New Title Radar: Watch List, Week of Feb. 11

So many titles are arriving next week, that we are publishing the Watch List separately. We will post the rest of New Title Radar later in the day.

Watch List

The DinnerThe Dinner, Herman Koch, (RH/Hogarth; AudioGo; Thorndike Large Print)

The Wall Street Journal heralds this as the next big thing with the headline “A European Gone Girl.” They’re not the only fans. Librarians have been enthusiastic about it on our GalleyChat, it’s on the February IndieNext list and the Huffington Post picked it as a Best of 2013; ” This barbed tale of two families is entirely set over one evening in an expensive restaurant. A smash hit overseas, Gillian Flynn called it ‘chilling, nasty, smart, shocking and unputdownable,’ and she ought to know. We enjoyed it a lot.”

ARC readers say the comparison to Gillian Flynn works in a some ways; both stories are told by unreliable narrators, dirty scerets are revealed and it’s “terrific page-turner.” The subject is quite different, however, and has more in common with Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk about Kevin or William Landay’s Defending Jacob.

New York Times reviewer Janet Maslin is the one holdout, saying the story is “executed with a joylessly heavy hand.”

978-0-307-95996-6Ghostman, Roger Hobbs, (RH/Knopf; RH Audio; BOT; Thorndike Large Print)

This debut from 24-year-old Hobbs arrives with much prepub attention and a movie deal. It is an IndieNext pick for February, a Costco Buyers Pick for Feb, a PW “Most Anticipated for Spring” title in the Crime/Mystery/Thriller, as well as an Oprah Must-Read; “In this stylishly gritty and fast-paced thriller, a career criminal is summoned from his off-the-grid hiding place to assist in an Atlantic City casino robbery that goes awry.” Check your holds; the libraries we checked already showed growing queues. UPDATE: Michiko Kakutani reviews it in Monday’s New York Times, calling it “smoking fast.”

The House GirlThe House Girl, Tara Conklin, (HarperCollins/Morrow; Thorndike Large Print)

This debut is the #1 IndieNext pick for February. Former lawyer Conklin’s protagonist is also a lawyer, working on a class-action suit that involves slavery reparations. In her research, she discovers the story of a slave who may be the real artist behind the paintings attributed her white owner. The novel unfolds in alternating narrations that reveals hidden similarities in lives separated by time and class.

Calling Me HomeCalling Me Home, Julie Kibler, (Macmillan/St. Martin’s; Thorndike Large Print)

Another debut novel that contrasts the lives of two women; one balck and one white. In this case, the setup is a long car journey during which the two women open up about their lives. Prepub reviews say, “Kibler’s unsentimental eye makes the problems faced unflinchingly by these women ring true” (Kirkus) and “Kibler relays a familiar story in a fresh way” (PW).

We Live in WaterWe Live in Water: Stories, Jess Walter, (Harper Perennial Original Trade Paperback)

Following quickly on Walter’s comtinuing word-of-mouth success, Beautiful Ruins (Harper, June, 2012), comes the author’s first collection of short stories. Kirkus says it proves that Walter is “as skilled at satire and class commentary in the short form as in his novels.” PW puts it simply, “if you like to read, you’ll like this book.”

The audio of Beautiful Ruins (HarperAudio) has had an unprecedented level of sales in relation to the print. Salon’s Laura Miller named it the best audiobook narration of 2012AudioFile says, “As the sole voice for a veritable smorgasbord of characters, time periods and plotlines, Edoardo Ballerini works magic with this audio production.” The author is also a fan; listen here as he talks about the book’s genesis and describes why he loves Ballerini’s narration.

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