Archive for the ‘Literary’ Category

Best Sellers: Patchett Hits New Highs

Friday, September 23rd, 2016

9780062491794_46ce0Ann Patchett lands at #4 on the USA Today Best-Selling Books list, making Commonwealth (Harper; HarperAudio) her highest ever debut.

According to the paper, Bel Canto reached #8 in 2003 but debuted at #70 and State of Wonder hit, and peaked, at #12.

Commonwealth is #1 on the PW Fiction list, making it likely to land on the NYT‘s list at #1 as well when the Oct 2 list comes out later this afternoon.

Library patrons are echoing the sales figures. Holds are strong on all formats at libraries we checked.

It looks like Jonathan Burnham, publisher of HarperCollins’s Harper imprint, was correct when he told The Wall Street Journal “It’s probably the most commercial novel Ann has written yet.”

As we noted earlier, it is a darling of critics. It made most, if not all the fall reading previews. It is also the Indie Next #1 pick for September; Entertainment Weekly gave it a solid A review; The Guardian says it is “outstanding;” and Jennifer Senior reviewed it early for the daily NYT, calling it “exquisite.

The Flavor of Grief: UMAMI

Monday, September 19th, 2016

9781780748917_edecdNPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday features an under-the-radar debut novel by a Mexican author, published in English by an indie British press, Umami by Laia Jufresa, translated by Sophie Hughes (Perseus/Oneworld Publications, dist. in the U.S. by Perseus/PGW; OverDrive Sample).

Host Scott Simon lyrically introduces the book as set in a Mexico City neighborhood where “The residents … each have their own stories told in different times, different stories that, in time, reveal common threads of love, loss, regret, recovery, mystery, loneliness and an undefinable richness.”

All the characters are struggling with some level of loss and Jufresa says she wanted to write a book about “grief during a [specific] period of time because I also wanted to write about the end of grief … this kind of grief where you’re already coming out.”

About the process of translation Jufresa says that “It’s such a treat to have someone translating your work because no one ever will read your work as closely as a translator does … you have the fantasy that you will have readers like this, I think, that pick up all the details.”

Jufreza was named as one of the most outstanding young writers in Mexico as part of the 2015 project México20. Her novel was listed as one of the titles on The MillionsMost Anticipated: The Great Second-Half 2016 Book Preview” and The Rumpus called it “Dynamic and delicate.”

 

Late Night Literati

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

9780385542364_b2a61Last night, Seth Meyers turned his attention from celebrities to an author he’s been a “fan of for a long time,” Colson Whitehead and his book The Underground Railroad (PRH/Doubleday; RH Audio; BOT).

Although he features authors on his show relatively rarely, Meyers is known for reading widely and for personally selecting the books he features.

The book is currently at #2 on the New York Times Hardcover Fiction best seller list, after 5 weeks.

First segment:

Click here for the second segment.

THE NIX To TV

Monday, September 12th, 2016

The NixThe glittering era of cinematic TV adaptations continues with the news that movie star maven Meryl Streep and Star Wars director J.J. Abrams are teaming up to produce a small screen limited series of The Nix by Nathan Hill (PRH/Knopf; RH Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample).

Deadline Hollywood reports the deal is with Warner Bros Television which will be able to auction the finished project to the highest bidder.

New York Magazine has already called the debut novel “One of This Fall’s Buzziest.

As we noted, it racked up accolades when it hit the shelves with People magazine making it a pick for the week, calling it  “as good as the best Michael Chabon or Jonathan Franzen.”

Entertainment Weekly was also impressed, giving it an A- and calling it “a big fat cinder block of a book brainy enough to wipe away the last SPF-smeared vestiges of a lazy summer but so immediately engaging, too, that it makes the transition feel like a reward.”

Early days yet and no word on who will star opposite Streep in the role of her on-screen son, Samuel Andresen-Anderson.

