Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category


Friday, October 28th, 2016

The Cuckoo's Calling  The Silkworm  Career of Evil

A recently announced deal will bring the BBC adaption of The Cormoran Strike series of mystery novels by Robert Galbraith (aka J. K. Rowling) to HBO

A similar deal was struck for the adaptation of the author’s The Casual Vacancy, which aired in 2015

Filming for Cormoran Strike is set to begin in London soon, with release possible in 2017. According to Deadline, it will be filmed as three movies, each focused on one of the books, The Cuckoo’s Calling, The Silkworm and Career Of Evil. 

Tom Burke (War and Peace, The Musketeers) has been cast as Cormoran Strike,

GUERNSEY Gets Another Lead

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016

9780385340991 Downton Abbey favorite Lily James is set to star as Juliet Ashton in the film adaptation of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer (PR/Dial, 2008), reports Deadline Hollywood.

Mike Newell (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Love in the Time of Cholera) will direct the film, re-titled Guernsey.

Don’t  make plans for a popcorn themed book club meeting just yet. This is at least the third set of actors/directors associated with the somewhat troubled adaptation.

In 2013 the BBC reported that a project helmed by Kenneth Branagh and starring Kate Winslet had been tabled with Simon Curits taking over direction and a new, unnamed, actress replacing Winslet.

As we noted in February, the project has had several big names attached with little outcome. Rosamund Pike was reportedly in talks to star at the start of the year.

Filming for this latest attempt has yet to begin. The project currently has a 2018 completion date according to IMDb.


Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

9780425281406_43f1eA new take on Sherlock Holmes variations has Sarah Wendell excited for the launch of the first in Sherry Thomas’s romantic historical mystery series, A Study In Scarlet Women: The Lady Sherlock Series (PRH/Berkley; Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample).

Reviewing for NPR Books, the co-founder of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, and the author of Everything I Know About Love, I Learned From Romance Novels, says that the “Gender-flipped Sherlock Holmes” story demands “a few hours of uninterrupted time — a rare thing, I know — to read it. You’ll probably finish it, and start the first page over again, because it’s that good.”

Stressing the novel’s strength in storytelling and style, Wendell concludes, “Thomas’s use of language, the way she uses gender reversal to conceal revelations, and the intricacies of her plotting mean that I will rediscover more things to relish in A Study in Scarlet Women each time I reread it … If you’re standing between me and my copy, you should probably move out of the way.”

Libraries that bought low are seeking spikes in holds as high as 5:1.

Man Booker Announced Tomorrow

Monday, October 24th, 2016

eileen-01 sellout

do-not-say hot-milk


Literary history may be made when the winner of the UK’s Man Booker award is announced at a ceremony in London tomorrow night beginning at 8 p. (3 pm, Eastern). For the first time, two US authors are on the shortlist, Paul Beatty for The Sellout (Macmillan/FSG,  OverDrive Sample), which received awards and was on many best books lists when it was published here last year, and Ottessa Moshfegh for her debut, Eileen (PRH/Penguin; OverDrive Sample).

Most consider the field wide open, but in the UK, where it’s legal to do such things, bets are on Canadian Medeleine Thien for  Do Not Say We Have Nothing (Norton; OverDrive Sample). Recently published here, the daily NYT reviewed it warmly this week, calling it “a beautiful, sorrowful work.”  That followed an equally warm review earlier in the NYT Sunday Review. 

Second in odds is  the UK’s Deborah Levy for Hot Milk (Macmillan/Bloomsbury; OverDrive Sample), reviewed when it came out this summer in the daily NYT, the Washington Post and the NYT Book Review

Coming is third is His Bloody Project: Documents Relating to the Case of Roderick Macrae, by Scotsman Graeme MaCrae Burnet (Skyhorse; OverDrive Sample). As we wrote earlier, its selection for the longlist was a major surprise, both because it is a crime novel, a genre that has not received recognition from the Booker judges before, and because it is from the tiny two-person Scottish press, Saraband. In the US, it was recently released by a much larger small press, Skyhorse.

Beatty comes in fourth and Ottessa Mosfeght is last, but the punters rarely predict winners for literary awards. The only thing that can be said for certain is that someone’s literary reputation will be made tomorrow.

