Scribe scoops debut novel by gal-dem’s former art and culture editor Varaidzo

Scribe has scooped Manny and the Baby, the debut novel by former art and culture editor of gal-dem, Varaidzo.

Publisher Molly Slight acquired UK and Commonwealth rights from Niki Chang at David Higham. The book will be published on 11th April 2024 in hardback and supported by Scribe’s ‘most ambitious publicity and marketing campaign to date’.

Varaidzo is the digital editor of Wasafiri and contributor to The Good Immigrant (Unbound). She was also the creator of the Black British Figures project, which tells the stories of forgotten Black lives in the UK pre-Windrush.

The book’s synopsis says: ‘The novel tells the story of two sisters in 1930s London, who are swept up by the underground jazz scene and scheme to leave their mark on it, whoever they must deceive. When their stories are uncovered on lost cassettes in Bath, 2012, it disrupts the lives of two young Black men trying to find their lane before the Olympics is over.

Manny and the Baby is a character-driven debut novel, full of heart, about what it means to be Black and British, now and in the past.’

Slight said: ‘I instantly fell for Itai and the tenderness with which Varaidzo draws out his complex feelings about his father, being Black and British, and his growing friendship with Josh, all set against the backdrop of the 2012 London Olympics. Then, suddenly, I was catapulted backwards in time to the musical, smoke-filled clubs of Soho during the jazz age and the story of sisters Rita and Manny, each trying to leave their mark on society as women of colour.

‘That the two storylines coalesce so elegantly is testament to Varaidzo’s skill as a writer, but what I love the most about Manny and the Baby is its warmth, joy and celebration of Black Britishness.’

Varaidzo added: ‘I wanted to write a novel that explored the rich but often unexamined history of Black British entertainers during the 1930s. Many of these entertainers, who were once famous household names, have since been forgotten, so it has been a joy to reimagine that world through these lively, messy and determined characters.

Manny and the Baby is the culmination of six years of research and interest, and toys with the question: what do we lose when we don’t pass on our history?’

The cover of the novel was revealed across Scribe and Waterstones’s social media channels. The publication will be supported by a marketing campaign that will include two rounds of proofs, a significant advertising spend, and partnerships with Fane Productions and Tandem Collective.

Scribe is also partnering with Dark Matter to produce an exclusive launch event featuring live performances.

For publicity information, please get in touch with Nicola Garrison at nicola[at]

For rights information, please get in touch with Niki Chang at nicolachang[at]

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Manny and the Baby


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