Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

YELLOW BIRDS Set to Take Off

Thursday, October 8th, 2015

Yellow BirdsThere’s been some major changes on the film adaptation of Kevin Powers’ 2012 National Book Award finalistThe Yellow Birds, (Hachette/Little, Brown). Benedict Cumberbatch, originally set to play the lead, has been replaced by Jack Huston, reports Deadline. The film also has a new director, Alexandre Moors, who replaces David Lowery.

Bringing some extra star power to the production, Jennifer Anniston is joining the cast.

All this activity indicates the project is closer to becoming a reality.

In Dallas, It’s 11/22/63 Again

Thursday, October 8th, 2015

Tourists at Dealy Plaza in Dallas were treated to eerie reminders of the past, as filming for the Hulu series based on Stephen King’s novel 11/22/63 (S&S/Scribner, 2011) is wrapping up.

Produced by J.J. Abrams and starring James Franco, the series is expected to air next year.

Wallander Retires

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

Unlike James Bond, Sherlock Holmes, and Lisbeth Salander, who lived on after their creators’s deaths, Kurt Wallander will not be featured in future novels.

As reported by the global news agency AFP and picked up by Yahoo! News, Henning Mankell’s publishing partner Dan Israel, who co-founded Leopard publishing with Mankell, stated that now that the writer has died, “It is out of the question that there would be other books featuring Wallander.”

Neither are there any manuscripts hiding in a vault. While Israel says Mankell was working on a book before he died, but it “is just a draft and unpublishable.”

He vowed to protect the literary property of Mankell, stressing “Nothing can be approved without my agreement.”

However, Mankell’s final book has not yet been released in the U.S. The Guardian reports that Quicksand: What It Means to be a Human Being, is about his experience dealing with his cancer diagnosis. Scheduled for release in the U.K. this coming February, the U.S. release date has not yet been announced.

In an interviews in 2012, Mankell explains that he is not interested in crime itself, but “To use the mirror of crime to look at contradictions in society, that is what interests me.”

TWILIGHT Reimagined

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

8e4c5dd6b8835b2f1bac34a6aae2a166  life-and-death

Ten years ago readers met Bella Swan and her dreamy vampire boyfriend Edward Cullen. Their story inspired teen bands, converted adults to YA fiction, and gave rise to Team Edward and Team Jacob.

To celebrate the milestone, author Stephenie Meyer has a surprise for fans, she has re-written the book and switched the gender roles in Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined (Hachette/Little, Brown; Listening Library).

The story now features Beau Swan, the new boy in Forks, WA and the vampire girl he falls for, Edythe Cullen (see Entertainment Weekly‘s glossary of name changes).

This is not just a find-and-replace-the-names job. According to Entertainment Weekly, it is 442 pages of reimagining, in which Meyer also took the opportunity to re-edit for “grammar and word choice issues” and correct some of the mythology. EW also reports (based on reading the forward to the new edition) that Meyer decided to switch the characters in response to critics who slammed her for creating a female “damsel in distress.”

The rewrite is being published as a flipbook with the original version of Twlight and new cover art.

Meyer appeared on Good Morning America yesterday. When her publisher asked for a forward for the milestone edition, she decided to do something more fun and interesting. She also shares that the story changes more deeply further into the novel, although it begins almost the same. Don’t expect more, however, she says she does not expect to rewrite the other titles in the series.

None of the trade publications reviewed Meyer’s latest but it is getting plenty of attention in consumer media from Bustle to Variety.

Ordering is very light (to nonexistent) at libraries we checked. Those that own it, however, are showing few holds, but the book rose to #1 on Amazon’s sales rankings.

Nobel Prize in Lit: Murakami’s Year?

Monday, October 5th, 2015

The most prestigious lifetime award for literature, The Nobel Prize, will be announced on Thursday at 7 a.m. EST [UPDATE: We originally miscalculated the time difference. We THINK  we have it right now. The announcement is scheduled for 11 a.m. GMT and  Eastern Time  is GMT minus 4:00].

Famously hard to forecast, it is an award that often befuddles odds makers as names circle around in the wind days before the announcement.

Last year the favorite was Japan’s Haruki Murakami with Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o and Belarusian author and journalist Svetlana Alexievich also in the running.

The winner? French novelist Patrick Modiano who had just 10/1 odds three days before the 2014 announcement.

Modiano had few books translated into English at the time. The Telegraph‘s news story was headlined “Patrick Modiano: the Nobel Prize-winner nobody had read.” Since, there has been a boom of translations, bigger publishing houses buying rights, and a string of articles focused on his work in such places as the L.A. TimesThe New Yorker, and The Millions.

