This morning has revealed the cover for John Grisham's upcoming novel, Sycamore Row. The long-awaited sequel to Grisham's first novel, A Time to Kill, will be available October 22. In our XTRA newsletter reader poll, Sycamore Row was voted the #1 most anticipated book of the fall—quite a feat, given this great group of upcoming releases.
May is here, bringing lots of exciting new books and a new issue of BookPage. Since we're a recommendation guide, every book that appears in BookPage is worth your attention—but if you want a quick and easy way to find to the best of the best, don't miss our Top 10 newsletter. It gives you an overview of our editors' favorites from each issue. Wondering what books we chose for May? Check out this excerpt from the newsletter:
A CONSTELLATION OF VITAL PHENOMENA
By Anthony Marra
Marra's first novel is already earning him comparisons to Tolstoy, Jonathan Safran Foer and Abraham Verghese, among others. This searing story of a hunted child and the doctor who tries to save her is set in the Russian republic of Chechnya, where war has raged for more than a decade. In the middle of the night, 8-year-old Havaa watches as her father is taken away by Russian soldiers, forcing her to flee into the snowy forest. A neighbor finds her and seeks refuge at a bombed-out hospital, where one brilliant young surgeon remains. With its war-torn international setting, intense plot and expertly connected characters, this is likely to be one of the most talked-about debuts of the season.
By David Sedaris
If you're already a Sedaris fan, you won't need much prodding to put his latest book on your to-be-read list. And if you haven't yet discovered Sedaris' unique and twisted humor, you have a lot of catching up to do. In his seventh collection, the frequent traveler and keen observer captures the absurdity of everything from French dentistry to Hawaiian sea turtles. As always, though, Sedaris' funniest reflections center on his own family, from his father, who sat down to dinner in business casual, minus his pants, to his sister Gretchen, who carried an insect-killing jar wherever she went. And then there's Sedaris himself: neurotic, incisive and perpetually annoyed—just the way we like him.
You'll find the full list here.
Sign up for Top 10 now, and look for the next issue in the first week of June!
Is the book over?
People in the publishing business are going crazy trying to navigate a changing world. It’s “impossible” to get fiction published. All the bookstores are going out of business. The book, along with magazines and newspapers, is headed for the pulp mill of history.
Lately we’ve been hearing these comments about books and publishing, often from people who work in the business (publishing, that is—we don’t know anyone in the pulp mill business): editors, publicists, and of course, authors. We also hear from readers, but often in the form of a question: “Are books going to be with us much longer?” And yet every one expresses deep affection for books and reading.
Given all this doubt, does it even make sense to want to write books anymore? Is it time to move on from the old print medium, and even the old text medium, print or digital, into the new online world of hypertext, video, virtual reality, and other media we haven’t even imagined?
The second part of that question is easy: of course we should move into the new world. That is what we human beings do. We love an adventure, and nothing is going to stop us, except for the occasional blackout.
As for the first part—does it make sense to write books, whether print or electronic, anymore—to us, lovers of reading and writing, the answer is unequivocal. It is not a matter of whether, but how we can get our words down on, uh, paper, and out into the world, and maybe make some money doing it.
Why? Because we love the written word. We love to express ourselves through this means, and we love to read other people’s work. Books have left such a deep imprint on our lives that we cannot remember a moment when they were not a part of us. We love stories, and we love learning about the world through the vivid and personal voice of an author—whether anonymous, contemporary, ancient, or as immediate as the evening news.
We have no objection to the other media that have been created, and we worry about the health of bookstores and the publishing industry, because these have brought us many beloved books. We work in the business and we support it. But stores and publishing houses will comes and go, as will authors. What will live on is the written word. The written word is an essential component of civilization, and we’re betting on civilization sticking around.
The Author Enablers are Kathi Kamen Goldmark and Sam Barry—authors, publishing pros and founders of the Rock Bottom Remainders. They write a monthly column about writing and publishing for BookPage. Got questions? Email them.
Fans of the hit show “Glee” know actress Jane Lynch as the cranky, conniving cheerleading head coach Sue Sylvester. In September, we’re going to get a peek behind the iconic tracksuit when Hyperion’s Voice imprint publishes Lynch’s memoir, Happy Accidents.
According the New York Times, "the book will recount her comedy career at the Second City improv theater and her work in films like Best in Show and The 40-Year-Old Virgin while addressing how she learned to her embrace her homosexuality and overcame alcoholism, and perhaps show how intertwined she and her 'Glee' persona are.”
Lynch is one of the funniest women on television today, so we can’t wait to hear what she has to say in Happy Accidents.
Are you a fan of "Glee" and Jane Lynch? Will you be on the look out for Happy Accidents?
Working at BookPage has a lot of perks, but one of the best, in my opinion, is getting to look at and read great new books before they're even in the stores. This fall will see the publication of plenty of nonfiction sure-to-be-bestsellers. Here are some of the season's highlights:
Laura Hillenbrand, author of the blockbuster hit Seabiscuit, returns on November 16 with a story of adventure and survival during World War II. Unbroken follows young bombardier Louis Zamperini through his incredible ordeal after his plane crashed into the Pacific Ocean. Hillenbrand's long-awaited follow-up to Seabiscuit will not disappoint her legions of fans.
