Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

ELIGIBLE A Bestseller

Friday, April 29th, 2016

9781400068326_8f573As we predicted on Wednesday, Curtis Sittenfeld’s Eligible (PRH/Random House; BOT; OverDrive Sample) is a bestseller, taking the #8 spot on the USA Today list.

In a spotlight story, the paper charts the novel’s rise, pointing out this is the highest ranking Sittenfeld has reached on the list, her debut Prep peaked at #34 and American Wife topped off at #35.

The novel makes the list in the face of very mixed reviews. While it is a LibraryReads selection, an Indie Next pick, and a People magazine’s “Book of the Week,” it was excoriated by Michiko Kakutani in the daily NYT. Even in strong reviews such as the 3 out of 4-star review in USA Today, book editor Jocelyn McClurg said it was “amusing if crass.”

Then came the early posting of the NYT Book Review‘s rave review declaring, “not since Clueless, which transported Emma to Beverly Hills, has Austen been so delightedly interpreted.”

That is clearly a sentiment that readers have endorsed. Holds are skyrocketing, reaching double-digit ratios at some libraries and amassing long queues at others.

We’ll learn later today where it lands on the NYT list. We expect to see it in the top five. [UPDATE: It debuted #5 on the NYT 5/8 Hardcover Fiction list]

THE GIRLS Tops June
Indie Next List

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

9780812998603_dba8fEmma Cline’s The Girls (Random House; Random House Audio; OverDrive Sample) is the #1 Indie Next pick for June.

“Evie Boyd is a lonely 14-year-old adjusting to her parents’ recent divorce and an emotional break with her childhood best friend. She encounters a wild and enchanting group of girls and is immediately drawn into their world of reckless abandon. Seduced by their thrilling, cult-like family hidden in the California hills, Evie finds herself pulled into events that will lead to unspeakable violence. Cline’s captivating prose strips bare the deep desires and vulnerability of teenage Evie as she struggles for acceptance. The Girls is an enthralling and haunting novel that will linger with readers long after the last page.” —Tarah Jennings, Mitzi’s Books, Rapid City, SD

The was also a favorite during February’s GalleyChat and was an early pick as a 2016 hot title (see our roundup of titles On Most of 2016’s Most Anticipated Lists).

The book is so buzzy that Entertainment Weekly did one of their  “exclusive” cover reveals for it, the NYT reported on the seven figure bidding war as well and the news that the film rights sold before the book even went to auction. The Indie Next nod is a reminder, that if you haven’t already, you can be one step ahead of your customers by downloading and reading it now.

The complete list of picks highlights new books by Anton DiSclafani, Neil Gaiman, Joe Hill, Emma Straub, and Terry Tempest Williams among others.

TULIP FEVER Arrives in July

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

Tulip FeverThe adaptation of Deborah Moggach’s novel Tulip Fever (PRH/Delacorte, 2000) was filmed back in 2014, so yesterday’s announcement of a July 15 release date seems sudden.

The industry news site IndieWire suggests that the Weinstein Company has held back the release for a reason, as they are known for “sitting on movies when they don’t make the grade” also citing that “American audiences are still waiting to see the WWII tale Suite Francaise starring Michelle Williams and Matthias Schoenaerts”

Neo trailer has been released yfor Tulip Fever, starring Oscar-winning actress Alicia Vikander, along with Christoph Waltz, Dane DeHaan, Jack O’Connell, Holliday Grainger, Cara Delevingne, Judi Dench and, Zach Galafianakis and no tie-in has been announced.

UPDATE: Trailer, below:

Vikander also stars in the film adaptation of The Light Between Oceans, set to open on Labor Day.

CELL, the Trailer

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

Two long-awaited Stephen King adaptations are scheduled for release next year. Yet another has just been announced for this year.

As the fan site Slash Film says, “Everyone has been so focused on the currently filming adaptation of The Dark Tower, the upcoming adaptation of It, and the ever-in-development big screen version of The Stand that we completely forgot that another Stephen King adaptation was on the way.”

Published in 2006, movie rights to Cell sold quickly but then the project bounced around to various studios and director.

There may be a reason this adaptation has been overlooked. Slashfilm describes the plot as “built around a ridiculous premise that feels like a parody of a Stephen King book … One day, everyone using a cell phone is driven insane and begins to viciously attack anyone near them … Cell is lesser King, but it’s gnarly and weird and a brisk read.”

