Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

BOOK OF NEGROES On BET

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

Lawrence Hill’s novel Someone Knows My Name, (Norton, 2008) has been adapted as a 6-part TV series, using the book’s original Canadian title, The Book of Negroes. Debuting last night, it will continue over the next two nights.

Critics are mostly favorable, with some predicting that this puts BET in line for its first Emmy nomination.

The following is from our December story about the series:

The novel, a fictional slave narrative, is based on the stories of American slaves who escaped to Canada after the Revolutionary War and were then recruited by British abolitionists to settle in Sierra Leone. The Washington Post praised its “heart-stopping prose” and noted that “Hill balances his graphic depictions of the horrors of enslavement with meticulously researched portrayals of plantation life.”

Directed by Clement Virgo, the movie stars Aunjanue Ellis, Louis Gossett Jr., Cuba Gooding Jr., and Lyriq Bent.

Gossett was interviewed about the series during its premiere at the  Toronto International Film Festival in November. He compares it to another TV mini-series he starred in, Roots.

Learn more at the Official Web Site.

Trailer:

Tie-in:

9780393351392_5e574

Lawrence Hill
W.W. Norton; January 12, 2015
9780393351392, 0393351394
Paperback
$15.95 USD

Rachel Joyce Tops March LibraryReads

Friday, February 13th, 2015

9780812996678_a6c37  9781612194424_d934f

The top title on the March LibraryReads list of ten titles published this month that library staff love, seconds that emotion. The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce, (Random House; RH Audio. March 3) is a “companion novel” to  Joyce’s surprise best seller, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.

Miss Queenie Hennessy, who we met in Joyce’s first book, is in a hospice ruminating over her abundant life experiences. I loved the poignant passages and wise words peppered throughout. Readers of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry will enjoy this book. There’s no fast-paced plot or exciting twists–it’s just a simple, sweet story of a life well-lived.
Andrienne Cruz, Azusa City Library, Azusa, CA

Also on the list is a title by Lynne Truss, whose book on grammar, Eats Shoots & Leaves, was another surprise best seller. Cat Out of Hell, (Melville House, March 3) is a novel that the author says is so “very quirky (and very British),” that getting an American publisher for it was “quite a surprise.” She should be even more surprised by this reception.

Cats don’t live nine lives. They survive eight deaths. There’s something special about Roger, the cat, and it’s not that he can talk. Truss spins readers through a hauntingly, portentous tale. When my cat’s tail thrums, I’ll forever wonder what devilment will follow.
Ann Williams, Tippecanoe County Public Library, Lafayette, IN

Richard Price Attempts a New Brand

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

9780805093995_a6d5dIf you’re going to use a pseudonym, why reveal it on the book’s cover? In an interview in today’s NYT, Richard Price explains why the cover of his new book The Whites (Macmillan/Holt; Macmillan Audio), coming on Tuesday, carries the awkward attribution, “Richard Price Writing as Harry Brandt.”

He set out to write in a different style, a “stripped-down, heavily plotted best seller.” The only problem was that he couldn’t pull it off and ended up writing a Richard Price novel. Bowing to his publisher and editor who convinced him that if he didn’t make the pseudonym transparent, he would commit “commercial suicide,” he wound up with the two names on the cover. He says it “seemed like a good idea in the beginning, and now I wish I hadn’t done it,”

In an advance review, also in today’s NYT,  Michiko Kakutani says it has all the hallmarks of a Richard Price novel, “an ear for street language … kinetic energy … hard-boiled verve … [characters] who become as vivid to us as real-life relatives or friends.”

The title refers to the white whale that haunts Ahab in Moby Dick. Similarly, the cops and former cops in Price’s novel are all haunted by previous cases. Kakutani praises it  as ” a gripping police procedural and an affecting study in character and fate.

Prepub trade reviews are also strong. In a starred review, Booklist calls it ” a strong contender for best crime novel of 2015.”

STATION ELEVEN
Film/TV Rights Acquired

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

9780385353304_db2df-2TV and movie rights to librarian and bookseller favorite, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, (RH/Knopf, Sept., 2014; RH Audio; Thorndike) have been acquired by Scott Steindorff (producer of Jon Favreau’s Chef).

A number of directors are circling the project according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The novel was a LibraryReads Top Ten Favorite for the year, a National Book Awards finalist and on multiple best books lists.

Oprah Picks a New Book Club Title

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

9780804188241_p0_v1_s600Cynthia Bond’s debut novel Ruby (Hogarth, 2014; RH Audio OverDrive Sample; to be released in trade paperback today, 978-0804188241) is the newest title in Oprah Winfrey’s Book Club 2.0 (read Oprah’s announcement here).

