Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

Hitting Screens, Week of August 29, 2016

Monday, August 29th, 2016

9781501106484_6d921Kicking off the long holiday weekend, The Light Between Oceans opens on Sept. 2,  based on the best-selling phenomenon (nearly a year on the NYT hardcover list, it is still on the trade paperback list after 63 weeks), it stars Alicia Vikander and Michael Fassbender as a married couple who live in a remote lighthouse. When they discover a baby, they decide to keep her and raise her as their own. The tie-in edition, The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman (S&S/Scribner; HighBridge; OverDrive Sample; mass market), came out a few weeks ago.

There are few critical reviews yet, but Entertainment Weekly, reporting on an interview with the pair (who are a couple off screen) notes that they “fill their roles with incandescent grace notes.”

Also opening this Friday, but in a limited number of theaters is The 9th Life of Louis Drax,  A tie-in has just been released.

For The Dogs

Monday, August 29th, 2016

9780765330345Rising on Amazon’s sales rankings is A Dog’s Purpose, by W. Bruce Cameron (Macmillan/Forge; Tantor Media; OverDrive Sample), jumping from just outside the top 300 to solidly in the top 20.

The rise coincides with the release of the tear-tearjerking first trailer for the film adaptation, starring Dennis Quaid, Britt Robertson, Josh Gad and Peggy Lipton (for those of you who remember the TV series Mod Squad, she was the star. For the rest of you, she is the mother of Rashida Jones).

About a dog named Bailey who comes back to life as many other dogs (remembering each of his past lives), the book was published in hardcover in 2010 and spent over a year on the New York Times hardcover and trade paperback best seller lists.

Cameron is the author of several other titles, including spin-offs of  A Dog’s Purpose. and 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter, the basis for the ABC sitcom  (2002 -2005).

The film version opens on January 27, 2017.

Mass market and trade paperback tie-in editions will be released on Dec. 6.

N.K. Jemisin, Book Reviewer

Friday, August 26th, 2016

9780316229296_62f5aThe author of the Hugo winning The Fifth Season, N.K. Jemisin, has been in the news lately for her take on the current state of publishing and her reaction to winning “the Oscars” of her genre, but since last December she has also been sharing her views on Science Fiction and Fantasy in the NYT book review column “Otherwordly,” a bi-monthly roundup.

While the paper often assigns high profile authors to review high profile titles in the Sunday Book Review (Michael Connelly just reviewed Caleb Carr’s newest for example), Jemisin’s role is a bit different as she gets space to comment on a range of books within her genre specialty.

What kind of reviewer is she? A very precise, demanding, and appreciative one; a critic writing with vibrant engagement who is not willing to let much slide. What kind of reader is she? Based on her reactions to the works covered thus far, one that is interested in meaningful content rather than plot, values beautiful language, and appreciates in-depth characterizations.

For example, in her opening column she tries to figure out what China Miéville’s This Census-Taker (PRH/Del Rey) is all about, jumping from one possibility to the next before concluding, “This is a novel in which the journey is the story — but for those readers who actually want Miéville to take them somewhere, This Census-Taker may be an exercise in haunting, lovely frustration.”

Similarly, of Keith Lee Morris’s Travelers Rest (Hachette/Back Bay) she says the story is “not fresh” and thought “It’s beautifully written … Beautiful writing just isn’t enough to save any story from overfamiliarity.”

When a work does capture her fully, she gives it a rare “highly recommended” vote, as she has done for Andrea Hairston’s Will Do Magic for Small Change (Aqueduct Press), calling it a “beautifully multifaceted story … with deep, layered, powerful characters.”

All The Birds In The Sky (Macmillan/Tor/Tom Doherty), Charlie Jane Anders also impresses. She says it is “complex, and scary, and madcap … as hopeful as it is hilarious, and highly recommended.”

Below are links to her columns thus far:

December 28, 2015
February 23, 2016
April 19, 2016
June 17, 2016

Jude Moves Toward Screen

Thursday, August 25th, 2016

9780804172707_0fec7One of the most talked about literary novels of 2015, Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life (RH/Doubleday; OverDrive Sample), may be headed to the small screen.