It is set for release on Ultra VOD on June 10th before simultaneous theatrical and regular VOD release on July 8.

The trailer, starring John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson has just been released. No tie-ins have been announced.

[UPDATE: Eerily, the Cell trailer seems to no longer be available. The YouTube link is here, but at the time of this posting, it didn’t work]

Hugo Awards Under Attack

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

The finalists for the Hugo Awards, which along with the Nebula Awards are the Oscars of Science Fiction and Fantasy, have been announced. Among picks, controversy continues as the Rabid Puppies group seeks to stuff the ballot box once again. The result, claims George R.R. Martin on his blog is, “to say the least, a mixed bag. A lot of good books and stories, writers and artists… cheek by jowl with some stuff that is considerably less worthy.”

9780316246682_2dffb9780316229296_62f5a The Best Novel category seems to have escaped the takeover. The finalists are: Ancillary Mercy, Ann Leckie (Hachette/Orbit), The Cinder Spires: the Aeronaut’s Windlass, Jim Butcher (Penguin/Roc), The Fifth Season, N. K. Jemisin (Hachette/Orbit), the number one LibraryReads pick for May last year, Uprooted, Naomi Novik (PRH/RH/Del Rey), and  Seveneves, Neal Stephenson (HC/William Morrow), also a May 2015 LibraryReads pick.

9781401248963_423a7Other well-known and highly regarded names receiving nods include Lois McMaster Bujold (for Best Novella), Neil Gaiman (for Best Graphic Story), Stephen King (for Best Novelette), and Brandon Sanderson (for Best Novella). Star Wars and The Martian both got nods for for Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form).

However, he full list of nominees reveals that the divisive gamesmanship continues. New Republic writes “The Hugo Awards are still a mess” and The Guardian reports, “the Puppies and their supporters have redoubled their efforts to ‘game”’the awards … out of 80 recommendations posted by [Rabid Puppies] 62 have received sufficient votes to make the ballot.”

Author John Scalzi, one of the newly announced Los Angeles Times Critics at Large and three-time Hugo winner is less concerned, writing for the paper he says that this year’s ballot stuffing was largely blunted in the big categories by more votes from the anti-Puppies side and that the Puppies can take little credit for successfully lobbying for titles already widely considered shoo-ins. The Puppies he says, are “running in front of an existing parade and claiming to lead it.”

The NYT’s Other Take On ELIGIBLE

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

9781400068326_8f573If someone mentions the NYT review of Curtis Sittenfeld’s Eligible (PRH/Random House; BOT; OverDrive Sample), be sure to ask them which one.

After daily NYT reviewer Michiko Kakutani rained all over the Austen homage, the NYT Book Review just released their take, days ahead of the issue coming out this Sunday. Not only is it  far more positive, it’s a rave.

NYT contributor Sarah Lyall sums up her review with “Three cheers for Curtis Sittenfeld and her astute, sharp and ebullient anthropological interest in the human condition” and writes that the novel is “very much the best” of the titles in the Austen Project and “not since Clueless, which transported Emma to Beverly Hills, has Austen been so delightedly interpreted.”

Firmly planting herself in the “read this” camp, Lyall says:

“Sittenfeld, whose four previous novels include the extraordinary American Wife, a devastating portrait of a Laura Bush-like first lady, is the ideal modern-day reinterpreter. Her special skill lies not just in her clear, clean writing, but in her general amusement about the world, her arch, pithy, dropped-mike observations about behavior, character and motivation. She can spot hypocrisy, cant, self-contradiction and absurdity 10 miles away. She’s the one you want to leave the party with, so she can explain what really happened.”

Based on growing holds in libraries and Amazon sales rankings, the book is headed for best seller lists, which may be the reason the NYT released this review early.

Crime On The Moon: Andy Weir’s Next Book

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

9781101903582_d0232In a science-focused interview with Smithsonian, Andy Weir, the author of the The Martian, offers fans a summary of his next book:

“The main character is a low-level criminal in a city on the moon. Her challenges are a mix of technical/scientific problems, as well as juggling personal interactions—staying a step ahead of the local police, working with shady and dangerous people to do illegal things … the story takes place in a future society where there is practically no sexism … [it is] another scientifically accurate story.”