Several excellent new biographies will hit shelves this fall, including Ron Chernow's Washington: A Life (Oct. 5); Jane Leavy's The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America's Childhood (Oct. 12); Michael Korda's Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia (Nov. 16); and the Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 1, which goes on sale Nov. 15. Twain left instructions that his memoirs should remain unpublished for 100 years after his death, so that he could feel free to speak his mind frankly. Who knows what revelations those pages might contain?
In other nonfiction news, Bill Bryson is back this season with At Home: A Short History of Private Life (Oct. 5), in which Bryson narrows his focus from A Short History of Nearly Everything to the confines of his own house, while Simon Winchester's Atlantic (Nov. 2) calls itself a "biography" of the Atlantic Ocean, weaving in both historical facts and personal details from Winchester's own experiences at sea. And on Oct. 26, Oliver Sacks (Musicophilia) treads new ground with The Mind's Eye, a collection of essays on the interplay between vision and recognition, reading and communication, and other brainteasers, including Sacks' reflections on his own experience with eye cancer.
And finally, for those looking for a lighter read, Nora Ephron once more taps into the thoughts and concerns of "women of a certain age" with I Remember Nothing (Nov. 9), a follow-up to the major bestseller I Feel Bad About My Neck, while Vicki Myron returns to the subject of her beloved "small-town library cat" with Dewey's Nine Lives (Oct. 12), a collection of stories about and inspired by Dewey.
With so many excellent books to choose from, which one will you read first?
While many of us think of the summer months as prime reading season, publishers tend to save plenty of their sure-to-be fiction hits for fall. And this year’s crop of late 2010 novels is certainly no different.
Our September issue has already gone to press, and we are particularly excited about our interviews with Jonathan Franzen and Emma Donoghue. Franzen’s Freedom and Donoghue’s Room are two of the most talked-about upcoming releases, and we can’t wait to see what readers make of them once they go on sale in the coming weeks (for Freedom, that’s August 31 and Room, September 13).
September also marks the release of Sara Gruen’s follow-up to the smash hit Water for Elephants, Ape House, (Sept. 7), Ken Follett’s first part in a new trilogy, Fall of Giants (Sept. 28), another love story from Nicholas Sparks, Safe Haven (Sept. 14) and Michael Cunningham’s first novel since Specimen Days, By Nightfall (Sept. 28).
But things don’t slow down in October. Nicole Krauss is back (after The History of Love) with Great House on Oct. 12 (be sure to check out our interview with Krauss in the October issue of BookPage) and John le Carré returns with Our Kind of Traitor (also on sale Oct. 12).
In November, we’re excited about a new—and very dark—story collection from Stephen King, Full Dark, No Stars (on sale Nov. 9) and Dennis Lehane’s follow up to Gone, Baby, Gone, Moonlight Mile (on sale Nov. 2).
If courtroom dramas and thrillers are your cup of tea, you are certainly in luck this fall. Vince Flynn, John Grisham, Lee Child, David Baldacci, Patricia Cornwell, James Patterson, Tom Clancy and Steve Berry all have new releases in the coming months.
So as the kids go back to school and the leaves change from green to red, be sure to pick up one of these new novels. You won’t be disappointed!
If you’re an avid Glee fan like me, last night’s season finale was more bitter than sweet. Sure, the kids from New Directions sang their hearts out at regionals, several romantic entanglements got even more complicated and Quinn finally had her baby girl. But with our favorite show on hiatus, what’s a Gleek to do? Well, it turns out you don’t have to watch endless reruns of season one or listen to the cast recordings over and over on your iPod . . . because Glee is hitting bookstores this fall!
Glee: The Beginning: An Original Novel by Sophia Lowell goes on sale September 1 from Poppy, a young adult publishing division of Hachette. And while this first book is a prequel to the TV show, multiple book projects are in the works—and all are authorized by Twentieth Century Fox. Now that’s music to our ears.
Are you a fan of Glee? Will you read the books?
Just a few weeks ago, Random House announced that the Bantam Dell imprint would be merging with Ballantine to form Ballantine Bantam Dell (or BBD), under the leadership of senior vice president and publisher, Libby McGuire. And just yesterday, BBD announced their first major acquisition—a debut novel by Vanessa Diffenbaugh titled The Language of Flowers.
According to BBD, “the novel tells the story of a woman whose gift for flowers helps her change the lives of others even as she struggles to come to terms with her own troubled past as a foster child. When she falls in love with a young farmer at the flower market, she must confront a memory that has haunted her for years, and decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.” BBD won North American rights in a “heated auction with eight bidders” and translation deals have already closed in Holland, Spain and Italy, with other international auctions underway.
BookPage traded emails with editor Jennifer Smith, who acquired the novel, and is clearly thrilled to have The Language of Flowers on the BBD list. Smith says, “We all fell in love with this novel immediately. There was such an outpouring of enthusiasm in-house, and nobody could put it down. It’s definitely a special book, and one that we think will really resonate with readers. We’re so excited to be publishing it.”
