Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

Nancy Pearl Recommends
IMAGINE ME GONE

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

9780316261357_38751On her weekly radio appearance on Seattle’s NPR affiliate KUOW, librarian Nancy Pearl recommends Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett (Hachette/Little, Brown; OverDrive Sample), calling it a “wonderful, albeit, painful reading experience.”

The novel, told in alternating points of view, explores how depression runs through a family. Nancy says it is centered on the oldest son and progresses forward in time as each character tells their part of the story.

She particularly praised the acuity with which Haslett explores depression, saying she does not think she has ever read another novel that has explored the disease so well. She was also impressed with Haslett’s “amazingly wonderful writing.”

Nancy suggests the novel to readers who like books that explore the human condition and those readers who wish to partake of a character’s life and crises.

She’s not alone in her praise. The novel, Haslett’s second after Union Atlantic and the short story collection You Are Not a Stranger Here, which was a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist, is getting attention.

Entertainment Weekly gave it an A-, saying Haslett “illuminates not just madness but what it means to witness it, too.”

NPR’s Scott Simon interviewed Haslett on Weekend Edition Saturday and NPR posted a review as well, in which Heller McAlpin offers, “Haslett’s new novel forcefully demonstrates that he is unrivaled at capturing the lasting reverberations of suicide and the draining tedium and despair — along with the occasionally fabulous flights of fancy — that accompany intransigent mental illness. And he achieves this with an extraordinary blend of precision, beauty, and tenderness”

The NYT‘s “Sunday Book Review” assesses the novel as “ambitious and stirring” and adds, “it sneaks up on you with dark and winning humor, poignant tenderness and sentences so astute that they lift the spirit even when they’re awfully, awfully sad.”

LibraryReads Title Is
Target Club Pick

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

9781250055637_607f1Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 12.22.32 PMThis month’s Target Club Pick brings renewed attention to The Book of Speculation, Erika Swyler (Macmillan/St. Martin’s Griffin; Macmillan Audio; OverDrive Sample), which
features a librarian as the
main character.

June 2015 LibraryReads selection, it was described by Amanda Monson, of Bartow County Library System, Cartersville, GA:

“A roller coaster of a read! This is the story of a librarian from a splintered family with a tragic past who is gifted a mysterious book that leads him to dive deep into his family’s history, all while his present life seems to be falling to pieces around him. If you loved Morgenstern’s The Night Circus or Kostova’s The Historian, this is a book for you.”

The pick coincides with the paperback release of the novel, with added features; the short story “The Mermaid Girl,” an author Q&A, reading group guide, and a short essay by the author. Swyler offers images and a list of the new features on her tumblr page.

LibraryReads Favorite Wins Nebula

Friday, May 20th, 2016

9780804179034_f4113Naomi Novik’s Uprooted (PRH/Del Rey; RH Audio; OverDrive Sample; now available in trade pbk) has won the Nebula Award, one of science fiction’s top honors.

The stand-alone fairy tale for adults, a departure for Novik after her historical fantasy series Temeraire, was a hit with librarians early on, taking the #1 spot on last year’s May LibraryReads List.

In her LibraryReads annotation Lucy Lockley of St. Charles City-County Library (MO) summed up the plot: “A young girl is unexpectedly uprooted from her family and becomes involved in a centuries-old battle with The Wood, a malevolent entity which destroys anyone it touches.”

The novel also won Fantasy top honors from the librarian-selected RUSA/CODES Reading List.

Other groups took note as well: it was an Indie Next pick and made this year’s list of Hugo Award finalists.

The NYT said that “Novik skillfully takes the fairy-tale-turned-bildungsroman structure of her premise” and creates a “very enjoyable fantasy with the air of a modern classic.”

io9 offered more fulsome praise:

“Novik’s writing is sharp, dense, and very funny. It’s also dark, violent, and sexual. Which is a reminder that “fairy tale” doesn’t mean clean, easy, and happy. Novik recaptures the original flavor of fairy tales in the Grimm sense, but puts her own original spin on it … I’d recommend setting aside a large chunk of time to devote to Uprooted. I didn’t intend to, but once I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down.”

