On April 13, Stephenie Meyer's first adult novel, The Host, will be released in paperback. Little, Brown has big plans for the new edition, which includes a bonus chapter and a telling "author of the Twilight saga" stamp on the cover. (Check out the handwritten Q&A Meyer did with BookPage when The Host was published in 2008.)
But are Meyer's future projects doomed to be overshadowed by the sparkly vampire juggernaut? Sure, The Host sold more than 2 million copies in hardcover, but the fourth Twilight novel, Breaking Dawn, sold 1.3 million copies in its first day of release.
All that may change when the film version of The Host is released. According to a Little, Brown press release, the movie rights have been "optioned by Nick Wechsler and Steve and Paula Mae Schwartz, the team that produced the film of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Andrew Niccol of Gattaca and The Truman Show will write the script and direct." Meyer has said though she preferred relative unknowns for the film version of Twilight, she'd enjoy seeing actors like Matt Damon, Casey Affleck and Ben Affleck starring in The Host.
Confession: I've read the Twilight saga AND most of The Host, which features body-snatching aliens and, yes, another love triangle. Meyer told Vogue that she sees The Host as a story about body image. "I'm not critical of others, but I am very critical of myself. . . . When I was working on this, I had to imagine what a gift it is to just have a body, and really love it, and that was good for me, I think." She has two sequels mapped out, but no pub date has yet been announced.
Other readers who found the male-female dynamic in Twilight slightly troubling will have even more to chew on with The Host, whose heroine endures actual physical abuse in order to prove her love/loyalty. (You can download a PDF excerpt from The Host by clicking here.) Anyone else read both books? How do you think they compare?
But I have to say that I took a little more notice than usual when I read about another awards announcement over the weekend—for the Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year, sponsored by The Bookseller, a British book industry magazine.
Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes by Daina Taimina is apparently the oddest book title of the year, followed by What Kind of Bean is this Chihuahua? by Tara Jansen-Meyer; Collectible Spoons of the Third Reich by James A. Yannes; and other decidedly odd titles. Read the press release here and tell us—what's your favorite odd book title? (There are some gems out there; how about The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification?)
There are plenty of big-name author releases I'm looking forward to this fall (Jonathan Franzen's Freedom, to name one). But a lesser-known British writer, Scarlett Thomas, is also up near the top of that list. Her inventive The End of Mr. Y blended fiction, philosophy and physics to create a fascinating and memorable read. The novel was filled with ideas and had enough plot to carry you through them—I was thinking about it long after the last page was turned.
Our Tragic Universe (HMH), her next novel, seems to have a similar surrealist angle—and a similar, smart-but-down-and-out heroine in Meg Carpenter, a woman caught in a dead-end relationship who's struggling to complete an overdue manuscript. When she takes on a writing assignment to review a book by an author who claims to have discovered a way to live forever, Meg has to wonder—would anyone really want to?
Consulting cosmology and physics, tarot cards, koans (and riddles and jokes), new-age theories of everything, narrative theory, Nietzsche, Baudrillard, and knitting patterns, Meg wends her way through Our Tragic Universe, asking this and many other questions. Does she believe in fairies? In magic? Is she a superbeing? Is she living a storyless story? And what’s the connection between her off-hand suggestion to push a car into a river, a ship in a bottle, a mysterious beast loose on the moor, and the controversial author of The Science of Living Forever?Smart, entrancing, and boiling over with Thomas’s trademark big ideas, Our Tragic Universe is a book about how relationships are created and destroyed, how we can rewrite our futures (if not our histories), and how stories just might save our lives.
The Romance Writers of America announced the 2010 RITA Award finalists today, and many of the titles are recommended in BookPage by our romance columnist, Christie Ridgway.
Before I get to that, though, we want to give a shout out to Christie for getting not one but two of her own nominations—for Dirty Sexy Knitting and I Still Do. Former BookPage romance columnist Barbara O'Neal is also a finalist for The Lost Recipe for Happiness. Congratulations, ladies!
Click here to view the complete list of finalists. Among the titles covered in BookPage are Fireside by Susan Wiggs (for Contemporary Series) and Laura Lee Guhrke’s With Seduction in Mind (Historical Romance). I was also happy to see that Ally Carter got a nomination for YA romance (I interviewed her in December), and Kristan Higgins got a nod for Too Good to Be True. (We ran an interview with her in February.)
The Awards will be announced on July 31 at the RWA’s National Conference in Nashville, and you can bet there will be BookPage bloggers in attendance to report back on all the fun.
What’s your favorite romance novel?
In December, I braved the crowd to see Ree Drummond—a.k.a. The Pioneer Woman—speak at Davis Kidd Booksellers in Nashville. When I posted about it on this blog, commenters shared stories of driving hours to see Ree on her book tour for The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl. One reader even said that reading Ree’s blog has changed her life.
Today I heard some news that will thrill PW fans—not only has Ree signed a deal to publish her romantic memoir Black Heels to Tractor Wheels on Valentine’s Day 2011. (William Morrow is the publisher, but if you can't wait a year for the love story, you can read it Ree's site now.) Columbia Pictures has made a deal to develop a romantic comedy based on the book, and rumor has it that Reese Witherspoon will star as The Pioneer Woman. When Ree mentioned this news on her blog, she received 3,000+ comments.
