The best-selling author of Water for Elephants has just sold three more books to her publisher, Spiegel & Grau. First up is another historical novel, tentatively titled Dear Henry, which is set on Black Tuesday—aka October 24, 1929, the day the U.S. stock market began to plummet. The characters receive the news while aboard the Orient Express, which offers another intriguing setting for Gruen to explore. The publisher describes this as "a novel of love and intrigue."
No publication date has been announced, but watch this space for updates!
Teddy Wayne published another piece for The New York Times earlier this week, and even as I was shaking my head (and laughing) over poor Kanye's Persian rug lament, I found myself wishing he would announce a third novel.
Then I saw this tagline at the bottom of the piece:
Some Internet sleuthing revealed that, more specifically, Wayne's publisher Simon & Schuster has scheduled Loner for release on September 6, 2016. The title refers to the main character, David Federman, a high school outcast who hopes that he'll find his tribe at Harvard. Instead, he becomes obsessed with a smart, popular and beautiful female classmate, and his pursuit of her takes over his life and school career. S&S promises that the book "turns the traditional campus novel on its head"—well, he's already put a twist on the traditional coming-of-age and immigrant stories, so why not?
Off to make a few more literary wishes before my luck runs out. Anyone else excited about this one?
Author photo by Kate Greathead.
Attention, lovers of fantastical fiction: These two recent announcements just might make your day. Deborah Harkness, author of the best-selling All Souls trilogy, has just sold another book set in the same world to Viking. The Serpent's Mirror, the first in a new series, will explore historical riddles surrounding the ascent of Elizabeth I to the throne and feature characters from the original trilogy, including vampire Matthew Clairmont and historian Diana Bishop.
And Helene Wecker, whose mythology-steeped debut novel, The Golem and the Jinni, made the bestseller and "best" lists back in 2013, has just made a two-book deal with her editor at HarperCollins. The Iron Season, tentatively scheduled for 2018, is a sequel, and will follow the titular characters through World War I. On her Facebook page, Wecker says that she "had two massive false starts before I arrived at something that felt sequel-worthy," but has completed a detailed outline and expects to spend the next two years writing the book, which finds Chava and Aham encountering "beings of their own kind, only to realize that their close ties to human beings have forever altered them."
RELATED CONTENT: More news about 2016 releases.
Photo of Harkness by Scarlett Freund.
You have to admire an author who, after a successful debut, tries something new with a second novel. British novelist Charlotte Rogan, author of The Lifeboat, is doing just that.
Or is she? Now and Again, which will be published in April, is a contemporary novel, set nearly 100 years after the events of The Lifeboat. But Rogan is once again exploring themes of justice and what really constitutes the moral high ground—this time, through the story of a secretary at a munitions plant who discovers her boss is at the center of a high-level cover up. Juxtaposed with her moral dilemma is that of a military captain, who struggles with the fallout of a deadly mission.
The Lifeboat was one of my favorite books of 2012, and I wasn't alone: The novel has sold more than 150,000 copies. I'll definitely be reading this one. How about you?
RELATED CONTENT: More news about 2016 releases.
Here's a long-range forecast for you readers who like to get your holds in early: Emma Donoghue, author of the bestseller Room, has just announced that she will publish a new book in the fall of 2016. The Wonder is a historical novel—the genre where Donoghue first made her name—and it also marks a return to writing about her native country of Ireland. Set in the 1850s, it's the story of Anna, an 11-year-old Irish girl who stops eating yet stays healthy, and the English nurse who is sent to find out whether Anna is a fraud or a miracle.
Donoghue is no stranger to writing about historical oddities—she has already released two short story collections based on similar real-life cases, including 2012's Astray. So it should be interesting to see how she handles similar material in a novel-length format.
Judith Clain, the VP and Editor-in-Chief of Little, Brown, had this to say about the new book: “The Wonder is a haunting and magnetic novel told with the spare and propulsive tension that made Room a huge bestseller. Like a great piece of classic literature it works on many levels—a simple story of two strangers who will transform each other's lives, a page-turning psychological thriller and a story about faith, doubt, and love. Emma Donoghue has written a masterpiece.”
