We don’t often see an art book zoom up Amazon’s sales rankings, so the rise of Colorful Realm: Japanese Bird-and-Flower Paintings by Ito Jakuchu from #1,376 to #109, is remarkable.
The book is the illustrated catalog of an exhibition of the revered 18th C Japanese artist’s work at the National Gallery of Art, featured on the PBS NewsHour last night. The paintings on silk are so fragile that they are rarely displayed.
Next week, watch for Kimberly Cutter‘s fresh debut about Joan of Arc, popular YA author Ellen Hopkins‘ first adult novel, and a YA novel by Maggie Stiefvater that some are predicting could become a blockbuster. There are also new novels by Ha Jin, Amos Oz and Colson Whitehead, along with James Patterson, Iris Johansen and Chuck Palahniuk. In nonfiction, there’s a new Van Gogh bio that draws on new sources.
The Maid: A Novel of Joan of Arc by Kimberly Cutter (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) is a debut that captures the bloody warfare and nasty politics of 15th Century France through the eyes of young Joan herself, based on the author’s own journey from Joan’s birthplace in Domrémy to Rouen, the site of Joan’s burning at the stake. PW calls it “a dynamic page-turner” and Kirkus calls it “a thoughtful retelling.” Below, the author explains what drew her to the subject.
Triangles by Ellen Hopkins (Atria Books; S&S Audio) is this popular YA author’s first novel aimed at adults, about three friends, one in a marriage on the downswing, another searching and finding intimacy and moral compromise, and a third trying to hold her complex life together, told in the author’s signature free verse. PW calls it “a raw and riveting tale of love and forgiveness that will captivate readers,” but Library Journal cautions that “at 544 pages, it’s indulgent, and some of the poems seem contrived and clunky.”
Nanjing Requiemby Ha Jin (Pantheon) the National Book Award and PEN/Faulkner Award winning author’s sixth novel focuses on the atrocities committed by the Japanese occupiers in 1937 Nanjing, and the heroism of a female missionary who sheltered 10,000 people in the face of brutality. LJ says, “readers should be aware of the book’s relentless, graphic horror. Jin’s loyal readers will notice a bluntness—jarringly effective here—different from his previous works, as if Jin, too, must guard himself against the horror.”
Scenes from Village Life by Amos Oz, translated by Nicholas de Lange (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) explores the sometimes hidden, often melancholy aspects of life in a fictional Israeli village in eight finely wrought, interconnected stories. LJ says it “reminds us of the creepy unsureness that underlies all ‘village’ life, rural or urban—and not just in Israel. Highly recommended.”
Zone One by Colson Whitehead (Doubleday) marks yet another shift in direction for this critically praised author, who offers a wry take on the post-apocalyptic horror novel in which plague has sorted humanity into two types: the uninfected and the infected, the living and the living dead. Booklist gives it a starred review, calling it a ” deft, wily, and unnerving blend of pulse-elevating action and sniper-precise satire.”
Bonnie by Iris Johansen (St. Martin’s; audio, Brilliance; large type, Thorndike) is the latest mystery featuring forensic sculptor Eve Duncan, as she enters the final phase of her painstaking journey to find her daughter Bonnie’s remains and her killer. LJ says it “drags on for about 100 pages too long and loses the success of its earlier parts with too many twists that are remedied too easily.”
The Christmas Wedding by James Patterson and Richard DiLallo (Little, Brown; large type, Thorndike; Hachette Audio) again abandons the thriller for a title that sounds (and looks) more like a Nicholas Sparks’s novel. It features a widow who suddenly decides to re-marry on Christmas Day, to one of three suitors. Kirkus says, “The authors maintain the suspense, with Gaby and her brood riding a roller-coaster of family problems, right up to the wedding day. A perfect plot for a Meryl Streep or Diane Lane happily-ever-after movie.” This is Patterson’s second outing with coauthor DiLallo who shared writing credits on Alex Cross’s Trial (Little, Brown, 2009).
Damned by Chuck Palahniuk (Doubleday; audio, Blackstone) is the story of the 13 year-old daughter of a self-absorbed movie star mother and a financial tycoon father who collect Third World orphans. Booklist says,”Palahniuk’s latest is no Fight Club (1996) or Choke (2001), his two best, but with frequent laughs and a slew of unexpected turns, readers will find in it a certain charm.” Holds to copies are heavy in some libraries.
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (Scholastic; Audio from Scholastic) is a new YA book from the author of Shiver and Linger, about a beachside contest that’s often fatal to the riders of a fierce breed of man-eating water horses, who rise from the sea. Booklist predicts it will appeal to lovers of fantasy, horse stories, romance, and action-adventure alike, this seems to have a shot at being a YA blockbuster.”
Beautiful Chaosby Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) is the third supernatural novel in the bestselling Beautiful Creatures series, set in a small Southern town.
Memoir and Biography
My Long Trip Home: A Family Memoir by Mark Whitaker (Simon & Schuster) is a personal and familial memoir from an executive v-p of CNN Worldwide, who is the biracial son of Syl Whitaker, a grandson of slaves who became a prominent African studies scholar, and Jeanne Theis, a white refugee from WWII Nazi-occupied France whose father helped rescue Jews. Kirkus says, “It’s difficult to follow the many names and threads, especially in the first half, but the writing comes across as honest and wholly engaging.”
Van Gogh: The Life by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith (Random House) is a new biography written with the full cooperation of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, and tapping a wealth of previously untapped materials.
Lions of the West: Heroes and Villains of the Westward Expansion by Robert Morgan (Shannon Ravenel/Algonquin) chronicles the expansion of the U.S. across the North American continent in the early 19th century.
Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025? by Patrick J. Buchanan (Thomas Dunne/St. Martins; Macmillan Audio) blames what the author calls the downfall of the United States on the country’s ethnic and religious diversity.
CBS Sunday morning featured a profile of Cincinnati artist, Charley Harper. Designer Todd Oldham became aware of him when he found some of his illustrations in a thrift shop. He looked up Harper and became friends with him. The friendship resulted in a show at the Cincinnati Art Museum last year. The two also collaborated on the above book. Sadly, just before the show open, Harper, 84, died.
Unfortunately, CBS hasn’t posted the video from the show, but you can watch Oldham’s tribute to Harper on YouTube.
If you are scared off by the$200 price tag of the above title, there are other choices available: