Just as she used the killing of a child in her previous book to provide insight into mid-19th-century domestic life and the rise of detective novels, Summerscale now uses Isabella and Henry Robinson’s scandalous divorce case to explore such diverse subjects as the era’s romantic novels, peculiar health fads and views of marriage.
What is particularly interesting about the book is the way that Summerscale engages with her material in such a psychologically rich manner, an added bonus feature, as it were, given that the original story is already so fascinating in itself.
Isabella emerges, regardless of the verdict, as the most fascinating of characters…[Summerscale] is perfectly at home in the 19th century, as evidenced in 2008′s The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher, her grisly but addictively readable tale of an 1860 murder investigation
The nominees for the Edgars in the Best Fact Crime category demonstrate how much the category of narrative nonfiction has grown in the last few years. Fact Crime, once dominated by lurid tales of bloody murders, now features books that look at history through the lens of crime. A prime example is the winner, announced last night, Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard (RH/Doubleday; Thorndike large print). It is also a 2011 ALA Notable Book and was included on many of the year’s best books lists. Most libraries are still showing holds, despite heavy buying.
The winner in the Best Novel category is Mo Hayder, for the fifth book in her Jack Caffery series, Gone, now available in trade paperback.
This week, contemporary short story masters Nathan Englander and Dan Chaon return, while Josh Bazell delivers the sequel to his breakout debut. Usual suspects include Lisa Gardner, Vince Flynn, J.A. Jance and YA author Sara Shepard. Our major title to watch details the life of a slum in Mumbai by Katherine Boo. In nonfiction, historian James Simon probes the faceoff between FDR and Chief Justice Hughes, and Tucker Max delivers his third raucous memoir.
Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo (Random House; BOT Audio; Thorndike Large Print; ebook and audio, OverDrive) focuses on Annawadi, a makeshift settlement in the shadow of luxury hotels in Mumbai, as India starts to prosper. As we’ve said before, we think this one is headed for best sellerdom. Lots of media attention this week should help it along.
Wild Thing by Josh Bazell (Hachette/Little,Brown/Reagan Arthur; Hachette Audio) is the sequel to Bazell’s popular debut, Beat the Reaper, once again featuring Dr. “Peter Brown,” this time as he accompanies a sexy but self-destructive paleontologist on the world’s worst field assignment. LJ says, “it’s as good as [Bazell’s debut] and more. In addition to the mayhem and madness of the original, there’s an element of ecoconsciousness and political satire (the long-delayed appearance of the government official is worth the purchase price) that will leave readers wanting still more.”
What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank: Storiesby Nathan Englander (RH/Knopf; RH Audio; OverDrive ebook and audio) includes eight new stories from celebrated novelist and short fiction author (For the Relief of Unbearable Urges and The Ministry of Special Cases). Kirkus says his “voice evokes a long legacy of Jewish storytelling and the sharp edge of contemporary fiction” and pronounces his tales of Israel, American Jewry and suburbia the work of “a short-story master.” The newspaper reviews, however, have not been so complimentary (WSJ and L.A. Times). The NYTprofiled the author’s “Sunday Routine.”
Stay Awake: Stories by Dan Chaon (RH/Ballantine; ebook, OverDrive) is a collection of 12 stores about fragile characters who wander between ordinary life and a psychological shadowland by National Book Award finalist Chaon, following hss critically acclaimed novel Await Your Reply. LJ says, “The powerful writing in this intense and suspenseful collection draws us into the emotional maelstroms experienced by the characters. A highly recommended work, not to be missed.” The NYT Book Review calls the best of the stories “superbly disquieting.”
Catch Me by Lisa Gardner (Penguin/Dutton; Brilliance Audio; Thorndike Large Print) finds Detective D. D. Warren faced with a client who believes she will be murdered in four days, and she wants D. D. to handle the death investigation. In a starred review, Booklist says, “Last year, Gardner had three titles on different New York Times bestseller lists; her latest D. D. Warren novel will launch a new streak for 2012.”