The Hollywood Reporter says that Scott Rudin, noted for his many literary adaptations,  and Joe Mantello (the theater director behind Wicked) have optioned screen rights. Of course, that is just the first step. Many book titles get optioned without ever making it onto a screen.

Yanagihara posted the news to the book’s Facebook page (the entire page seems to have mysteriously disappeared) and said that the project will be a limited series. Yanagihara also asked followers to suggest actors to play Jude. Responses, reports Flavorwire, include “Eddie Redmayne … Ezra Miller (!), Rami Malek (!!) and Ben Whishaw (!!!)”

Recent literary novels that have followed a similar path include HBO’s adaptation of Olive Kitteridge and Showtime’s Purity.

A Little Life was shortlisted for the 2015 Man Booker Prize and The National Book Awards, although it didn’t win either. It did capture readers and critics, becoming, as we noted, a holds superstar and a darling of reviewers. It also made multiple best of the year lists and won the Kirkus Prize.

Live Chat with Katherine Arden, Author of THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

Read our chat with Katherine, below.

Join us for the next live chat about The Most Danger Place on Earth byLindsey Lee Johnson on Setp. 28, 4 to 5 p.m., ET.

To join the program, sign up here.

Live Blog Live Chat with Katherine Arden – THE BEAR & THE NIGHTINGALE
 

More Backman On The Way

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

The author of the long-running trade paperback best seller, A Man Called Ove, and two LibraryReads picks, Britt-Marie Was Here and My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry, (also currently a best seller in trade paperback), Fredrik Backman, has signed a deal to publish three new novels and a novella with S&S/Atria. Significantly, the news is reported by Deadline Hollywood, indicating the author has caught the attention of the U.S. movie business.

9781501160486_26853Coming first, on Nov. 1, is the novella, And Every Morning The Way Home Gets Longer And Longer (S&S/Atria; ISBN 9781501160486). Deadline says, like Ove, it “centers on an elderly man, who struggles to hold on to his memories, face his regrets and help his son and grandson prepare for his death.” It will be issued in a “small-format hardcover,” with illustrations.

The first of the three novels will be titled Beartown (S&S/Atria, May 2, 2017; ISBN 9781501160769). Deadline says “It concerns a depressed town whose hopes for a brighter future rest on its junior ice hockey team as it goes after the national title.”

MV5BMjE0NDUyOTc2MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODk2NzU3OTE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,679,1000_AL_Meanwhile, the Swedish-language film adaptation of A Man Called Ove will open in limited release on Sept. 30 (some sources list iy for release at the end of this month, but Sept. 30 now seems to be official).

Variety reviewed it when it was shown at the Goteborg Film Festival in February, calling the subtitled film “irresistible” and “A touching comic crowdpleaser,” commenting on the “terrific” cast and cinematography that makes it “a pleasure to watch.”

Cinema Scandinavia reports that in Sweden, where it was released late last year, Ove was a hit, topping the box office there and winning awards, including Best Actor for lead Rolf Lassgård.

Variety notes that Music Box Films won US distribution ights. Theyhave previously brought to the U.S. such Swedish imports as The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and The 100-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared.

Booker Longlist Title Gets US Publishing Date

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

In addition to famous names and international publishing houses, the Booker Prize also shines a light on small presses.

9781510719217_43f40Last year Marlon James and the U.K. indie press Oneworld took top honors for A Brief History of Seven Killings (published here by Riverhead, an imprint of the much larger Penguin Random House). This year’s longlist includes a title by an even smaller press, His Bloody Project: Documents Relating to the Case of Roderick Macrae, Graeme MaCrae Burnet (OverDrive Sample), published by the tiny 2-person house, Saraband.

At the time of the longlist announcement in July, the novel was not scheduled for a US release, but it is now set to be published here, also by an indie press, but one that is much larger, Skyhorse. The ship date is Sept. 13, which will work well if the title makes it to the shortlist, which will be announced that very day.

Back in Scotland, the staff at Saraband fielded an endless round of inquiries after the longlist was announced. Publisher Sara Hunt told The Guardian, “It’s been crazy but fantastic … it’s hard to take in when most of the time we’re fighting to tell people about how good our books are, then suddenly everyone who hasn’t been in touch is wanting to speak to you at the same time – it’s that tricky day at work that you dream of having.”