From the Tolkien Vault

Sunday, October 23rd, 2016

berenandluthienBeren and Lúthien, the star-crossed lovers of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion, will have their own book reports Entertainment Weekly, Beren and Lúthien, edited by Christopher Tolkien (HMH, May 4, 2017). [Note: The cover, left, is from the UK edition, published there by HarperCollins.]

As describes the story “Beren, a mortal man, falls in love with the elf Lúthien, thus inspiring legends and songs, as well as providing a model for the love of Aragorn and Arwen during the events of The Lord of the Rings.”

The Bookseller reports the story “has evolved since it was first written in 1917, and has been reworked in various forms, including poetry. To reflect this, the new book opens with Tolkien’s original text, before including passages from later texts that rework the tale.”

The book is edited by Tolkien’s son and will feature illustrations by Alan Lee, who won an Academy Award for his work on the third film of The Lord of the Rings cycle. He has also won the World Fantasy Award and the Kate Greenaway Medal.

The tale was personally important to Tolkien, reports Entertainment Weekly, so much so that the gravestone for the author and his wife refer to them as Beren and Lúthien. offers a introduction to Lúthien, calling her “Tolkien’s Badass Elf Princess.”

For those who recall the films, Aragorn sings the song of Lúthien in the first movie:

Gets Greenlight

Friday, October 21st, 2016

9780385679053_355a8In 2013 we wrote that the production company behind The Hunger Games had bought film rights to the satiric debut novel Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan (RH/Doubleday).

The Hollywood trades are now reporting that Warner Bros has given the greenlight to the film with John M Chu (Now You See Me 2) to direct. Deadline Hollywood says that the production team plans to have “a fully Asian cast … a first for a Hollywood studio.”

The first book in a trilogy, New York Times reviewer Janet Maslin called it a “a dizzily shopaholic comedy of crass manners,” that “offers refreshing nouveau voyeurism to readers who long ago burned out on American and English aspirational fantasies.”

9780804172066_c16b7The second book is China Rich Girlfriend (RH/Doubleday, 2015). The third, Rich People Problems, is part of a new two-book deal Kwan signed with Doubleday, reports Entertainment Weekly, and is expected in 2017.

Kwan also told Entertainment Weekly that he loves the screenplay for Crazy Rich Asians, saying “I’m overjoyed by how they adapted the book. It was making me laugh so much I almost spat out my tea several times.”


Wednesday, October 19th, 2016

The first teaser trailer for HBO’s adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s 2014 best seller, Big Little Lies, has just been released. Shailene Woodley plays Jane, a young single mother who moves to a coastal community so her son can attend a better school. There she becomes entangled in the messy lives of the seemingly perfect mothers of her son’s classmates, Celeste (Nicole Kidman) and Madeline (Reese Witherspoon). PopSugar gives a full rundown of the cast, with comparisons to the characters in the book.

The setting has been changed from the book’s Australia to Southern California. The seven-episode series is directed by Jean-Marc Vallee (Dallas Buyers Club), who also worked with Witherspoon on the adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s memoir, Wild.

Release is planned for some time in 2017. No specific start date has been set.

Witherspoon, who set up her production company Pacific Standard to develop better roles for women, worked with Kidman to produce the series. The pair have also acquired the rights to Moriarty’s most recent book, Truly Madly Guilty (Macmillan/Flatiron; Macmillan Audio).

Tie-ins will be published in February.

Big Little Lies (Movie Tie-In)
Liane Moriarty
PRH/Berkley trade pbk; February 7, 2017
Mass Market

Zadie Smith: The Interview

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016


One of the most heavily anticipated literary events of this fall is Zadie Smith’s new novel, Swing Time (PRH/Penguin; Penguin Audio/BOT), set for release on Nov. 15. Previewed on the majority of the fall reading lists, it a Carnegie Medal Longlist title, and a LibraryReads selection for November, with the following annotation:

“Spanning over twenty years and two continents, Smith’s new novel is a charming account of one woman’s coming-of-age. Smith’s unnamed narrator, a mixed-race child lives in one of London’s many low-end housing units.  She meets Tracey and the two are bonded over the shared experience of being poor and ‘brown’ in a class that is predominantly white. As the two stumble towards womanhood, the differences become more stark and divisive, and their friendship is fractured by Tracey’s final, unforgivable act. This book will appeal to lovers of character-driven fiction.” — Jennifer Wilson, Delphi Public Library, Delphi, IN

This week’s NYT‘s Style Magazine T, gets a jump on the more literary media, featuring an interview with the author by fellow novelist Jeffrey Eugenides. The two have clearly been friends for some time, resulting in an interview that comes across as an intimate, personal, somewhat confessional conversation.