Winfrey says she loved the opening pages so much she saved the book until she had time to focus on it alone, according to The Associated Press, holding the book until “I was in bed with the flu to start reading it.” She also bought the film and television rights to the novel and will feature an interview with Bond in the March issue of O magazine, due out next week. The Book Club 2.0 site includes  a preview of that interview and a reading group.

Bond was widely compared to Toni Morrison at the time of the novel’s publication, it racked up a number of starred reviews, and received fairly wide attention for a literary debut.

According to the AP story, 250,000 paperback copies will be published by Hogarth. At this point distributor listings are blind, under ISBN 978-0804188241.

Paula Hawkins on
CBS THIS MORNING

Monday, February 9th, 2015

Shortly after appearing at Midwinter, Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train (Penguin/Riverhead; OverDrive Sample), appeared on today’s CBS This Morning.

She says she is already at work on the next book and admits that she has drunk canned gin and tonics.

Oprah Adapting Debut Novel, QUEEN SUGAR

Monday, February 9th, 2015

9780670026135Selma director Ava DuVernay has signed to direct an original TV series for Oprah’s network OWN, based on the novel Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile (Penguin/Pamela Dorman; Thorndike; 2014), which was featured in our Penguin First Flights Debut author program.

Oprah herself will have a recurring role in the series. Production  is expected to begin later this year.

About a woman who leaves her L.A. life to move, with her teenage daughter, to Southern Louisiana, where she has in inherited a sugar cane plantation, it was selected as a book of the week by Oprah’s O magazine, saying, “In Queen Sugar, two bulwarks of American literature—Southern fiction and the transformational journey—are given a fresh take by talented first-time novelist Natalie Baszile.”

In the press release announcing the production, Oprah states, “I loved this book and immediately saw it as a series for OWN. The story’s themes of reinventing your life, parenting alone, family connections and conflicts, and building new relationships are what I believe will connect our viewers to this show.”

Harper Lee’s Second Book, Continued Controversy

Monday, February 9th, 2015

Days after the announcement that Go Set A Watchman, (Harper; HarperLuxe, HarperAudio; July 14, 2015) Harper Lee’s first, unpublished book, had been discovered and will be published in July, media excitement subsided into dark questions.

Lee, now nearly blind and deaf, lives in an assisted living facility and does not speak directly to the press. All of her statements are issued by her lawyer, Tonya Carter, who is also the person who discovered the manuscript. Throughout her life, Lee was adamant that To Kill a Mockingbird would be her only book. Is it any wonder that questions are being raised?

The New York Times today outlines the arguments that Lee has been manipulated into agreeing to the book’s publication as well as those that she is “happy as hell” about the whole thing.

8ySkd  Mockingbird:Watchman

Over the weekend a purported cover appeared on Twitter, which Amazon is now shows as the cover [UPDATE: the cover has now been removed from the Amazon site. Whether it is the real cover or not, it looks very similar to the U.K.’s 50th anniversary edition of Mockingbird, above and Amazon U.K. is still showing the Watchman cover above left]. As of this writing, no cover appears on HarperCollins’ site.

What does the title mean? According to a story on the Alabama Media Group web site, Lee, who grew up reading the bible and particularly loved the King James version, took it from Isaiah 21:6, “For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth.” One of her life-long friends, Monroeville, Alabama resident, Wayne Flynt tells the publication, ”

‘Go Set a Watchman’ means, ‘Somebody needs to be the moral compass of this town.’ Isaiah was a prophet. God had set him as a watchman over Israel. It’s really God speaking to the Hebrews, saying what you need to do is set a watchman, to set you straight, to keep you on the right path … Nelle [Harper Lee] saw her father as being the watchman on the metaphorical gate of Monroeville [which became Maycomb in To Kill a Mockingbird] … To me it’s a beautiful title that was probably wildly out of fashion in 1960 … I find it a delicious irony that this [original] biblical title … is suddenly coming back as a second novel, because the first novel made her an international literary celebrity, and now it doesn’t make it any difference what she calls it.”

CASUAL VACANCY Gets U.S. Release Date

Sunday, February 8th, 2015

9780316228534

Eat your hearts out, Colonists — the three-part adaptation of  J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy, (Hachette/Little, Brown), begins airing in the U.K. on Feb. 15.

Here in the U.S., we have to wait for its HBO debut on April 29th & 30th.

We are left to console ourselves with the crumbs from the recently released  trailer:

No tie-ins have been announced.

