Canongate has acquired journalist Margie Orford’s “devastatingly brilliant” thriller The Eye of the Beholder.
Hannah Knowles, editorial director at Canongate, acquired world all language rights, excluding South Africa, from Cathryn Summerhayes of Curtis Brown. Canongate will publish in hardback in July 2022.
Through the intersecting lives of three women – artist Cora Berger, her teenage daughter Freya and Angel Lamar, who works at a wolf sanctuary – The Eye of the Beholder “traces an act of violence back to its origins, looking at the damage wrought by the entrenched power of the male gaze and what happens when women dare to reject it”.
“By turns brutal and reflective, this riveting novel examines the human impulse to create and compulsion to destroy, as well as the loss and reclamation of power – and its terrible cost,” the synopsis explains.
Orford is an award-winning journalist who has been dubbed the Queen of South African Crime Fiction. Her Clare Hart crime novels have been translated into 10 languages and are being developed into a television series. She was born in London and grew up in Namibia. A Fulbright Scholar, she was educated in South Africa and the United States, has a doctorate in creative writing from the University of East Anglia, and is an honorary fellow of St Hugh’s College, Oxford. She is president Emerita of PEN South Africa and was the patron of Rape Crisis, Cape Town while she lived in South Africa.
Orford said: “The Eye of the Beholder felt dangerous to write because it examines what happens when the law fails women, which it does so often. However, the writing was also liberating because ultimately the novel is about women’s capacities for love and courage and their powers of creativity. With Hannah Knowles I have been in the gentlest but most exacting hands and am thrilled to be published by Canongate.”
Knowles said: “What makes The Eye of the Beholder such a devastatingly brilliant and sophisticated thriller is Orford’s understanding that the danger women face from male violence is not that of the obvious villains we see in so many thrillers and TV dramas: it is far more human, far closer to home; more prevalent and much harder to see coming. As well as being an engrossing read, this is a novel that will provoke conversations around the ever-pressing issues of male violence and dominance in societal structures.”