The novel, a historical crime thriller, got little attention prior to the Booker spotlight, which The Guardian says is an oversight,

“a psychological thriller masquerading as a slice of true crime; a collection of ‘found’ documents …The book’s pretense at veracity, as well as being a literary jeux d’esprit, brings an extraordinary historical period into focus, while the multiple unreliable perspectives are designed to keep the audience wondering …  This is a fiendishly readable tale that richly deserves the wider attention the Booker has brought it.”

THE FIFTH SEASON Wins Hugo

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

9780316229296_62f5aThe 2016 Hugo Awards winners were announced on Saturday at the World Science Fiction Convention. N.K. Jemisin won Best Novel for The Fifth Season (Hachette/Orbit; OverDrive Sample).

The first book in the Broken Earth trilogy grabbed reviewers’ attention for its scope and scale. In the NYT Sunday Book Review, multiple award-winning author Naomi Novik wrote it is a novel of “intricate and extraordinary world–building.” The NPR reviewer  also lauded the author’s world-building as being full of “sumptuous detail and dimensionality.” Wired picked it as their book club title and Smart Bitches Trashy Books gave it an A grade, writing:

The Fifth Season blew my entire weekend. I had plans. I was supposed to, at least at some point, get out of bed and take a shower. Instead I stayed in my blanket fort and devoured this book. The most I managed to accomplish was feeding the cat and tweeting about how much I loved this novel.”

We wrote about Jemisin and critical reaction to the sequel, The Obelisk Gate (Hachette/Orbit; OverDrive Sample), earlier this week.

Jemisin headlines a sweeping win for female authors, with every fiction category going to a woman.

9780765385253_40f87Nnedi Okorafor won Best Novella for Binti (Macmillan/Tor; Macmillan Audio; OverDrive Sample). Tor.com writes “Okorafor’s stories are where the ancient cultures of Africa meet the future, where what we have been and what makes us human meets what we can be and what we may be in the future.” NPR’s All Things Considered recently aired an interview with the author.

Uncanny2Hao Jingfang won Best Novelette for “Folding Beijing,” translated by Ken Liu. Tor.com says “it’s not just that this is a smart story doing crunchy, smart things in a clever fashion—that’s just one layer of the thing. It’s also an emotionally resonant and intimately personal piece, grounded thoroughly through the life experience of the protagonist.”

Naomi Kritzer won Best Short Story for “Cat Pictures Please.” io9 includes the story in a round up of “What Are The Best Short Stories of the Year So Far?” (for 2015) and links to a review in Apex magazine.

9781401265199_7147aNeil Gaiman takes home the Best Graphic Story prize for The Sandman: Overture Deluxe Edition, (DC Comics/Vertigo). The Nerdist and Tor.com provide reviews. Last year, NPR’s Terry Gross interviewed Gaiman about the book on Fresh Air.

MV5BMTc2MTQ3MDA1Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODA3OTI4NjE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,675,1000_AL_It was also a great night for Andy Weir. He won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (which is not a Hugo Award but is given at the same time) and the film The Martian (adapted from Weir’s debut novel) won Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form.

An episode of Jessica Jones won Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form.

Once again, the “Puppy” effect could be seen. However, it seems the voting members of the Hugo are learning to both live with and ignore the alt-right wing attack on the award (see our overview of the ongoing controversy).

As The Verge put it, “The immediate takeaway from tonight is that once again, slated works [the Puppy nominees] added to the ballot through a coordinated campaign have trouble swaying voters, although they were not unanimously dismissed, but in these instances, the awards largely went  to authors and works that really didn’t need help from slated works in the first place, such as Andy Weir or Neil Gaiman. In all other instances, voters opted to give the awards to extremely deserving works.”

Amazon Loves DICK

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

9781584350347-mediumAmazon Studios introduces three new titles in their “pilot season” this month. Unlike other networks, where pilots are seen by the few who decide which will go to series, Amazon invites viewers to get in on the action and vote for their favorites, with one exception. Woody Allen’s Crisis in Six Scenes is exempt from the process and is going directly to series.