Kill Shot by Vince Flynn (S&S/Atria; S&S Audio) is a suspenseful political thriller that follows a deadly mission to hunt down the men responsible for the Pan Am Lockerbie terrorist attack. LJ says, “If you loved the author’s The Secret Supper, you’ll probably love this, too.” USA Today profiles Flynn, who has defied odds after being diagnosed with cancer in 2010
Left for Dead by J. A. Jance (S&S/Touchstone; Thorndike Large Print; S&S Audio) Ali Reynolds investigates two shocking cases of victims brutally left for dead — Santa Cruz County deputy sheriff Jose Reyes, Ali’s classmate from the Arizona Police Academy, and an unidentified young woman presumed to be an illegal border crosser.
Two Truths and a Lie(The Lying Game Series #3) by Sara Shepard (Harper Teen; HarperAudio) is the third installment in the new series by the bestselling author of Pretty Little Liars, about one twin trying to solve the murder of another, by unraveling her cryptic journal, tangled love life, and the dangerous pranks she played.
FDR and Chief Justice Hughes: The President, the Supreme Court, and the Epic Battle Over the New Deal by James F. Simon (Simon & Schuster) recounts how the two men fiercely collided at a pivotal moment in history — during the initial stages of FDR’s New Deal. PW says, “With the present-day Court poised to rule on health care reform amid controversies over the governments power to address economic turmoil, Simons account of a very similar era is both trenchant and timely.”
Hilarity Ensuesby Tucker Max (S&S/Blue Heeler Books) is the third volume by the author of the bestsellers I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell and Assholes Finish First, about his sexual and drunken exploits.
Given the librarian stereotype, it seems appropriate that a book which praises introverts, Quiet, will be featured at the raucous ALA MidWinter meeting, on Saturday. The book releases this week, along with several novels deserving an RA push and titles by returning favorites, Robert Crais, Walter Mosley, Hilma Wolitzer, Margot Livesey and Tim Dorsey.
Bond Girlby Erin Duffy (HarperCollins/Morrow) is the tale of a business school graduate in four-inch heels, set in the financial world, leading up to the tumultuous year of 2008 – it’s billed by the publisher as The Devil Wears Prada meets Wall Street. Library Journal says, “despite financial details that may make your head spin and a workplace that will make your stomach churn, Duffy’s fresh take on the single-in-the-city tale does a terrific job of reviving chick lit.”
A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson (Hachette/ Grand Central; Hachette Large Print) is a Southern famiy saga by the author of Gods in Alabama, and follows a young woman’s search for the truth about who her mother really is. In a starred review, Booklist calls it “Jackson’s most absorbing book yet, a lush, rich read with three very different but equally compelling characters at its core.”
Heftby Liz Moore (Norton) is the author’s second novel, featuring a 600-pound former academic and a teenager in crisis who become unlikely allies. PW says, “the writing is quirky, sometimes to a fault, yet original, but the diptych structure is less successful, as the respective first-person narrators are sometimes indistinct. Regardless, Moore’s second novel wears its few kinks well.”
Taken by Robert Crais (Penguin/Putnam; Wheeler Publishing; Brilliance Corporation) is the 15th Elvis Cole novel, involving a wealthy industrialist whose missing son appears to have faked his own kidnapping. “Cole and sidekicks Joe Pike and Jon Stone all get a chance to shine, ,” says PW. “Told from multiple points of view, this installment would make a fine action-packed film with three strong male leads.”
All I Did Was Shoot My Man: A Leonid McGill Mystery by Walter Mosley (Riverhead; Penguin Audiobooks) finds Leonid McGill in his fourth outing, investigating a complex case that involves adultery and murder as his own life unravels. ”General readers and Mosley fans will appreciate his characteristically fine writing as well as the internal struggles Mosley inflicts on his protagonists,” says Library Journal.
