Archive for the ‘Literary’ Category

Arriving Tomorrow: Amy Tan’s Latest

Monday, November 4th, 2013

9780062107312_0_Cover Amy Tan talks about her research into Chinese pornography from the 1700’s for her new novel, The Valley of Amazement, (HarperCollins/Ecco; Brilliance Audio; HarperLuxe), on today’s CBS This Morning. She is also scheduled to appear on tomorrow’s NPR Morning Edition. 

This is Tan’s first book with HarperCollins. As she explains to the Wall Street Journal, the change in publishers was the result of her search for “the perfect editor.” Tan’s previous book Saving Fish From Drowning, may have disappointed some of her readers, notes the WSJ, quoting her agent, “It’s a very different book for Amy. I think people feel she’s been away.”

The Valley of Amazement is both a LibraryReads and an IndieNext pick for November.

Below is the video from CBS This Morning.


Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Olive KitteridgeLocal press in Cape Anne, MA. reports that film crews are currently shooting the HBO miniseries based on Elizabeth Strout’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel in the form of linked short stories, Olive Kitteridge (Random House).

Why Massachusetts, rather than the author’s beloved Maine? It seems it’s become a popular choice for filmmakers because of favorable tax incentives.

Directed by Lisa Cholodenko (The Kids Are All Right), the four-part series stars Frances McDormand and Richard Jenkins.

McDormand, having fallen in love with the book before it won the Pulitzer, bought the rights and has been nursing the project along. She is co-producing it with Tom Hanks’ Playtone Partners.

First U.S. Consumer Review of the Booker Winner

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

The Luminaries

The first consumer review of the Man Booker Prize winner, The Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton, published here yesterday (Hachette/Little, Brown), coincidentally the day the award was announced, is by novelist Chris Bohjalian in The Washington PostUPDATE: We’re wrong — it’s a close tie for which publication had the first U.S. consumer review. The Barnes and Noble Review released one on Oct. 15. It is also an excellent guide to appreciating the novel.

Not only is Catton the youngest person to ever win the Booker, but at over 800 pages, her book is the longest in the award’s history. Bojalian notes that he had to create his own “Cliff Notes” to keep the characters straight and that the book is “astoundingly complicated and almost defies explanation. Moreover, I can’t recall the last time I read a novel that left me so baffled. In the end, however, I was awed…”

He goes on to offer readers a handle on this Byzantine story about a group of characters in an 1860’s  New Zealand gold-rush town; “the key to following the story is to try to follow the money.”

The book, which had a modest announced first print run of 15,000 copies, jumped to #10 on Amazon sales rankings on the news of the award. If it follows in the footsteps of previous award winners, it will continue on to other best seller lists and enjoy healthy sales here.

Many libraries are showing heavy holds on light ordering. It was only reviewed prepub after the longlist was announced by Publishers Weekly and Kirkus. Both publications starred it. It also appeared in the Millions preview of the  “Most Anticipated” books of the fall.

9780316074322The author’s debut, The Rehearsal (Hachette/Back Bay) received praise from author Adam Ross (“a wildly brilliant and precocious first novel”) in the NYT Sunday Book Review when it was published in 2010. It is still in print in trade paperback.

THE GOLDFINCH: Michiko Likes It!

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

The GoldfinchThe NYT‘s Pulitzer-Prize-winning critic, Michiko Kakutani, gives Donna Tartt’s new novel, The Goldfinch, (Hachette/Little, Brown; Hachette Audio; Blackstone Audio), a rare early rave, a full two weeks in advance of publication.

Calling it “deeply felt” (a phrase  she’s used for just 39 other books her more than 30 years of reviewing, according to Slate), she compares it favorably to Tartt’s 1992 debut, The Secret History; “her controlled, cerebral approach to characters in that novel has given way to a keen appreciation of the tangled complexities of the mind and heart.”

Buyers Alert: THE CIRCLE by Dave Eggers

Friday, October 4th, 2013

9780385351393Many libraries have not ordered Dave Eggers’ new book, The Circle, which is being published next week. A late drop-in to the RH/Knopf catalog, it was also reviewed late by the pre-pub sources (Kirkus and Publishers Weekly have covered it).

An excerpt is the cover story of last week’s NYT Magazine, an event considered such a “departure” that it had to be explained in an accompanying story (not that the magazine completely avoids  fiction; short story author George Saunders was featured on the cover at the beginning of the year as was the King family of writers this summer).

The Circle is also available in audio from BOT (CD, 9780804191180: Audiobook Download, 9780804191197)


The Circle is being reviewed so widely that Gawker published an article titled, “Circle Jerks: Why Do Editors Love Dave Eggers?

Entertainment Weeklygives it a B+

Los Angeles Times:Trapped in the web with Dave Eggers’ The Circle: Dave Eggers’ dystopian novel The Circle follows a young woman as she gives her life over to an Internet company.” by Carolyn Kellogg

The New York Times — “Inside the World of Big Data: The Circle, Dave Eggers’s New Novel,” by Michiko Kakutani

Slate Magazine — “All That Happens Must Be Known: Dave Eggers has zero interest in the tech world. So why did he write a 500-page satire about it?”