Of the three pilots released this month, one bears a title that sounds more like it came from a bathroom stall than from a book. I Love Dick is based on a cult novel by Chris Kraus, published by the indie press Semiotext(e) in 1997.

Directed by Jill Soloway, the creator of the award-winning Transparent, which begins its third season next month, it stars Kevin Bacon and Kathryn Hahn, who also stars in Transparent.

Profiling the production, New York magazine writes that Soloway turns “one of the most compelling cult novels of the last 20 years into a television show with the potential to be as groundbreaking in its examination of gender politics as her first.”

The cult status of the book was explored last year in a piece in the New Yorker and the Guardian celebrated its UK debut last fall.

Amazon recently debuted two other pilots based on books, The Interestings, based on Meg Wolitzer’s novel, is not going to series, but The Last Tycoon, based on an unfinished novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is planned to begin streaming this fall.

Hitting Screens, Week of Aug. 22

Monday, August 22nd, 2016

9780765322470Just one adaptation opens in the coming week but  it will not make much noise, since it opens in a limited number of theaters (also on VOD), which is unfortunate because it received strong reviews when it premiered at this year’s SXSW.

I Am Not a Serial Killer is based on the 2009 thriller of the same title by Dan Wells. The first in a series, it received a starred review from Kirkus, which called it a “gory gem …this deft mix of several genres features a completely believable teenage sociopath (with a heart of gold), dark humor, [and} a riveting mystery.” Other titles in the series received equally strong reviews from both Booklist and Kirkus.

The plot line is reminiscent of  another series, Dexter. In this case, the main character is a 15-year-old struggling with the realization that he exhibits the classic personality traits of a serial killer. As he fights his own tendencies, he uses his special knowledge to try to help solve a series of murders happening in his small town.

The movie stars Back to the Future‘s Christopher Lloyd and, as the main character, Max Records (Where the Wild Things Are).

From X-Men to ALIAS GRACE

Sunday, August 21st, 2016

9780385490443Anna Paquin is joining the cast of the Netflix series adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace (PRH/Anchor; OverDrive Sample), reports IndieWire.

The actress, best known for her roles in X-Men and HBO’s True Blood, is set for the role of Nancy Montgomery, one of the two people allegedly killed by Grace Marks in the 1800s.

As we wrote previously, the double murder rocked Canada in the 1840’s with the public avidly following every detail and debating the question of whether the poor young Irish immigrant Marks (to be played by Sarah Gadon) was guilty of killing her employer and his housekeeper/lover (Montgomery).

Mary Harron (American Psycho) is directing the six-hour series. Filming started this month. No word yet on an airdate.

This is not the only new Atwood adaption on the way. As we noted earlier, Hulu is adapting The Handmaid’s Tale.

Readers’ Advisory: OBELISK GATE

Friday, August 19th, 2016

9780316229265_28d13A rising star in the SF and fantasy world, N.K Jemisin just received a glowing review on NPR’s book site for the second in her Broken Earth trilogy, The Obelisk Gate (Hachette/Orbit; OverDrive Sample).

The new novel picks “up right where that first book left off” says NPR reviewer Amal El-Mohtart, “plunging us deep into the Evil Earth and all its machinations after the first” (The Fifth Season). She continues, it “pole-vaults over the expectations I had for what epic fantasy should be and stands in magnificent testimony to what it could be.”

The SF site, Tor.com has different take on the book, writing “The Obelisk Gate is small and safe where The Fifth Season was large and surprising.” It happens that El-Mohtart also writes for Tor.com and begins a short exchange with their reviewer in the comments section, helping RA librarians by speculating that reading both books back-to-back might affect a readers perception.

io9 sides with El-Mohtart regardless of reading order. They featured the book in their August list of “15 Must-Read” titles for the month.

The Fantasy fan world initially took note of the author when she won the Locus award in the first novel category for The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. Her profile rose even higher when The Fifth Season was shortlisted for the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards. It also hit many best books lists for the year, including the New York Times and the Washington Post‘s.

Librarians new to Jemisin might want to read The Guardian‘s 2015 profile, which says her books “are about multicultural, complex worlds that stand out in a field that has been traditionally dominated by white men.”

