Archive for the ‘Literary’ Category

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.


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

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.

Critical Mass: HOMEGOING

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

9781101947135_24878A million dollar debut, won in a ten-bidder auction, is on the verge of becoming the literary hit of the summer, Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi (RH/Knopf; RH Audio; BOT; OverDrive Sample).

It is featured on multiple seasonal reading lists including those by The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, B&N, and BuzzFeed and is both an Indie Next selection and a LibraryReads selection, with this recommendation from Amanda Monson, of the Bartow County Library System, Cartersville, GA:

“An engaging family saga following two half-sisters – one who marries into privilege and one sold into slavery – and their descendants as they navigate the politics of their separate countries and their heritage. Each is directly affected in some way by the choices of the past, and finding the parallels in the triumphs and heartbreak makes for an engrossing read.”

The novel is gaining serious and thoughtful review coverage as well, in pieces that note Gyasi’s achievements while pointing out perceived lapses. NPR’s Maureen Corrigan reviewing it on Fresh Air yesterday, says Gyasi “pulls her readers deep into her characters’ lives through the force of her empathetic imagination,” but adding, “Homegoing would have been a stronger novel if it had ended sooner .. As the novel moves forward into our own time the pressure to wrap up the two storylines intensifies, and contrivance comes to the fore.”  NPR also interviewed Gyasi for Weekend Edition Saturday.

Slate‘s books and culture columnist, Laura Miller, writing for The New Yorker, says that the novel “shows the unmistakable touch of a gifted writer, and Homegoing is a specimen of what such a writer can do when she bites off more than she is ready to chew” adding, “Taken in as a panorama, Homegoing can be breathtaking.”

Reviewing for the upcoming NYT Sunday Book Review, Isabel Wilkerson, author of the nonfiction title,  The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration, says, barring some troubling clichés, the novel is a work of “beauty” and “The narrative unfolds through self-­contained stories, some like fables, others nightmares, that shift between the family lines in West Africa and America, each new protagonist a limb of the disrupted family tree. Characters reappear in dreams or retellings as the action moves from the Cape Coast to Kumasi to Baltimore to Harlem.”

The WSJ profiles the author and offers a review [subscription may be required], saying “Ms. Gyasi doesn’t always make it work … Yet it’s refreshing to read a novel with a sense of historical imminence. Contemporary American fiction frequently seems to exist in blank isolation from world events. Not so Homegoing, where wars and laws directly shape the characters’ destinies, often across generations.”

The million-dollar advance serves as a hook for media attention, catching the eye of high circulation magazines such as Vogue, which runs a double profile of Gyasi and Emma Cline, author of another big-ticket summer debut, The Girls, complete with a photo of the two together in designer outfits, because they “bear comparison for more than the ambition and incisiveness of their prose, imaginative risk-taking, and seven-figure book deals.” Of Homecoming, Vogue says, “No novel has better illustrated the way in which racism became institutionalized in this country.”

Costco Joins the HAMILTON Party

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

9781594200090_4ee8fThe newest pick from Costco book buyer Pennie Clark Ianniciello is far from new, but it is certainly all the rage: Ron Chernow’s biography, Alexander Hamilton (PRH/Penguin, 2004).

In making her choice Ianniciello says:

“From mentions on podcasts to small talk at the salon, that name is on many people’s lips. So, I thought I’d go back to the book responsible for all the hubbub … What I love most about the rekindled popularity of this book is that its brains and newly found street cred make it a book the whole family can enjoy.”

In a feature  in the Costco Connection, Chernow recounts his meeting with the Broadway sensation’s creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, saying he was “flabbergasted” when Miranda told him “that as he was reading my book, ‘hip-hop songs started rising off the page.’ ”

Chernow also describes what it is like to live in the wake of the Broadway hit: “Every time I see the show and these enormous crowds, I pinch myself with wonder that I somehow triggered off this Hamilton mania.”

The award-winning historian (who trained as an English major) has been experiencing that wonder often, as we wrote earlier, he told the The Wall Street Journal “I never dreamed that I would be autographing Playbills … [this year has been] a biographer’s wish-fulfillment fantasy.”

9780743288781_d9ab0Also featured this month is Annie Proulx’s Barkskins (S&S/Scribner, S&S Audio), which Costco calls “her magnum opus, a literary force majeure.”

The glowing review tracks the long germination of the novel, begun 30 years ago and mulled over and researched for decades. The writing of it, according to The Wall Street Journal, took close to a decade as well. The end result is, says the Costco reviewer,a “novel that howls, grieves, lilts and erupts with urgency, authority and something that looks a lot like hope.”

It is also the pick of several summer reading lists, catching the eye of Amazon’s Editors, B&N, BuzzfeedSt. Louis Post-Dispatch, and USA Today. Canadian librarians agree, selecting it as the #1 title in their June Loan Stars picks.

Critics Take on THE GIRLS

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

the-girlsConsumer media attention began months ago for Emma Cline’s debut The Girls (PRH/Random House; RH Audio; BOT; OverDrive Sample),

when Random House bought it in a three-book deal with the 25-year-old for a rumored $2 million. Film rights were also purchased by producer Scott Rudin.