Time Magazine — “Dave Eggers’ Scathing Attack on Social Media: The author’s new book zings our obsession with being constantly connected,” by Lev Grossman

The Wall Street JournalDave Eggers’s The Circle Takes Vengeance on Google, Facebook

The Washington Post — “Dave Eggers’s The Circle is a relentless broadside against social media overload” by Ron Charles

Nicholson Baker Coming to THE COLBERT REPORT

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

We’ve grown familiar with Stephen Colbert’s interview style, faux-challenging guests, like he did Andrew Bacevich last night about his book Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country, (Macmillan/Metropolitan Books) — (video below).

The Colbert Report
Get More: Colbert Report Full Episodes,Video Archive

9780399160967Tonight, in what seems like an odd pairing, Colbert hosts a quite different author, Nicholson Baker.

Reviewing  Baker’s new novel, Traveling Sprinkler (Penguin/Blue Rider) in the NYT last week, Dwight Garner said, “Reading his novels makes your world weirdly vivid, geeked out; you feel that you’re wearing X-ray specs tucked behind a pair of Google glasses.”

Maybe it’s not such an odd pairing after all.

Prepub Buzz: NIGHT FILM

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

Night FilmMarisha Pessl’s second novel, Night Film (Random House/; RH Audio) after her award-winning Special Topics in Calamity Physics, (Penguin; perhaps anticipating even greater success with this new book, the paperback cover now prominently states that Pessl is “The author of Night Film“) is enjoying red carpet treatment for its release two weeks from today:


NPR — Exclusive First Read (with an audio excerpt)

Author profiled in the new issue of New York magazine

Entertainment Weekly‘s “Shelf Life” blog offers an “exclusive” of the “chilling” trailer (not all that exclusive; it’s also available on YouTube and below)

Many consumer reviews for this literary thriller are in the works. Prepub reviews are divided; Booklist stars it, LJ is strongly positive overall, but notes it “slows down a bit over its considerable length.” PW also expresses that concern and Kirkus criticizes it for being “A touch too coyly postmodern at times,” but adds it’s “a worthwhile entertainment all the same.” With all the attention, readers will want to find out for themselves; a few libraries are already showing holds in the low triple digits.

Find out for yourself; advance digital copies are currently available on Edelweiss.

David Gilbert on FRESH AIR

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

And Sons And Sons, (RH/Hogarth), is only David Gilbert’s second novel, but it arrives with great anticipation, from Entertainment Weekly’s “Shelf Life” blog, which calls it potentially “the literary novel of the summer” to the NPR reviewer who calls it “seductive and ripe with both comedy and heartbreak” and an instant classic because it “feels deeply familiar, as though it existed for decades and I was just slow to find it.”

In his interview with Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air today, Gilbert gives a sense of what all the fuss is about.

Women’s Prize in Fiction Winner To Movies

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

May We Be ForgivenFilm rights have just been acquired for A.M. Homes’s novel, May We Be Forgiven, (Penguin/Viking) winner of this year’s Women’s Prize for Fiction (formerly known as the Orange Prize), reports Deadline.

About a dysfunctional family Thanksgiving and its aftermath, this darkly humorous story, said the L.A. Times critic, “is so fast-moving and pushes its characters to such extremes that it quickly moves into a zone that’s a farcical hyper-realism.”

A few of the earlier  prize winners have been made into movies, most notably Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk about Kevin, which starred Tilda Swinton. It was a sensation at the 2011 Cannes film festival but did not get the expected Oscar nominations. Filming for the 2007 Prize winner, Half of a Yellow Sun by Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has been completed. Some footage has appeared online, but  no release date has been set.


Saturday, July 20th, 2013

Love, DishonorGood going, Sarah Vowell. She managed to make the American public fall in love with a debut novel, written entirely in rhyming couplets (you gotta love a writer who rhymes “bourgeois” with “Christian Lacroix“), during her appearance on Comedy Central’s Daily Show Thursday night. As an indicator of how well she did, the book is now at #9 on Amazon sales rankings and rising and holds are mounting quickly in libraries. The book was also reviewed the NPR book site last week.

Vowell was on the show to promote her friend, David Rakoff’s novel, Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish(RH/Doubleday; RH Audio), which was published last week. The author died of cancer last year, just weeks after completing the book.

Libraries are showing 10:1 holds ratios on light ordering.

Below is the first part of the interview — part 2 is on the site.

Holds Alert: THE SON

Monday, June 10th, 2013

The SonThe book “positioned to be the big literary read of the summer,” according to the Wall Street Journal, Philipp Meyer’s second novel, The Son (HarperCollins/Ecco; HarperAudio; HarperLuxe) has been a big success with critics and now arrives at #10 on the 6/16 NYT hardcover best seller list during its first week on sale. Some libraries are showing heavy holds on modest orders.

