Occasionally our interviewers give us a peek behind the scenes of their chats with authors. Here, contributor Alden Mudge talks about some of Pulitzer Prize winner Jane Smiley's more unusual writing habits, revelealed during their discussion of her latest book, Some Luck.
"Just a minute," Garth Stein says when he answers the phone at his Seattle home. "The kids are kicking soccer balls at me—I've got to get out of the line of fire." It’s understandable that his three boys—ages 17, 15 and 7—are craving their dad’s attention. With an international phenomenon already under his belt (2008’s The Art of Racing in the Rain, which has sold 4 million copies) and a new book about to hit shelves, Stein is frequently on the road these days. He has just returned from a trip to West Virginia, where he did a reading at the famously elegant Greenbrier.
A chance discovery of an old biography at The Strand inspired journalist Alix Christie's debut novel, Gutenberg's Apprentice, which tells the story of the invention of moveable type and the printing of the Gutenberg Bible. In this essay, Christie explains how her lifelong love of letterpress printing left her uniquely suited to fictionalize this remarkable true story.
Feminist, columnist, activist, humorist, memoirist—Caitlin Moran is a woman of many descriptors. She can now add "novelist" to that list: How to Build a Girl goes on sale this week. Something of a roman à clef, this hilarious, poignant and no-holds-barred coming-of-age tale stars a girl from a council estate in the Midlands who, like Moran herself, became a rock critic at a young age. We asked Moran a few questions about her fiction debut.
In Mary Jo Putney's latest historical romance, Not Quite a Wife, two estranged lovers are brought back together after a 10-year separation—except the pair are already husband and wife. Spymaster James Kirkland's dark and violent career prompted a young and innocent Laurel to head for the hills, but a fateful meeting may be enough to rekindle their passion for one another. We chatted with Putney about her love of music, historical romance and more in a 7 questions interview.
Are you a sucker for a story that begins with “once upon a time”? This fall, two accomplished short-story writers are lending a kind of dark beauty to the season with their enthralling collections of modernized fairy tales.
Fans of Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad novels have undoubtedly been eager to discover the protagonist of her fifth book, The Secret Place. The wait is over, and this time Detective Stephen Moran takes the spotlight in this clever, fast-paced mystery set at an all-girls Irish boarding school.
Broadcast journalist and foreign correspondent Atia Abawi has spent years on the front lines of war and historical events, covering stories for outlets such as CNN and NBC. During her five-year residency in Afghanistan, Abawi became attuned to the stories of the people, their cultural traditions and the deeply rooted tensions and resulting violence that has plagued the country for so long. Her experiences inspired her first novel, The Secret Sky, which follows the budding romance of two teens from two very different tribes, who must struggle against opposition from both their families and the Taliban in order to forge a life together.
For teens looking to make a difference in the world, Laurie Ann Thompson's Be a Changemaker is an invaluable resource—not just for creating an action plan, but also for mustering up the confidence to take a risk and start something new. "You have the power—now more than ever—to be the change that you seek," Thompson writes.
It's no surprise that Thompson spent her teenage years in search of her own way to make a difference in the world.
In Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel envisions the world after a major flu pandemic has wiped out most of the population, though the themes in the book feel more timeless than typical for the post-apocalyptic genre. (What makes a fulfilling life? Is art worth saving when there’s so little left on earth?) We caught up with St. John Mandel about her suspenseful and intelligent new book.
The world of comics and graphic novels may hold stigma as a male-centric genre, but these four new books explore the pains of growing up, moving on and embracing the messy parts of life—all from the female point of view.
Thrilling tales filled with espionage and sleuthing make for great listening this month.
This month's best new cookbooks feature fast and easy recipes for Indian dishes, a seriously inventive take on the classics and a guide to artisinal bread-baking.
This month's best new romances feature an estrangled couple seeking a reunion, a rip-roarin' paranormal adventure and a contemporary story with a Gothic-inspired hero.
Three novels exploring the complexity and resilience of the human spirit make great picks for reading groups this month.
September is a big month for mysteries this year, both in terms of excellence and page count (close to 2,000 pages in the four books here—truly a reviewer’s marathon!). If ever there were a month deserving of four Top Picks, this is it.