It’s also caught on in Hollywood, he film rights sold in a bidding war with Ellen DeGeneres set to produce.

The short list is always a good RA resource for creating genre lists, finding read-alikes, and building displays:

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9781481424271_445d9  9780765377029_996a8  9780765377838_f32ec

Raising Caine, Charles E. Gannon (S&S/Baen)

The Fifth Season, N.K. Jemisin (Hachette/Orbit)

Ancillary Mercy, Ann Leckie (Hachette/Orbit)

The Grace of Kings, Ken Liu (S&S/Saga)

Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard, Lawrence M. Schoen (Macmillan/Tor)

Updraft, Fran Wilde (Macmillan/Tor)

io9 offers a full summary of all winners and short list titles, pointing out that women swept the awards, winning every print category.

Readers Advisory: Horror

Friday, May 20th, 2016

9780062363237_da22eA Head Full of Ghosts, Paul Tremblay (HC/William Morrow, June 2015; paperback, May 10, 2016; HarperAudio; OverDrive Sample) has won the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Novel.

io9 offers a rave review, calling it “a brilliant book that follows a New England family in their descent into madness, following in the footsteps of some of the the genre’s greats, such as Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House or Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper” and continuing:

“It’s a fantastic look at the horror genre as a whole … the book runs right to the end with an utterly horrifying conclusion that absolutely blew me away … What ultimately makes A Head Full of Ghosts such a great read is that it’s a gripping novel, one that builds and builds, increasing the tension and dread as the pages turn. It’s a book that’s certainly going to keep me up for a couple more nights yet.”

The NYT agrees, calling the Indie Next pick “terrific” and saying it offers “the pleasurable fog of calculated, perfectly balanced ambiguity.”

NPR approves as well, commenting that Tremblay’s “ultimate, bloodcurdling revelation is as sickeningly satisfying as it is masterful.”

Looking for more suggestions to keep up with horror fans? Consider the titles on the Stoker’s short list:

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The Scarlet Gospels, Clive Barker (Macmillan/St. Martin’s, Mar. 2015)

The Deep, Michaelbrent Collings (self-published, July 2015)

The Cure, JG Faherty (Samhain Publishing, May 2015)

Black Tide, Patrick Freivald (JournalStone Publishing)

Also look to the winner and short list for the Stoker categories Superior Achievement in a First Novel as well as YA fiction. The full list of winners and nominees is available online.

Philip Roth’s INDIGNATION,
the Trailer

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

imagesThe film adaptation of Philip Roth’s 2008 novel, Indignation, (Houghton Mifflin) received high praise when it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year.

The recently released trailer begins with a scene that The HollyWood Reporter describes as “Played as a thrilling match of equals between Logan Lerman in a breakout performance and playwright-actor Tracy Letts in a turn that will push his estimable reputation to greater heights, this daringly extended exchange is a dialectic pitting a secular Jewish college student, resistant to suffocating authority, against a needling faculty Dean, impressed by the young man’s presentation while deploring his content. It’s characteristic of a film that is simultaneously erudite and emotional, literary and alive, that so much talk could be so enthralling.”

Variety and Vanity Fair were also impressed.

The movie opens on July 29th. No tie-ins have been announced. It was published in trade paperback by PRH/Vintage in 2009 and is part of the collection Philip Roth: Nemeses: Everyman / Indignation / The Humbling / Nemesis (Library of America #237).

BILLY LYNN’S LONG HALFTIME WALK, Trailer

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

Headlines warn, “Watch Out Oscars! The First Trailer for Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk Is Here.”

It is adapted from the 2012 debut novel by Ben Fountain, winner of the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award and a finalist for the National Book Awards. TheWashington Post called the book  “a masterful gut-punch of a debut novel … a razor-sharp, darkly comic novel — a worthy neighbor to Catch-22on the bookshelf of war fiction.”

