Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

SILENCE Gets A Trailer

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

Director Martin Scorsese has adapted a book he has “reread countless times,” one that has given him “a kind of sustenance” that he has “found in only a very few works of art.”

The novel is Shusaku Endo’s Silence: With an Introduction by Martin Scorsese (Peter Owen Publishers, Dec. 1; trade paperback, Macmillan/Picador Modern Classics), first published in 1966 and winner of the Tanizaki Prize, one of Japan’s highest literary honors.

Entertainment Weekly writes that the film is about “a Portuguese Jesuit priest who is persecuted along with other Christians in 17th-century Japan … the hardship inflicted upon them [the priest and two others], and especially on their fellow Christians, puts their faith to the test.” It stars Andrew Garfield, Liam Neeson, and Adam Driver.

9780720614480_052afIn  addition to the quotes above, Scorsese also writes in his introduction to the tie-in, that the priest in the novel, played by Neeson, “begins on the path of Christ and … ends replaying the role of Christianity’s greatest villain, Judas.” Endo “looks at the problem of Judas more directly than any other artist I know. He understood that, in order for Christianity to live, to adapt itself to other cultures and historical moments, it needs not just the figure of Christ but the figure of Judas as well.”

This is not Scorsese’s first film about religious subjects. He directed The Last Temptation of Christ in 1988 and Kundun in 1997 (about the Dalai Lama).

At a press conference in May, held to promote the first look at the film, Scorsese told reporters that he’d been trying to adapt the book for over 25 years and that “The subject matter presented by Shusaku Endo was in my life since I was very, very young … I was very much involved in religion, I was raised in a strong Catholic family. … Further reflection is how [we] want to lead our life in the Christian faith … so ultimately this book drew my attention when it was given to me in 1988.”

Silence will open Dec. 23 in a limited Oscar-qualifying run before opening in wide release in January.

Crystal Ball: THE CHEMIST

Thursday, November 17th, 2016

9780316387835_21b34Stephenie Meyer’s first thriller for adults, The Chemist (Hachette/Little, Brown; Hachette Audio; OverDrive Sample) debuts on USA Today‘s Best-Selling Books list at #13.

With only six hardcover fiction titles ahead of it, the high placement suggests it will be within the top ten on the upcoming NYT‘s Fiction list (UPDATE: It hit that list at #5).

It is getting media attention that is helping fuel sales.

The NYT‘s offers a profile, while USA Today gives it 3.5 stars out of 4, saying the novel is “engrossing” and while “it’s full of the same daffy blitheness toward blood and pain that always made the Twilight books unsettling … Meyer is also just a really good storyteller. The Chemist is consistently fast-paced fun.”

The Guardian writes “Meyer, clearly a major fan of the genre, has dreamed up a fast-paced thriller, and a tough, mysterious heroine with a penchant for decking herself out in dangerous jewellery, concealing syringes of poison in her belt and switchblades in her shoes.”

The LA Times says, “Spy fans can be assured that in most respects, The Chemist functions in much the same way as a Bourne or Bond story, complete with mounting body count, cool explosions, stakeouts and betrayals. But changing the proportion of gender in the genre gives the concoction a renewed, and welcome, rush.”

The coverage is not universally warm. Entertainment Weekly gives it a B-, writing, “The Chemist’s 518-pages fly by quickly and easily. But perhaps it would have taken a sprinkle of something supernatural — or a smattering of heartbreak — to feel like Meyer’s characters were really in danger.”

The Washington Post reviewer is even more doubtful, writing, “Meyer’s legion of addicted fans will lap up this chemical romance. As for me, I’m off to the library to detox.”

Libraries are showing divergent holds ratios, with some libraries topping 5:1 and others steady at 2:1.

LIVE BY NIGHT, Final Trailer

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016

The final trailer for Ben Affleck’s adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s Live by Night (Harper/ Morrow; Harperluxe; HarperAudio) has been released. The movie opens in an Oscar-qualifying limited run on December 25th, followed by a nationwide release on January 13, 2017.