An Available Man by Hilma Wolitzer (RH/Ballantine; Center Point Large Print; Audiogo) is about a widowed 62-year-old science teacher who finds himself ambushed by female attention after his stepchildren place a personal ad in the newspaper. Library Journal says, “Wolitzer is surprisingly good at portraying a man’s perspective. Although her writing is not as crisp as in some of her previous novels, this is a breezier tale with a lighter edge.”
The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey (Harper; Harperluxe) is a modern take on Charlotte Brontë’s classic, Jane Eyre, set in early 1960s Scotland. PW says, “although guardian angels and kind strangers turn up like an army of deus ex machinas, these plot missteps dont detract from Gemmas self-possessed determination. Captivating and moving, this book is a wonderful addition to Liveseys body of work.”
Pineapple Grenade by Tim Dorsey (HarperCollins/Morrow; HarperAudio) marks the return of Florida serial killer Serge Storms. He’s finagled his way into becoming a secret agent in Miami for the president of a Banana Republic, and now Homeland Security wants to bring him down. PW says, “though the books formula will be familiar to series fans, neither Dorseys fast-paced prose nor his delight in skewering human foolishness has lost its mischievous sparkle.”
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach (Random House Trade) is a comic drama about a group of British retirees in a home for the elderly in India. It’s being published in the U.S for the first time as a tie-in to the British film version - starring Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, Billy Nighy, and Dev Patel – which will be released here in May 2012. The original UK novel title was These Foolish Things.
Fallen in Love (Lauren Kate’s Fallen Series #4) by Lauren Kate (RH/Delacorte YR; Listening Library) includes four new stories collected in a new novel set in the Middle Ages.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain (Crown Publishing Group; Random House Audio) argues that introverts get a bum rap and extroverts should not be held up as the ideal – it even charges, as People says in its lead review this week, that “risk-loving extroverts in the financial industry helped cause the global crisis.” The author wrote the lead essay in the New York Times Sunday Review last week, which attracted many comments. She also appears at ALA Midwinter tomorrow.
Fairy Tale Interrupted by RoseMarie Terenzio (S&S/Gallery Books; Tantor Media) as we noted earlier, this memoir by John F. Kennedy Jr’s personal assistant, publicist, and one of his closest confidantes during the last five years of his life is already grabbing headlines. PW says, “Terenzios captivating story, told with style and grace, chronicles her time with Kennedy within the glorious but often brutal bubble that encircled his world, and what he taught her about living.”
City of Fortune: How Venice Ruled the Sea by Roger Crowley (Random House) traces the full arc of the Venetian imperial saga for the first time. It is framed around two of the great collisions of world history: the ill-fated Fourth Crusade in 1202 and the Ottoman-Venetian War of 1499–1503. Kirkus says, “an action-packed political and military history that will remind readers of the Italian sea power that prevailed for centuries before Western European nations arrived on the scene.”
The Lives of Margaret Fuller: A Biography by John Matteson (Norton) explores the life of writer and social critic Margaret Fuller (1810–1850), who was perhaps the most famous American woman of her generation, but also plagued by self-doubt. LJ says, “the work is well written, easily accessible, and entertaining. Prior knowledge of Fuller is not necessary to enjoy it. A great read for anyone interested in extraordinary women in our literary and women’s history.”
For a look at how the other half lived, there’s a reissue of Below Stairs by Margaret Powell. James Fellows, the creator of Downton Abbey blurbs the new edition, saying,
Margaret Powell was the first person outside my family to introduce me to that world, so near and yet seemingly so far away, where servants and their employers would live their vividly different lives under one roof. Her memories, funny and poignant, angry and charming, haunted me until, many years later, I made my own attempts to capture those people for the camera. I certainly owe her a great debt.
Next week, watch for Nancy Jensen‘s debut The Sisters, much anticipated fiction titles from Stephen King, Umberto Eco, and Christopher Paolini, and a book about the Osama Bin Laden raid which may be controversial.