The book has been praised by national newspaper critics Ron Charles at The Washington Post and Bob Minzesheimer USA Today (the NYT hasn’t weighed in yet) as well as by many of their colleagues at local newspapers:

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Minneapolis Star Tribune

Cleveland Plain Dealer

Kansas City Star

The author was profiled in Texas Monthly recently (the Baltimore native now lives in Texas, the setting for The Son), in a story with an attention-getting headline, “Hog Hunting With Texas’s Next Literary Giant” (Meyer tells the article’s author that hunting and writing are the two most important activities in his life). The article quotes “one of the foremost scholars of Texas literature,” calling The Son, “the most ambitious Texas novel in thirty years—since at least Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian or Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove.”

Range of Views On The Debut of the Season

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

A Constellation of Vital PhenomenonLikely to be the most-reviewed debut of the year, Anthony Marra’s A Constellation of Vital Phenomena (RH/Hogarth) is also the only English-language novel about the conflicts in Chechnya. It happens to arrive just as the American public has become more aware of that troubled history.

It also happens to arrive with a good deal of fanfare. One of the first consumer reviews, Dwight Garner’s appears in the print edition of the NYT tomorrow. Noting that, since it is based on true stories of torture during the Chechen wars, it “can be sickening reading,” but he says it is leavened by the “human warmth and comedy [Marra] smuggles, like samizdat, into his busy story.” The review is only intermittently laudatory, however. Garner admits, “I admired this novel more than I warmed to it.”

There were no negatives in the review on NPR’s All Things Considered last night from a surprising source. Meg Wolitzer, who has written that men’s fiction gets more serious literary attention than does women’s, delivered a rave for this book by a male novelist, calling it “an absorbing novel about unspeakable things” that is “highly, deeply readable.”

UPDATE: Washington Post’s Ron Charles is also a fan, calling it “a flash in the heavens that makes you look up and believe in miracles … At the risk of raising your expectations too high, I have to say you simply must read this book.” If you’re going to read just one review of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, this the one. It is the most thoughtful and literate.

Expect many more reviews in the next couple of weeks. Library holds are still light at this point, but growing.


Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

Every Contact Leaves A Trace“Full of sex, intrigue and clues based on Victorian poetry, Elanor Dymott’s Every Contact Leaves a Trace [Norton; Brilliance Audio] is a literary mystery about a murder at Oxford University,” writes Maureen Corrigan on NPR’s Web site in reviewing this debut novel.

Arriving here this week from the UK, where it garnered strong reviews and was voted on to the long list for the Author’s Club’s Best First Novel Award, it did not do so well with prepub reviewers here. As a result, libraries ordered it very lightly. All four reviews complained that it is overlong (Booklist, “this novel would have been twice as good at half the length”), with chilly protagonists (Kirkus, “Readers will have difficulty embracing Alex and Rachel, since neither exhibits any warmth or even a quirkiness that might make them interesting”), while sprinkling in a few bland kudos (LJ, “should satisfy readers who hang in until the end;” Booklist, “the author’s deft evocation of mood and place marks her as a writer to watch;” PW, “patient and forgiving readers of Gone Girl and The Secret History will be drawn in by its contemplation”).

Donna Tartt’s best selling first novel The Secret History, (RH/Knopf, 1992) has become reviewers’ shorthand for books that feature a murder among a close-knit group of students in a rarefied university setting. The UK’s Guardian also made the comparison, but to Dymott’s advantage, “Outwardly, her novel bears all the hallmarks of the Tartt school of academic intrigue. Yet past the atmospheric cover and the cordon of epigraphs lies a quite exceptional novel… [showing] a thoroughgoing confidence and ease with the rules of its genre, an appealing way of wearing its learning lightly, and a melancholy perceptiveness.”

Such strong opposing reactions make this a book to watch.

GOLEM AND THE JINNI: Off to a Strong Start

Monday, May 6th, 2013

The Golem and the JinniHelene Wecker was already off to a good start with her first novel, The Golem and the Jinniwith a 3.5 star review in USA Today that invites readers to “dive in and happily immerse yourself, forgetting the troubles of daily life for a while.” The Huffington Post calls it “The Book We’re Talking About,” and similar to The Night Circus, “a stirring, magical debut. Its intertwining of mythology and historical fiction is very engagingly written.”

The New York Times puts the icing on the cake in a review that will appear in print tomorrow,

… this impressive first novel manages to combine the narrative magic of The Arabian Nights with the kind of emotional depth, philosophical seriousness and good, old-fashioned storytelling found in the stories of Isaac Bashevis Singer.

The book debuted on the May 12 NYT Hardcover Fiction extended list at #30 during its first week on sale.


Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

Olive KitteridgeAnother project announced in 2010, an HBO series based on Elizabeth Strout’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Olive Kitteridge (Random House) is now gearing up. Lisa Cholodenko (The Kids Are All Right) has been signed to direct with Frances McDormand and Richard Jenkins starring. Tom Hanks’ Playtone Partners is co-producing with McDormand’s company. According to Deadline, “Getting this cast, director and a four-hour commitment from HBO is a real testament for McDormand … [who] fell in love with the book before it won the Pulitzer…[and] bought it with her own money.”

Strout’s The Burgess Boys (Random House), her first novel since Kitteridge, was published in March. McDormand’s first production effort, an adaptation of Laura Lippman’s Every Secret Thing, is currently filming.