In addition to directing and writing the screenplay, Affleck stars with Zoe Saldana, Sienna Miller, Chris Cooper, Brendan Gleeson, Chris Messina and Elle Fanning. It’s Affleck’s first time in the director’s chair since his award-winning Argo.

the_given_day  Live by Night  9780060004903_615d1

The novel follows the rise of an Irish-American Boston gangster, Joe Coughlan, during the Prohibition era. Prophetically, Entertainment Weeklycalled Live by Night a “ripping, movie-ready yarn that jumps from a Boston prison to Tampa speakeasies to a Cuban tobacco farm.” The book won Lehane an Edgar for Best Novel. In his acceptance speech, he thanked librarians for offering “a light in the darkness for the kids from the wrong side of the tracks.”

Live by Night follows The Given Day, which was the author’s first departure into historical crime. A third book in the series, World Gone By, was published last year.

The tie-in is set for Dec. 7, in mass market and trade paperback (HarperCollins/Morrow). It will contain a preview chapter of Lehane’s forthcoming novel Since We Fell (HarperCollins/Ecco; May 16, 2017).

UNDERGROUND RAILROAD #1

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

Underground Railroad  Wolf Road

The Amazon Editors have selected Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad (PRH/Doubleday; RH Audio; BOTOverDrive Sample) as the best book of the year.

Given the acclaim it has already received, that’s no surprise, but the #2 title is a less well-known debut novel,  The Wolf Road (PRH/Crown; Recorded Books) by British author Beth Lewis, described as “a brilliant amalgam of literary thriller and gritty western,” featuring a young main character who displays “Inner fire, honest vulnerability, and an endearing sense of humor.” It was reviewed by the Wall Street Journal in September, under yet a different genre, as one of two “Best New Science Fiction” titles.

The Underground Railroad was also selected as the #1 title for the year by Publishers Weekly and is a finalist for the National Book Awards in fiction. The winner will be announced tomorrow night.

NOTHING Is Winning and Circing

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

9780393609882_59ec7Shortlisted for the Man Booker Award, Canadian Madeleine Thien’s Do Not Say We Have Nothing (Norton; Recorded Books; OverDrive Sample) did not win, but is now sweeping Canada’s literary awards.

It won the 2016 Scotiabank Giller Prize yesterday, an award worth $100,000 dollars.

The announcement said the novel:

“entranced the jurors with its detailed, layered, complex drama of classical musicians and their loved ones trying to survive two monstrous insults to their humanity: Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution in mid-twentieth century China and the Tiananmen Square massacre of protestors in Beijing in 1989. Do Not Say We Have Nothing addresses some of the timeless questions of literature: who do we love, and how do the love of art, of others and ourselves sustain us individually and collectively in the face of genocide? A beautiful homage to music and to the human spirit, Do Not Say We Have Nothing is both sad and uplifting in its dramatization of human loss and resilience in China and in Canada.”

It also won the highly prestigious Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction. That jury panel deemed it:

“an elegant, nuanced and perfectly realized novel that, fugue-like, presents the lives of individuals, collectives, and generations caught in the complexities of history. Tracing the intertwined lives of two families, moving from Revolutionary China to Canada, this ambitious work explores the persistence of past and the power of art, raising meaningful questions for our times.”

The NYT calls it “a beautiful, sorrowful work. The book impresses in many senses: It stamps the memory with an afterimage; it successfully explores larger ideas about politics and art (the mind is never still while reading it); it has the satisfying, epic sweep of a 19th-century Russian novel, spanning three generations and lapping up against the shores of two continents.”

Many libraries we checked bought few copies and are now seeing holds ratios skyrocketing while others with more copies are seeing holds top 3:1.

Coloring Books Palahniuk Style

Sunday, November 6th, 2016

9781506703114_560f1It may seem we’ve seen every possible variation on the adult coloring book, including the weird offshoot, “relaxing” swear word coloring books.

But trust Chuck Palahniuk, the iconoclastic author of Fight Club, to bring a new twist to the genre, as reported by The Wall Street Journal (subscription may be required).

Bait: Off-Color Stories for You to Color by Chuck Palahniuk, illustrated by Duncan Fegredo, Lee Bermejo, and Joelle Jones (PRH/Dark Horse Books) is not a full coloring book but rather a series of eight short stories along with multiple illustrations that readers can color at will.

9781616559458_09f70Palahniuk tells the paper that the idea grew out of his work on the Flight Club 2 comic book:

“I would go to the artists and suggest what I thought they could do with an image, and they would counter with an even more outrageous image … And I would go with an even more outrageous image, and we would have this back-and-forth race to the bottom until we agreed on a scandalous image that neither of us would have proposed in the first place.”