Due for release on June 14, eager reviewers have jumped on it a full two weeks in advance of publication (now that consumers can pre-order titles, reviewers seem less bound by publication dates).

The NYT Sunday Review posted theirs on Monday. Reviewer Dylan Landis, herself the author of a debut novel that was well-reviewed in the NYT BR, likes Cline’s book, a lot, calling it “a seductive and arresting coming-of-age story hinged on Charles Manson, told in sen­tences at times so finely wrought they could almost be worn as jewelry.”

Even the New Yorker‘s esteemed critic James Wood takes it on, beginning his review by piling on praise, averring that he doesn’t “mean this as the critic’s dutiful mustering of plaudits before the grim march of negatives,” but still, even with that, by the end he is not fully impressed, saying “Despite these many qualities, The Girls never entirely succeeds in justifying itself.”

The Washington Post‘s critic Ron Charles acknowledges that “The hubbub around The Girls threatens to trample what’s so deeply affecting about it,” and seeks to cuts through the buzz to say the book really is as good as its hype, noting “The most remarkable quality of this novel is Cline’s ability to articulate the anxieties of adolescence in language that’s gorgeously poetic without mangling the authenticity of a teenager’s consciousness.” and ending, “debut novels like this are rare, indeed.”

Holds Alert: The Mirror Thief

Monday, May 30th, 2016

9781612195148_5ff48Rising on Amazon on the strength of coverage in the NYT’s Sunday Book Review and NPR is The Mirror Thief, Martin Seay (Melville House; OverDrive Sample).

The reviews lavish it with praise. The NYT reviewer, the author Scarlett Thomas, says she “had been planning my glowing review since around Page 150” and that it is “audaciously well written.”

NPR’s reviewer, Michael Schaub, says it is a “thrilling dynamo of a novel [by] a tremendous writer … a startling, beautiful gem of a book that at times approaches a masterpiece.”

What is it about? Neither reviewer wants to say, as too much detail gives away the book’s pleasures and it is a hard book to write about, but Thomas calls it “mystical literary fiction with a hard edge” and offers:

“How could I express that while this novel seems on the surface to be a bit like Cloud Atlas (multiple perspectives, Russian doll structure), it’s more heartfelt, deeper, less of a pastiche? I thought I might describe it as Stone Junction rewritten by David Foster Wallace or Thomas Pynchon with a big twist of William Gibson, Susanna Clarke and Italo Calvino. But I wasn’t sure that would cover it.”

Schaub says it evokes comparisons to Umberto Eco, Saul Bellow, and James Ellroy.

Both agree it is a mesmerizing reading experience. Thomas calling it “demanding, frustrating and oddly enlightening … not The Da Vinci Code for intellectuals. It’s more like Howl translated into Latin and then back again. Over 600 pages. It’s amazing … How this book got published is a complete mystery to me. Not because it is not good enough, but rather because it is too good.”

Schaub says the novel “is as difficult to explain as it is completely original. It’s one of the most intricately plotted novels in recent years, and to call it imaginative seems like a massive understatement. The three stories are as different from each other as can be, and the fact that Seay weaves them together so skillfully is almost miraculous.”

It is also an Indie Next pick for May, with an equally glowing annotation:

“Three stories are linked in this outstanding debut by criminal pursuits and Venice — not so much the actual place, but the idea of that place: in the late 1500s Venice, Italy, a man schemes to steal the most guarded technology of the day — a mirror; in 1950s Venice Beach, California, a thief discovers a mysterious text that seems to have unusual insights about that stolen mirror; and in 2015, a soldier purses the thief in The Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas to retrieve the book about the mirror. As the stories draw together, Seay’s thrilling novel dazzles at every turn. Unexpected and amazing, The Mirror Thief will leave readers breathless.” —Jeremy Ellis, Brazos Bookstore, Houston, TX

The indie press novel is doing very well in libraries we checked, either topping a 3:1 holds ratio or showing strong circ. where libraries are ahead of requests.

Nancy Pearl Recommends

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.”

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).


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.


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

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).


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.”


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.


Thursday, April 14th, 2016


If you had a tough time imagining Kevin Wilson’s quirky novel The Family Fang (HarperCollins/Ecco, 2011) as a movie, the trailer released this week gives hope that the adaptation might actually work.

Early reviews, based on a showing at the Toronto Internation Film Festival, are mostly positive, with an 80% positive rating from critics tracked on Rotten Tomatoes.

A GalleyChat favorite, the book was acquired by Nicole Kidman’s production company, Kidman stars, along with Jason Bateman, who also directs the project.

For those unfamiliar with the book, it has nothing to do with vampires, but with a quirky family of performance artists.

The film was acquired for distribution by Stars Digital. It will be shown in a limited number of  theaters on April 29, followed by a national rollout and simultaneous VOD release on May 6.

A tie-in has not been announced, but the paperback edition carries a “Now major motion picture” sticker,