Taking Odds

Sunday, September 4th, 2016

9780307593313_66750 9780679743460_9b3f7Betting is underway on who will win the Nobel Prize in Literature with Japan’s Haruki Murakami topping the list.

He may be the Susan Lucci of authors, having led the betting for the last three years, only to see Svetlana Alexievich, a Belarussian journalist and oral historian take the prize last year, French novelist Patrick Modiano win in 2014 and Canadian Alice Munro in 2013.

He is not alone. Americans Philip Roth and Joyce Carol Oates and Irish writer John Banville annually get bandied about as the bookies make odds and this year is no different. Roth is the third favorite to win with Oates right behind him. Banville’s odds have, oddly enough, fallen out of the top 10. Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, another frequent pick for several years, is still in the top five.

There is a new name in the top three, Adunis, the pen name for a Syrian poet and essayist, has risen through the ranks and is now holding the #2 spot on the oddsmakers list.

Predictably unpredictable, the Nobel Prize in Literature has baffled odds makers for years and is just as likely to go to a  dark horse this year.

The exact announcement date has yet to be set but is most often awarded in early to mid October.

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 a few executives 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 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 scheduled to begin streaming this fall.

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.

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.

Taking Off Like An Express Train

Sunday, August 14th, 2016

9780385537032_9b0d7From the President to RWA’s Librarian of the Year, people are on board for Oprah’s latest pick, Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad (PRH/Doubleday; RH Audio; BOT). It debuts at #4 on the NYT Best Seller Hardback Fiction list, is the #6 best selling book on Amazon, and is #10 on the USA Today best- seller list.

Reviewers were caught off guard when the book, originally scheduled for publication in September, was published early due to the Oprah pick. A few newspapers managed to rush their reviews into print including The Washington Post and The New York Times. Since then there have been many more assessments, all of them glowing.

The book is featured on the cover of this week’s NYT Sunday Book Review. Author Juan Gabriel Vásquez  calls it “striking and imaginative … carefully built and stunningly daring; it is also, both in expected and unexpected ways, dense, substantial and important.” Whitehead himself is interviewed by NYT BR editor Pamela Paul on the weekly podcast.

NPR‘s book reviewer goes so far as to say, “With this novel, Colson Whitehead proves that he belongs on any short list of America’s greatest authors — his talent and range are beyond impressive and impossible to ignore. The Underground Railroad is an American masterpiece.”

Laura Miller of Slate wonders “How does an ironist write about slavery?” and makes some unexpected comparisons, “The Underground Railroad makes it clear that Whitehead’s omnivorous cultural appetite has devoured narratives of every variety and made them his own. This novel, like much of his work, has the flavor of [Ralph] Ellison’s skepticism—but it’s also redolent of the propulsive, quasi-allegorical quest plot of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series. Think of The Underground Railroad as the novel where the spirits of two great American storytellers meet in a third.”

USA Today gives it 3.5 out of four stars, saying that the novel is “masterful, urgent,” full of “immense vitality,” and “one of the finest novels written about our country’s still unabsolved original sin.” WSJ writes “on every page of The Underground Railroad is evidence of a mature writer in full control of his talent and ambition.” People calls it “Tense, graphic, uplifting and informed, this is a story to share and remember.”

As for the President and the librarian, Mr. Obama includes the book on his just released Summer Reading List while Robin Bradford, Collection Development Librarian for Timberland Regional Library and the 2016 RWA Librarian of the Year, prophetically said during a podcast from the romance book site, Smart Bitches/Trashy Books, recorded before Oprah made her pick, “everyone will be talking about it when it comes out, and you’ll hear so much about it that you’ll think, it can’t be that good, [but] it’s one of those life-changing books …  I can’t shut up about that book.”

ANOTHER BROOKLYN Soars

Thursday, August 11th, 2016

9780062359988_42588Jacqueline Woodson’s first novel for adults in two decades, Another Brooklyn (HarperCollins/Amistad; HarperAudio; OverDrive Sample), is racing up the Amazon sales ranks, moving from #1,678 to #346.

