Archive for the ‘Literary’ Category

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.”

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

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.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

THE Best Book You’ll Read This Year

Friday, January 4th, 2013

NYT Magazine Cover

It’s a bold prediction to make so early in the new year, but the NYT Magazine’s deputy editor, stepping on the territory of his colleagues at the Book Review as well as those on the daily NYT, predicts that the best book you will read this year is George Saunders’s fourth book of short stories, The Tenth of December (Random House; BOT), which arrives next week. The article calls him a “writer’s writer,” quoting literary fans such as Lorrie Moore, Tobias Wolff, Junot Diaz and Mary Karr.

It’s also reviewed in the L.A. Times,  the Chicago Tribune and Entertainment Weekly.

New Title Radar: November 5 – 11

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

Big names in fiction returning next week include Barbara Kingsolver, Ellen Hopkins and Caleb Carr, along with notable novels by Lydia Millet, Whitney Otto and James Kimmel. The final volume of William Manchester‘s Churchill bio also arrives, written posthumously by Paul Reid, while Larry McMurtry weighs in on General Custer, Sean Carroll explores a new landmark in physics, and Oliver Sacks explores hallucinations.

Watch List

Magnificence by Lydia Millet (Norton; Dreamscape Audio; Center Point Large Print) concludes the trilogy that began with How the Dead Dream (2008) and Ghost Lights (2011). This one is the story of a woman who comes to terms with her life and adulterous affairs when she suddenly becomes a widow. Kirkus says, “The deeply honest, beautiful meditations on love, grief and guilt give way to a curlicued comic-romantic mystery complete with a secret basement and assorted eccentrics.”  The response on GalleyChat was unmitigated; “Magnificence was magnificent. What an amazing writer. Love her unsentimental style.”

Eight Girls Taking Pictures by Whitney Otto (S&S/Scribner; Thorndike Large Print) fictionalizes the lives of eight women photographers as they intersect – including icons like Imogen Cunningham, Lee Miller and Sally Mann, as well as lesser known figures. By the author of How to Make an American Quilt, it was a BEA librarians’ Shout ‘n’ Share Pick. Kirkus says, “although overly schematic, Otto makes these eight women and the differing lenses through which they view the 20th century hard to forget.”

The Trial of Fallen Angels by James Kimmel, Jr. (Penguin/Amy Einhorn; Dreamscape Audio) is a debut novel about an ace lawyer who dies and becomes a defender of the souls of the dead on Judgement Day. Early reviews are mixed: Kirkus says it’s heavy on the spiritualism side, but still intriguing. PW says it fails as a page-turner, but Booklist gives it a starred review, calling it fascinating.

Returning Favorites

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver (Harper; HarperAudio; HarperLuxe) may be the first novel about the effects of climate change. It arrives with uncanny timing, the week after Hurricane Sandy. In this instance, the evidence is dramatic but not devastating. A vast flock of monarch butterflies descends on a Bible Belt community in what seems like a religious miracle, but turns out to be a more disquieting displacement. It’s a People Pick in the magazine this week, with 4 of 4 stars. Says the reviewer, Kingsolver, “brings the complexities of climate change to her characters’ doorstep, illustrating with rich compassion how they … must find their new place on shifting ground.”  The author’s previous, The Lacuna, was a best seller and won the Orange Prize.

Collateral by Ellen Hopkins (S&S; Atria) is the second adult novel by this YA author, about two best friends and the military men they love, and are separated from, written in the author’s signature poetic verse style. PW says, ” clear narrative that is uplifting and heartbreaking, but also familiar and a little too easy, featuring characters grappling with the serious issues of our time.”

The Legend of Broken by Caleb Carr (Random House; S&S Audio) finds the author of the Alienist turning his sights on the medieval era, where invaders and internal tensions roil a fortress. LJ has a wait-and-see attitude toward this one’s commercial prospects.


Infinity Ring Book 2: Divide and Conquer by Carrie Ryan (Scholastic) is the second in a middle grade series about two fifth-grader geniuses who live in an alternate universe and travel back in time to fix various “breaks” in history. Like the 39-Clues, this planned seven-volume series, with six authors, was devised in-house at Scholastic and comes with links to an interactive Web Site. The titles will be released in quick succession, with this one arriving just three months after the first, Infinity Ring Book 1: A Mutiny in Time, by the Maze Runner’s James Dashner. Rick Riordan, who wrote the prototype, 39-Clues, was given the unenviable task of reviewing Book 1 for the the NYT Book Review. His reaction was mixed, concluding that it is, “vivid, intriguing, not fully realized but hinting at a larger story that feels right.” This second volume is by the author of The Forest of Hands and Teeth, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults. Kirkus, the only source to review it so far, doesn’t buy it, saying, “It’s hard to go wrong with Vikings. But if you asked a classroom full of students to write about a Viking and a time machine, most of them would come up with something more inventive.”


The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Defender of the Realm, 1940–1965 by William Manchester and Paul Reid (Hachette/Little, Brown; Blackstone Audio) is the final volume in this biographical trilogy. The New York Times Magazine heralds it this Sunday by calling its release, “one of the longest waits in publishing history” and explains how the little-known Paul Reid, who had never written a book before, ended up tackling this project, based on Manchester’s sketchy and often illegible notes. It ended up taking so long that Reid was forced to sell his house, use up his savings and live on credit cards. It may have been worth it. Says the NYT Magazine, it is “more of a stand-alone book than a continuation of the first and second volumes.” PW says it “matches the outstanding quality of biographers such as Robert Caro and Edmund Morris.” 200,000 copies.

Custer by Larry McMurtry (Simon & Schuster) is not quite a biography, more of an “informed commentary” on one of American history’s great military blunderers by this respected novelist, according to Kirkus, which also calls it “distilled perceptions of a lifetime of study, beautifully illustrated.” USA Today puts it simply, “This ‘Custer’ cuts through all the Bull.”

The Particle at the End of the Universe: How the Hunt for the Higgs Boson Leads Us to the Edge of a New World by Sean Carroll (RH/Dutton) is the story of how science history was made with the search for the Higgs Boson, part of the Higgs field that gives atomic particles their mass – finally discovered earlier this year. PW says, “whether explaining complex physics like field theory and symmetry or the workings of particle accelerators, Carrollas clarity and unbridled enthusiasm reveal the pure excitement of discovery as much as they illuminate the facts.” UPDATE: We jumped the gun; this title is actually coming out on Nov. 13.

Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks (RH/Knopf; RH Audio; BOT Audio) finds this bestselling neurologist revealing that hallucinations are actually normal aspects of human experience during illness or injury, intoxication or sensory deprivation, or simply falling asleep. Kirkus says, “A riveting look inside the human brain and its quirks.”


Movie Tie-Ins

The Hobbit (Movie Tie-In) by J.R.R. Tolkien (HMH/Mariner trade pbk; RH/Del Rey mass market) are the tie-in editions of the novel. Also coming are various behind-the scenes books for both adults and children. For the full list, check our Upcoming Movies with Tie-ins).

Jack Reacher’s Rules, with introduction by Lee Child (RH/Delacorte) is a 160-page hardcover compilation of Reacher wisdom and lore; a single quote printed on each page. It arrives, as the publisher puts it, “just in time for [Reacher's] first movie,” starring Tom Cruise, which lands in theaters on 12/21. It was a drop-in title that hasn’t been reviewed and thus, most libraries have not ordered it. Those that have it are showing holds (Hennepin County has 50 on 9 copies). The tie-in of One Shot, which the movie is based on, also arrives next week, in both mass market and large print.