He hopes the coloring opportunity will appeal to his fan base, saying “So many of the readers I interact with are creative people themselves … I thought this would be a great way for them to participate in the project.”

Palahniuk enjoyed making Bait, telling the paper “I would love to do another coloring book every year for the rest of my life.”

9780385533027_fc59c9780385533034_84a8bHe also says he has “most of Fight Club 3 written … [and] a graphic novel based on what would be the third book following the first two I’ve done about a dead little girl named Madison Spencer (Damned and Doomed). This would complete that story and it would kind of start a new franchise, but in graphic form.”

The stories in Bait he says are “about misplaced nurturance … They’re all about someone trying to save someone else, trying to rescue someone else, but in doing so, kind of destroying this person.”

More MR. ROBOT

Sunday, November 6th, 2016

9781419724428_f90e0As we noted in a recent Titles to Know and Recommend post, fans of the hit TV show Mr. Robot can experience the story in print via MR. ROBOT: Red Wheelbarrow by Sam Esmail and Courtney Looney (Abrams; HighBridge Audio; OverDrive Sample).

The Wall Street Journal reports on the new title and interviews one of the authors (subscription may be required), writing:

“For a show immersed in the digital world – it’s about a massive hack – the book is a unique analog piece of the puzzle and features Elliot narrating throughout, as well as asides from the character ‘Hot Carla.’ Also included are little artifacts like newspaper clippings, a church group pamphlet, and an empty cigarette pack with notes jotted on it. For Mr. Robot fans, who look for meaning in everything, these new, tangible nuggets will give clues to the story as well as dive into the feelings of loneliness and isolation that the season explored.”

Esmail tells the paper the book spans the gap between seasons 1 and 2, offering “the unfiltered world through Elliot’s eyes that you won’t get from the show … I wanted to create this next-level engagement where you can also learn things about the story if you dig a little deeper … The great thing about it is, that’s up to the audience to engage in.”

IndieWire warns fans who have not finished watching season 2 to stay away as “pretty much right from the beginning, one of Season 2’s biggest twists is spoiled, and there’s enough overlap with the rest of the season to warrant not reading it until after you’re all caught up with the series.”

Entertainment Weekly offers some illustrated sample pages.

OUTLANDER Comes to The End

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

9780553393699_747569781101884249_b01b1Diana Gabaldon is talking about the inevitable, the end of the Outlander series. As reported by Entertainment Weekly, she plans to conclude the series with book ten.

Eight books have been published. Book nine, not yet scheduled for publication, has the working title. Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone.

Gabaldon told fans at the EW PopFest that she already knew the ending of the last book, however, an explanation of the famous ghost scene in the first novel in which Frank, Claire’s husband, sees the ghost of Jamie staring up at their window.

“It’ll be the very last thing in the last book, which I think is probably book 10,” says Gabaldon.

That could be some time from now. It took the author five years to finish the current title after book seven hit shelves in 2009 and she has not turned a book around in less than two years since 1994.

On her website she tells readers, “An official publication date for this new book has not been announced. In other words: No, I don’t know yet when I will finish Book Nine of the OUTLANDER series! I am working on it now, and don’t even have a ballpark date.”

Fans may want to temper their expectations about the series length as well. Gabaldon is far from definitive about her plans and has said different things at different times.

Currently on her website she tells readers:

There’s at least one more. I’ve never been willing to commit to more than one at a time, because I just don’t know — I don’t plan the books out ahead of time. So I have no idea how much ground we’ll cover in each book. But there is certainly one more book, because I wasn’t finished telling the story at the end of book eight.”

For those who need consolation reading while they wait, Gabaldon sometimes posts working excerpts from book nine.

DIETLAND To TV

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

9780544373433_0b363After “spirited bidding,” Variety reports that AMC bought the rights to the TV adaption of Dietland by Sarai Walker (HMH; Highbridge Audio; OverDrive Sample).

Marti Noxon will head the project. She is the co-creator of UnREAL and has worked on hits such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Mad Men says Den of Geek.

The show, “envisoned as a mix of character drama and revenge fantasy with a feminist perspective,”is expected to skip the pilot stage and go directly to series next year, according to Variety.

Walker’s debut novel, an Indie Next pick, made a number of end of year best lists in 2015.