The Sisters by Nancy Jensen (St. Martin’s Press; Blackstone Audio) is a debut novel about two girls separated by a tragic misunderstanding in 1920 Kentucky, affecting four generations of women. It’s had strong support on GalleyChat. Some libraries report it’s getting an unusually large number of holds for a midlist debut. It’s also the #1 Indie Next pick for Dec and was featured as one of the Hot Fall titles for book clubs at BEA.
11/22/63: A Novelby Stephen King (Scribner; S&S Audio; Thorndike Press) finds the horror master venturing in science fiction, with a Maine restaurant owner who asks the local high school English teacher to grant his dying wish, to enter a time portal to 1958 in his diner and go back in time to prevent the 1963 assassination of JFK. Janet Maslin gave it gave it a glowing review in Monday’s NYT. Unsurprisingly, it’s been in Amazon’s Top 100 for months.
The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Audio, Recorded Books) pivots on the creation of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the discredited document used by anti-Semites and conspiracy theorists as proof of a worldwide Jewish cabal, by a fictional main character, Simone Simonini – a spy, a forger, a murderer, and a misanthrope. Kirkus says, “Simonini keeps good and interesting company, hanging out with Sigmund Freud here, crossing paths with Dumas and Garibaldi and Captain Dreyfus there, and otherwise enjoying the freedom of the continent, as if unstoppable and inevitable. What does it all add up to? An indictment of the old Europe, for one thing, and a perplexing, multilayered, attention-holding mystery.” 200,000 copy first printing.
Inheritance (The Inheritance Cycle) by Christopher Paolini (Knopf; RH Audio; Books on Tape) finds the young Dragon Rider Eragon in a final confrontation with the evil king Galbatorix to free Alagaesia from his rule once and for all. It has been on Amazon’s top 5 for months.
SEAL Target Geronimo: The Inside Story of the Mission to Kill Osama Bin Ladenby Chuck Pfarrer (St. Martins Press; Macmillan Audio) is based on a series of interviews with SEAL Team Six [UPDATE: CNN reports that the SEALs deny speaking to Pfarrer] by a former commander of the group. The Hollywood Reporter, in a story about film and tv rights being shopped, says it disputes the Obama Administration’s official account of the Bin Laden raid. Catherine the Great by Robert K. Massie (Random House) is the biography of a minor German princess, Sophia of Anhalt-Zerbst, who became Empress Catherine II of Russia (1729-1796), by the Pulitzer-winning biographer of Nicholas and Alexandra and Peter the Great. PW calls it “a masterful, intimate, and tantalizing portrait of a majestic monarch.” It broke into the Amazon Top 100 earlier this week.
War Room: Bill Belichick and the Patriot Legacy by Michael Holley (It Books; HarperLuxe) is “a deeply reported, thoroughly engaging look at what it takes to succeed in the NFL–and a perfect complement to the NFL Network’s compelling miniseries Bill Belichick: A Football Life,” says Kirkus.
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.
Next week, look out for 80-year-old Pakistani debut novelist and international publishing discovery Jamil Ahmad, plus new novels from Jeffrey Eugenides and Allan Hollinghurst. In nonfiction, there are memoirs from Harry Belafonte and Ozzie Osbourne, and a fresh look at the Jonestown massacre.
The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides (Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Macmillan Audio; Thorndike Large Print). Visitors to Times Square may be startled by the unfamiliar phenomenon of a giant billboard featuring an author. Pictured is Jeffrey Eugenides, in full stride, a la the Marlboro Man. Anticipation is high for the release on Tuesday of his new book, The Marriage Plot (FSG), the first since his 2003 Pulitzer Prize-winning Middlesex. Even Business Week gives it an early look. Set during the 1980s recession, it follows three disillusioned college students caught in a love triangle. The Los Angeles Times compares it favorably to Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, calling it “sweeter, kinder, with a more generous heart. What’s more, it is layered with exactly the kinds of things that people who love novels will love.” Michiko Kakutani says in the NYT, “No one’s more adept at channeling teenage angst than Jeffrey Eugenides. Not even J. D. Salinger” and NPR interviewed the author on Wednesday. Holds are heavy in most libraries.