The jump is a result of Woodson’s appearance on NPR’s Fresh Air, where she talks with host Terry Gross about poetry, sex, gender, homosexuality, and how growing up in a deeply religious family fueled her creativity and instilled in her a confidence that she had “a right to say what I believe in.”

USA Today reviewed the coming of age novel Tuesday, giving it 3 out of 4 stars and writing “it’s a story about adolescence as a feat of survival … alert to the confluences of dramas that a teen absorbs all at once, from racism to sexual abuse to the loss of family members.”

It is the #1 Indie Pick for August and earned rare all-star status from the four trade review journals. As we wrote earlier, it is on the majority of the summer reading lists and is sure to be heavily reviewed.

Man Booker Longlist Title to
Big Screen

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

Screen-Shot-2015-08-26-at-11.01.59-AM  9780399184260_5f8e2  9780735212169_GirlontheTrain_MTI_MM.indd

On the heels of the announcement that Ottessa Moshfegh’s literary thriller Eileen (PRH/Penguin) is a finalist for the Man Booker Prize, comes the news that screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson has been hired to adapt the novel for producer Scott Rudin.

The Hollywood Reporter writes that Wilson has “become a go-to writer for adapting book-to-screen thrillers with provocative female heroines who are not always likable” ( the WSJ profiled her last year under the headline “Hollywood’s Go-To Scribe for Thrillers“). Having written the screenplay for The Girl on the Train, she was hired last year to adapt Maestra by L.S. Hilton (PRH/Putnam; BOT), another title that was sometimes compared to The Girl on the Train (Note: the cover for the latter, above, is the newly-released art for the tie-in).

Maestra is still in development. No stars or director have yet been named.

Oprah’s Book Club: UNDERGROUND RAILROAD

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016

9780385537032_9b0d7“Nobody could wait for Colson Whitehead’s new book — including Oprah, so here it is, a month early,” writes Ron Charles in The Washington Post.

Today, Winfrey announced that The Underground Railroad (PRH/Doubleday; RH Audio; BOT) is the latest title in her Book Club 2.0. Originally scheduled for release on Sept. 13, it is available now, says Charles, as “the result of an extraordinary plan to start shipping 200,000 copies out to booksellers in secret.”

Oprah enthuses about the novel, below, saying it’s kept her up at night, her heart in her throat.

Calling it “Far and away the most anticipated literary novel of the year,” Charles says the novel “reanimates the slave narrative, disrupts our settled sense of the past and stretches the ligaments of history right into our own era … The canon of essential novels about America’s peculiar institution just grew by one.”

It received stars from the trades (Boolist, Kirkus, LJ, and PW) and was on a bevy of “most anticipated lists.”

Announcing the selection today on CBS This Morning, Oprah admits that, despite his literary reputation, she had never read a book by Whitehead before.

It was also a hit of BEA. Whitehead was one of Library Journal’s Day of Dialog speakers and was on the panel for the Adult Book and Author Breakfast. As we reported in our GalleyChat BEA review, Jessica Woodbury, blogger and Book Riot contributor, called the novel “spectacular,” and said, “The beauty of this book is that while it has that deep communal feel of folk tale, it also lives vibrantly through its characters. I cannot remember another book about this era that so completely brought the world to life in my mind. Just do yourself a favor and get this book.”

Oprah interviews the author, in a video on the CBS site as well as on Oprah.com.

For those thinking ahead to displays, The New York Times offered a host of possibilities in their review of Ben H. Winters’s Underground Airlines, connecting it to Whitehead as well as Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing and Natashia Deon’s debut novel, Grace. And of course there is Octavia Butler’s modern classic, Kindred.