Author Vanessa Diffenbaugh was “inspired by her own experience as a foster mother. To write the novel, she researched the original Victorian language of flowers—used by lovers to communicate—in which every flower corresponds to a specific meaning.” The novel is set to publish in August 2011, and we can’t wait to hear more about it.
Are you excited about The Language of Flowers?
Fans of The Office—and funny women everywhere—rejoice! Writer/producer/blogger/twitterer Mindy Kaling (who plays the hilarious Kelly Kapoor on the workplace sitcom) has just inked a book deal with Random House’s Crown imprint.
The Contents of My Purse, slated for a fall 2011 release, will be “a collection of comic essays detailing moments from a woman’s life, including everything from relationships to fashion.”
Or, as Kaling tweeted: “My book will be essays and personal anecdotes, pictures, fashion, and general opinionated bossiness about how women should live. Twitter has an 140 character limit, but I hear books can have something like 500,000 characters!”
While she is best known for playing the outrageous, unstable Kapoor on The Office, Kaling is also co-executive producer of the show and has written 18 episodes over the course of its six seasons (the most recent of which was last night’s hilarious, ridiculous “Secretary’s Day.”)
If that didn’t keep her busy enough, Kaling has signed a deal to write and star in a new NBC comedy, and is in the process of writing her first feature-length film, The Low Self-Esteem of Lizzie Gillespie. Not too shabby for a woman on the cusp of her 31st birthday.
Are you a fan of Mindy Kaling? Will you buy her book?
When the 2010 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction finalists were announced yesterday, the names were recognizable—even predictable: Barbara Kingsolver, Lorrie Moore, Colson Whitehead and Sherman Alexie. But the fifth finalist, Lorraine M. López, nominated for Homicide Survivors Picnic and Other Stories, stood out from the crowd.
While I didn’t recognize the title of the story collection, I thought I recognized the name: I had an English professor named Lorraine López as an undergraduate at Vanderbilt.
Turns out Professor López is not only an incredible teacher (her Latino literature class remains one of my favorites) but a greatly talented writer. I love this description of Homicide Survivors Picnic and Other Stories, from fellow writer and critic Heather Sellers: “An amazingly original Flannery O’Connor/Loretta Lynn collision, this collection lets us witness the indomitable spirit and forces us to take pure joy in all we really ever have a chance at: flawed, gorgeous, weird, rollicking, screwed survival.”
Published in November 2009 by BkMk Press (at the University of Missouri, Kansas City), Homicide Survivors Picnic and Other Stories is sure to get a lot of attention in the coming weeks—and we couldn’t be happier for its gracious and gifted author.
Lorraine M. López was kind enough to humor a former student—and took time out of her busy teaching/writing schedule to talk with BookPage today.
When did you find out you were named a finalist for the 2010 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction? What was your initial reaction?
My editor at the Press, Ben Furnish sent me an email saying he’d been contacted by the PEN/Faulkner Prize administrators who wanted my contact information, and soon afterward, I had an email telling me to call the director of the Prize. I called right away and she congratulated me for being a finalist for the award. I’m a low-key person, so I’d make a terrible game show contestant. I don’t whoop and holler. I think I said, “Wow,” but quietly. I don’t think I was able to take it in fully for the first 24 hours or so. I’m still processing the news, which is unbelievably wonderful, the kind of thing I wouldn’t even dare to dream. And when I saw the list of the other finalists, I went into super-fan mode, and I grew excited all over again with the anticipation of meeting these writers and hearing them read at the ceremony in May.
Were you aware that your publisher had submitted your stories for award consideration?
The remarkable Ben Furnish sent me a list of the competitions in which he’d entered the book months ago, so I suppose I had some awareness of this then. But many things happened between that time and now, and I didn't have this on the tip of my consciousness when I heard the news, adding to my sense of surprise.
What are you most looking forward to about the awards ceremony at the Folger Shakespeare Library on May 8th?
I am looking forward to the reading. I cannot wait to hear Sherman Alexie, Barbara Kingsolver, Lorrie Moore and Colson Whitehead read their work. I have only heard Colson, whom I met through Kevin Young, read, and he is great. I know this will be a reading I will never forget.
What are you working on now?
Now, I’m working on surviving the semester, but I just turned in two manuscripts for publication in 2011. Realm of the Hungry Spirits, a novel, is due out from Hachette/Grand Central in spring of 2011 and a collection of essays titled The Other Latin@ that I coedited with Blas Falconer will be forthcoming from University of Arizona Press in fall of 2011. Next academic year I am on leave and have plans to work on another young adult novel, working title The Vidalia Onion Queen and a collection of linked stories with this working title: La Cariña. This phrase means “The Darling,” and it is an homage to Chekhov’s unforgettable story about a woman who absorbs identity from the various men she marries. While I enjoy writing novels, the short story is my true love and I can’t wait to get begin composing the pieces for this next collection.
For more on the 2010 PEN/Faulkner Prize finalists, click here. And keep your fingers crossed for Lorraine M. López!