Will you read this blog-to-book… or see this blog-to-book-to-movie?
This morning, we received word of two major literature awards: Author David Almond (UK) and Illustrator Jutta Bauer (Germany) have won the 2010 Hans Christian Andersen Award. The International Board on Books for Young People gives the award every two years to a living author and illustrator whose “complete works have made a lasting contribution to children's literature.”
BookPage has reviewed several of Almond’s books, most recently Raven Summer, which Dean Schneider wrote has undertones of Lord of the Flies and Heart of Darkness. I’m not surprised Almond was honored with this prestigious award, as he’s been called “one of the finest writers in the world of children’s literature, a writer of uncommon vision and elegant prose” in our own pages.
Also today, Sherman Alexie was named the winner of the 2010 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. Although I was rooting for local writer (and surprise nominee) Lorraine M. López, it’s still a thrill to see Alexie take home the prize for War Dances (Grove Press). In BookPage, reviewer Harvey Freedenberg called the book—short stories—an “edgy and frequently surprising collection.” The PEN/Faulkner judges described War Dances as “a collection of structurally inventive pieces on the themes of love, betrayal, familial relationships, race, and class." To learn more about Alexie, read an interview here.
Arthur Phillips, author of Prague, The Egyptologist and Angelica, had another hit last year with his fourth novel, The Song Is You (read our review here). Out in paperback today, the book was one of our April picks for reading groups—and now it's also on track to be a major motion picture.
According to Deadline New York, Bill Condon and Larry Mark—who worked together on Dreamgirls—have optioned the novel and envision it as a musical. "The chance to tell a story through song is the thing that really turns me on," Condon explains. “The book is a story told through music, but there’s a whole other dimension we can bring through film."
Keep an eye out for more news on this exciting adaptation.
Does Nicholas Sparks ever get writer's block? It seems unlikely. Fresh off the release of The Last Song, the popular novelist will publish a 15th book on September 14. Saying Goodbye (Grand Central) is poised to join the rest of the Sparks canon and sounds full of tear-jerking twists.
Like The Notebook, Saying Goodbye centers on the rediscovery of a lost love—and throws in a dying best friend for good measure. But Audrey, who has been diagnosed with cancer, has enough life left in her to revive Renee's memories of the boy she fell in love with during their study abroad trip in Spain more than 20 years ago. Could there be a chance for the two to reconnect? The answers may be predictable, but readers are sure to come along for the ride come September.
This June, three new writers with literary connections are making their debuts.
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First up, Carin Clevidence. She's the stepdaughter of Annie Dillard, the author of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and other books. Her debut, The House on Salt Hay Road (FSG), is set at the seaside just before the fatal Long Island hurricane of 1938. FSG won the book at auction last year, and since they're one of the best at launching literary debuts, we figure MFA grad Clevidence has found the right place to start.
Chris Binchy is the nephew of, you guessed it, beloved Irish novelist Maeve Binchy. His American debut, Five Days Apart (Harper), sounds a lot like his aunt's work—a family drama, with themes of hope and redemption—and is actually his fifth novel. Will he make a splash on US shores?
And finally, there's Maggie Pouncey—daughter of novelist Peter Pouncey, whose Rules for Old Men Waiting was one of our favorite books of 2005. Her novel, Perfect Reader (Random House), follows a young woman who moves back home to a sleepy college town to confront the legacy of her father, a famous academic who, it turns out, had more than a few secrets.
These three aren't the first to follow in the footsteps of a literary relative, of course—Christopher Rice and Joe Hill spring to mind. Who's your favorite author with a literary legacy?
It's a pretty safe bet that anyone who finishes Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections will 1.) immediately urge someone else to read it and 2.) immediately ask where Franzen's next novel is. There's been no satisfactory answer to that question for years, at least not until summer of 2009, when the New Yorker printed a Franzen piece that gave readers a taste of the long-awaited next novel.
We've known for a while that Freedom will be released in September—and as the publication date nears, some details on the book have been appearing. In the Wall Street Journal, Jonathan Galassi, Franzen's editor, said the novel was "a very powerful, amazing book about the disillusion of marriage. It's about the challenges and costs of personal freedom, and the burdens of it and the opportunities of it. It's about ecology, personal politics and general issues; it's about Iraq."
Complete publisher description after the jump. Will Freedom be as timely and engrossing as The Corrections? Will Oprah read it? Will you?
From Farrar, Straus & Giroux:
Patty and Walter Berglund were the new pioneers of old St. Paul--the gentrifiers, the hands-on parents, the avant-garde of the Whole Foods generation. Patty was the ideal sort of neighbor, who could tell you where to recycle your batteries and how to get the local cops to actually do their job. She was an enviably perfect mother and the wife of Walter's dreams. Together with Walter--environmental lawyer, commuter cyclist, total family man--she was doing her small part to build a better world.
But now, in the new millennium, the Berglunds have become a mystery. Why has their teenage son moved in with the aggressively Republican family next door? Why has Walter taken a job working with Big Coal? What exactly is Richard Katz--outré rocker and Walter's college best friend and rival--still doing in the picture? Most of all, what has happened to Patty? Why has the bright star of Barrier Street become "a very different kind of neighbor," an implacable Fury coming unhinged before the street's attentive eyes?