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?
Dav Pilkey has agreed to write four new installments in the Captain Underpants series—the first new books since 2006. The first one’s called The Adventures of Ook and Gluk, Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future and will be published on August 10.
Although parents sometimes complain about the potty humor in the books—in 2002, Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants was removed from an elementary school in North Dakota—I personally know several little boys who will be thrilled with this news. (The entire series has 45 million copies in print, and The Adventures of Ook and Gluk will have a print run of 1 million.)
Here’s what Pilkey has to say on his return:
“I think fans of Captain Underpants will be very happy with this new book. It has all of the action, laffs and ridiculousness that kids love, plus all the unapologetic irreverence and questionable potty humor that grumpy curmudgeons love to complain about. It’s got something for everybody!”
Related in BookPage: Read a review of Captain Underpants and the Invasion of the Incredibly Naughty Cafeteria Ladies from Outer Space.
The movie version of Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love, starring Julia Roberts, Gabriel Bardem and James Franco, has been the subject of much discussion since its announcement. Now the trailer has been released. The tinkly strummy background music and slightly groan-worthy dialogue -- "I used to have this appetite for my life, and it is just gone" -- didn't convince me that the film will be worth seeing, although the scenery, wine and food look amazing, but then I didn't like the book much, either. And memoirs-turned-film are often problematic; see the critiques of the Julie Powell portions of Julie & Julia for a refresher in how difficult it is for a memoirist's voice to carry over into a film. Guess we'll see how it all pans out in August. What do you think of the trailer?
The 2010 Orange Prize for Fiction longlist was announced today. This British award is given to the best novel written by a woman in English and published in the UK in a given year. Since many past winners (and nominees) rank among my favorite books (Ann Patchett's Bel Canto; Valerie Martin's Property; Lionel Shriver's We Need to Talk About Kevin), I always look forward to its announcement.
Below is this year's longlist, in alphabetical order by author. Given the disjunct between US/UK pub dates, some appeared here quite some time ago while others haven't yet made it to US shores. (This is where the Kindle might come in handy—at least two of the otherwise unavailable books are available electronically to US readers.) It's a diverse group, including four Americans, 13 Brits, one Moroccan and a New Zealander. Seven of the nominees are first-time novelists.
Will Hilary Mantel cart off yet another literary prize for Wolf Hall? Will Andrea Levy, the only previous Orange winner on the list, take it home for the second time? We'll find out in June! Linked titles will take you to BookPage reviews.
Christian publisher Tyndale House announced today that they will publish Drew Brees’ memoir, Coming Back Stronger: Unleashing the Hidden Power of Adversity. Brees is, of course, the quarterback for the New Orleans Saints, and MVP of Super Bowl XLIV. He’s also beloved in New Orleans, where he and his wife started a foundation.
The press release doesn’t shy away from comparing Brees’ story to that of the Saints, and New Orleans:
When a potentially career-ending shoulder injury left quarterback Drew Brees without a team, the NFL wondered, would Brees ever come back? When Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, leaving 85 percent of the city under water, many wondered, would the city ever come back? And when their stadium was transformed into a make-shift refugee camp, forcing the Saints to play their entire 2005 season on the road, people questioned, would the team ever come back?
Chris Fabry (ghostwriter of Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel’s The Winners Manual) will contribute. What do you think, football fans? Will Brees’ memoir be a must-read, or cheesy? The book will hit stores July 6.
We all know that Jodi Picoult writes about complex subjects that affect families: death, disease, disability.
In a recent interview with Forbes, the author talks about the subject for her next book: gay rights. She said:
What's really cool is that I do believe I might be the first mainstream writer to attack this issue, gay rights. That's amazing me to me, but I'm glad I'm doing it. There's a real sense that gay rights is a political issue and not a personal one. I think it's about people, which is why I want to write the book.
In an interview with GLAAD, she elaborated on the plot. It’s the story of a lesbian couple’s legal battle for the right to start a family, a topic with personal significance for Picoult, since her teenage son recently came out.
It’s true that gay rights and gay characters are mostly absent from mainstream fiction. (Alexander McCall Smith has announced that he will support gay rights by introducing homosexual characters into his novels, and David Levithan has addressed gay relationships in YA lit—but can you think of many other authors who write about characters who are gay?) I look forward to Picoult's new book—plus, I’m intrigued by the CD.
Are there other topics you’d like to see Picoult address?
Finally, a celebrity memoir that has a chance of being interesting! On Wednesday St. Martin's Press announced the acquisition of a memoir from Judi Dench, And Furthermore. As the press release puts it, "For the first time, Dench writes about her life, both on-stage and off, in a book that takes the measure of both her astonishing career and her private life. " The book will be published in October.
Dench made her acting debut in 1957 and has amassed a string of impressive credits in the years since. Seeing her name on a cast list feels like a guarantee of quality to me -- her turn as Lady Catherine de Bourg made the sub-par 2005 version of Pride & Prejudice worth watching (OK, Matthew MacFadyen helped with that too!). It's hard to say what role of hers is my favorite, but right now I'm going to go with Miss Matty Jenkyns in the Cranford adaptations. (I blogged about the series here.)
I'm also looking forward to her turn as Mrs. Fairfax in the upcoming version of Jane Eyre. (More on that here.)
Do you have a favorite Dench film? Has anyone seen her on stage? And will you read her memoir?
The iPad went on sale today (if you order now you’ll receive the device on April 3), and I wondered how many e-reader users following The Book Case are tempted by Apple’s sleek new toy.
Forbes has some information on how browsing the iBookstore will work:
Apple has designated about 20 "top-level" categories for books, including "Fiction & Literature", "Reference," "Romance," "Cookbooks" and "Comics & Graphic Novels." Below those categories lie more than 150 sub-categories, including some very specific genres, such as "Manga" under "Comics & Graphic Novels," "Special Ingredients" under "Cookbooks," and "Etiquette" under "Reference." Some sub-categories, such as "Fantasy" and "Science Fiction & Literature," even have sub-sub-categories ("Historical" and "Paranormal," for example.) There are also two sections for "Erotica" books; one under "Fiction & Literature" and one under "Romance."
Rumor has it we’re getting an iPad at BookPage, so when that happens we’ll be sure share the experience of reading on the gadget.
Are you going to buy an iPad?
Some of you may look forward to college basketball in the spring. As for me, I get my March Madness fix every year (well, since 2005, anyway) with the Morning News Tournament of Books, which puts the year's best fiction in head-to-head competition.
The race for the Rooster started this week, and so far the commentary and matchups have been epic. Where else would you find John Wray's Lowboy facing off against Kathryn Stockett's The Help? (I won't give the winner away, but judge Andrew Womack concludes, "Were the two books somehow collated into a single work, the result would be more formidable: a cooler, more memorable, disarming contender. Something with teeth of its own.")
And don't miss the commentary on each round from returning hosts Kevin Guilfoile and John Warner. A sample from the discussion of the aforementioned Help/Lowboy matchup:
Take the following one question quiz—If a black person were in your house, where would you send her if she asked to use your restroom? If your answer is not “the driveway,” The Help will make you feel good about yourself.
The book’s been compared to Small Island and Sophie’s Choice (tall order, huh?), and Annan calls it "a powerful novel of acceptance, survival and love.”