When the movie was announced  the press release promised that Lee, known for using 3D to great effect in The Life of Pi, would “explore new methods, both technological and artistic … creating a new way for audiences to experience drama, including the heightened sensation that soldiers really feel on the battlefield and on the home front.”

That technology, called by  Sony  “Immersive Digital.”  Time says that, in layperson’s terms, it is “a stunningly crisp visual experience unprecedented in feature films,” achieved by shooting in  “3D, at 4K resolution and 120 frames per second for each eye.”

Slate cautions that the trailer seems to miss the angst and dark humor of the book, while acknowledging it’s just a trailer, and perhaps “the film itself will be as wild, lacerating, and true as the book.”

The movie debuts in prime Oscar-bait season, November 11.

Tie-in,

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, Ben Fountain, (HarperCollins/ Ecco; trade pbk.; 9/20/16)

THE VEGETARIAN Wins Man Booker International

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

9780553448184_795d0Author Han Kang and translator Deborah Smith win the Man Booker International Prize for The Vegetarian (PRH/Hogarth; BOT; 2/2/16; OverDrive Sample). Proving it is an award with selling power, the novel rose on Amazon’s sales rankings as a result, up from a lowly #27,707 to #272.

Kang represents South Korea while Smith is British, and in this Olympics of books, the two bested Italian Elena Ferrante, nominated for The Story of the Lost Child: Neapolitan Novels, Book Four, translated by American Ann Goldstein (PRH/Europa Editions, 9/1/15; Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample) as well as Turkish Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk, nominated for A Strangeness in My Mind, translated by Turkish Ekin Oklap (PRH/Knopf, Oct. 20, 2015; BOT; OverDrive Sample). See our earlier post for the full short list.

The Vegetarian is a surreal and violent novel about a woman who decides to stop eating meat. That act of self-determination, as Slate puts it sets off “a chain of catastrophes in her otherwise ordinary extended family … At first she rejects meat, but eventually she will excuse herself from a number of other common human activities, as well. At last she refuses humanity itself.”

Entertainment Weekly gives it an A, writing that the “astonishing” novel “viscerally explores the limits of what a human brain and body can endure, and the strange beauty that can be found in even the most extreme forms of renunciation.”

The daily NYT  calls it a “mesmerizing mix of sex and violence” while the NYT “Sunday Book Review”  says nothing can “prepare a reader for the traumas of this Korean author’s translated debut in the Anglophone world.”

In deciding the award the BBC reports the judges variously remarked the novel was “unforgettably powerful and original” and that “in a style both lyrical and lacerating, it reveals the impact of this great refusal both on the heroine herself and on those around her … This compact, exquisite and disturbing book will linger long in the minds, and maybe the dreams, of its readers.”

Remarkably, the BBC also reports that the book’s translator, Smith “only started teaching herself Korean in 2010,” picking that language as so few in her country studied it and she wanted a job that combined reading and writing. The BBC Arts correspondent is deeply impressed, saying she “managed brilliantly” and that “The prose is relaxed and idiomatic but it’s powerful. There isn’t a paragraph or turn of phrase which feels like it didn’t originate in English.”

The International Award is a younger sibling to the more well-known Booker Prize for Fiction (that longlist will be announced in July) and has been given every two years since 2005 to authors who are not citizens of the Commonwealth, for an entire body of work in any language (past winners have included Canadian Alice Munro and US citizens Philip Roth and Lydia Davis). Now that the main Booker Award is open to all writers in English, regardless of citizenship, the International Award has been changed this year to honor individual novels in English translation, recognizing not only the authors, but also the translators, a change that the Guardian notes, “should help raise the profile of translated books.”

Indeed, the award is a high water mark for translations and translators which are gaining wider recognition with feature stories in the WSJ and The Atlantic and, for the first time ever, a translated novel winning the Hugo Award. It is also an important resource for RA librarians searching for a more diverse and international list of authors to suggest.

RA Alert: THE LONEY

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

9780544746527_4c1a5Debut gothic horror novel, The Loney by British author Andrew Michael Hurley (HMH; Overdrive Sample), has been named “Book of the Year” by the British Book Industry.