FIFTY SHADES OF GREY,
Latest Trailer

Sunday, February 8th, 2015

Oh, my Mr. Grey, I can’t LEGO of your playroom!

(Click here for a less interesting version).

Harper Lee; Here Comes the Backlash

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

UPDATE: Several more news stories now question whether Harper, who is deaf and nearly blind, knew what she was signing when she authorized the publication of Go Set A Watchman. Paste magazine concludes that Harper Lee’s lawyer, “Tonja Carter may be a rogue operator taking advantage of a less-than-capable author who never wanted this book published at all.”

——-

After great excitement over the news that a second novel by Harper Lee, Go Set A Watchman (Harper; HarperLuxe; HarperAudio) has been discovered and will be released this summer, the naysayers have arrived.

In a New York Times Opinion piece, Bookslut editor in chief Jessa Crispin begs, “Don’t Do It, Harper Lee,” pointing out that today’s internet culture is unforgiving when disappointed and reminding people that the book was “rejected by Ms. Lee’s original editor in the ’50s” and therefore “may be substandard.”

Then there’s the fears that Lee was pressured into agreeing to its publication, which brought a swift rebuttal by Lee, via her attorney, that she is “happy as hell” about it and the public’s response to the news.

That lawyer, Tonja Brooks Carter, described as a “gatekeeper between the author and the outside world,” is profiled by the Wall Street Journal ‘s “Law Blog” which reports that Harper Lee got to know her through her sister Alice Lee.

This may sound eerily familiar. Last year, Marja Mills published The Mockingbird Next Door: Life With Harper Lee, (Penguin Press, July, 2014), in which she writes lovingly about befriending the two Lee sister and moving next door to them. Lee, however, denied involvement with the book and accused the author of using her sister Alice to get to her. Shortly after Mills’ book was published, Lee reaffirmed her position and, as reported by Entertainment Weekly‘s online column, “Shelf Life,” added, “rest assured, as long as I am alive any book purporting to be with my cooperation is a falsehood.”

This story is unlikely to end until the book is published in July.

RA Alert: Slipping into Slipstream with Kelly Link

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-02-05 at 10.49.30 AMKelly Link’s new collection, Get in Trouble (Random House, Feb. 2, 2015; OverDrive Sample), her first for adult readers in over a decade, is getting widespread attention, and strong reviews, in sources ranging from NPR to Salon to The LA Time’s “Jacket Copy,” which says readers will be “hopelessly engaged” in the stories. The Salon review matches that glowing tone by asking if any author has “a better, deeper instinct for the subterranean overlap between pop culture and myth?”

Link’s collection focuses attention on a genre that is as popular as it is hard to define: Slipstream.

Picking up on the swell of interest, The Wall Street Journal profiles Link while also exploring the popularity of the genre, which they define this way:

The label slipstream encompasses writing that slips in and out of conventional genres, borrowing from science fiction, fantasy and horror. The approach, sometimes also called “fantastika,” “interstitial” and “the New Weird,” often feathers the unexpected in with the ordinary, such as the hotel in Ms. Link’s new collection of stories Get in Trouble, where there are side-by-side conferences, one for dentists and another for superheroes in save-the-world costumes and regalia.

Hats off to the WSJ for offering a cogent and manageable definition (even though it is sure to continue the debate of just what Slipstream is).

The article goes on to offer even more help to readers’ advisors by supplying a list of example titles and some reasons for the genre’s popularity.

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell, Tenth of December by George Saunders, Swamplandia! by Karen Russell, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender, and Jeff VanderMeer’s The Southern Reach trilogy are all mentioned.

Explaining the interest, John Kessel, co-editor of the slipstream anthology Feeling Very Strange, writes, “I think one reason this kind of fiction has become more popular is that the world doesn’t make a lot of sense to a lot of people … So fiction that suggests that the world is inexplicable, but that there is some feeling of connection nonetheless, speaks to people.”

Wolitzer’s THE WIFE Closer to Screen

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

9780743456661_p0_v3_s260x420The film rights for Meg Wolitzer’s sixth novel, The Wife, (S&S/Scribner, 2003) were signed years ago, but the project is just now heating up.

Last May, it was announced that Glenn Close had signed as the lead with Swedish filmmaker Bjorn Runge directing.