In an earlier interview with HuffPost, Weir said to expect the novel in late 2016 or early 2017. He also revealed that he has pushed what was reportedly his next book, an epic entitled Zhek, to the back burner.

Stephen King’s IT To Begin Filming (Again)

Monday, April 25th, 2016

9781501142970_c0849Fans may take with a grain of salt the newly announced release date of Sept 8, 2017 for the film adaptation of Stephen King’s 1986 novel It (cover, at left, from the S&S/Scribner trade paperback, released in January). The project has been on the burner since 2012. Back in December of 2014, it was confidently announced that it was set to begin filming the following summer, with True Detective‘s Cary Fukunaga directing.

Fukunaga left the project last May and has since been replaced by Andy Muschietti. Entertainment Weekly reports that “Fans of King’s novel should be pleased with the current take on the script” quoting the producer saying it will be in two parts, one “from the point of view of the kids, and then making another movie from the point of view of the adults, that could potentially then be cut together like the novel. But it’s gonna be a really fun way of making this movie.”

Currently filming, also after many delays, is the movie adaptation of King’s The Dark Tower, starring Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey. It is set for release Feb. 17, 2017, so two long-awaited King adaptations may arrive next year.

The Corrigan Bump

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

NPR reviewer Maureen Corrigan covered two new novels on Fresh Air yesterday, causing both to rise on Amazon’s sales rankings.

9780374106683_8bdbdCorrigan describes The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith (Macmillan/Sarah Crichton Books; Macmillan Audio; OverDrive Sample) as being about “the eerie powers of art and the long reach of the past” and that it “masterfully juggles three places and time periods … Amsterdam during the Golden Age of Dutch Painting, New York City during one of its own golden ages in the 1950s and, at novel’s end, Sydney, Australia at the dawn of the 21st century.”

An Indie Next selection and People pick, it’s also gotten love from Nancy Pearl on Seattle public radio, KUOW. Calling it a work you “can’t quite pigeonhole” she says she appreciates Smith’s wonderful writing and hopes the book finds a readership. NYT, Washington Post, and Entertainment Weekly all gave it strong reviews .

9781627795944_087b6Corrigan is also enthusiastic about The North Water by Ian McGuire (Macmillan/Holt; OverDrive Sample), a debut set on a 19th century whaling ship headed to the Arctic with a killer on board. Corrigan says that it is “the poetic precision of McGuire’s harsh vision of the past that makes his novel such a standout” and that readers will be “swept along on what turns out to be a voyage of the damned.”

Featured on the cover of the  NYT‘s Sunday Book Review, writer Colm Tóibín agrees, saying it is “a riveting and darkly brilliant novel” and that “McGuire has an extraordinary talent for picturing a moment, offering precise, sharp, cinematic details. When he has to describe complex action, he manages the physicality with immense clarity … [and] the tone throughout remains somber, direct, tense, fierce.”

Pulitzer Surprise

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

9780802123459_c9befAlthough it’s been a contender for major literary awards, winning the ALA’s Andrew Carnegie Medal and was named a best book by most sources, The Sympathizer (Grove Press, April 2015), Viet Thanh Nguyen’s 2016 Pulitzer Prise-winning debut may not be that well-known to general readers (the Guardian‘s headline says it went “from overlooked to Pulitzer winner“). If you’re struggling to describe it to readers, the following reactions to the award announcement may help.

Calling the central character “a wickedly smart double-agent,” the Los Angeles Times, says the novel is “Part thriller, part political satire … sharp-edged fiction.”

The NYT echoes that almost exactly, calling it “Part satire, part espionage thriller and part historical novel,” while The Washington Post describes it as a “cerebral thriller.”

Bustle, which also offers a handy 9 Books To Read If You Loved The Sympathizer list, summaries the start of the novel in atmospheric prose that invites readers to dive in:

“The novel begins in Saigon, a city in complete chaos. Helicopter blades pound as quickly as the hearts of fearful villagers, and communist tanks are just about to roll in. Amidst the chaos, the General of the South Vietnamese army lists off the lucky few individuals who will make it aboard the last flights out of the country. His trusted Captain, the narrator of the novel, is one of the few.”

