Jackie Thomas-Kennedy '06 Sells Debut Novel ‘The Thirteenth Wife’

Carlos Barragán
May 28, 2024

Writing Alumna Jackie Thomas-Kennedy '06 has sold her debut novel, The Thirteenth Wife, to Viking. Isabel Wall, publisher at Viking, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights from Fiona Baird on behalf of Claudia Ballard at WME. US rights were sold to Riverhead following a competitive five-way auction. The novel, described as a “brazen debut,” is set to be published in 2025.

The Thirteenth Wife is a story of “unfulfilled desire” and “racially charged imposter syndrome.” It follows Susan “Zuzu” Braeburn, who begins to question her life choices, including her marriage, in the wake of her father’s unexpected death.

“It’s rare to read a debut as bold and bracing as Jackie Thomas-Kennedy’s,” Wall said to The Bookseller. “She writes with exceptional clarity about race and class, about intimacy and its discontents, and how small decisions can add up to leave a life nearly unrecognisable with time. Smart, stylish, and piercingly honest, this novel will linger long after you put it down.”

Thomas-Kennedy held a 2014-2016 Stegner Fellowship in fiction at Stanford University. Her stories have appeared in numerous literary magazines, and she has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Fine Arts Work Center, Ucross, Saltonstall, Brush Creek, and elsewhere.