Will you read it?
If you're looking for a fresh take on Southern life, get excited about this new collection of stories from Alabama author Helen Ellis.
Almost every reader has at least one "long-lost" author—that writer you Google every few years in the hope of finding an announcement of a new release. Helen Ellis is one of mine. An ARC of Eating the Cheshire Cat showed up at the Auburn University Bookstore when I was working there nearly 15 years ago, and was unlike any book I'd ever read before—a dark, psychologically complex portrayal of female friendships in the South that somehow managed to ring true even while being completely over-the-top (you'll never look at an axe the same way).
Needless to say, I'd been hoping she'd write something else for adults* ever since, so I cannot wait to dive into American Housewife, a story collection that Doubleday will publish in January. They describe the collection as "vicious, fresh, and nutty as a poisoned Goo Goo Cluster," which seems like just about the perfect description of Ellis' charms to me. Will you read it?
* She published a paranormal YA book in 2010, which, as a cat lover, I should probably pick up.
In the wake of yesterday's Booker Prize announcement, awards season rolls on today with the announcement of the finalists for the National Book Award. Drum roll, please . . .
Karen E. Bender, Refund (Soft Skull)
Angela Flournoy, The Turner House (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Lauren Groff, Fates and Furies (Riverhead)
Adam Johnson, Fortune Smiles (Random House)
Hanya Yanagihara, A Little Life (Doubleday)
Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me (Spiegel & Grau)
Sally Mann, Hold Still (Little, Brown)
Sy Montgomery, The Soul of an Octopus (Atria)
Carla Power, If the Oceans Were Ink (Holt)
Tracy K. Smith, Ordinary Light: A Memoir (Knopf)
Ali Benjamin, The Thing About Jellyfish (Little, Brown Children's)
Laura Ruby, Bone Gap (Balzer + Bray)
Steve Sheinkin, Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War (Roaring Brook Press)
Neal Shusterman, Challenger Deep (HarperTeen)
Noelle Stevenson, Nimona (HarperTeen)
Who are you rooting for?
It's official: We can knock one title off our list of long-awaited second novels. Helen Simonson is returning on March 22 with a follow-up to Major Pettigrew's Last Stand. Set in 1914, The Summer Before the War is also set in the English countryside, during a summer so beautiful that no one can quite believe that the rumbles of war will come to anything. The small town of Rye is more bothered by the new Latin teacher, who turns out to be not only a woman (which is controversial enough) but also attractive and, even worse, assertive.
Though set in the modern day, Major Pettigrew was full of old-fashioned charm, so Simonson's writing style should be an excellent fit for historical fiction. I'm looking forward to seeing what she does with this one. Will you read it?
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Elizabeth Strout returns in January with a new novel, My Name Is Lucy Barton.
Strout explored the complicated relationships of three brothers in her last book, The Burgess Boys, but in her new novel, she once again explores the mother-daughter bond—the relationship that powered her knockout 1999 debut, Amy & Isabelle.
Lucy Barton and her mother are long-estranged, but when Lucy needs help after surgery, her mother comes for a visit. Their reunion brings years of tension and longing to the surface, as Lucy reflects on her difficult childhood and her relationship with her own two daughters.
Will you read it?
Canadian writer Yann Martel hit a home run with Life of Pi, an international bestseller and Man Booker Prize winner—even the film ended up with a handful of Academy Awards. His second novel, Beatrice & Virgil, was a bestseller but didn't quite reach the same level as his debut (allegories about the Holocaust are not necessarily an easy sell).
Will his third novel be more successful in capturing readers' imaginations? We will find out in February, when The High Mountains of Portugal is published by Spiegel & Grau. As with his previous work, the premise is anything but usual: Blending three storylines that cover most of the 20th century, the novel is set both in Lisbon and the mythical mountains of the title, which just might contain an artifact that will change the way the world thinks about religion. Oh, and there's also a chimpanzee involved. We have to admit, we're curious! How about you?