Archive for the ‘Literary’ Category

To TV: VANITY FAIR

Thursday, June 29th, 2017

A new adaptation of Thackeray’s Vanity Fair is heading to TV, streaming on Amazon and airing on Britain’s ITV reports Variety.

It will star Olivia Cooke (Ready Player One) as the wily Becky Sharp, a woman trying to rise through society against the backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars. James Strong (Broadchurch) directs.

The novel, a classic of British literature, has been adapted many times, on TV and in the movies. Most recently, in the form of a film staring Reese Witherspoon an directed by Mira Nair, It was “a box-office disappointment” according to Variety. This new production hopes to revive interest. An ITV executive said the seven episode series will “bring the novel to life in a way that will really connect with a modern audience.”

The series is being produced by Amazon Studios and Mammoth Screen. Mammoth, an arm of ITV, produced the popular Victoria series which played on PBS in the United States. ITV is most famous in the US for creating Downton Abbey.

The historical drama is expected to debut in 2018. The book has been published in a number of editions and is also available as a full-cast audio featuring narrators Emma Fielding and Stephen Fry (BBC Books).

The Telegraph offers a primer on the story and the importance of the novel.

Books In The City

Thursday, June 29th, 2017

Sarah Jessica Parker has picked the first novel for her new imprint SJP for Hogarth, a debut by Fatima Farheen Mirza tentatively titled A Place for Us.

According to the NYT it “follows an Indian-American family that is reunited on the eve of the eldest daughter, Hadia’s, wedding. It tackles issues of belonging and tradition, delving into the complex experience of an immigrant family in the United States.”

In a press release Mirza said “After working on the novel for eight years, I could not be happier with the home it has found … I’m confident in their vision for the novel and grateful that it will be brought into the world by SJP for Hogarth.”

Vogue writes that Parker “called being ‘taken hostage by Fatima Mirza’s heartrending and timely story’ a ‘gutting pleasure,’ and praised Mirza’s ability to afford her reader a better understanding of ‘what it means to reconcile one’s love of family and culture with a desire to find one’s own path, and one’s own faith.'”

The novel will publish in 2019. Parker will be involved in all aspects of the book’s publication and design and tells the NYT she’s a bit nervous about the editing process, fearing that “a writer might be ‘allergic’ to her feedback.”

It’s been quite  the literary week for Parker. On Monday she announced her pick for ALA’s new BookClub Central. Parker serves as honorary chair of the initiative.

Oprah Announces
New Book Club Title

Monday, June 26th, 2017

UPDATE: Click here for the official announcement, the reading group guide and Oprah’s interview with the author.

The newest Oprah Book Club selection was announced today on CBS This Morning:

The book is being released in paperback today:

Behold The Dreamers, Imbolo Mbue
Random House Trade Paperbacks, June 26, 2017
ISBN-13: 978-0525509714

Below, she speaks to librarians at a Penguin Random House preview, her first time speaking to an audience about her book.

Late Night Lit

Friday, June 16th, 2017

Seth Meyers interviewed author and S&S/Atria Books editor Rakesh Satyal during the latest episode of his informal Late Night literary salon. The two discussed Satyal’s second novel, No One Can Pronounce My Name (Macmillan/Picador; Macmillan Audio; OverDrive Sample).

Meyers calls it “a funny, uplifting book” and Satyal says it was important to him to focus on that rather than the vein of sadness that runs through many immigrant novels. Comedy and levity, he says, is how we save ourselves. He keeps Meyers laughing with stories of his childhood and his mother’s obsession with Barbie dolls.

The novel was featured on several spring book lists including those by The Washington Post and BuzzFeed. The Millions picked it as a Most Anticipated book of the year as well as for their May Preview.

To Screen: THE BOOKSELLER

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

Julia Roberts will star in and produce a big screen adaptation of Cynthia Swanson’s 2015 debut novel The Bookseller (HC/Harper; HarperLuxe; Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample), reports Variety.

The novel was not widely reviewed. It made the NYT eBook bestseller list for a week and rose to #85 on the USA Today list. It was also an Indie Next pick:

“In 1962, 38-year-old Kitty Miller lives unconventionally. She’s an unmarried working woman who is running a bookstore with her best friend. But at night, in her dreams, it’s a different story. There, Kitty (now Kathryn) explores the path not taken. She’s the married mother of three. It’s the life that might have been, and the novel explores both Kitty’s waking and dream lives in alternating chapters. Swanson’s enjoyable debut really gets interesting when the lines between waking and dreaming, fantasy and reality, begin to blur.” —Susan Tunis, Bookshop West Portal, San Francisco, CA

A starred review in LJ said, “This is a stunner of a debut novel … Kitty/Katharyn’s journey is intriguing, redolent with issues of family, independence, friendship, and free will. This will especially resonate with fans of the movie Sliding Doors and the authors Anna Quindlen and Anita Shreve.”

