#Merky Books to publish American debut Last Summer On State Street by Toya Wolfe

Author Toya Wolfe

Stormzy’s Penguin Random House imprint has snapped up the rights for American debut Last Summer on State Street by Toya Wolfe (shown in News article picture). Assistant Editor Tallulah Lyons acquired UK & Commonwealth rights from Meredith Kaffel Simonoff at The Gernert Company, previously at DeFiore and Company.

Last Summer on State Street was published by William Morrow, an imprint of Harper Collins, in June 2022 to outstanding critical acclaim and overwhelmingly positive reader reviews. The New York Times Book Review called it “a remarkable achievement” and Audrey Niffennegger described it as “a beautifully observed portrait of family and female friendship”.

Last Summer on State Street is a striking coming-of-age debut about friendship, community, and resilience, set in the housing projects of Chicago during one life-changing summer. An unlikely trio: Felicia ‘Fe Fe’ Stevens, daughter of fiercely protective mother; Precious Brown, daughter of a prominent church Elder; and Stacia Buchanan, daughter of a Gangster Disciple Queen-Pin. They have a simple friendship, wiling away sunny days with games of Double Dutch. But when Fe Fe invites mysterious Tonya into their fold, life as they know it will never be the same again.

Set against the backdrop of Chicago’s Robert Taylor homes, Wolfe has drawn upon her own lived experiences growing up in the housing projects, and at its core, Last Summer on State Street is a story about the bonds, the connections, the ties, the braids of the kinds of people that Robert Taylor bonded.

Comments from the author – Toya Wolfe

Wolfe says: “I am so honoured to join the #Merky Books family! Stormzy’s imprint at Penguin Random House set out to highlight underrepresented voices; I aspired to write a novel about a community who rarely sees themselves in print, so this is such a wonderful union. Last Summer on State Street is a novel about a very specific space on the South Side of Chicago, narrated by a woman who recalls her girlhood in vivid detail. This story will travel to the UK and beyond, and I am excited for the people of these countries, so far from State Street, to meet Fe Fe, Precious, Stacia, and Tonya.”

Lyons says: “From the very first page, I was gripped by this remarkable novel. Last Summer on State Street is a simultaneously heart-breaking but heart-warming story, one that stays with you long after you’ve put it down. This is a book that I would urge everyone to read – Toya has written a true masterpiece and I am honoured that Toya has chosen #Merky Books as her UK literary home.”

Last Summer on State Street will be published by #Merky Books in hardback, eBook and audio in March 2023.

Notes to Editors

About the author

Toya Wolfe grew up in the Robert Taylor Homes on Chicago’s South Side. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing at Columbia College Chicago. Her writing has appeared in African Voices, Chicago Journal, Chicago Reader, Hair Trigger 27, and Warpland: A Journal of Black Literature and Ideas. She

is the recipient of the Zora Neale Hurston-Bessie Head Fiction Award, the Union League Civic & Arts Foundation Short Story Competition, and the Betty Shifflett/John Schultz Short Story Award. Last Summer on State Street is her debut novel.

About #Merky Books

#Merky Books is an award-winning imprint launched in 2018 by Stormzy and Penguin Random House UK with a clear ambition to publish books that will own – and change – the mainstream. We are home to bold voices from untraditional spaces that are inclusive and intersectional. We exist to break down barriers in the publishing industry, and we bring books to life in an exciting way.

Our publishing includes a memoir of a writing life by Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman and the heroic life of Olympic champion Caster Semenya, literary writers such as the award-winning Derek Owusu and the first New Writers’ Prize winners Hafsa Zayyan and Monika Radojevic, and cultural stories such as the book which decolonised literature, Jade LB’s Keisha the Sket and Calum Jacobs’ A New Formation on the glory of Black British football.

Alongside our expansive publishing our community values are vital to what we do. We invest in the voices of today and tomorrow with an annual New Writers’ Prize, engage directly with a cultivated audience through our brand channels and partnerships, and connect directly with communities of readers, writers, illustrators across the country with our literary festivals.

Press contact

Etty Eastwood, Publicity Director, Cornerstone imprints eeastwood@penguinrandomhouse.co.uk

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