The awards honor the industry as a whole, from authors to publishers to retailers. Added this year are prizes for fiction, nonfiction, debut fiction, and children’s books. The “Book of the Year’ is selected from the winners of those four categories. The Loney rose over a shortlist of 32 titles including Paula Hawkins’s The Girl on the Train and Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman.

The Guardian reports the awards are given to books “that have been both well-written and brilliantly published” and surveys The Loney‘s rise, which started as a limited run of 300 copies from an indie publisher. Word of mouth was so strong that it was picked up by UK publisher John Murray and went on to win the Costa first novel award and the print run was increased by almost 100 fold. The novel earned the praise of Stephen King, reports The Bookseller, and was acquired by DNA Films (Ex Machina).

It comes out in the U.S. today and has already caught the notice of Entertainment Weekly, which includes it on their list of “11 excellent new books to read in May.” The review however, gives it a B+, marking it down for a lack of genre focus and speed but calls it “ultimately terrifying” with “dark, unexpected depths.”

The Guardian offers stronger praise, “like the best gothic novels, The Loney is not merely thrills and chills: it is also a perceptive and nuanced exploration of the interrelation between faith, community and nature … the effect is both strikingly assured and authentic, while also comprehensively destabilising any assumptions the reader may have had about all three.”

Check your orders. In several libraries holds are far outpacing copies.

9781419717987_99b18National Book Award finalist, A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, took the fiction award. The nonfiction winner, a surprise  best seller in Europe, received less attention here, Lars Mytting and Robert Ferguson’s Norwegian Wood, is as the subtitle states, about “Chopping, Stacking, and Drying Wood the Scandinavian Way.”

David Solomons’s My Brother is a Superhero won best children’s book.

“Sensitive Storyteller” Chris Cleave On NPR

Monday, May 9th, 2016

9781501124372_102c9Rising on the Amazon charts on the strength of an interview on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday is Chris Cleave’s Everyone Brave Is Forgiven (S&S; S&S Audio; OverDrive Sample).

The Library Reads pick, GalleyChatter hit, and Indie Next selection is currently #88 on Amazon’s Top 100 and is definitely headed for the best seller lists.

NPR’s Lynn Neary talks with Cleave about his own family’s WWII history, the Blitz in London and the Siege of Malta, and the pervasive racism of the era. Of his family he says:

“One of the bravest things that people in that generation did was to trust each other and was to trust themselves to fall in love. They fell in love sort of differently from the way we do. My real-life grandparents only met nine times before they were engaged. And so my grandmother’s engagement ring had these nine tiny stones on it, one for each time. And that was one of the bravest things they did. It wasn’t just that they were very stoical and that they endured so much. It was that they had faith in each other.”

The novel is receiving conflicting reviews. In the Washington Post, David L. Ulin, former editor  of the Los Angeles Times, says the author has problems tackling the grave effects of war, “None of the characters here is truly changed, not at the deepest level, which gives the book something of a shopworn quality.” On the other hand, The Guardian says: “With Everyone Brave Is Forgiven Cleave cements his reputation as a skilful storyteller, and a sensitive chronicler of the interplay between the political and the personal.”

Hitting Screens, Week of May 9

Friday, May 6th, 2016

Captain America: Civil War dominated global box office sales in advance of its opening in the U.S. this weekend, with The Wrap offering a list of why critics love it so. Meanwhile The Jungle Book continues to reign over all comers stateside. We’ll soon know if the superhero squad is a match for team Mowgli, but either way, Disney (which has a hand in both films) is set for a very good year.

MV5BMTQ3NTQ2NjMwMV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTk3Njk0ODE@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_Only one film adaptation comes out next week, Love & Friendship.

It is an adaptation of an unfinished Jane Austen novella, Lady Susan, an early effort by Austen published posthumously. Writer/director Whit Stillman finished the story to his own design and adapted it very freely. Kate Beckinsale, Chloë Sevigny, Xavier Samuel and Stephen Fry star.