This marks the latest in a run of book-based films for Roberts, who, like Reese Witherspoon, has had success with adaptations. Early in her career she starred in the film version of John Grisham’s The Pelican Brief . She is now set to star in and produce Harlan Coben’s Fool Me Once and, with Viola Davis, will feature in the film version of Jodi Picoult’s Small Great Things.

LibraryReads To Crit Pick

Tuesday, April 11th, 2017

9780812989885_a1476Pete Hamill reviews Hannah Tinti’s The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley (PRH/The Dial Press; RH Large Type; OverDrive Sample) for the forthcoming NYT Sunday Book Review, (not yet available online) calling it a “strikingly symphonic novel” and saying readers will keep turning pages “carried by Tinti’s seductive prose.”

Librarians saw it coming. It was the #1 LibraryReads pick in March:

The novel has received so much attention, that the review aggregator LitHub lists it as both one of the “Hottest Books of the Season” and the “Most Talked About Books.”

Booksellers also love it, picking it as an Indie Next selection for April 2017 and as we noted in Titles To Know, it was previewed on a number of monthly or seasonal best lists, including those by the BBC, Bustle, BuzzFeed, Elle, and InStyle. Much earlier in the year it was included in The MillionsThe Great 2017 Book Preview.”

The Rolling Stone says “Tinti has established herself as one of our great storytellers. She draws you in with this book, and it’s really difficult to get away.” Ron Charles reviews it for The Washington Post, as a “thriller with heart” and give it the “The Totally Hip Video Book Reviewer” treatment:

Tinti was interviewed on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday in late March:

Holds are generally high. A few libraries we checked bought few copies and are facing ratios approaching 10:1. Others have ordered more copies to meet demand.

 

Heading To Screen: THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

9780385542364_94521Barry Jenkins, the writer and director of the Oscar-winning film Moonlight, will write and direct the adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s National Book Award-winning novel The Underground Railroad (PRH/Doubleday) as a series for Amazon.

“Going back to The Intuitionist, Colson’s writing has always defied convention, and The Underground Railroad is no different,” Jenkins said in a statement. “It’s a groundbreaking work that pays respect to our nation’s history while using the form to explore it in a thoughtful and original way.”

The Underground Railroad is a massive job,” he told the the LA Times. “Right now, I’m thinking I want to do that over six or seven hours, and that will take a lot of time and consideration because it absolutely has to be done the right way. It’s a landmark work.”

Consequence of Sound reports “Jenkins has been working on the project since September, just one month after Colson’s book was released.”

It is early days, so there is no word on an air date or casting.

Meyers and Saunders, Redux

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

On Monday, Seth Meyers hosted George Saunders on Late Night, a return of sorts.

As a result, Saunders’ novel, Lincoln in the Bardo (PRH/RH; RH Audio/BOT; Overdrive Sample), having already been a #1 on the NYT best seller, is moving up Amazon’s sales rankings this morning.

The two-part interview is a remarkable contrast to usual late-night celebrity fare.

Meyers introduces the second part of the interview with a phrase that may never have been uttered by a late night network host before, “the common architecture between writer and reader.”

Meyers has had experience with the author. He interviewed Saunders in February when he served as  the substitute host on the Charlie Rose Show.

Saunders To Silver Screen

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

Lincoln in the BardoMegan Mullally (Will & Grace, Infinity Baby) and husband Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation, The Founder), have bought the film rights George Saunders’s NYT bestseller, Lincoln in the Bardo (PRH/RH; RH Audio/BOT; Overdrive Sample).

The couple will produce alongside the author. Both worked on the audiobook version with him.

I am thrilled to be in artistic cahoots with Megan and Nick, two artists I’ve long admired,” Saunders told Deadline Hollywood, “This is going to be big fun. My hope is that we can find a way to make the experience of getting this movie made as wild and enjoyable and unpredictable as the experience of writing it — I am so happy to have such fearless companions on the trip.”

The A.V. Club points to the challenges facing the adaptation, “The book has more than 150 narrators … then there’s the matter of the archival texts intercutting the musings of Willie and his new neighbors. And that’s all before you get into those neighbors’ appearances.” However, the producers have already dealt with those issues for the audiobook version.