The Wandering Falcon by Jamil Ahmad (Riverhead; 10/13) is a series of fictional sketches about a family on the harsh border region between Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan that has become a literary sensation in Pakistan and has received positive coverage in the UK. The author is a Pakistani writer who is now 80 years old, and was engaged in welfare work in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas for decades. According to a Los Angeles Times interview, Penguin India picked up the book in 2008 after it was submitted for a contest, 37 years after London publishers had originally rejected it. U.S. trade reviews are mixed, with PW calling it a “gripping book, as important for illuminating the current state of this region as it is timeless in its beautiful imagery and rhythmic prose,” while Kirkus says it’s “fascinating material that’s badly in need of artistic shaping.”
Stranger’s Child by Alan Hollinghurst (Knopf; Random House Audio) is a social satire about the legacy of a talented and beautiful poet who perishes in WWI, in the vein of E.M. Forster and Evelyn Waugh - written by the 2004 Booker prize winner for the Line of Beauty. The Washington Post says it ”could hardly be better,” and PW calls it “a sweet tweaking of English literature’s foppish little cheeks by a distinctly 21st-century hand.”
The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks (Grand Central; Hachette Audio; Grand Central Large Print) explores the decades of fallout caused by a misguided high school romance.
Snuff (Discworld Series #39) by Terry Pratchett (HarperCollins) brings back fan favorite Sam Vimes, the cynical yet extraordinarily honorable Ankh-Morpork City Watch commander as he faces two weeks off in the country on his wife’s family’s estate. There are more than 65 million copies of the series out there.
Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; Mass Market; Trade Paper) is back in a movie tie-in edition, in advance of the film opening November 18. Beginning Nov. 1, theaters will feature “Twilight Tuesday” showings of the entire series, including new interviews with the cast and behind the scenes footage.
Trust Me, I’m Dr. Ozzy: Advice from Rock’s Ultimate Survivor by Ozzy Osbourne and Chris Ayres (Grand Central; Hachette Audio) is a humorous memoir mixed with dubious medical advice.
Westmoreland: The General Who Lost Vietnamby Lewis Sorley (Houghton Mifflin) argues that much of the fault for losing the Vietnam War lies with General William Westmoreland. Kirkus says, “The general’s defenders will have their hands full answering Sorley’s blistering indictment.”
A Thousand Lives: The Untold Story of Hope, Deception, and Survival at Jonestown by Julia Scheeres (Free Press) follows the experiences of five Peoples Temple members who went to the Jonestown farm in Guyana to sacrifice their lives to the vision of a zealous young preacher. Scheeres draws on thousands of recently declassified FBI documents and audiotapes, as well as rare videos and interviews. PW says, “Chilling and heart-wrenching, this is a brilliant testament to Jones’s victims.”
Paula Deen’s Southern Cooking Bible: The New Classic Guide to Delicious Dishes with More Than 300 Recipes by Paula Deen and Melissa Clark (Simon & Schuster) is a collection of Southern recipes. PW says it’s ”not quite as comprehensive as it could be, [but] certainly an honorable addition to the field.”
On NPR’s Fresh Air, Maureen Corrigan reviewed Stephen Greenblatt’s forthcoming book on the origins of the Renaissance, The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, (WW Norton, 9/26) calling it a “non-fiction wonder.”
As a result, the book rose to #19 on Amazon’s sales rankings.
One of the key elements of the book is the rediscovery, in 1417, of the Greek philosopher Lucretius’ On the Nature of Things. Corrigan predicts that its sales, “will spike as a result of Greenblatt’s book: his awe-struck discussions of the poem make it sound so weird and beautiful that most readers will want to give Lucretius a whirl themselves.”
Greenblatt’s publisher, Norton, foresaw this reaction; they have reissued On the Nature of Things to accompany Greenblatt’s book.
