The Lost Spell

By Yismake Worku (translated by Bethlehem Attfield)

Fiction | Jackie Morris selects
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Publication date: August 2021

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Novice

A special edition paperback with holographic foil debossed cover (published August 2021).

PLUS:

  • Your name listed in the back of the book.
$100  + shipping
10 orders

Adept

A signed limited edition, handmade using a 4th century Ethiopian sewing technique (published December 2021).

PLUS:

  • A printed proof of the novel before general release
  • Exclusive discount rate - will be £80 after presale
  • Your name listed in the back of the book

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“While researching a book of spells, a wealthy man transforms himself into a dog. We follow the (now) canine protagonist as he journeys to Addis Ababa, and through his eyes we witness the sublime beauty of the Ethiopian landscape. The story of one man’s literal dehumanization allegorizes the abasement our narrator witnesses around him as he simultaneously lauds and laments his country… Worku presents a fly-on-the-wall (or a dog-on-the-road) view of contemporary Ethiopia that is at once a critique and a bittersweet love letter.” - Asymptote Journal

Unable to remember the spell that will make him human again, Dore takes the road home to Addis Ababa stripped of his status and language. As he travels fearfully through the towns along the way he sees Ethiopian history and politics from a new perspective. He strains to keep himself at the centre of his world.

“Yismake Worku is an Ethiopian novelist who is known for his prolific writing as well as for experimenting with new writing styles. When his bestselling novel Dertogada was released, Amharic novel readers received it with great enchantment. Yismake is not the kind of writer who always sticks to one genre, just because it was a success. He is set to explore new ways.

The Lost Spell is a result of such exploration. In this book Yismake sometimes narrates a single event to what seems like an eternity, and at other times summarizes what happened in one era in a moment. At times he uses his linguistic skills to present poetic narrations that are breathtaking; at other times he lets his ideas slowly flow like a river.

The precise social, political and cultural critique he outlines at a time when the country was going through political turmoil is witness to his brilliance as well as bravery.” - Dr. Admasu Meshesha

Bethlehem Attfield, translator of Adam Reta’s Requiem For Potatoes, continues to bring contemporary Ethiopian writing into English. Her translation of The Lost Spell reveals a radically different psychogeography, as beguiling in Amharic as it is in English. 

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Quick select rewards

$20  + shipping
29 orders

Novice

A special edition paperback with holographic foil debossed cover (published August 2021).

PLUS:

  • Your name listed in the back of the book.
$100  + shipping
10 orders

Adept

A signed limited edition, handmade using a 4th century Ethiopian sewing technique (published December 2021).

PLUS:

  • A printed proof of the novel before general release
  • Exclusive discount rate - will be £80 after presale
  • Your name listed in the back of the book
  • David Henningham avatar

    David Henningham

    Yismake Worku is a brilliant and influential young Ethiopian novelist. Bethlehem Attfield's translation of The Lost Spell gives us a glimpse of a contemporary novelist redefining political satire within a radically different psychogeography.       


    Bethlehem Attfield is an Amharic-English literary translator and author. She was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She studied English language and literature in Addis Ababa University, and worked for eight years before leaving Ethiopia for the UK in 1998 to study for a Masters degree. Attfield’s translation of Requiem For Potatoes by Adam Reta, with original music and songs, was published as an audiobook in 2020. She also founded the Ethiopian Literary Translators Network.

  • It has been a horrible few days. I feel like some life has been drained from my short dog existence. If I hadn’t managed to drag myself into the middle of a corn farm, I would have been picked apart by merciless scavenging birds.

    The cause of my pitiful circumstances was an auto-rickshaw accident. If the God of dogs and all creation hadn’t spared me, I would have departed my dog life by now. The rickshaw didn’t hit me full on; it knocked me on my left rear, bending me like a rubber and causing me to plunge into a drain. An unseasonal rain had been pouring down all evening. So, the flood could have carried an elephant, let alone a battered dog. It hauled me along the garbage of Shashemene. Banging me around with every object it carried along, the flood finally threw me into a small river. The river in turn dragged me through shrubs, sometimes battering me against rocks, and deposited me near a cornfield. 

    I spent the night looking like a chick covered in mud. I couldn’t get up in the morning, so I spent the whole day baking in the sun. Towards the evening I dragged myself with all my strength and collapsed in the cornfield.

    Read more...
  • 28th February 2022 To The Presses!

    Dear subscribers,

    We are pleased to confirm that The Lost Spell has been approved at the printers and our hand-printed covers have been received.

    There is one final delay, which is a UK paper shortage due to trade barriers at Calais. We bought the last 140 sheets of the cover paper in the UK! Now the pages themselves are in a three week queue...

    So we should have paperback books to send you…

    1st February 2022 Typesetting complete

    The Lost Spell has now been typeset. Below is a sneak preview of a couple of pages, including one illustration. I have done three illustrations to accompany the text.

    All that remains for us to do is:

    1. finalise the cover drawings and print them with our new local supplier.
    2. print the proofread text with Short Run Press.

    We're a couple of months behind schedule, thank you for your patience…

    8th October 2021 Asymptote Podcast

    While editing of The Lost Spell continues, Bethlehem Attfield is a guest on the Asymptote Podcast.

    I've spent the day just outside Yirgalem in the form of a dog. A dog who lacks the power of speech, yet likes to dawdle, correcting spelling misakes on the shopfronts.

    Meanwhile, Bethlehem Attfield has something more important to say. As a guest on the Asymptote podcast, she has been advocating…

    7th September 2021 Preparations

    Thank you so much for your support of The Lost Spell, a hotly anticipated book! 200 copies of the book have been preordered by bookshops already, and interest has been building among publishers and translators on social media. 

    Yesterday we conducted a deep clean of our studio in anticipation of an Autumn that will see us complete The Lost Spell and half a dozen handmade editions. You may have…

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About Henningham Family Press

Henningham Family Press is a microbrewery for books. Their artist’s books have been acquired by National Galleries Scotland, V&A, Tate, National Poetry Library and Stanford University. Their performance publishing events have taken place in the British Library, BBC Radio Theatre, Christie’s, Dundee Contemporary Arts and in Moscow with the British Council. Their novels have been shortlisted for The Goldsmith’s Prize, British Book Awards, Republic of Consciousness Prize and longlisted for The Walter Scott Prize.

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