EXIT WEST Hits NYT Bestseller List

Friday, March 17th, 2017

9780735212176_8834cAfter weeks of critical attention, Mohsin Hamid’s newest novel, Exit West (PRH/Riverhead; Penguin Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample) debuts on the NYT Bestseller list at #5.

Coverage is continuing. PBS Newshour and The Wall Street Journal released video interviews. The Seattle Times reviews it, saying the “penetrating, prescient new novel feels like bearing witness to events that are unfolding before us in real time.” The Guardian writes:

Exit West shifts between forms, wriggles free of the straitjackets of social realism and eyewitness reportage, and evokes contemporary refugeedom as a narrative hybrid: at once a fable about deterritorialisation, a newsreel about civil society … and a speculative fiction that fashions new maps of hell.”

Holds are strong across libraries we checked, with the majority showing holds at 5:1 or higher.

Lost and Found

Monday, March 13th, 2017

9780143107316_af1eaA novel by the influential Harlem Renaissance author Claude McKay, Amiable with Big Teeth (PRH/Penguin; Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample) was all but lost in the Columbia University archives. It remained unpublished for 70 years until it was discovered by a doctoral student while doing research, causing a flurry of news reports.

Published last month, it now sports an eye-catching cover and has received a series of pre-pub reviews that drove libraries to buy copies.

Consumer coverage is now catching up.

Time says the novel “lives up to McKay’s reputation. The book satirizes life in Harlem during the 1935 Italian invasion of Ethiopia … Socialites, intellectuals and hucksters debate the conflict abroad from the parlors and churches of Harlem … McKay mocks both sides, but he knows the stakes: ‘If a native state can maintain its existence in Africa and hold its head up among the white nations,’ one character says, ‘it adds to the self-respect of the colored Americans.'”

Paste reports on the find and the authentication process. The Atlantic provides an in-depth feature.

Claude McKay was already known to the literary world. His 1922 collection of poetry, Harlem Shadows, was a landmark work “that helped usher in the Harlem Renaissance” writes The Atlantic.

At the time the novel was discovered, the NYT provided a account of McKay’s writing and influence on a “generation of black writers, including Langston Hughes. His work includes the 1919 protest poem If We Must Die, (quoted by Winston Churchill) … He also wrote the 1928 best-selling novel Home to Harlem.”

Henry Louis Gates Jr., the Harvard University scholar and one of experts who examined the novel, told the paper, “This is a major discovery … written in the second half of the Harlem Renaissance, it shows that the renaissance continued to be vibrant and creative and turned its focus to international issues.”

White, Black and Blue

Sunday, March 12th, 2017

9780451493699_50a6dOn NPR’s Morning Edition Sunday, author Hari Kunzru is interviewed about his new book, White Tears (PRH/Knopf; RH Audio), a story about two white hipsters from Brooklyn who become deeply involved in collecting old Blues music. NPR calls it “a mystery, a coming of age story, a history.”

The interview explores the complex historical relationship between the black creators of the Blues and the “elite white men” who collected the music, making it popular with other elite whites and, in the process, turning it into an “image that suited them.” One of the most famous collectors made recordings from Southern penitentiaries without seeming to be touched by the conditions suffered there.

Reviews are very strong. The Washington Post calls the novel “captivating” and writes “Kunzru’s graceful writing is exquisitely attuned to his material … White Tears is a profoundly darker and more complex story of a haunting that elucidates the iniquitous history of white appropriation of black culture.”

The Huffington Post calls it “The Horror Story La La Land Should Have Become.”

It is also a March Indie Next pick.

Hollywood Intersects with LibraryReads

Friday, March 10th, 2017

9780399184512_3767cAdd Kerry Washington to the list of Hollywood women seeing the possibilities in book adaptations. Variety reports she will produce the planned Warner Bros. feature based on Brit Bennett’s debut novel, The Mothers (PRH/Riverhead; Penguin Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample). Bennett is on board to write the screenplay and will serve as an executive producer.

The Mothers was a LibraryReads selection for October 2016. Jennifer Ohzourk, St. Louis Public Library, St. Louis, MO wrote the annotation:

“In a contemporary Black community in California, the story begins with a secret. Nadia is a high school senior, mourning her mother’s recent death, and smitten with the local pastor’s son, Luke. It’s not a serious romance, but it takes a turn when a pregnancy (and subsequent cover-up) happen. The impact sends ripples through the community. The Mothers asks us to contemplate how our decisions shape our lives. The collective voice of the Mothers in the community is a voice unto itself, narrating and guiding the reader through the story.”