Variety calls it “a supremely elegant and delicately filigreed adaptation” and says Stillman “knows just how to give [Austen’s] pointed social satire an extra stab of wink-wink postmodern drollery without breaking the spell.”

Critic David Edelstein, writing in New York magazine, says it is “a treat” and that “heretical as it sounds, Stillman has improved on his source.”

9780316294126_7748cA tie-in came out last week, Love & Friendship: In Which Jane Austen’s Lady Susan Vernon Is Entirely Vindicated, Whit Stillman (Hachette/Little, Brown; OverDrive Sample). It is a mix of mash-up, send-up, and spoof, using Austen’s text as well as Stillman’s additions.

The film will debut in theaters on May 13 before streaming on Amazon Prime the following month.

UPDATE: We missed one. Hallmark’s adaptation of Karen Kingsbury’s A Time to Dance will premier May 15, at  9pm ET/PT.

In December, Hallmark premiered Part One of their adaptation of The Bridge by the “Queen of Christian Fiction.” The second part was set for release this coming December, but fans objected so strongly to the year-long wait that Hallmark moved the release date upto March.

Hallmark won’t have the same problem with A Time to Dance, which is told in a single movie.

There is no tie-in, but the book is available in both paperback and digital formats (Thomas Nelson) as well as audio (Recorded Books) and large type (Thorndike).

Holds Alert: EVERYBODY’S FOOL

Friday, May 6th, 2016

9780307270641_99ef4Receiving wide attention, most significantly in an NPR interview, Richard Russo’s Everybody’s Fool (PRH/Knopf; Random House Audio; BOT; OverDrive Sample) is rising on Amazon and holds are well past a 3:1 ratio at libraries we checked.

The Pulitzer Prizewinner (for Empire Falls, 2001) speaks to NPR’s Morning Edition Steve Inskeep about  “blue-collar guys in a blue-collar town … [at] a point in life where they are looking ahead at an uncertain future, but more importantly looking backwards and trying to, I don’t know, figure out … what has all of this added up to?”

They also discuss how Russo’s parents and grandparents, “who didn’t think of themselves as poor, but didn’t have any money,” would be mystified at the life he has created. Russo also weighs in on this year’s political season.

Not unexpectedly, the Indie Next pick is getting attention elsewhere as well.

NYT‘s reviewer Janet Maslin features it and T.C. Boyle reviews it in this coming Sunday’s NYT’s Book Review. Ron Charles adds his take in The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal welcomes readers in by saying “it’s a madcap romp, weaving mystery, suspense and comedy in a race to the final pages.”

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Entertainment Weekly gives it a strong B+, saying “Everybody’s Fool is like hopping on the last empty barstool surrounded by old friends.”

It is a sequel to Nobody’s Fool (RH, 1993) which is also rising on Amazon and is seeing strong circ. with growing holds lists.

It was made into a movie in 1994 starring Paul Newman, Bruce Willis, Jessica Tandy, and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Walter Mosley Makes Edgar History

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

9780393028546_300Walter Mosley became the first African-American Grand Master in history during last week’s Edgar Awards ceremony.

The Grand Master is the highest honor the Mystery Writers of America bestows, one that recognizes a lifetime of achievement and an impressive quality of work. Agatha Christie, P.D. James, and Stephen King have won in past years but never an African-American author.

On learning the news Mosley said in a statement, “Receiving the Grand Master Award is the apex of my career as a crime writer; as a writer. It is, joyfully, one of the seminal events of my life.”

Literary Hub has posted his acceptance speech as well as a rundown of the award’s night.

9780385539203_55590Mosley is best known for his Easy Rawlins series, beginning with Devil in a Blue Dress (Norton, 1990).

His newest book, coming this June, is part of that series, Charcoal Joe: An Easy Rawlins Mystery (PRH/Doubleday, Random House Audio; BOT).

An Edgar for THE SYMPATHIZER

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

9780802123459_c9befIt was a banner week for Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Sympathizer (Grove Press, April 2015).

