Every author has a story that they've been wanting—and waiting—to tell, holding on until the time is right. Like Stephen King's sequel to The Shining, or Jonathan Safran Foer's novel based on a real-life trauma (we're still waiting on that one!).
For celebrated author Judy Blume (The Summer Sisters; Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret), the story lingering in the back of her mind was about three airline crashes in her hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey, in the early 1950s. In the Unlikely Event is the result, and it will be published by Knopf on June 2.
Blume started researching the incidents in 2009, but she has firsthand memories from the time (she's 76, not that you can tell from her author photo!). In the Knopf press release, she explained why the crashes make such perfect fodder for fiction. “It was a crazy time. We were witnessing things that were incomprehensible to us as teenagers. Was it sabotage? An alien invasion? No one knew, and people were understandably terrified.” (You guessed it: They didn't have black boxes as we know them back then.)
In the wake of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines 370, debating the origins of a devastating flight accident feels all too timely. We can't wait to see what Judy Blume does with this book—how about you?
The world lost a talented storyteller when 71-year-old novelist Kent Haruf died earlier this month, after a battle with cancer.
Longtime interviewer Alden Mudge has talked to a lot of authors in his time, but he was especially impressed by the kindness of Haruf when he spoke to the author in 2004.
"Readers make a critical mistake when they assume that the virtues—or vices—of a novel's characters are the same as those of its creator. But on this particular morning, it is more than tempting to find in Haruf's direct, thoughtful and self-effacing conversation everything that is most uplifting in the characters who populate his fictional town of Holt, Colorado."
Haruf's many fans can be consoled by the fact that there'll be one last trip to Holt, Colorado: Our Souls at Night will be published by Knopf in June. It's another simple story of everyday people leading lives that are only remarkable in that they are actually being remarked upon. This time, the story centers on a widow and widower who forge an unlikely friendship with benefits that aren't exactly approved of by their small-town neighbors—and which becomes more complicated with the arrival of a five-year-old grandson.
Will you read it?
RELATED CONTENT: More on Kent Haruf.
If you're not sure what to get the book lover in your life (besides the BookPage tote, of course!), Penguin Books is offering to help with their new Penguin Hotline, a service that's running through the month of December. With a click of a mouse (OK, and a few taps on the keyboard) you can submit a form full of info about your favorite reader. Et voila! A Penguin staffer will respond with some suggestions.
According to Penguin Publicity Manager Claire Mcginnis, the recommendations will be publisher agnostic, meaning that they'll include books NOT published by Penguin Random House. "We want to support anyone interested in giving a book for the holiday season," says Mcginnis, adding that they're also looping in staffers from all levels and departments to help out—"from receptionists to publishers; editorial assistants to our head of operations; publicists to editorial directors, and all the way to our Penguin President Madeline McIntosh."
Obviously I couldn't post this without testing the service for myself. I sent a request on Thursday; by mid-morning yesterday I had a cheerful email full of personally tailored and very smart suggestions (three of which were favorites of mine, so they were definitely on point). And as promised, the six suggestions came from a wide range of publishers—only one of which, Viking, was in the Penguin group. If you give it a try, let us know how it worked for you!
Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison (Beloved, Home, A Mercy) will publish her 11th novel, God Help the Child, in late April 2015 with Knopf. The novel focuses on the painful relationship between Sweetness and her daughter, Bride. Sweetness, a light-skinned black woman, pushes her daughter away because of her deep black skin. Yet, despite Sweetness' refusal to accept her, the resilient, confident Bride thrives.
No doubt, Morrison will stay true to the themes of femininity and race that she has so beautifully and masterfully handled in past novels. Are you looking forward to the latest from this literary giant?
Last night, The National Book Awards honored four outstanding authors of Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry and Young People's Literature with $10,000—plus the right to place that little gold circle on their book jacket that signifies, "This is a good one." See the full list of the finalists these authors were up against here.
Redeployment by Phil Klay
Age of Ambition by Evan Osnos
Faithful and Virtuous Night by Louise Glück
Did your favorite win? See a recording of the fancy ceremony, hosted by Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) here!