LitHub lures readers with:

“What begins casually turns murderous and then absurd as the unnamed narrator tries unsuccessfully to separate from his past. He winds up having to participate in assassinations to cover his tracks. He even takes a turn in Hollywood working on a film that sounds an awful lot like Apocalypse Now.”

9780674660342_023e9LitHub goes on to pair the novel with a recent piece of criticism by Nguyen, Nothing Ever Dies (Harvard UP, March 2016) to make the case for understanding the novel’s importance, saying:

“Put together, the two books perform an optic tilt about Vietnam and what America did there as profound as Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man and Toni Morrison’s Beloved were to the legacy of racism and slavery.”

In a good bit of timing, the novel was just release in trade paperback. On news of the award both editions zoomed up Amazon’s rankings: Trade pbk: Sales rank: 18 (was 10,077); Hardcover: Sales rank: 88 (was 23,191).

That’s the highest ranking the novel has reached to date by far, the previous high was #5,938. The Sympathizer was on the ABA IndieBound best seller list for six weeks (at a high of #24) and the L.A. Times best seller list for 2 weeks, but did not crack any other list.

Librarians identified its pleasures, however. It was selected as a 2016 Notable Books title by the RUSA Notable Books Council and then went on to win the Andrew Carnegie Medal.

UPDATE: More Surpises

The General Nonfiction medal did not go to the expected book, Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates (PRH/Spiegel & Grau), but to Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS, by Joby Warrick (PRH/(Doubleday). Coates was named as a finalist.

The Award winner in Criticism caused some consternation, because it did not go to a newspaper writer but to Emily Nussbaum who writes about television for a magazine, the New Yorker. A change in the rules opened both that category and Feature Writing to magazines this year, reflecting the sad fact that newspapers have cut their arts coverage over the years. Thus, in a first, the New Yorker won its first Pulitzers and in two categories.

The Drama award went to a play with book connections, Hamilton. Although, given the acclaim it has arleady received, it was not a surprise, it is the first musical to win in many years.

 

Pulitzer Prize Announcements, Today at 3 p.m., E.T.

Monday, April 18th, 2016

Marking its one hundredth anniversary, the Pulitzer Prize Awards will be announced today at 3 p.m. ET.

The very first award for a fiction title went to the now largely forgotten His Family, by Ernest Poole (Macmillan), but that was followed by many titles that went on to become classics (winners in the category originally designated as Novels 1918 through 1947, are listed here; since 1948, it was designated as Fiction; winners are listed here).

In recent years, the Fiction Award has created best sellers (e.g.
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout), or added longevity to titles that were already best sellers (last year’s winner, All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr just passed it’s 100th week on the NYT Hardcover Fiction list).

In addition to Fiction, the other Pulitzer Prize book categories are:

History (1917-present)

Biography or Autobiography (1917-present)

Poetry (1922-present)

General Nonfiction (1962-present)

There is also an award for Criticism (1970-present), a wide-ranging category which includes film and book reviewing (the NYT‘s Michiko Kakutani won in 1998), and even reviewing of automobiles.

A live stream of the awards announcements is below:

Serial King

Monday, April 18th, 2016

cvr9780743210898_9780743210898_hrDownton writer Julian Fellowes isn’t the only one harking back to the retro form of serial publication (even if the technology fails).

Stephen King published his Bram Stoker award-winning novel The Green Mile in six serial paperback parts 20 years ago. The story recounted the magical powers of John Coffey, a death row inmate in Georgia.

Eventually, the series was together and issued as a single book and then adapted into a film starring Tom Hanks.

To mark the 20th anniversary of The Green Mile, King’s publisher, S&S/Scribner, is about to un-do that process and re-release the segments in serial form once again, this time as digital chapters.

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Entertainment Weekly reports that “the first volume, The Two Dead Girls, is available now. The Mouse on the Mile will follow April 26, then Coffey’s Hands on May 10, The Bad Death of Eduard Delacroix on May 24, Night Journey on June 7, and Coffey on the Mile June 21.” OverDrive offers a sample of the first volume.

Finally, THE FAMILY FANG

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

family-fang

If you had a tough time imagining Kevin Wilson’s quirky novel The Family Fang (HarperCollins/Ecco, 2011) as a movie, the trailer released this week gives hope that the adaptation might actually work.

