PRH acquires Sydney teenager’s debut novel
Penguin Random House (PRH) has acquired Sydney teenager Vivian Pham’s debut adult novel, The Coconut Children.
Negotiated by Benython Oldfield from Zeitgeist Agency, the deal came after a ‘heated’ auction involving several publishers.
The Coconut Children is a love story set in 1990s Cabramatta, which focuses on Vince, ‘a good-looking, charismatic teenage boy who has just returned from juvie’, and Sonny, ‘a studious, innocent teenage girl who longs to escape her stifling home life’.
PRH commissioning editor Lex Hirst called The Coconut Children ‘an incredibly powerful ode to modern Australia’. ‘Vivian’s rich storytelling and the depth of her observation invites the reader into the complex world of her characters so that they live beyond the page,’ said Hirst.
Seventeen-year-old Pham, who is currently writing a second novel while completing her HSC, is a graduate of the Sydney Story Factory’s 2017 novella program. She said that without the support of Sydney Story Factory tutors, her story ‘risked being eaten alive by teenage angst’.
Co-founder and executive director of Sydney Story Factory Cath Keenan said, ‘Watching Vivian write The Coconut Children in our novella program left our staff open-mouthed with astonishment. Every week, she amazed us with the fluency of her writing and the acuity of her insights. Watching her wrestle the book into shape was also watching a great writer come into being.’
The Coconut Children will be published in 2020 under the Vintage imprint.