On Thursday night, it took home the Edgar Award for Best First Novel and shortly after, debuted on the NYT Paperback Trade Fiction Best Seller list, landing in the #9 spot, the first time it’s appeared on a NYT list (in hardcover, it was on the ABA IndieBound best seller list for six weeks, hitting a high of #24, and the L.A. Times best seller list for 2 weeks, but did not crack any other list).

Both of these events come just weeks after it won the Pulitzer in Fiction.. At that time the Guardian‘s headline described it as having done “from overlooked to Pulitzer winner,“ a bit of an overstatement. Although it had not won many prizes until the Pulitzer, it was a critical success (see Ron Charles’s review from the Washington Post), appeared on many end-of-the year best books lists and won ALA’s 2016 Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction.

What makes this Pulitzer Prize winner, described by Library Journal as “a meditation on war, political movements, America’s imperialist role, the CIA, torture, loyalty, and one’s personal identity,” an Edgar contender? The main character is a double agent, a communist sympathizer who is an aide to a South Vietnamese general, so, while it is literary, it counts as a literary thriller. As Kirkus commented, “Think Alan Furst meets Elmore Leonard, and you’ll capture Nguyen at his most surreal,” further saying that the result is “Both chilling and funny.”

UPDATE: New York magazine declares something librarians have observed for some times, that genres are converging, under the headline, “The Sympathizer Won a Pulitzer and an Edgar, and May Herald the Great Literary Convergence.” The article verifies that this is the first time a book has won both a major literary prize and a genre prize.

9780525955078_9a434In other Edgar news, Let Me Die in His Footsteps, Lori Roy (PRH/Dutton, June 2015) took home the honors for Best Novel while The Long and Faraway Gone, Lou Berney (HC/William Morrow, Feb. 2015) won for Best Paperback Original.

9781481422765_d3246Footer Davis Probably is Crazy, Susan Vaught (S&S/Paula Wiseman, March 2015) won for Best Juvenile and A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis (HC/Katherine Tegan, Oct. 2015) took the Young Adult prize.

A full listing of all winners and nominees is online, a great resource for both RA and creating displays.

Jack Ryan Wins The Name Game

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

9780425269367Speculation is swirling over who will be the next 007, but we now know who will run the spy game on this side of the Atlantic.

John Krasinski is the next Jack Ryan.

The Office favorite will star as the famous fictional CIA agent, following in the footsteps of the film stars Chris Pine, Ben Affleck, Harrison Ford, and Alec Baldwin.

This time, however, Ryan is not headed to the big screen, but to an Amazon TV series.

While details are sketchy and no air date is known, Deadline Hollywood is reporting that “expectations are for the show to go straight-to-series” (translated: bypassing Amazon’s “try it out” pilot stage). It will not be a direct adaptation but “a new contemporary take on the character in his prime as a CIA analyst/operative using the novels as source material.”

9780425197400Jack Ryan first appeared in 1984 in The Hunt for Red October (PRH/Berkley, 2013 is the most recent edition), which was also the first film adaptation (starring Baldwin).

Clancy went on to write a series of novels focused on Ryan’s rise from agent to the President of the United States before beginning a new series featuring his son, starting with The Teeth of the Tiger (PRH/Berkley, 2004).

NPR Features THE ASSISTANTS

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

9780399172540_00382Debut author, Cosmpolitan’s at-large books editor, and former librarian, Camille Perri appears on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday today to discuss her book The Assistants (PRH/GP Putnam’s; Penguin Audio; OverDrive Sample).

The story, a timely tale about resentment, student debt, the 1%, and a plot to get even, has a great pitch, says The Hollywood Reporter: “The Devil Wears Prada meets Office Space.”

Perri, a former assistant herself, says that being an assistant is very odd: “you are intimately close to power but you don’t have any; you see so much money, you’re just not making any.” She wrote the book as a treat for women in the same situation, she says, and hopes they get a kick out of it.

It is a favorite among GalleyChatters and is part of the Penguin First Flights program. Our LiveChat with Perri took place on Jan. 27, 2016. She recorded the following video for program.

Holds are strong on light ordering.