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What’s on Michael’s Mind?
August 31, 2011

Thanks to all the librarians who stopped by the Workman Publishing booths in New Orleans and at BEA over the Summer. Great to see everyone!

It was almost two years ago that I was having lunch with Hillary Jordan, and heard that she had almost finished the first draft of her new book:

Hillary Jordan
Hardback , 352 pages
(also available in
Electronic book text and
ISBN: 9781565126299
Published by Algonquin

Pub Date Oct. 4, 2011

Hillary leaned across the table and said, with a bit of concern in her voice, “It’s NOTHING like MUDBOUND.”

Well, yes and no! It is different in setting and time, but one can see a logical progression that would have brought her from the themes of MUDBOUND to those of WHEN SHE WOKE.

Also, both books share a very cinematic style of writing. In fact, it’s more pronounced in WHEN SHE WOKE, an even more visceral book.

Imagine, if you will, a theocratic near-future America, where criminals are “chromed”, their skin chemically changed to bright colors that tell all the world the nature of their crimes. Then, they are sent out to face hatred, abuse, and violence from a dogmatic and unforgiving population.

From the moment we first set out galleys at BEA, the advance reads have been fabulous… witness the quotes in the ad on which you just clicked!

It has even been cited as a likely read for high schoolers, as was MUDBOUND (a 2009 ALA/YALSA ALEX award winner) before it.

Sitting on my desk, are the last few galleys.
If you are interested, e-mail me at mrockliff@workman.com
First come, first served!

MUDBOUND, as you may recall, was also the first Bellwether Prize for Fiction winner.  Well, this year’s winner is:

by Naomi Benaron
Hardback , 384 pages
(also available in
Electronic book text
and CD-Audio)
ISBN: 9781616200428
Published by Algonquin

Pub Date Jan 12, 2012

This is story of a young Rwandan runner who seems destined to be his country’s first Olympic gold medalist, when his life (and those about him) is upended by the genocide.

I must admit to having started this manuscript with a bit of trepidation. I wasn’t certain that I wanted to immerse myself in that place and that time. The author handles things so deftly, though, that the worst violence happens off-stage. You hear it reported on the radio, or it’s retold by someone, after the fact. It doesn’t slap you in the face, every time you turn a page.

That said, by the time the genocide begins, you are so vested in these characters that you would walk through fire, to find out what happens to them!

Interested? We still have a small number
of galleys available.  Please e-mail me at mrockliff@workman.com
First come, first served!

Currently, I’m deeply into reading the manuscripts for next year’s list, notably a new novel from Robert Goolrick, the author of the 2009 NYT Best Seller:

By Robert Goolrick
Paperback , 320 pages
(also available in Hardback
and Electronic book text)
ISBN: 9781565129771
Published by Algonquin

The new novel begins when stranger arrives in a Shenandoah Valley small town, shortly after WW2. It feels very authentic, and has me captivated. The tone is somewhat languid.  At times, it’s a little like Erskine Caldwell, without the bawdiness while at others, it echoes Agee’s A DEATH IN THE FAMILY.

Mostly, though, it is itself… a very good thing, indeed!

If you’d like to be kept up with this, and other new titles,
as I read along, give a try to my monthly e-letter. Just e-mail me, and let me know that you’d like to try it on for size.


Michael Rockliff
Director, Library Sales and Marketing
Workman Publishing Company
225 Varick Street
New York, NY 10014-4381