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Afsana Press signs ‘sensational’ tale of women spies and 1970s espionage by Jane Labous

Updated: Apr 2

Afsana Press has signed literary spy thriller Oh, Sugar by Jane Labous. Co-publishers Goran Baba Ali and Aleksandra Markovic acquired world rights directly from the author, and plan to publish Oh, Sugar in October 2024.


Oh, Sugar combines the cinematic suspense of The Night Manager with the transportive settings of The Last King of Scotland, and is a ‘sensational’ bookclub thriller narrated by two women in different timelines. Dolly Fontaine is a news journalist in modern times, while her mother, Gloria Fontaine, is a 1970s film star and secret agent. Spanning two generations, the story takes the reader from 21st-century Cornwall to a fictional 1970s dictatorship, with themes of identity and feminism, and rich, cinematic settings.  

The book follows the story of journalist Dolly Fontaine who, in the wake of a political scandal that shatters her high-flying career, seeks refuge at her childhood home, Genévrier, where her mysterious mother, the celebrated seventies film star, Gloria Fontaine, lived for decades. When Dolly discovers a dusty box of cassette tapes in the attic, revealing Gloria’s most compelling, real-life role — a daring undercover mission as a British spy to her birth country of Lusenka — so begins a perilous journey involving diamonds, Cold War intrigue, and a merciless dictator. Can Gloria’s voice recordings, and an enigmatic, retired spook once known as Sunstar, help Dolly uncover the truth before a deadly adversary silences her forever?


Jane Labous is the author of two novels, Past Participle (Afsana Press, 2023) and The Chameleon Girl (Farafina Books, 2022). She is also an award-winning journalist known for her frontline coverage of human rights, humanitarian, and gender issues, with credits ranging from the BBC to the UN. She lives with her daughter in Dorset.

Labous said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to be working with Afsana Press again – they are an exceptional indie publisher, known for their passion and dedication to good literature. Needless to say, I’m also really excited to introduce Dolly and Gloria Fontaine to the world!’

Publisher Aleksandra Markovic said: “Jane’s writing transcends the ordinary, and Oh, Sugar is a captivating narrative, echoing the timeless allure of Ian Fleming's James Bond and the thrillers of John Le Carré, but ingeniously subverting the traditional espionage novel. Gloria and Dolly Fontaine have captured our hearts, and we're confident that readers will be equally enamoured!”

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