Archive for the ‘Literary’ Category

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.

Hotly Anticipated Debut

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

A Constellation of Vital PhenomenonQuick! Grab your galleys for Anthony Marra’s A Constellation of Vital Phenomena (RH/ Hogarth). If you don’t have a print copy, digital ARC’s are available on Edelweiss and on NetGalley.

According to the Wall Street Journal, this debut novel set in Chechnya and arriving next week, is the hot new accessory. Sarah Jessica Parker is a huge supporter and has been working to help get the word out it.

The WSJ sits in on a book discussion, organized by the publisher and featuring the actress with a group of women in New York’s Tribeca nieghborhood,

…the conversation moved from the surprise that despite the lucidity with which Mr. Marra describes the environment in the novel, he had actually never visited Chechnya; to how people responded to the book’s leaps back and forth in time; to the pockets of humor, warmth and charm in this seemingly bleak fictional canvas; to whether the recent events in Boston would bring more people to the novel.

There’s more enthusiasm, it’s


Monday, April 1st, 2013

The FlamethrowersThe New Yorker‘s august literary critic James Wood gives Rachel Kushner a rave for her new book, The Flamethrowers, (S&S/Scribner; Brilliance Audio), just don’t be put off by the opeining paragraph which begins “Put aside, for the moment, the long postwar argument between the rival claims of realistic and anti-realistic fiction.”

He calls the book, “scintillatingly alive. It ripples with stories, anecdotes, set-piece monologues, crafty egotistical tall tales, and hapless adventures: Kushner is never not telling a story.”

Equally enthusiastic, but without the academic trappings, is Sherryl Connelly in the New York Daily News; “The Flamethrowers slowly and seductively becomes a novel you just can’t quit.”

NOT Based on Real-Life

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

Double featureIn the current issue of USA Today, a debut novelist answers the question that plagues many first-timers; “Is your book based on your own life?”

In this case, the answer takes on extra interest. Double Feature (S&S/Scribner, releasing today) is about a famous father and his estranged son. The author happens to be the son of a famous father, Stephen King (a connection that is not mentioned in the publisher’s promo material, although that fact has not been kept a secret).

Owen King acknowledges that readers will want to know if the character “is based on my dad. But two people couldn’t be more different.”

As signaled by the fact that the cover blurb is from Larry McMurtry, Owen King’s style is quite different from his father’s.

All four prepub reviews are enthusiastic:

Booklist –” Entertaining and thought-provoking, this captivating look at the ongoing process of becoming an adult will especially appeal to fans of the indie film industry.”

Kirkus — “…an often weirdly funny book… King’s novel is winning. Superbly imagined lit-fic about family, fathers and film.”

LJ — “Fans of John Irving, Tom Perrotta, Jonathan Tropper, and Nick Hornby will appreciate this urban family tale liberally dosed with humor.”

PW — “King’s prose is artful, perceptive about people and their ‘warrens of self that go beyond understanding,’ and sometimes very funny.”

Owen King comes from a writing family. His brother, who writes under the pen name Joe Hill, is publishing his third supernatural thriller, NOS4A2 at the end of April. And, of course, his their next, Doctor Sleep, the sequel to The Shining, is coming in September.