared from the ether like an apparition … 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,” she said. “It will be an honour to open the doors to the House, and show its beauty to the world.”