The luckless odds makers at betting firms Ladbrokes and Paddy Power seem to be fully baffled this year. The Guardian reports the bookies are simply rearranging their 2014 picks, leading with Svetlana Alexievich and offering Haruki Murakami and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o as back up.

Americans Philip Roth and Joyce Carol Oates and 2005 Booker winner, Irish writer John Banville are also in the mix as are Korean poet Ko Un and Hungarian writer László Krasznahorkai, winner of the Man Booker International award.

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It could be Murakami’s turn based on frequency alone. The Wall Street Journal says it has become “a seasonal event over the past few years for Mr. Murakami’s name to pop up as a frontrunner.”

He was a favorite in 2013 as well (the year the prize went to Alice Munro). Quite naturally Murakami finds the speculation and horse race aspects of the run up to the announcement “quite annoying,” reports the paper.

If this is finally Murakami’s year, readers will have plenty of his titles in English to choose from, so many that Matthew Carl Strecher, who has written 3 books on Murakami, was able to select “The 10 Best Haruki Murakami Books” for Publishers Weekly.

But Murakami might be annoyed for at least another year. The Guardian quotes one of the lead bookmakers, Alex Donohue of Ladbrokes, as saying, “literary speculators believe we’ll see the winner come from out of leftfield.”

It is no small prize to win. On top of the profound honor and a considerable cash award, it increases book sales.

Henning Mankell Dies at 67

Monday, October 5th, 2015

9781400031573www.randomhouse.comSwedish crime writer, author of the Wallander series, died today of cancer at the age of 67.

His gloomy, dedicated police inspector Kurt Wallander tracked down cases in eleven novels. The series began with Faceless Killers in 1997 and the latest entry is the 2014 An Event in Autumn. Mankell wrote stand alones as well, such as 2013’s A Treacherous Paradise and 2012’s The Shadow Girls.

Although he is known for his role in ushering in a wave of Nordic crime he told The Guardian “I could never write a crime story just for the sake of it, because I always want to talk about certain things.” He went on to say that Macbeth was the “best crime story he has ever read.”

Many will know Mankell through the BBC/PBS TV series starring Sir Kenneth Branagh who expertly highlighted Wallander’s character and translated much of the books’ melancholy. Branagh told the BBC:

In life and in art Henning Mankell was a man of passionate commitment. I will miss his provocative intelligence and his great personal generosity. Aside from his stringent political activism, and his decades of work in Africa, he also leaves an immense contribution to Scandinavian literature. His loving family, and those privileged to know him, together with readers from all over the world, will mourn a fine writer and a fine man.

Mankell lived a full and adventurous life, going to sea as a young man and scrapping a living out of Paris before returning to Sweden to work in the theater. Even as a novelist he remained active in the theater, serving as the artistic director of Teatro Avenida in Mozambique.

According to his website, he wrote “around forty novels and numerous plays. His books have sold more than forty million copies and are translated into more than forty languages. Solidarity with those in need run through his entire work and manifested itself in action until the very end.”

In 2014, thinking he had a different problem, he saw a doctor only to discover cancer had already invaded several areas of his body. “It was a catastrophe for me,” he told NPR, “Everything that was normal to me up to that point was gone all of a sudden. No one had died of cancer in my family. I had always assumed I’d die of something else.”

NPR reports his last book, released in early 2015 in Sweden, is entitled Quicksand. It is not yet listed on American wholesalers.


Sunday, October 4th, 2015

9780732298883_915c1Calling her “an Olympic gold medalist combined with Lady GaGa,” Kelly Gardiner spoke to Scott Simon on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday about Julie d’Aubigny, the true-life subject of her novel, Goddess (HarperCollins; OverDrive Sample),

A legendary 17th century swashbuckling figure, a bisexual, cross-dressing opera singer and noted duelist who was raised in the servant side of Versailles, d’Aubigny was once sentenced to burn at the stake for her relationship with a nun.

After writing a string of historical fiction/adventure YA books, d’Aubigny Gardiner’s debut adult novel re-tells the highlights of d’Aubigny’s many adventured life, told in retrospect from her deathbed.

D’Aubigny has become somewhat of a standard barer Gardiner says, telling NPR:

“Throughout the centuries, she’s been written about … and every so often, she becomes famous all over again, and she’s famous all over again now. It’s fascinating to see — whenever society starts to think about, what does gender mean, what does sexuality mean, she’s just one of the names that comes up, and people start thinking about her, and talking about her, and portraying her all over again.”

Pennie’s October Pick

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

9780062279972_08eefCostco’s book buyer, Pennie Clark Ianniciello has recently featured well-known titles as her influential monthly “Pennie’s Pcks” (Me Before You, Circling The Sun, and The Girl On The Train were the July, August, and September selections).

