APE HOUSE Leader of the Week’s Fiction Pack

The big fiction title of the week is Sara Gruen’s Ape House (Spiegel & Grau). Gruen faces heavy anticipation after the runaway success of her 2006 title, Water for Elephants. The new book is about a group of researchers studying communication with bonobo apes through sign language. Consumer reviews have compared the book unfavorably to the previous title, echoing PW and Kirkus.

The NYT,  “…the novel address[es] a vast sweep of subjects: the potential for and implications of interspecies communication; the varieties and uses of sexual contact, both among humans and among the other primates; family dynamics and dysfunction; the abduction and enslavement of animals for scientific research; the crass obtuseness of pop culture; the very notion of what constitutes humanity and the humane.”

The LA Times;  “Animal lovers, particularly, will find much to like in Gruen’s depictions of the apes and the research into their language skills. And we do learn a lot about bonobos. But the book’s failure is in not concocting an engaging story through which to preach the beauty of the bonobos and the darker aspects of animal experimentation. The message is the book’s reason to be, she seems to tell us. But a novel requires more attention be paid to the art.”

Minneapolis Star TribuneIntriguing tale of saving apes is short on passion

Lurking in the reviews are indicators that the book may become a hit with readers; the NYT says it’s “fun,” the L.A. Times calls it “charming.” Booklist, alone among the prepub reviews to give it a positive review, starred it and called it “wildly entertaining.”

And, in the Barnes & Noble Review, critic Jane Ciabattari calls the book flat-out “captivating.”

In a video, Gruen talks about her sources of inspiration.

Water for Elephants, the movie, starring Reese Witherspoon and Twilight heartthrob Robert Pattinson is scheduled to release next April.

Several libraries have received Ape House; holds are averaging 2:1 on moderate orders (2 copies each per large branch).

Ape House: A Novel
Sara Gruen
Retail Price: $26.00
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau – (2010-09-07)
ISBN / EAN: 0385523211 / 9780385523219

LT; Random House; Pbk;  9780739328040; $26
RH Audio; UNABR; 9780739368541; $40

Other Notable Fiction On Sale Next Week

Sure Bets

Getting to Happy by Terry McMillan (Viking) the four women  from Waiting to Exhale are back. Essence, which ran excerpts beginning in May and concluding this month, declares “McMillan has lost none of her edge, humor or ability to capture our stories.”

The Widower’s Tale by Julia Glass (Pantheon) — Who can resist the subject?  A newly retired librarian experiences unexpected life changes.

Zero History by William Gibson (Putnam) — on the Amazon Top 100 for the past three days, now at #57 and rising, the author of Neuromancer; “returns to his familiar concerns with hacker culture, surveillance, paranoia, and viral marketing, with occasional digressions into the semiotics of fashion and celebrity and references to cosplay, base jumping, and the Festo AirPenguin (look it up)” Booklist.

The Thorn, by Beverly Lewis (Bethany House) —  the launch of a new series, The Rose Trilogy from the queen of the Amish romance genre.

Watch List

Russian Winter, by Daphne Kalotay, (Harper).  An aging ballerina recalls her complicated past while putting together her jewelry for an auction.  A hit at the ALA First Author program, the galley of Kalotay’s book has picked up librarian fans and strong prepub reviews. It’s a favorite of Kayleigh George, HarperCollins Library Marketing Associate; hear her speak about it here.

The Mullah’s Storm by Thomas Young (Putnam) is a debut novel about male and female co-pilots downed with a high-value prisoner in Taliban territory in winter that’s had strong prepub reviews. PW says that Young “draws on his own war experiences for verisimilitude, which, along with believable characters and an exciting plot, makes this one of the better thrillers to come out of the Afghan theater.”

A Curable Romantic by Joseph Skibell (Algonquin) is “an irresistible romp about a lovelorn 19th-century doctor who falls in with Sigmund Freud—and some dangerously attractive women,” says the  Oprah Magazine, which features it as one of 10 books to pick up in September, along with a reading guide.

Comments are closed.