Handicapping the Books of BEA

Book Expo offers opportunities to hear from favorite authors such as Barbara Kingsolver, Junot Diaz, Michael Chabon and the chance to get a peek at the sure-fire best sellers of the fall (J.K. Rowling’s title for adults, Casual Vacancy, is one of the leaders in that category, but is still under wraps). But the real fun is trying to divine which titles will be the next The Art of Fielding or The Night Circus or Rules of Civility.

New York magazine’s “Vulture” blog gives its pick of the Ten Hottest Book Prospects, Shelf Awareness rounded up bookseller picks in fiction and nonfiction in advance of the show, Publishers Weekly did so after, and seven librarians picked their favorites (nearly 90 titles; even with a few brief minutes, librarians can really pack in the titles) at the fourth annual “Shout ‘n’ Share” panel (titles listed here, with information on which are available as egalleys, so you can play along at home).

Of the many titles mentioned in the above, a few echo some previous BEA hits:


(title passionately promoted at the Editors Buzz panel)

The Yellow Birds, by Kevin Powers, Hachette/Little, Brown, September 11 — eGalley from NetGalley

Last year, Hachette/Little, Brown’s publisher, Michael Pietsch talked up The Art of Fielding, described by some as an unlikely combination of J.D. Salinger and baseball. This year, he was equally passionate about The Yellow Birds, a novel about the Iraq war by one of its veterans.

Runners Up:

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness, Susannah Cahalan, S&S/Free Press, 11/13/12

There was also strong reaction to S&S/Free Press editor Millicent Bennett’s presentation of New York Post writer Callahan’s book that recounts her struggle to find out what was causing her  convulsions and to deal with doctors’ prognosis that she would have to be institutionalized.

In the Shadow of the Banyan, Vaddey Ratner, S&S, 7/31/12  — eGalley from NetGalley 

A novel based on debut author Ratner’s own experience  coming of age of during the Cambodian genocide in the 1970s. It also connected with librarians on GalleyChat.


(author whose personal story wins over the crowd)

The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, Workman/Algonquin, 8/28/12 —  eGalley from NetGalley

Back when BEA was ABA, the Book and Author programs mixed big name authors with emerging authors, who often became the buzz of the show. That magic happened for that Conroy and his first novel, The Prince of Tides. Now that BEA’s main author events focus on headliners (some of them only tangentially authors, like Kirstie Alley and Stephen Colbert), discoveries come from other events. This year, when Jonathan Evison described the background to his second novel, The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, at the AAP/EarlyWord Author Lunch, it was clear his emotions are still raw. Like Conroy’s novel, it is based on the author’s own family and the loss of his sister. The audience came away from the session a bit shaken, but talking about the book, which was chosen by several of the Shout ‘n’ Share panelists.


(debut by an impossibly young writer)

The People of Forever Are Not Afraid, by Shani Boianjiu (RH/Hogarth, September 11) —  eGalley from NetGalley

Tea Obreht, at 25, was the youngest writer in the New Yorker ‘s picks of  best 20 writers under 40. Her book Tiger’s Wife went on to gather multiple awards and land on best seller lists. Sounding eerily familiar, Boianjiu  was the youngest writer ever chosen for the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35” program. At the Editor’s buzz Panel, S&S editor Alexis Washam described the book, about three girls in the Israeli army as  “The Things They Carried meets Mean Girls.


(Musician’s autobiography)

Waging Heavy Peace, Neal Young, Penguin/Blue Rider, 10/2/12

Patti Smith anointed Neil Young as her successor when she interviewed him about his memoir  (read an account of  their conversation on the New Yorker‘s book blog).


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