Acclaimed author Marilynne Robinson will return with another novel set in the town of Gilead, Iowa. Her publisher FSG has just purchased rights to publish Lila, the story of a mysterious young woman who arrives in town and marries John Ames, the hero of her second novel, Gilead, which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. No release date has been set.
Robinson has spent her last two novels rounding out the lives and characters of the Ames family in her lyrical, deliberate writing, and it sounds like she'll be continuing in the same vein here. Those looking for a comparable read can turn to fellow Pulitzer winner Paul Harding, a former student and now friend of Robinson who has just published his second novel, Enon. In a recent Q&A, Harding says of Robinson: "[W]ithin 10 minutes of her walking into the first meeting I knew that hers was the sort of life of the mind, the intellect, the soul that I wanted for myself. For whatever reasons, she and I can plunk down onto whatever chairs or park bench might be at hand, or just walk around in circles and talk and talk for hours about theology and art and politics and physics and cosmology."
Are you looking forward to Lila?
It's been seven years since McDermott published After This, and fans have been eager for another novel from the insightful, lyrical American author, who won the 1998 National Book Award for Charming Billy.
Her new novel, Someone, will be published by FSG on September 10. Subtle and tender, it's the story of one Brooklyn woman's life, a life that runs the course of much of the 20th century. Her loves and heartbreaks, gains and losses, are all deftly chronicled by McDermott as she traces Marie's life with sympathy and insight.
Says the publisher: "This is a novel that speaks of life as it is daily lived; a crowning achievement by one of the finest American writers at work today."
Will you read it? What books are you most looking forward to this fall?
Since its publication in 2009, Jamie Ford's Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet (Ballantine) has sold 1.3 million copies. That's some debut!
Well, Ford is finally following up on his success: Songs of Willow Frost will be published September 10. Like Hotel, Songs of Willow Frost is historical fiction and features a Chinese-American character and a childhood friendship. This time, though, the story is set in the 1920s and 1930s, where a lonely young boy looks for the mother he longs for. From the publisher description:
Twelve-year-old William Eng, a Chinese-American boy, has lived at Seattle’s Sacred Heart Orphanage ever since his mother’s listless body was carried away from their small apartment five years ago. On his birthday—or rather, the day the nuns designate as his birthday—William and the other orphans are taken to the historical Moore Theatre, where William glimpses an actress on the silver screen who goes by the name of Willow Frost. Struck by her features, William is convinced that the movie star is his mother, Liu Song.
Determined to find Willow, and prove his mother is still alive, William escapes from Sacred Heart with his friend Charlotte. The pair navigates the streets of Seattle, where they must not only survive, but confront the mysteries of William’s past and his connection to the exotic film star. The story of Willow Frost, however, is far more complicated than the Hollywood fantasy William sees onscreen.
Did you read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet? Will you be looking for Songs of Willow Frost?
Well, it looks like our 2010 "Three years to Gabaldon" post was just about on target. Delacorte will release the eighth book in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander saga, Written in My Own Heart's Blood, on December 10, 2013. Gabaldon will be speaking at this year's BEA author breakfast to support the book—and she's already posted a few excerpts on her website.
It has been more than 20 years since Gabaldon published the novel that started it all, The Outlander. The seven published novels have sold more than 20 million copies, and the universe has expanded to include three generations: the star-crossed, time-traveling lovers Claire and Jamie; their daughter Brianna, who was born in the 18th century but returned to the late 20th century with her husband; and their grandchildren Jem and Amanda. Then there are the dozens of peripheral characters, who "crop up in one book, disappear, and then return two or three books later. Someone barely mentioned in an early book may become pivotal in a later one," as our interviewer Rebecca Bain noted in her 2009 chat with Gabaldon. So it's certain that surprises are in store.
In other Gabaldon news, it looks as though opponents of Katherine Heigl as Claire can breathe easier. The Outlander series has recently been optioned for a TV series, not a film, as was previously reported. Showrunner Ron Moore, who has worked on Star Trek films and the TV series "Roswell," will helm the project, and the Starz cable network has signed on to develop the series, which means that seeing an actual pilot sometime this year is quite likely. (Gabaldon has an extensive FAQ section on this topic on her site.) Move over, "Game of Thrones."
ETA: Though BEA's website continues to list a pub date of December 10, Diana Gabaldon has informed us that the pub date is "still fluid." Updates to come!
Hyperion announced today that they'll be publishing The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom on August 28. This is a "magical" new novel about Father Time that casts the fairy-tale figure in a new light: as the person who first attempted to track time. It's the first novel in six years from Albom, who originally struck literary gold in 1997 with Tuesdays with Morrie, a memoir about the death of his friend and mentor, teacher Morrie Schwartz.
"We are excited once again to share a new Mitch Albom book with his beloved fans and readers," said Hyperion President and Publisher Ellen Archer. "Mitch taps into an issue we all struggle with these days—our time and what we make of it. His novel will spark a lot of conversation about how we live our lives now—and what we can't afford to forget."