Bennett made waves last year and was named one of the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 authors for 2016. Her novel was a NYT bestseller for two weeks, starting in late October 2016 where it debuted at #18. It did better and stayed longer on the LA Times list, where it rose to #7 and lasted six non-consecutive weeks.

Bestseller performance aside, it was a literary hit, getting critical attention, glowing reviews, and several best book nods. It was also a Librarian Favorite of 2016, making the top 7 picks.

Kerry, known for her portrayal of the take-no-prisoners Olivia Pope in the hit TV show Scandal, is on the path to becoming “a Producing Powerhouse” wrote Vanity Fair last year, pointing out that she was the executive producer for HBO’s Confirmation. She also starred in the series, earring nominations for both an Emmy and a Golden Globe award.

The studio optioned the book just recently, so it will be a while before plans firm up, but naming the high-profile Washington to the project is a major step.

Attention Continues for EXIT WEST

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

9780735212176_8834cCritical attention continues to build for Mohsin Hamid’s newest novel, Exit West (PRH/Riverhead; Penguin Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample). The book review aggregator LitHub excerpts fifteen consumer reviews and several libraries are showing high holds ratios on light ordering. UPDATE: The New Yorker adds to the reviews, calling the novel “Instantly Canonical” and Entertainment Weekly gives it a straight A.

As we noted in Titles to Know for this week, Michiko Kakutani gave it a laudatory early review in the daily NYT, saying that, like Hamid’s earlier works, the novel explores, “the convulsive changes overtaking the world, as tradition and modernity clash headlong, and as refugees — fleeing war or poverty or hopelessness — try to make their way to safer ground.”

Considered important enough for double coverage, it is also be featured on the cover of the upcoming NYT Sunday Book Review, in  another strong review by Viet Thanh Nguyen [not available online yet], whose own novel about refugees, The Sympathizer (Grove Press, April 2015) won him a Pulitzer Prize and even landed him among the celebrities on late night TV. He praises Hamid’s ability to “exploit fiction’s capacity to elicit empathy and identification to imagine a better world.”

NPR does a double take as well. Steve Inskeep interviews Hamid on Morning Edition and frequent NPR reviewer Michael Schlub calls Exit West “breathtaking” and “haunting” and says it is “at once a love story, a fable, and a chilling reflection on what it means to be displaced, unable to return home and unwelcome anywhere else.”

Inskeep and Hamid talk about immigration and draw parallels between Pakistan and America, with Hamid saying:

“I think America needs to be very careful. America has built something with great difficulty over a large period of time. And for America to start to become the kind of democracy that Pakistan is would be an incredible loss for America and for the world.”

 

DOWNTON Gone Ghastly

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

97803124299669781250023902Benedict Cumberbatch will star, reports Deadline Hollywoodin a new five-episode limited series for Showtime called Melrose, based on a series of novels by Edward St. Aubyn, Never Mind, Bad News, Some Hope, Mother’s Milk, and At Last.

David Nicholls, author of the best seller One Day and screenwriter for the subsequent film, is writing the adaptations and Cumberbatch will executive produce.

Each episode will be based on one of the novels which The Atlantic has called “short, remarkably compressed … (most take place in just 24 hours or so).” The 2014 roundup review begins with a summary that Hollywood could lift, “Imagine a family like the Downton Abbey clan gone bad.”

The novels chronicle the horribly abusive life of aristocrat Patrick Melrose, a drug addict who endured a tortuous childhood. The Atlantic says they are “both harrowing and … hilarious … St. Aubyn has a cut-glass prose style, a gift for unexpected metaphor, and a skewering eye.”

“Although reviewers liken Edward St. Aubyn to Evelyn Waugh and Oscar Wilde,” writes The New Yorker‘s esteemed critic James Woods, “he is a colder, more savage writer than either … his fiction reads like a shriek of filial hatred; most of the posh English who people his novels are virulently repellent … [the books have] an aristocratic atmosphere of tart horror, the hideousness of the material contained by a powerfully aphoristic, lucid prose style.”

The collected volume of the first four books, The Patrick Melrose Novels: Never Mind, Bad News, Some Hope, and Mother’s Milk (Macmillan/Picador; OverDrive Sample), spent three weeks on the extended NYT paperback list. The fifth novel, At Last (Macmillan/Picador; OverDrive Sample) hit the LA Times list, peaking at #16.

Cumberbatch has long wanted to play the role according to Deadline. In 2013 he listed Melrose as the answer to an online Q&A session about the role he would most like to play.

As we noted earlier, Cumberbatch has another adaptation in the pipeline. He will also star in and serve as EP for a TV version of Ian McEwan’s The Child In Time.