Archive for the ‘Literary’ Category

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.

Michiko Likes It!

Monday, February 25th, 2013

The NYT‘s formidable book reviewer, Michiko Kakutani, can’t hold back her enthusiasm for Mohsin Hamid’s new book, How to Get Filthy Rich In Rising Asia (Penguin/Riverhead; Dreamscape Audio; March 5), publishing a glowing review well over a week before the book is released.

She describes it is both “a deeply moving and highly specific tale of love and ambition, and as a larger, metaphorical look at the mind-boggling social and economic changes sweeping ‘rising Asia’.” She ends by saying that this, Hamid’s third novel, “reaffirms his place as one of his generation’s most inventive and gifted writers.”

His second novel, The Reluctant Fundamentalist (HMH, 2007) has been adapted for the screen by director Mira Nair and is scheduled for limited release in the US on April 26. It stars Riz Ahmed, Kate Hudson, Kiefer Sutherland and Liev Schreiber.


The Reluctant Fundamentalist (Movie Tie-In)
Mohsin Hamid
Retail Price: $14.00
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: HMH/Mariner Books – (2013-03-26)
ISBN / EAN: 0544139453 / 9780544139459

THE DINNER Is Now a Best Seller

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

The Dinner  Gone Girl

We can cease speculating; Americans have embraced the European best seller, The Dinner by Dutch author Herman Koch (RH/Hogarth; AudioGo; Thorndike Large Print). It arrives at #36 on the new USA Today Best Seller list.

In terms of popularity, it’s not another Gone Girl, (RH/Crown), which entered the same list at #7 during its first week on sale, topped only by the Fifty Shades of Grey and the Hunger Games trilogies. That same week, it hit the NYT list at #1.

Even if it doesn’t live up to the comparison to Gone Girl (and what can?), it’s still doing very well and is likely to hit the NYT list in the top ten.

People magazine catches up with it in the latest issue (March 4th), giving it 3 of 4 stars, but the review reads more like a 5; “Koch’s skewering of elitism and self-serving morality is a wickedly delicious feast.” The many other reviews have also been positive. The only holdout has been Janet Maslin in the NYT, who dismissed it as “an extended stunt.”

Mantel’s Book Sales Rise Due to Controversy

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

Bring Up the BodiesThey say news travels fast and bad news even faster, but that doesn’t seem to be the case in the UK, where it took the press nearly a week to respond to comments made by Hilary Mantel about Kate Middleton as part of her London Review of Books lecture.

The British tabloid, the Daily Mail accused Mantel yesterday of using the lecture to make a “venomous attack on Kate Middleton.” Since then, controversy has been raging, with some saying that the response to Mantel’s comments simply proves her point that royal women are unfairly treated by the public. She even urged the public to “lay off” the royal couple, saying “Cheerful curiosity can easily become cruelty. It can easily become fatal. We don’t cut off the heads of royal ladies these days, but we do sacrifice them, and we did memorably drive one to destruction a scant generation ago.”

But what won the headlines were her comments that the Duchess fills her role so well that she seems to have been “designed by a committee and built by craftsmen, with a perfect plastic smile … without quirks, without oddities, without the risk of the emergence of character.”

The actual lecture is wickedly funny and much more interesting than the controversy it’s engendered.

Who will have the last laugh? The Telegraph reports today that sales of Mantel’s books have “rocketed” since her name is back in the news.

Holds Alert: THE DINNER

Monday, February 18th, 2013

The DinnerThe literary water cooler question of the moment is whether Americans will respond to the European best seller, The Dinner by Dutch author Herman Koch (RH/Hogarth; AudioGo; Thorndike Large Print). Looks like they are at least curious; holds are rising quickly and outstripping the number of copies by 10:1 in several libraries.

Laura Miller is dubious that readers will embrace it, writing in Salon yesterday, that Americans  may be easily confused by  the “brilliantly engineered and (for the thoughtful reader) chastening” novel, also noting that Americans are less self-critical than Europeans.

Steve Inskeep, interviewing the author on NPR’s Morning Edition today, makes no bones about his reaction. He tells the Koch that the book made him sick (in “the best possible way”), because it raises scary issues about how well parents know their own children.

To get a sense of the tone of the book, listen to a sample of the audio from AudioGo (holds are growing on it as well).

LIVE CHAT with Taiye Selasi

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

March IndieNext List

Monday, February 4th, 2013

BenedictionTopping the March IndieNext List is the forthcoming book by Kent Haruf, Benediction (RH/Knopf, 2/26; RH Audio; BOT)

Says Gayle Shanks of Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, AZ,

Any new novel by Haruf is cause for celebration, but for those of us who have been waiting patiently to reconnect with the Front Range of Colorado and its quirky inhabitants since reading Plainsong and Eventide, Benediction is the answer to our literary prayers. The main character is dying, but that doesn’t set a tone of great remorse or regret for a life in its last stages on Earth. Instead, it becomes a reflection of a family, of the place where they live, of the forces that formed them and made them into the strange, angry, resourceful, and engaging people who they have become. Haruf is a wonderful writer, and I can’t wait to celebrate the publication of this book with him and with our customers.

Oprah Interviews Ayana This Sunday

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Ayana MathisUSA Today leads up to Oprah’s interview with Ayana Matthis, the author of her latest Book Club 2.0 pick, The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, (RH/Knopf), with one of their own (click through for video).

Oprah’s interview appears on OWN network’s  Super Soul Sunday, this week, February 3, at 11 a.m. ET/PT.

Promo for the show also promises “OPRAH’S BOOK CLUB 2.0 NEWS!” which may mean the announcement of a new title.

A taste of Oprah’s interview below:

George Saunders on Colbert

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

If you’ve ever tried to talk someone into reading short stories, here’s some tips from George Saunders, author of The Tenth of December, (Random House; BOT), from his appearance on The Colbert Report last night. It seems to have worked; the book is on the rise again on Amazon’s Sales Rankings, moving from #25 to #7.

If you doubt Colbert’s claim that Sunders appeared on the show five years ago, here’s proof, an appearance to promote his collection of his nonfiction pieces, The Brain-Dead Megaphone, (Penguin/Riverhead, 2007):

Never Heard of George Saunders?

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

The Tenth of DecemberIf you hadn’t heard of George Saunders, author of  The Tenth of December(Random House; BOT), before the NYT Magazine cover story, “George Saunders Has Written The Best Book You’ll Read This Year,” you’re in good company. Neither had NPR’s Fresh Air book critic, Maureen Corrigan (who is also critic-in-residence and lecturer at Georgetown University).

She admits on yesterday’s show that it would have been “satisfying to topple that Olympian Times pronouncement,” but says she has to agree; “Saunders is, indeed, something special.”

Michiko Kakutani, reviewer for the daily NYT, stops just short of agreeing with her colleagues on the Magazine that Saunders’ book is the best you’ll read this year, saying “No one writes more powerfully than George Saunders about the lost, the unlucky, the disenfranchised, those Americans who struggle to pay the bills, make the rent, hold onto a job they might detest…”

Holds in libraries are growing.

Authors on MORNING JOE

Monday, January 14th, 2013

MSNBC’s Morning Joe went literary on Friday, interviewing two authors — George Saunders, whose fourth book of short stories, The Tenth of December(Random House; BOT), was called the best book you’ll read this year by the NYT Magazine and James Grippando, author of ten legal thrillers.

Saunders manages to slip in a quote from Terry Eagleton, “capitalism plunders the sensuality of the body.”

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Grippando talks about the premise of for his new book, Blood Money (Harper; HarperLuxe), which is based on the aftermath of the Casey Anthony murder trial.

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