Some highlights:

Smith says that therapy which has helped her write more confidently and in new ways, allowing her to use the first person voice in Swing Time, “I’ve always felt very cringe-y about myself … It did seem to me, when I was a kid and also now that I’m a grown-up writer, that a lot of male writers have a certainty that I have never been able to have. I kept on thinking I would grow into it, but I’m never sure I’m doing the right thing.”

About Swing Time Eugenides says “Like the black-and-white musicals that feature in its pages, the book is a play of light and dark — at once an assertion of physicality and an illusion … The novel cloaks existential dread beneath the brightest of intensities.”

Much of the profile is about her search for and expressions of identity. Of her own self, Smith says she aspires to be more like Darryl Pinckney, who “claims the freedom” of just being himself “in all his extreme particularity.” Eugenides responds that she “already seems that way” to him. After a pause she replies, “Oh” and the interview ends.

Accompanying the article is a video of Smith in the first person.


Friday, October 14th, 2016

jmcoetzee_waitingforthebarbariansIn what might be some consolation for not making it to the Booker shortlist this year, J.M. Coetzee’s award-winning novel, Waiting For The Barbarians (PRH/Penguin) is being adapted as a feature film.

Coetzee won the Booker Prize in 1983 for Life & Times of Michael K and in 1999 for Disgrace. He also won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2003. This year,  The Schooldays of Jesus (PRH/Viking; Feb. 2017) was on the longlist, but did not make the cut to the shortlist.

Deadline Hollywood reports that Coetzee adapted his novel for the film. Oscar winner Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies) will star and Oscar nominated director Ciro Guerra, who earned praise for Embrace of the Serpent, will helm the project says the trade source.

In their review of the book, the NYT wrote “Mr. Coetzee tells the story of an imaginary Empire, set in an unspecified place and time, yet recognizable as a ‘universalized’ version of South Africa. This allows Mr. Coetzee some esthetic distance from his subject, for even while remaining locked with the history of his moment, he isn’t completely at the mercy of its local chaos and ugliness. The result is a realistic fable, at once stark, exciting and economical.”

NPR brought new focus on the novel in 2014 when they named it “This Week’s Must Read” after the Senate Intelligence Committee issued its report about the “brutal interrogation techniques used by the CIA after Sept 11.”

N.K. Jemisin on Peter S. Beagle and New SFF

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

The 2016 Hugo Award-winning novelist, N.K. Jemisin, returns with another of her NYT‘s columns focused on Science Fiction and Fantasy.

As we have written, she is a demanding and discriminating consumer of fiction. As a critic she is vibrantly engaged and is not willing to let much slide. As a reader she is interested in meaningful content rather than plot, values beautiful language, and appreciates in-depth characterizations. Since last December she has been sharing her views on Science Fiction and Fantasy in the NYT book review column “Otherwordly,” a bi-monthly roundup.

This month she takes on four works, a space opera, a graphic novel, the return of a beloved voice in Fantasy, and creepy speculative fiction.

9781616962449_ff216The work she clearly likes best is the long awaited return of Peter S. Beagle, a favorite of Fantasy readers for books such as The Last Unicorn. His newest novel in 17 years is Summerlong (Tachyon Publications), a contemporary take on the Persephone myth.

Jemisin writes that the characters are “fully textured,” the story is about “how ordinary people change, and are changed by, the numinous,” and the setting is beautifully realized:

“It’s a rare story of summer that feels like the summer — like dreamy intense passions rising and arcing and then spinning away; like beauty underlaid with a tinge of sadness because it is ephemeral. Beagle has captured that seasonal warmth here, beautifully, magically.”