The book people are likely to be talking about next week, has already been in the headlines this week. Joe McGinniss’s The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin (Crown) arrives on Tuesday, along with another take Palin by her almost-son-in-law and metaphor-mixer, Levi Johnston, Deer in the Headlights: My Life in Sarah Palin’s Crosshairs(Touchstone/S&S). Check our earlier stories for more on both books.
Also competing for the headlines that day is Pulitzer Prize-winner Ron Suskind‘s examination of Obama and the financial crisis, Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President. The AP reported one of the book’s revelations yesterday, “Treasury Secretary Ignored Obama Directive.”
Below, more on it, and the other titles you’ll need to know next week.
Habibi by Craig Thompson (Pantheon) is a the author’s first graphic novel in seven years, a “lushly epic love story that’s both inspiring and heartbreaking,” according to PW, that recounts the story of a modern Arabic girl sold into marriage at age nine, who’s captured by slave traders and escapes with an abandoned toddler, who becomes her companion and eventually her great love. An interview with the author is featured in New York magazine’s fall preview. They note that the author’s 2003 graphic memoir, Blankets, “won its Portland, Oregon, author just about every cartooning award there is.”
Reamde by Neal Stephenson (William Morrow; Brilliance Audio) is a thriller in which a wealthy tech entrepreneur gets caught in the very real crossfire of his own online fantasy war game. If your’e worried about how to pronounce that title, listen to the approved, official pronunciation here. Booklist says, “not many writers can make a thousand-page book feel like it’s over before you know it, but Stephenson, author of Cryptonomicon (928 pages), Anathem (981), and the three-volume Baroque Cycle (about 900 each), is a master of character, story, and pacing.”
Lethal by Sandra Brown (Grand Central; Hachette Audio; AudioGo; Grand Central Large Print) revolves around a woman and her four year old daughter held hostage by an accused murderer who claims that he must retrieve something extremely valuable that her late cop husband possessed. LJ says, “Fast paced and full of surprises, this taut thriller, marking the author’s return to Grand Central, features a large cast of superbly drawn characters and the perfect amounts of realistic dialog and descriptive prose. Brown, who began her career writing romance novels, also adds palpable romantic tension to the proceedings. Public libraries should expect high demand.”
Son of Stone: A Stone Barrington Novel by Stuart Woods (Putnam; Penguin Audio; Thorndike Large Print) finds Stone Barrington back in New York, though his former love, Arrington Calder, has other plans for him, including introducing him to the child he fathered many years ago. Booklist says, “most of the book focuses on Stone setting [his son] up in an elite private school and [his son's] application to Yale, which doesn’t make for the most scintillating reading. The pace picks up toward the end, though, when Arrington’s menacing former suitor decides to exact revenge [on Stone and Arrington].”
You Have to Stop This (Secret Series #5) by Pseudonymous Bosch (Little Brown Books for Young Readers) is the final book in Bosch’s Secret Series. It revolves around the disappearance of a mummy from a local museum. Cass and her friends Max-Ernest and Yo-Yoji try to solve the case.
Everything on Itby Shel Silverstein (HarperCollins) is a posthumous collection of Silverstein’s previously unpublished poems and illustrations with a similar design to his beloved earlier books, and the same “whimsical humor, eccentric characters, childhood fantasies, and iconoclastic glee that his many fans adore,” according to PW.
Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a Presidentby Ron Suskind (HarperCollins; Audio, Dreamscape and on OverDrive; LT, HarperLuxe) is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author’s look at how the Obama administration has handled the financial crisis, based on hundreds of hours of interviews with administration officials.
Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medecine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard (Random House; RH Audio; BOT Audio) is a three-way biography of president James Garfield, who was shot onlyfour months after he took office in 1881, his assassin, Charles Guiteau, and inventor Alexander Graham Bell, whose made an unsuccessful deathbed attempt to locate the bullet lodged in the president’s body. Booklist’s starred review calls it “splendidly insightful” and says it stands ”securely at the crossroads” of popular and academic biography.