Early reviews, based on a showing at the Toronto Internation Film Festival, are mostly positive, with an 80% positive rating from critics tracked on Rotten Tomatoes.

A GalleyChat favorite, the book was acquired by Nicole Kidman’s production company, Kidman stars, along with Jason Bateman, who also directs the project.

For those unfamiliar with the book, it has nothing to do with vampires, but with a quirky family of performance artists.

The film was acquired for distribution by Stars Digital. It will be shown in a limited number of  theaters on April 29, followed by a national rollout and simultaneous VOD release on May 6.

A tie-in has not been announced, but the paperback edition carries a “Now major motion picture” sticker,

Honoring International Authors and Their Translators

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

The shortlist of six finalists for the 2016 Booker International Prize has been announced. A younger sibling to the more well-known Booker Prize for Fiction (that longlist will be announced in July), it has been given every two years since 2005 to authors who are not citizens of the Commonwealth, for an entire body of work in any language (past winners have included Canadian Alice Munro and US citizens Philip Roth and Lydia Davis).

Now that the main Booker Award is open to all writers in English, regardless of citizenship, the International Award has been changed to one for individual novels in English translation, recognizing not only the authors, but also the translators, a change that the Guardian notes, “should help raise the profile of translated books.”

The judges call this shortlist “exhilarating,” praising its diversity.

9781609452865_92e01The finalist best-known in the US is Elena Ferrante for The Story of the Lost Child: Neapolitan Novels, Book Four, translated by Ann Goldstein (PRH/Europa Editions, Sept. 1, 2015; Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample). All the titles in the author’s series have been best sellers here, with even the translator achieving celebrity status.

9780553448184_795d0Also having received attention here is The Vegetarian, by Han Kang, translated by Deborah Smith (PRH/Hogarth; Feb. 2, 2016; OverDrive Sample)

A profile of the author in the daily NYT Books section calls the novel, which was published ten years ago in South Korea,  a “mesmerizing mix of sex and violence.” The review in the NYT “Sunday Book Review” comes with the warning that nothing can “prepare a reader for the traumas of this Korean author’s translated debut in the Anglophone world.”

9780307700292_5f8d2The winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature is also among the finalists, Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk for A Strangeness in My Mind, translated by Ekin Oklap (PRH/Knopf, Oct. 20, 2015; BOT; OverDrive Sample)

Daily NYT reviewer Dwight Garner calls this a minor work, lacking the “the visceral and cerebral impact of Mr. Pamuk’s best novels.”

The other titles on the list are:
9780374289867_84b40A Whole Life, Robert Seethaler, translated by Charlotte Collins (Macmillan/Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Sept. 13, 2016) — “Like John Williams’ Stoner or Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams, A Whole Life is a tender book about finding dignity and beauty in solitude. It looks at the moments, big and small, that make us what we are.” — from the description on the Booker site

9780802124692_3795aThe Four BooksYan Lianke, translated by Carlos Rojas (Perseus/PGW/Legato/Grove Press, March 8, 2016; OverDrive Sample)– ” No other writer in today’s China has so consistently explored, dissected and mocked the past six and a half decades of Chinese communist rule.” — the Guardian

9780914671312_c2bb4A General Theory of Oblivion, Jose Eduardo Agualusa, translated by Daniel Hahn (PRH/Archipelago, Dec. 15, 2015; OverDrive Sample) — “a wild patchwork of a novel that tells the story of Angola through Ludo, a woman who bricks herself into her apartment on the eve of Angolan independence. For the next 30 years she lives off vegetables and pigeons, and burns her furniture to stay warm. ” — from the description on the Booker site..

The winner of the Prize will be announced on May 16th.

Belgravia Delayed

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

BelgraviaJulian Fellowes appeared on NPR’s Morning Edition today to talk about his new project. Harking back to an old form, his book Belgravia will be released in installments, but using modern technology, it will be delivered via an app.

Unfortunately, there is a hitch. According to the Belgravia App Page on Facebook,

“Our nineteenth century story has been stalled by twenty-first century technology! … We are currently resolving an unexpected technical issue and the launch of Julian Fellowes’s BELGRAVIA app has been delayed.”

As we noted earlier, a hardcover edition of the full series, as well as an audio, is set for July.