Entertainment Weekly gave it an A, writing “If Amy Schumer turned her subversive feminist sketches into a novel, dark on the inside but coated with a glossy, palatable sheen, it would probably look a lot like Dietlanda thrilling, incendiary manifesto disguised as a beach read.”

The NYT Genre Round-Up

Monday, October 31st, 2016

Eighteen genre novels get featured in a series of three new overviews in this week’s NYT book section.

9780393292329_f9284The novelist Charles Finch takes on thrillers, casting a critical eye over some of the offerings but deeply enjoying The Fall Guy, James Lasdun (Norton; OverDrive Sample), about two men caught up in a competition over a woman, one of whom is destined to fulfill the title.

Finch calls it “exceptionally entertaining … a cross of literary fiction, thriller and mystery” that reads like “early Ian McEwan or late Patricia Highsmith.”

He says that Lasdun cleverly crafts the story, “His clues never seem like clues until they bind tightly around one of the three leads” and that the novel is “exactly what a literary thriller should be: intelligent, careful, swift, unsettling.”

It is also a November Indie Next pick.

tf_cover_sm-400x600Reviewing six Horror titles, film critic Terrence Rafferty (who wrote a piece on Thrillers featuring killer women in June) very much likes  the small press offering The Fisherman by John Langan (Word Horde), the story of two grief-burdened fisherman who cast their lines in possibly magical waters.

He calls it “superb” and says that Langan “manages to sustain the focused effect of a short story or a poem over the course of a long horror narrative.”

Rafferty continues that the novel is “unusually dense with ideas and images” and full of “elegant prose.” In the end, he says, readers feel a “sad urgency on every page” of this “strange and terrifying” tale.

9781681772400_77f74In her largely non-committal survey of six True-Crime offerings, Marilyn Stasio picks The Thieves of Threadneedle Street: The Incredible True Story of the American Forgers Who Nearly Broke the Bank of England (Norton/ Pegasus; OverDrive Sample), Nicholas Booth as a good bet.

It is the tale of a masterful 19th century forgery case that Stasio calls a “jaunty caper” led by a man who was no stranger to international long cons.

The Appeal of Nell Zink

Monday, October 31st, 2016

9780062441706_c4837The author of Mislaid (HC/Ecco, 2015), which made the National Book Award Longlist in 2015, as well as many best books lists, and most recently Nicotine (HC/Ecco; Harper Audio; OverDrive Sample), an Indie Next pick, is a reviewer favorite.

Laura Miller, the books and culture columnist for Slate, tries to understand why Zink is so beloved, while reviewing her newest novel as well.

She is a fearless writer, not worried about a backlash in the form of a “moral, political, or artistic reproach” says Miller. Perhaps this is because she was already mature, 51 years old, when she broke big in writing circles, and the fact that she is far from a product of the “MFA approach/”

Miller says that while reading her work she seems “to be the only novelist who truly does not give a fuck what you think of her.”

Second, she writes as she wishes, without regards to accepted rules. “Her willingness to simply tell you a story without adopting all the elaborate pretenses of dramatic realism, with its carefully constructed, allusive snapshots” is a big draw Miller contends.

Third is her style.  She has a “fundamentally comic sensibility” and excels at “Romantic farce.” She is also “remarkably subtle—too sympathetic, perhaps, to qualify as satire, but uninclined to let anyone off the hook.”

Finally, and most of all says Miller, she is willing to simply let her stories be, “the most transgressive thing of all about Zink’s work [is] that it has nothing it wants to teach us.”

As for Nicotine, Miller concludes “It spills out like the endlessly unfolding events of life itself, in discernible patterns of the wholesome and the toxic but refusing to stay still long enough to resolve into some kind of life lesson.”

Fredrik Backman, Breakout Star

Monday, October 31st, 2016

9781476738017_59bd6The NYT features the author of A Man Called Ove (S&S/Atria, July 2014) and other bestsellers this weekend, highlighting his improbable rise to celebrity status.

Like his character Ove, Fredrik Backman is something of an unlikely star. He was largely ignored by publishers who either rejected his debut novel or simple ignored his query letters. He worked night and weekend shifts as a forklift driver to afford time to write during the day and for a while, it seemed like it would all be for nothing. One publisher told him his work had no “commercial potential.”

Now his debut novel is a feature film and a breakout hit. It has sold over “2.8 million copies worldwide, making the book one of Sweden’s most popular literary exports since Stieg Larsson’s thriller The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” writes the NYT.