Death in the City of Light: The Serial Killer of Nazi-Occupied Paris by David King (Crown; BOT Audio) is the true story of a serial killer in WWII. PW says, “this fascinating, often painful account combines a police procedural with a vivid historical portrait of culture and law enforcement.” Kirkus calls it “expertly written and completely absorbing,” and Booklist‘s starred review says that unlike the many other stories that have been compared to Erik Larson’s Devil in the White City, this one finally has the critical and commercial potential to meet Larson’s standard.”
Columbus: The Four Voyages by Laurence Bergreen (Viking) recounts the explorer’s three other voyages, in addition to the famous 1492 trip across the Atlantic. Each was an attempt to demonstrate that he could sail to China within a matter of weeks and convert those he found there to Christianity. Kirkus, PW and Library Journal find fault with the author’s scholarly rigor and uneven writing, though PW and Booklist see potential for a general readership.
The Orchard: A Memoir by Theresa Weir (Grand Central; AudioGo) is the story of a city girl who adapts to life on an apple farm after she falls in love with the golden boy of a prominent local family whose lives and orchards seem to be cursed by environmental degradation through pesticide use, and toxic family relationships. Booklist says, “Best known for her acclaimed suspense novels written as Anne Frasier, Weir’s own story is as harrowing as they come, yet filled with an uncanny self-awareness that leads, ultimately, to redemption.”
Several favorites from Book Expo’s Editor’s Buzz Panel will be released next week with enviable media fanfare, including debuts from Chad Harbich and Justin Torres. Plus there’s Simon Toyne‘s debut thriller, which has been sold in 27 countries, and National Book Award winner Lily Tuck‘s new novel. Usual suspects include Jacqueline Mitchard, Christine Feehan and Clive Cussler. And Thomas Friedman tops our nonfiction list with his look at four unresolved problems holding back the U.S. from supremacy, along with WWII historian Ian Kershaw‘s latest and a new memoir from Lucette Lagnado.
Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach (Little, Brown; Hachette Large Print) is the tale of a high school shortstop destined for greatness, until he mysteriously starts to choke - a reversal that affects the fates of four others at his school. This title has been on nearly every Fall preview list, helped no doubt by a strong pitch at Book Expo’s Editor’s Buzz Panel. It was also a GalleyChat Pick of ALA - librarians who joined our post-show tweetfest said it’s “phenomenal” and ”not to be missed.” Entertainment Weekly gives it a B+, saying that although the characters feel “underdrawn,” Harbach has “a talent for atmosphere, drawing you into his portrait of campus angst.” It’s also a Oprah Book to Watch for in September, and a September Indie Next Pick.
Birds of Paradise by Diana Abu-Jaber (Norton; author’s backlist on OverDrive) is the story of a damaged family grappling with the implications of the teenage daughter’s decision to run away at age 13. This was another Book Expo Editors Buzz panel book that became a GalleyChat favorite – librarians said it may be Abu-Jaber’s breakout. It’s also a September Indie Next Pick. Early reviews are uniformly positive. PW says, ” Abu-Jaber’s effortless prose, fully fleshed characters, and a setting that reflects the adversity in her protagonists’ lives come together in a satisfying and timely story.”
Sanctusby SimonToyne(HarperCollins; Blackstone Audio Books; HarperLuxe) is the first in a projected trilogy of thrillers in the Dan Brown tradition, about an ancient sect of monks on a mountain near the fictional Turkish city of Ruin, who have been protecting a secret since before the Christian era. Kirkus says, “One hopes for a more tightly structured narrative next time around, but the right ingredients are all here.” The announced first printing is 100,000 copies.
Those Across the River by Christopher Buehlman (Ace; Blackstone Audio) is a debut horror novel about a college professor-turned-would be author who comes face to face with his past and a violent family secret at his family’s rural Southern estate. Library Journal‘s Barbara Hoffert was strong on this one in her BEA summary, and the LJ review calls it “a creepy, suspenseful, and well-crafted debut.”