She is known for elaborate world-building, her unique settings, far beyond the typical locales for Fantasy, and her strong point of view. As The Guardian puts it, “Stereotypical fantasy series like, say, The Lord of the Rings, usually present a virtuous status quo threatened by a dark and eventually defeated outsider. But Jemisin’s stories almost always involve a flawed order, and the efforts (also flawed) to overthrow it.”

ARRIVAL Trailer Arrives

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

+-+46961139_140 +-+881227194_140

Ted Chiang has won a remarkable number of major science fiction awards. That is even more remarkable when you realize that his output has been relatively small, just 15 short stories, most of them originally published in magazines. A collected edition of some of his short stories, Stories Of Your Life And Others (originally published in 2002 by Macmillan/Tor; re-released by PRH/Vintage in 2016; OverDrive Sample), is called by the publisher “the most awarded collection in history” even though, technically, it’s not the collection that was awarded, but the stories in it.

In a recent interview in Electric Literature, Chiang’s work is described as managing to “capture the human drama behind philosophical questions, in clear and spare prose that seduces with its simplicity.”

That doesn’t sound like the type of science fiction that generally makes it to the big screen (in an interview last year, he dismissed movies like Star Wars as “adventure stories dressed up with lasers.”)

Nevertheless, a $50 million dollar adaptation of the title story from the collection,  Story of Your Life is headed to screens this fall, with the title Arrival.

Chiang says that, after he first got the idea to write about a woman trying to communicate with aliens and having her own life profoundly changed as a result, he studied linguistics for four years as preparation.

Directed by Denis Villeneuve, starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Forest Whitaker, the movie will arrive in theaters on November 11. The first trailer was just released.

Tie-in:
Arrival (Stories of Your Life MTI)
Ted Chiang
PRH/Vintage: October 25, 2016

The Daily Show Bounce Is Back
for HOMEGOING

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

9781101947135_40918Trevor Noah took over hosting The Daily Show from Jon Stewart last year. His predecessor was beloved by publishers for the many writers he featured on the show and for the resulting bumps in sales of their books.

Noah has not followed in those footsteps. While he has featured writers, they have been the usual late show mix of well known comedians and politicians who just happen to have written books and those appearances have rarely produced noticeable sales bumps.

Last night’s guest was different. Noah interviewed novelist Yaa Gyasi and The Daily Show bump returned, sending her debut Homegoing (RH/Knopf; RH Audio; BOT; OverDrive Sample) shooting up the Amazon sales ranks, moving from #315 to #62.


Noah is passionate about the book, calling  it “one of the most fantastic books I have read in a long time,” continuing that it is a “powerful … beautiful story … hopeful while at the same time being very realistic … you cry and you laugh as you are reading it.”

Gyasi says her visit to a slave fort in Ghana spurred her to write about the “diaspora as a family … if you go back far enough in time the thing that connects us … both African immigrants and African Americans … is the fact that we were all related … I wanted to bring it down to that most elemental level … to connect the family for all of us.” She also says that the story of slavery cannot be told without including the role played by African slave traders.

Noah closed the brief interview by reminding the audience that Gyasi’s novel is being hailed as “the new Roots of our generation” and saying he expects to be hearing more from her.

The million-dollar debut has been a hot title since before it even hit shelves, getting nods from librarians and booksellers, making multiple Summer reading lists, and Entertainment Weekly‘s list of “Best Fiction of 2016 So Far..” It spent a few weeks on the NYT bestseller extend list (getting as high as #15) but did best on the American Booksellers Association list which measures indie bookstore sales, reaching #5.

Circulation continues to be strong across libraries we checked with high hold numbers and turnover rates.

The ORPHAN TRAIN House

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

9780061950704_6f669If you love real estate porn combined with the story of an author’s unexpected success, check out the cover story from Sunday’s NYT Real Estate section. In it, Christina Baker Kline writes that she had nearly given up on her dream to buy a house where her father and three siblings has been acquiring property, on Mount Desert Island in Maine.

All that changed when her novel Orphan Train, (HarperCollins/Morrow, 2014) which is partially set on Mount Desert Island, became a word-of-mouth bestseller.