9781632156945_bb8a6She also writes favorably about Pretty Deadly Volume 2: The Bear by Kelly Sue De Connick with art by Emma Ríos (Image Comics; OverDrive Sample), saying at its core it is “a masterpiece of mythopoeism that many literary fantasists struggle to emulate.”

She describes the story as a “weird western saga [that] gleefully, dreamily fuses a Greek chorus, spaghetti westerns, American trickster tales and creepy Japanese shoujo (girls’) manga.”

She is not a complete fan of the coloring in the comic, but says “This is a minor flaw. Every other element of this tale is a perfectly balanced mixture of the macabre with pure human poignancy. New readers will need Volume 1 too, but the return on investment is more than worthwhile.”

Vol.1 is Pretty Deadly: The Shrike (Image Comics; OverDrive Sample).

The full column is online. it ran in last week’s Sunday Book Review.

Nolite te bastardes carborundorum

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

The adaptation of Margaret Atwood ‘s novel The Handmaid’s Tale is currently still in production, but that didn’t prevented Hulu from promoting the streaming network’s upcoming series at the just concluded NY Comic Con.

The Revelist website reports that marketers placed special, women’s only, PR in the bathrooms of the conference center, writing a line from the book on the mirrors of the women’s room, “Nolite te bastardes carborundorum,” a phrase from the book that translates to, ‘Don’t let the bastards grind you down.'”

Don't let the bastards get you down (some solid marketing at Comic Con) #MargaretAtwood #HandmaidsTale #NYCC

A photo posted by Courtney (@mrwinklevoss) on

Revelist says “the show doesn’t have much of a presence at the convention beyond these cryptic bathroom signs. But make no mistake, this is a brilliant way to spread the show’s message directly to its target audience — and in a space that, despite the best efforts of geeky women and activists alike, is still considered very male-dominated.”

Here is the first brief look:

As we wrote earlier, Hulu announced in May that it is adapting the novel into a 10-episiode drama. The news sent the book rising on Amazon’s sales charts. Elisabeth Moss, who made her name on Mad Men, will star. Joseph Fiennes also stars, in the role of The Commander. Atwood serves as a consulting producer.

The series is set to debut in 2017.


Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

9780345544957_b58a3Jodi Picoult appeared today on CBS This Morning to talk about her new novel Small Great Things (PRH/Ballantine; RH Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample).

Host Gayle King opened the interview by saying the book is “thought-provoking … interesting … and so timely” and asked Picoult how a “white woman of privilege” writes a book confronting racism.

Picoult acknowledged it “was not her story to tell” and said she met with a group of women of color for over 100 hours and had them vet the voice of the character Ruth. She also met with two former skinheads to learn “why they went into a life of hate and how they came out of a life of hate.”

Asked about the title, Picoult says it is from a quote by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and means that racism is perpetuated and dismantled by individual acts.

Charlie Rose asked her how to engage in a meaningful conversations about race. Picoult answers that, while it is hard to have such discussions without offending someone, choosing not to talk about racism in itself perpetuates the issue.

Saying that racism is not just about prejudice but also about power, she talks about the headwinds of racism that impede success but also the tailwinds of racism that power the success of the privileged.

MIDNIGHT, TEXAS Gets a Trailer

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

The first look at the next TV show based on Charlaine Harris’s novels has just been released.

The NBC series adapts her Midnight, Texas trilogy:

Midnight Crossroads (PRH/Ace, 2014; Recorded Books; OverDrive Sample)

Day Shift (PRH/Ace, 2015; Recorded Books; OverDrive Sample)

Night Shift (PRH/Ace, 2016; Recorded Books; OverDrive Sample)

The town in question harbors vampires, witches and psychics, who have selected the out-of-the-way locale as a safe hide out.

9780425263150_529c9  9780425263198_9626d  9780425263228_c047b

Tor. com offers a summary of all three titles:

“the story is wacky, ya’ll. Immensely wacky, but, like, in a fun way. Midnight Crossroad starts off as a book about a pawnshop owner’s dead girlfriend and turns into a murder conspiracy involving white supremacists. Day Shift is ostensibly about the suspicious circumstances in which one of Manfred’s clients [he is the psychic] dies and ends up with a pack of weretigers wandering through town and vampires hunting a telepath visiting his grandpappy. Night Shift goes from people and animals killing themselves at the crossroads to a magic sex ritual with a pitstop at a subplot with a hangry Etruscan-literate vampire.”