Hitting Screens, Week of July 25

Monday, July 25th, 2016

Two adaptations open this week, one based on a 2008 Philip Roth novel and the other on a 2012 YA novel by Jeanne Ryan, Nerve.

Nerve, opening nationwide on July 27, sports the first Pokémon Go  promotional tie-in. Producer Lionsgate is sponsoring PokéStop locations outside movie theaters in several U.S. cities.

The fast-paced YA SF thriller is about an online, voyeuristic, game of truth or dare, which according to Kirkus, reflects themes from another book Lionsgate successfully adapted,  The Hunger Games. Nerve stars Emma Roberts, Dave Franco and Juliette Lewis.

A tie-in came out a week ago, Nerve Movie Tie-In, Jeanne Ryan (PRH/Speak; Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample).

9780525432845_5e494Indignation, adapted from Philip Roth’s 2008 novel, starring Sarah Gadon, Logan Lerman, and Tracy Letts, opens on July 29 in NYC and LA.

It premiered at Sundance this year to mixed reviews. The Hollywood Reporter says it is “A warmly satisfying screen translation of a work by an author who has rarely been served well on film” and the NYT listed Gadon as one of their “Breakthrough Performances.” The Guardian, however, writes, “For a first-time feature, Indignation is undoubtedly accomplished, with handsome production values, stellar performances, and [a] … tour-de-force scene that bodes of great things to come from the budding film-maker. Unfortunately, on the whole, Schamus’ debut feels too self-serious to fully engage.”

A tie-in comes out next week, Indignation, Philip Roth (PRH/Vintage).

Nancy Pearl Interviews Adam Haslett

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

9780316261357_38751Saying that his novel gave her “hours of great pleasure,” librarian Nancy Pearl talks with author Adam Haslett about his new book, Imagine Me Gone (Hachette/Little, Brown; OverDrive Sample) on the most recent episode of Book Lust TV,

Hassett says the book is described by one of his friends, “a love story about a family.” It follows five members of a family as they each narrate part of the story as it moves forward in time across 40 years. Nancy praises the strong characterizations and Haslett says that he always wants to “get as far into the texture and nuance of his characters’ life as possible.” For him, he continues, the process of entering “imaginatively and sympathetically” into a character is key. Like method acting, he says, he lives with the characters.

The two also discuss reading. Haslett says that he is dyslexic and that reading was always an effort. Unlike other kids who could disappear into an imagined world, he read (and still reads) very attentively, falling into an enjoyment of great sentences.

The NYT‘s “Sunday Book Review,” as we noted earlier, also says that Haslett learned the craft of sentences well, writing that the book is “ambitious and stirring” and that “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.”

As is her practice, Nancy asks Haslett to share some of his favorite titles and he lists the work of Amity Gaige and Paul Harding with whom he went to MFA school.

Imagine Me Gone was selected as a May Indie Next pick and is on Time magazine’s  “Best Books of 2016 So Far.” 


Netflix Finds Their Grace

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

9780385490443The title role in Netflix’s upcoming adaptation of  Margaret Atwood’s 1996 historical crime novel, Alias Grace (PRH/Anchor; OverDrive Sample) will be played by Sarah Gadon, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

In the novel, Atwood explores the true story of a double murder that took place in Canada in the 1840’s. Like a 19th century version of Serial, the question of whether the poor young Irish immigrant Grace Marks was guilty of killing her employer and his housekeeper captured public attention at the time.

The novel received critical acclaim winning The Scotiabank Giller Prize, one of Canada’s most prestigious literary awards. It was also named to the ALA Notable Book list, and picked as one of the year’s best novels by The New York Times as well as by Booklist and Library Journal.

Reading Francine Prose’s description of the plot in the NYT Sunday Book Review, you can see what attracted the producers to the story about “a pretty young woman who was either the loathsome perpetrator or another innocent victim of an infamous crime” and imagine the pitch, “Making a Murderer meets Penny Dreadful.”

Netflix has not yet set a release date for the series.