The novel’s appeal is global, selling in 38 languages, but its start in the US was, similar to its reception by Swedish publishers, rocky.

Reports the NYT, “it sold steadily but in modest numbers. Then sales surged. It landed on the best-seller list 18 months after it was first published and has remained there for 42 weeks. Demand has been so unrelenting that Atria Books has reprinted the novel 40 times and now has more than a million copies in print.”

The US publisher credits the surge to independent booksellers, “who placed big orders and pressed it on customers. The Book Bin in Northbrook, Ill., has sold around 1,000 copies, largely based on word-of-mouth recommendations.”

The Daily Beast has also examined the novel’s word-of-mouth success.

9781501142543_05ae4  9781501115066_140d6

Librarians have adopted Backman as their own as well, making Britt-Marie Was Here (S&S/Atria Books) a #1 LibraryReads pick and My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry (S&S/Atria) a LibraryReads selection. Galleychatters have also followed Backman with great interest.

9781501160486_50211The success of Ove fueled the sales of others of Backman’s quirky novels and has led, as we noted earlier, to more book deals. The first of which hits shelves on on Nov. 1, the novella, And Every Morning The Way Home Gets Longer And Longer (S&S/Atria). Deadline Hollywood reports, that like Ove, it “centers on an elderly man, who struggles to hold on to his memories, face his regrets and help his son and grandson prepare for his death.” It will be issued in a “small-format hardcover,” with illustrations. His next novel will be Beartown (S&S/Atria, May 2, 2017).

In a very Ove take on life, Backman finds fame a problem. “Everyone keeps telling you how great you are and what a great writer you are” he tells the NYT. “They want selfies, and that’s not healthy, because you start liking that … You still have to write like you’re writing for 20 people, or you’re going to freak out.”

CORMORAN STRIKE to HBO

Friday, October 28th, 2016

The Cuckoo's Calling  The Silkworm  Career of Evil

A recently announced deal will bring the BBC adaption of The Cormoran Strike series of mystery novels by Robert Galbraith (aka J. K. Rowling) to HBO

A similar deal was struck for the adaptation of the author’s The Casual Vacancy, which aired in 2015

Filming for Cormoran Strike is set to begin in London soon, with release possible in 2017. According to Deadline, it will be filmed as three movies, each focused on one of the books, The Cuckoo’s Calling, The Silkworm and Career Of Evil. 

Tom Burke (War and Peace, The Musketeers) has been cast as Cormoran Strike,

GUERNSEY Gets Another Lead

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016

9780385340991 Downton Abbey favorite Lily James is set to star as Juliet Ashton in the film adaptation of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer (PR/Dial, 2008), reports Deadline Hollywood.

Mike Newell (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Love in the Time of Cholera) will direct the film, re-titled Guernsey.

Don’t  make plans for a popcorn themed book club meeting just yet. This is at least the third set of actors/directors associated with the somewhat troubled adaptation.

In 2013 the BBC reported that a project helmed by Kenneth Branagh and starring Kate Winslet had been tabled with Simon Curits taking over direction and a new, unnamed, actress replacing Winslet.

As we noted in February, the project has had several big names attached with little outcome. Rosamund Pike was reportedly in talks to star at the start of the year.

Filming for this latest attempt has yet to begin. The project currently has a 2018 completion date according to IMDb.

A STUDY IN SCARLET WOMEN

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

9780425281406_43f1eA new take on Sherlock Holmes variations has Sarah Wendell excited for the launch of the first in Sherry Thomas’s romantic historical mystery series, A Study In Scarlet Women: The Lady Sherlock Series (PRH/Berkley; Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample).

Reviewing for NPR Books, the co-founder of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, and the author of Everything I Know About Love, I Learned From Romance Novels, says that the “Gender-flipped Sherlock Holmes” story demands “a few hours of uninterrupted time — a rare thing, I know — to read it. You’ll probably finish it, and start the first page over again, because it’s that good.”

Stressing the novel’s strength in storytelling and style, Wendell concludes, “Thomas’s use of language, the way she uses gender reversal to conceal revelations, and the intricacies of her plotting mean that I will rediscover more things to relish in A Study in Scarlet Women each time I reread it … If you’re standing between me and my copy, you should probably move out of the way.”

Libraries that bought low are seeking spikes in holds as high as 5:1.