But if the supernatural references recall True Blood, the popular HBO series, Bustle warns to think instead of another cult hit,  “Midnight, Texas is basically Twin Peaks with vampires.” Not the least of the many ways in which new show will be different, it’s a network TV production, rather than cable.

The series debut is set for midseason 2017.

Reading Le Guin

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

9781598534931_ef465The New Yorker just published a long profile of Ursula K. Le Guin online, and in the October 17th issue.

A tantalizing project proposed by “Neil Gaiman and some film people” is mentioned early in the article, but largely it is a review of Le Guin’s writing life and her current outlook.

Below are some highlights:

She is shaped by her environment,

She sees herself as a Western writer, though her work has had a wide range of settings, from the Oregon coast to an anarchist utopia and a California that exists in the future but resembles the past.

Her father was one of the most important cultural anthropologists of the past century and his way of life and thinking had a major effect,

From him she will take a model for creative work in the midst of a rich family life, as well as the belief that the real room of one’s own is in the writer’s mind. Years later, she tells a friend that if she ended up writing about wizards “perhaps it’s because I grew up with one.

She understands fantastic literature to not be what the article terms “McMagic,” but something far stronger,

“Imagination, working at full strength, can shake us out of our fatal, adoring self-absorption,” she has written, “and make us look up and see—with terror or with relief—that the world does not in fact belong to us at all … [it allows that] … our perception of reality may be incomplete, our interpretation of it arbitrary or mistaken.”

How she finally found a market for her work:

“I was going in another direction than the critically approved culture was,” Le Guin has said. “I was never going to be Norman Mailer or Saul Bellow.” … She was alarmed by the literary rivalries of the period; she remembers thinking, “I’m not competing with all these guys and their empires and territories. I just want to write my stories and dig my own garden … I just didn’t know what to do with my stuff until I stumbled into science fiction and fantasy.”

Finally, the Final Finalists

Monday, October 10th, 2016

news-world All That Man Is 9780393609882_59ec7

The final three of the finalists for major book awards in fiction have just been released and are getting media attention.

Selected as the number one LibraryReads pick for October, News of the World by Paulette Jiles (HarperCollins/Morrow; Brilliance Audio) is one of five finalists for the National Book Awards in fiction. Entertainment Weekly hails it this week on their “Must List,” saying, “Jiles’ gorgeously written novel … follows a retired soldier in 1870 tasked with bringing a kidnapped 10-year-old girl to her faraway relatives after her rescue.”

Just released in the US., the Man Booker finalist, David Szalay’s All That Man Is (Graywolf; OverDrive Sample) gets double coverage from the New York Times. Dwight Garner in the daily paper uses an arresting analogy, “you climb into … All That Man Is, as if into an understated luxury car. The book has a large, hammerlike engine, yet it is content to purr. There’s a sense of enormous power held in reserve.” He notes the book is not actually a novel, but “closer to a collection of linked short stories,” In the Sunday Book Review, author Garth Greenwell, whose debut novel What Belongs to You (Macmillan/FSG; Recorded Books; OverDrive Sample) is a National Book Award finalists, writes, “there’s very little explicitly interlinking its separate narratives. The stories cohere instead through their single project: an investigation of European manhood. ” The New Yorker ‘s esteemed critic James Wood goes further, saying that Szalay is “The latest novelist to give voice to what he has called a ‘disaffection with the novel form,’ ”and that the result “takes the novel form and shakes out of it a few essential seeds.”

Tthe last of the Booker finalists to be published in the US arrives this week, Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien, (Norton; OverDrive Sample; Recorded Books audio coming in April).  Publishers Weekly gave it a star, but it has not yet been reviewed in the US consumer press [Update: The Wall Street Journal reviews it, calling it “elegant”]. Earlier this summer, Canada’s The Globe and Mail wrote that the book “cements Madeleine Thien as one of Canada’s most talented novelists” with a “gorgeous intergenerational saga, stretching as far back at the 1940s and traversing China” told from the perspective of a woman living in present-day Vancouver, who begins the book with the story of her father’s suicide.

The winner of the Man Booker will be announced on Oct. 25, the National Book Awards on Nov. 16.