Albom's modern-day parables have moved millions and The Time Keeper isn't likely to be an exception. Will you look out for it?
Related in BookPage: our past coverage of Mitch Albom's books, including an interview about his last novel, Have a Little Faith.
Best known for his 1983 masterpiece A Winter's Tale, Mark Helprin is returning this October with a novel that's equally epic in its scope and power, In Sunlight and Shadow. It's publisher HMH's lead fiction title for the fall.
Set in 1940s New York City, the novel follows a middle-class paratrooper who falls in love at first sight with a beautiful heiress. Their romance plays out against a backdrop of gangster dives, Broadway lights, luxurious mansions—the entire spectrum of modern-era America.
Will you read it?
BookPage contributor Alden Mudge has been interviewing authors for more than 20 years. In a guest post, he reflects on his March cover story interview with debut novelist Téa Obreht, author of The Tiger's Wife.
By the time I came to ask it, it was a silly question, an embarrassing question.
But I had read Téa Obreht’s abbreviated bio: She had been born in Belgrade in 1985. Her family left in 1992 as the conflict in the former Yugoslavia heated up. They moved to Cyprus, then Egypt and then finally came to the United States when she was 12. That meant she had been in the country just a little over half her life.
I had also read Obreht’s remarkable first novel, The Tiger’s Wife. It is set in an unnamed country in the Balkans after a prolonged civil war. Of the many things that impressed me about the book one of the most prominent was its powerful evocation of place. Not simply in a travelogue sort of way—though the landscape is vividly rendered—but in a deeper, more elusive, more heartfelt way, as though Obreht had captured the very essence or spirit of the place.
So I wondered as I finished the book, did Obreht see herself as an American writer or as a writer in exile?
Then there was our conversation. I learned that the family had moved to Palo Alto, that she went as an undergraduate to the University of Southern California. And there was that lilt of a California 20-something in her voice. Her humor, her intonation—as American as apple pie. So I hesitated.
“Oh, go ahead,” she said.
So I asked Obreht if she felt she was an American writer.
Her response was immediate: “Yes. Definitely.”
And what did that mean?
“Oh gosh, that’s a question,” she said. And after a pause she continued. “The fact that I am able to call myself a writer at all, the fact that I am able to be a writer at all makes me an American writer. To be in an environment where one can without hesitation—without constriction or fear—write about anything—one’s past, one’s projected future, whatever you want—is the luxury of American writers. And in that regard, I am an American writer. And very happy about it.”
What’s that they say about no silly questions?
Author photo by Beowulf Sheehan.
Just when we thought there was nothing new under the (dead) sun of post-apocalyptic literature, Tom Perrotta comes up with an addition to the popular genre. The Leftovers (St. Martin's) will be published in August, and we can't wait to read Perrotta's take on this tired trope. Apparently only 100 people were taken from the town of Mapleton, New Jersey, during a Rapture-like event, leaving the rest of the town feeling inadequate and a bit confused. Perrotta is known for his ironic take on modern life, and the idea of adding a supernatural twist to his oh-so-real suburban stories is tantalizing to this reader—and reminiscent of Meg Wolitzer's change of pace in her upcoming release, The Uncoupling.
Related in BookPage: read more reviews of Tom Perrotta's work.
Book club favorite Lisa See has penned a sequel to her bestseller Shanghai Girls, to be published by Random House on May 31.
The publisher's summary:
Devastated after discovering the shocking truth about her mother and father, Joy flees to China to find a new life (and her real father)—and Pearl, realizing what has happened, sets out for Mao's China, resolved to find her daughter.
Both women face almost insurmountable struggles as they combat their guilt-ridden past and a Communist China intolerant of their free spirits, and the tension in their stories is heightened by Pearl's selfless determination to rescue Joy and bring her home.
We predict you'll be seeing a lot of See's novels on the beach this summer, especially once the film adaptation of her debut, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, comes out on July 15. Hugh Jackman will star with Li Bingbing and Gianna Jun—you can see some stills here. (Thanks to EarlyWord for the tip on the film.) Reviews of all four of See's books—and an interview about her 2007 novel Peony in Love—can be found on BookPage.com. You can also read an excerpt from Dreams of Joy on See's website.
With dozens of bestsellers under his belt, it wouldn't be surprising if author Dean Koontz took some time off to rest on his laurels. But the indomitable author, who believes that writing talent must be used, instead continues to craft an alarming number of bestsellers, fiction and nonfiction alike (his stories about his dog, Trixie, have been optioned for a family comedy).
His latest story, What the Night Knows, published today, is billed as "a ghost story like no other." We asked Koontz a few questions about writing and got some surprising answers. Click over to the Q&A to find out which literary character he'd like to spend time on a desert island with, why he never talks about a work-in-progress, and more.
Any Koontz fans out there excited about this new book?