Picador has acquired UK and Commonwealth rights in the debut short story collection by Dima Alzayat, a Syrian-born writer now living in the UK where she is a PhD student and associate lecturer at Lancaster University.

Entitled Alligator and Other Stories, the book’s acquiring editor Ansa Khan Khattak said: “Dima writes luminously of feeling displaced – as a Syrian, as an Arab, as a woman – always as an ‘other’. Told through the lens of often very everyday scenarios, her stories are rich, relatable, and full of nuance. Each of the stories in the collection is startling and real, but delivers an emotional punch that stays with the reader long after we’ve finished reading.”

She added: “Dima Alzayat is a really exciting talent – as demonstrated by the recognition her writing has received already – including winning the Bristol Short Story prize, and being shortlisted for the 2018 Deborah Rogers Foundation Writers Award. There is so much in Alligator: stories that explore family and inheritance, identity and gender, but also such emotional depth and flashes of humour. The stories are wonderful and entertaining in and of themselves, but also explore subtly and brilliantly questions around immigration and the difficulties of grafting one identity onto another. Dima’s ability to inhabit so many different voices make me convinced that this is the start of a brilliant career.”

Born in Damascus, Syria, Alzayat grew up in San Jose, California, and now lives in Manchester. She was the winner of a 2018 Northern Writers’ Award, the 2017 Bristol Short Story Prize and 2015 Bernice Slote Award, runner-up in the 2018 Deborah Rogers Award and the 2018 Zoetrope: All-Story Competition, and was Highly Commended in the 2013 Bridport Prize.

Picador concluded the deal with Juliet Pickering at Blake Friedmann in London.  Arabic rights in the collection are still available.  Indie press Two Dollar Radio has bought the collection in the US.  Picador will publish Alligator and Other Stories in 2020.