 

 

The main cast was recently announced:

Joan Castleman — Glenn Close

Joe Castleman — Jonathan Pryce

David Cattleman, their son — Logan Lerman

Nathaniel Bone, Joe Castleman’s biographer — Christian Slater

Young Joan Castleman — Brit Marling

McDormand her mentor — Frances McDormand

The novel is about a woman who puts aside her own writing career to support her husband’s. He then rewards her by philandering and ignoring their children. It was described in a New York Times review as “a near heartbreaking document of feminist realpolitik.”  The feminist angle may have been lost on the movie’s director who calls it, “the story of love, creativity and a secret larger than life itself that the main characters, Joan and Joe, are carrying.”

Shooting is expected to begin this spring.

Harper Lee’s Second Novel is #1

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

No surprise, Harper Lee’s second book, Go Set a Watchman, announced yesterday, instantly shot to #1 on Amazon’s sales rankings. Many libraries have added the title to their catalogs (see Hennepin County’s listing) and holds are building.

Also in the top 100 is the HarperLuxe larger print edition, while the audio is #1 on the “Books on CD” list.

It looks like people plan to prepare by reading Lee’s first book. At #3 on Amazon’s rankings, is the mass market paperback edition of To Kill A Mockingbird. Other editions, including the 50th Anniversary hardcover, are also on the rise.

Still to come, the cover reveal of Watchman. We’re also looking forward to learning who will read the audio. Sissy Spacek is the voice of To Kill a Mockingbird, released in audio in 2007, nearly 50 years after the book.

There’s no news yet about an eBook edition. Lee famously held off signing the rights to an eBook of Mockingbird until last year.

Go Set a Watchman
Lee, Harper
Hardcover
HarperCollins/Harper; 07/14/2015; $27.99
EAN: 9780062409850
ISBN: 0062409859

Large Print, paperback
HarperLuxe; 07/14/2015; $27.99
EAN: 9780062409881
ISBN: 0062409883

Unabridged CD
HarperAudio; 07/14/2015; $34.99
EAN: 9780062409904
ISBN: 0062409905

Girl On The Train: A Nonstop Ride

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 8.16.56 AMAttention to Paula Hawkins and her #1 bestseller The Girl on the Train (Penguin/Riverhead; OverDrive Sample) continues, indicating the novel’s popularity won’t peak soon. The New York Times devoted some of its Friday book coverage to the title again, publishing a profile of Hawkins and likening her to “a new generation of female suspense novelists — writers like Megan Abbott, Tana French, Harriet Lane and Gillian Flynn — who are redefining contemporary crime fiction with character-driven narratives that defy genre conventions. Their novels dig into social issues, feature complex women who aren’t purely victims or vixens, and create suspense with subtle psychological developments and shifts in relationships instead of procedural plot points and car chases.”

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 8.26.55 AMThe Washington Post agrees, pairing GOTT with Harriet Lane’s Her (Hachette/Little, Brown; OverDrive Sample, Jan. 6) and pointing out that both feature “a troubled Englishwoman who takes an almost morbid interest in another person or persons. At first merely voyeurs, the two women soon become meddlers.” The Post reviewer, Dennis Drabelle, finds Her the better novel, deeming it “brilliant” while saying GOTT makes “the reader feel a bit manipulated.”

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 8.27.51 AMAnother book published nearly at the same time as GOTT, Tim Johnston’s Descent, (Workman/Algonquin; OverDrive Sample, 12/10/14), is getting similar review attention as part of the newest Gone Girl crowd. As we reported earlier, both The Washington Post and NPR give it high praise. NPR went so far as to say that it makes Gone Girl “seem gimmicky and forced.”

Readers’ advisors looking for even more books to pair with GOTT might think back to the 2011 debut literary thriller, Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson (HarperCollins; OverDrive Sample) – another twisty and riveting novel about a woman with memory issues (the author’s next book, Second Life is coming in May from Harper). GalleyChatter Robin Beerbower predicts the next GOTT is the just-released The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson, (HarperCollins/Morrow), one of our Nine Titles to Know for the week.

Meanwhile, GOTT continues to gather steam on its own. The Los Angeles Review of Books, known for its literary bent, jumps on board combining an essay on artistic theory with a deep appreciation of the novel. Reviewer Kim Kankiewicz compares the book to Hitchcock, as many reviewers do, saying “nothing replicated my response to Rear Window until I read Paula Hawkins’ debut novel, The Girl on the Train … Hawkins writes as an astute reader of her own genre. She anticipates us as we anticipate her. She confirms our suspicions gradually, and our pleasure in the ending is heightened by what we saw coming.”

Fans of Hawkins can look forward to her next outing. The New York Times profile reports that Hawkins “has another book under contract, a Gothic-tinged psychological thriller about sisters that she says is now a month overdue. Like The Girl on the Train, it’s not a conventional crime story.”