I Married You for Happiness by Lily Tuck (Atlantic Monthly; author’s backlist on OverDrive) is a wife’s reflections on her 42 years of marriage to her mathematician husband, set on the night of his death. It’s Tuck’s first book since she won the National Book Award in 2004 for The News from Paraguay. Kirkus says, “Does the couple’s mutual happiness provide a Hegelian synthesis? Not quite, though Tuck’s crisp writing is a joy.”
Second Nature: A Love Storyby Jacquelyn Mitchard (Random House; Center Point Large Print; author’s backlist on OverDrive) explores the tumultuous life of a woman whose beauty is lost–then restored–after a fire.
Prey: A Novel by Linda Howard (Ballantine; Random House Audio; Thorndike; author’s backlist on OverDrive) follows rival Montana wilderness guides forced to cooperate against a killer on their trail.
Dark Predator by Christine Feehan (Berkley; Penguin Audiobooks; author’s backlist on OverDrive) continues the supernatural Carpathian series.
The Race: An Isaac Bell Adventure by Clive Cussler and Justin Scott (Penguin; Penguin Audiobooks; Thorndike; author’s backlist on OverDrive) is a mystery set in the early days of aviation featuring Bell, chief investigator for the Van Dorn Detective Agency.
Shelter: A Mickey Bolitar Novel by Harlan Coben (Putnam Juvenile; author’s backlist on OverDrive) takes place after Mickey witnesses his father’s death, his mom goes to rehab, and he’s forced to live with his estranged uncle Myron and switch high schools. This is Coben’s first YA novel.
That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come BackbyThomas L. Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum (Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Macmillan Audio; Thorndike Large Print) outlines the four major problems the U.S. is not grappling with: globalization, infotech shake-up, out-of-control energy consumption, and lasting deficits.
Living Beyond Your Feelings: Controlling Emotions So They Don’t Control You by Joyce Meyer (FaithWords; Hachette Audio; author’s backlist on OverDrive) is a Biblical take on managing emotions. PW says, “Meyer focuses on learning to think biblically, speak biblically, and then see lives and emotions transformed. Her many fans will not feel disappointed in her latest work.”
The End: The Defiance and Destruction of Hitler’s Germany, 1944-1945 by Ian Kershaw (Penguin Press; author’s backlist on OverDrive) is an examination of the last year of the Third Reich as it struggled to survive the dual challenge of defeating the Soviets coming from the East and the Allies advancing from the West, by one of the foremost experts on WWII, Hitler and Nazism. PW says, “Kershaw’s comprehensive research, measured prose, and commonsense insight combine in a mesmerizing explanation of how and why Nazi Germany chose self-annihilation.”
The Arrogant Years: One Girl’s Search for Her Lost Youth, from Cairo to Brooklyn by Lucette Lagnado (Ecco) is the author’s exploration of her mother’s upbringing in Cairo and her own in Brooklyn, New York. In a starred review, Booklist said, “Lagnado is spellbinding and profoundly elucidating in this vividly detailed and far-reaching family memoir of epic adversity and hard-won selfhood.” This one was also presented at the Editors Buzz Panel at ALA Annual New Orleans. A section about Lagnado’s mother working in the cataloging dept of Brooklyn P.L. is poignant. In the beginning, the work gives her a liberating new sense of self, but a new supervisor removes all the joy from the job.
No less a critic than the Washington Post‘s Jonathan Yardley calls Turn Right at Machu Picchu, (Dutton, June 30) an “entirely delightful book.” Author Mark Adams decided to celebrate the centenary of the “discovery” of Machu Picchu by following the trek himself, a challenge he was not fully prepared for.
At its best, this book can recall Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s classic A Midwife’s Tale, [Vintage, 1990] which pioneered the method of teasing out an expansive story from the record of “unremarkable” women’s daily lives. Individual scenes emerge with a lovely, almost pointillist clarity — like a Christmas party at the schoolhouse in the midst of a blizzard, with rustic dancing and gifts for the dazzled children sent by Dorothy’s and Ros’s families — while we never lose track of the larger forces at work, including the removal of the Indians and the brutal fights for mining and railroad riches.