Her October pick breaks the mold.

Brian Payton’s 2014 novel The Wind Is Not a River (Harper/Ecco; OverDrive Sample), while not exactly under the radar, did not achieve bestseller status.

It was both an Indie Next and a LibraryReads choice when it came out in hardcover. Librarian Nancy Pearl interviewed Payton in an “Author One-on-One” for Amazon, when it was picked as an Amazon Best Book of the Month.

9780062279989_27b0cThe novel explores a little-known aspect of WWII, the fierce fighting between Japanese and U.S.soldiers on Alaska’s Aleutians islands. The trade paperback edition features a cover that focuses on the relationship in the novel, underscored by a blurb from the USA Today review, “a haunting love story,” over the WWII survival story.

This month’s Costco Connection interviews Payton. In a sidebar Ianniciello says the novel is “so much more than a history lesson, this is a beautiful story about the way loss can affect people.”

Keep your eye on this one; Pennie’s Picks often have a widespread effect.

FATES AND FURIES Hits Bestseller List As Holds Continue to Grow

Monday, September 28th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-09-06 at 1.00.33 PMAs we predicted last week, Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies (Penguin/Riverhead; BOT and Penguin Audio; OverDrive Sample) has made The New York Times hardcover fiction list at #7.

It is also exceeding a 3:1 holds ratio at most libraries we checked, with some placing second orders for additional copies.

The NYT’s features Fates and Furies in the Sunday Book Review “Inside the List” section as well, where Gregory Cowles, the paper’s preview editor and best-seller columnist, compares it to Gone Girl, “minus the murderous psychopathology.”

In a highly share-worthy summary, Cowles goes on to say “both tell the story of a marriage first from the husband’s somewhat complacent perspective, then change course midway to reveal a wife far more active and vengeful than expected.”

Beryl Markham May Get
Her Close-Up

Friday, September 25th, 2015

9780345534187_5a2b2-2It seemed inevitable that Paul McLain’s bestseller Circling the Sun, (RH/Ballantine), with its echoes of Out of Africa, would be a candidate for film treatment. Now, The Hollywood Reporter announces that the book has been optioned.

Says producer Lauren Sanchez, “”She was a pioneer for women,” says Sanchez. “Everyone says Hollywood is looking for female-driven roles and stories — this is one of them.”

The only question: what took them so long?


Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-09-06 at 1.00.33 PMLauren Groff’s new novel Fates and Furies (Penguin/Riverhead; Penguin Audio; OverDrive Sample) has gotten a landslide of glowing pre-pub press and made the NBA fiction longlist.

So, a slight adjustment might be expected. NPR critic Maureen Corrigan says it is a “marvel” but “could be better.”

Speaking on Fresh Air, she begins by lavishing praise, saying the novel:

… vacuum packs so many complex narratives between its covers that you feel like you’re reading one of those plot-heavy Victorian door stoppers …What starts off as a fairly realistic novel about domestic life digresses into chapters that read like plays and eventually morphs into a dark fairy tale that also borrows heavily from the conventions of the classic psychological suspense story. Wow. … it is a marvel of language and design … Fates And Furies is alive with wit, with language capable of shifting in the space of a sentence from the snappy to the tragic.”

But then comes the hit. Corrigan could not remember the characters shortly after closing the covers for a final time. They failed to resonate or take fully dimensional shape.

That is a failing Corrigan cannot get over, saying “without the presence of compelling characters at its core, Groff’s novel ends up being an austere, architectural achievement. There are certainly worse things for a novel to be, but there are also better.”

Corrigan’s extraordinarily high bar will not stop Fates and Furies from being a best seller — currently at #58 on Amazon sales rankings, it’s sure to show up on this week’s lists.


Monday, September 21st, 2015

Olive KitteridgeHBO had a good night at the Emmys, particularly for its book-based series, Olive Kitteridge and Game Of Thrones.

Olive Kitteridge, based on Elizabeth Strout’s 2009 Pulitzer Prize winning novel, took home a total of 8 Emmys, including one for best miniseries. A passion project for Frances McDormand, who bought the rights to the novel in 2010, she was rewarded by winning her first Emmys, as star and producer.

In accepting the award, McDormand gave full credit to the source, declaring twice, “It started as a book!” effectively refuting host Andy Samberg’s opening monologue, in which he inexplicably dissed books, saying, “The Emmy’s are all about celebrating the best of the year in television. So, sorry, books, not tonight,” as the words, “SUCK IT BOOKS” appeared on the screen.

McDormand signaled her interest in continuing the series, according to Deadline, telling reporters in the press room after the Awards, “It’s 13 short stories … it was infinitely exciting to read and I thought that it could be a great town to spend some time in,” adding, “We would love to do more and we would love for you all to start a social media campaign to do more.”

PBS’s Wolf Hall, based on the first two books in Hillary Mantel’s Tudors series, was nominated in several categories, but ended up with no wins

Jackie Collins Dies at 77

Sunday, September 20th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 11.46.22 AMJackie Collins, author of many bestsellers such as Hollywood Wives (Simon & Schuster/Pocket Books), died of breast cancer on Saturday at the age of 77.

The author of over thirty novels, Collins helped define the genre of detailed, glitzy, rich and famous Hollywood stories. Her books were full of sex, power plays, and ambition. They offered fun, over-the-top stories with a quick pace and plenty of plot twists.

People conducted the last interview with Collins on Sept. 14 in which she publicly reveled her diagnosis for the first time:

“I did it my way, as Frank Sinatra would say. I’ve written five books since the diagnosis, I’ve lived my life, I’ve traveled all over the world, I have not turned down book tours and no one has ever known until now when I feel as though I should come out with it.”

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 11.43.00 AMScreen Shot 2015-09-20 at 11.47.53 AMHer most recent book is The Santangelos (Macmillan/St. Martin’s Press; Macmillan Audio; OverDrive Sample), the ninth title in a long-running series that began in 1981 with Chances (Hachette/Grand Central).

Her first novel was The World Is Full of Married Men, which the NYT reports was banned in Australia and South Africa due to its overt depictions of extramarital sex.

According to Entertainment Weekly, every book Collins published has hit the NYT Besteller list.

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 12.02.42 PMIt’s hard to imagine that anyone interested in the genre has not discovered Collins, but for those few who are ready to try her writing for the first time, a good beginning is Chances the first in the series she devoted much of her career to developing or the stand-alone Lovers & Players (Macmillan/St. Martin’s Press) for a vintage taste of her trademark style.

While promoting The Santangelos she told Access Hollywood Live, that she was working on a memoir entitled Reform School Or Hollywood. If it makes it to press (and no word on that yet) it will include her affair with Marlon Brando, “to this day, he is the most beautiful guy I’ve ever seen.”

Haruf’s Final Novel to Netflix

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

9781101875896_9b5d3Robert Redford and Jane Fonda are teaming up for an adaptation of Kent Haruf’s final novel Our Souls at Night (RH/Knopf; Random House Audio; OverDrive Sample; May. 2015).

According to Deadline, Redford’s Wildwood Enterprises is putting the deal together and hopes to bring the screenwriting team behind The Fault in Our Stars on board. Redford will produce with Netflix backing the project and planning to stream it as well as making it available to theaters.

Redford and Fonda starred together in Barefoot in the Park in 1967 and The Electric Horseman in 1979.

Haruf’s quiet and bittersweet final novel (he died in 2014) is set in the same small Colorado town as his Plainsong trilogy. It features two 70-year-olds who spend platonic nights together for company and conversation – until the judgments of the town and the displeasure of their families get in the way. Hollywood sees it through their own filter. Deadline reports, “the vision of the movie is similar in spirit to the Clint Eastwood-Meryl Streep-starrer Bridges of Madison County.”


Thursday, September 17th, 2015


Days after being shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Hanya Yanagihara’s  A Little Life (RH/Doubleday) is one of ten titles on the National Book Awards Longlist for Fction released today. The other US author on the Booker shortlist, Anne Tyler, for A Spool of Blue Thread, however, is not on the NBA Longlist.

Also on the list is a LibraryReads pick that has received much fanfare in advance of its publication this week (see our “Titles to Know and Recommend, the Week of Sept. 14“), and was just announced as the next title in NPR’s Morning Edition Book Club, Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies (Penguin/Riverhead).

The shortlist will be announced October 15. The winners will be announced on Nov. 18.

Below is the list, with links to publisher information. All of the titles have been published (titles published between Dec. 1, 2104 through Nov. 30, 2015 are eligible).

The 2015 National Book Award for Fiction Longlist

Jesse Ball, A Cure for Suicide (RH/Pantheon Books)

Karen E. Bender, Refund: Stories (Counterpoint Press, dist. by Perseus/PGW)

Bill Clegg, Did You Ever Have a Family (S&S/Scout Press)

Angela Flournoy, The Turner House (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Lauren Groff, Fates and Furies (Penguin/Riverhead)

Adam Johnson, Fortune Smiles: Stories (Random House)

T. Geronimo Johnson, Welcome to Braggsville (HarperCollins/Morrow; pbk released this month)

Edith Pearlman, Honeydew (Hachette/Little, Brown; pbk arrives next week)

Hanya Yanagihara,  A Little Life (RH/Doubleday)

Nell Zink, Mislaid (HarperCollins/Ecco)