Were any other New York Times Book Review watchers as surprised as I was to see this week's cover? Their choice of Angelology makes two fiction covers in the last three weeks, which has to be a record. What's more, Danielle Trussoni's first novel is more commercial than not, with a supernatural angle and plenty of action—not the usual NYTBR material.
But hey, maybe they've seen the wisdom in the BookPage philosophy of featuring books that many people will want to read—we also tagged Angelology as a spring standout. In a BookPage.com exclusive, Trussoni wrote about her inspiration for the novel, first in a planned series ("As you can imagine, the places and characters in my book are extremely different from my “real life” as a 30-something mother of two.").
Other BookPage.com highlights this month include an interview with Sam Lipsyte for his new novel, The Ask—a must read for dark humor fans—and a review of Peter Bognanni's "punk-rock-fueled" debut, The House of Tomorrow.
Good news for Robert B. Parker fans: before his unexpected death in January, the author completed at least one more Spenser novel. Our sources at his publisher, Putnam, say that Painted Ladies will be out October 5.
Other posthumous Parker releases include the ninth Jesse Stone novel (Split Image, February), a Cole-Hitch Western (Blue-Eyed Devil, May), and an untitled holiday novel set for a November 2010 publication date.
Earlier this week, the International Association of Culinary Professionals announced the 2010 IACP Cookbook Award finalists. These awards recognize excellence in many categories: American; Baking: Savory or Sweet; Chefs and Restaurants; Children, Youth and Family; Culinary History; Health and Special Diet; International; and more. View the complete list here. The winners will be announced at a gala on April 22.
Here’s what BookPage cooking columnist Sybil Pratt has to say about a few of the selections (click the book titles for more information):
Bottega Favorita by Frank Stitt
Nominated for “Chefs and Restaurants”
Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller
Nominated for “Chefs and Restaurants”
Keller cooks at home! Hard to believe that the high priest of haute cuisine in the U.S. (and author of three cookbooks that are the quintessence of chic, sophisticated armchair cooking) has put together a collection of approachable family meals. Ad Hoc at Home has over 200 recipes that you and I can cook without a battalion of sous-chefs and cutting-edge culinary equipment—a slice of the sublime accessible to mere mortals.
Gourmet Today by Ruth Reichl
Nominated for “Compilations”
Besides its encyclopedic collection of recipes, we’ll root for this cookbook for sentimental reasons; our hearts book when Gourmet folded in October.
Got any favorites of the bunch? Or a recommendation for a tried and true cookbook you use all the time?
Related in BookPage: Browse our cookbook archives.
PEN New England and the JFK Presidential Library have just announced that Brigid Pasulka won the 2010 Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award for A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True. Pasulka joins the ranks of many BookPage favorites, such as Joshua Ferris and Chang-rae Lee. She'll also receive $8,000 and a one-week residency at the University of Idaho—not to mention a fellowship at the Ucross Foundation in Wyoming.
According to the announcement, Mary Hemingway, Ernest Hemingway’s wife, founded the Award in 1976 to “honor her late husband and draw attention to first books of fiction.” This year, the Awards were judged by Julia Glass, Michael Lowenthal and Gail Tsukiyama.
At BookPage we’re especially thrilled about this news because we covered A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True in our August Well Read column—an extended review that recognizes the best fiction in a given month, written by Robert Weibezahl.
In her novel, Pasulka tells the love story of Pigeon and Anielica before and after World War II, in Kraków, Poland. Their journey is “consistently magical,” writes Weibezahl, and Pasulka “has an indisputable talent for a tale well-told.”
The two Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award finalists are C.E. Morgan for All the Living and Abraham Verghese for Cutting for Stone. Two honorable mentions go to Mary Beth Keane for The Walking People and Lydia Peelle for Reasons for and Advantages of Breathing.
Abby noted last week that among a field of literary big shots in the finalist pool for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, Lorraine M. López stuck out as a pleasant surprise. Since the PEN/Hemingway Award recognizes a debut work of fiction, there are understandably no names with the star power of Barbara Kingsolver or Lorrie Moore—although each of the novels comes from a major publishing house. (López’s book was published by BkMk Press at the University of Missouri, Kansas City.) Are you pleased with the winner, finalists and honorable mentions? What’s the best debut novel you read last year?
The Associated Press reported this morning that Barry Hannah, Southern author extraordinaire and creative writing professor at the University of Mississippi, died Monday. He was 67. Hannah's death came just a few days before the 17th Oxford Conference for the Book; his work is the subject of the conference.
Hannah’s first novel, Geronimo Rex, was nominated for a National Book Award in 1972. It received the William Faulkner prize for writing. Short story collection High Lonesome was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 1996.
Richard Ford, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Independence Day, was a friend of Hannah’s. He said, ''Barry could somehow make the English sentence generous and unpredictable, yet still make wonderful sense, which for readers is thrilling. . . You never knew the source of the next word. But he seemed to command the short story form and the novel form and make those forms up newly for himself.”
In a 2001 interview with BookPage, Hannah talked with Ellen Kanner about his book Yonder Stands Your Orphan—and about writing sober and Southern:
"All my idols were alcoholics—Joyce, Hemingway. I bought into the notion you had to have some drinking and a bit of pain if you had anything to say," says Hannah. "Much of it was phony." He hasn't had a drink in a decade and Yonder Stands Your Orphan is the first novel he wrote sober.
Hannah misses nothing of his boozy self. It's his younger self he thinks of with a bit of nostalgia. "The young are privy to truths that become blurred for older people. I had no history when I started writing in the 1960s, when I was writing as well as I ever did. You don't need to know everything, thank God. I knew nothing of publishing, didn't know I was going to make a dime. I miss that freedom in relative poverty," he says. . .
Writing about the South and living in Oxford, home of William Faulkner, Hannah has been called that dirty name, a Southern writer. "I don't like it used in the connotations of local color—I despise that—or somebody making hay out of weird relatives or funny names," he says. "No really good writer could be merely Southern. A fiction writer isn't provincial, ever. He should be sending back news from the front, news somebody else might not know about and it should be interesting and entertaining."
Related in BookPage: An interview with Richard Ford.
You might remember that in 2005, a woman paid $25,100 for the privilege of having a Stephen King character—a zombie, in fact—named after her brother. (The book was Cell, and the zombie's name was "Huizenga.") The proceeds, earned in an auction, went to the First Amendment Project, which has also allowed bidding for characters in John Grisham, Dave Eggers and Neil Gaiman books.
A news item in yesterday’s New York Times reminded me of this odd concept of reader participation: Tony Award-winning actress Patti LuPone is holding a contest for readers to name her forthcoming autobiography. She explains: “Dolls, I've been busy writing the story of my theatrical life and need your help to find a suitable and fabulous title.”
Romance novelist Robyn Carr is holding a similar contest (which you may have seen advertised on our site): Readers can enter for a chance to have a character named after them in one of her 2011 books, specifically, a kitchen colleague in the restaurant where we'll first meet the story's heroine. (Granted, the difference here is that Carr’s and King's contests are all luck or money, whereas Lupone’s takes creativity. The NYT suggests “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina.”)
In October I blogged about The Amanda Project, a YA mystery series by Stella Lennon. The series is innovative because social media plays a role in the books’ editorial content; readers can interact on The Amanda Project website, and their comments could be incorporated into characters or subplots.
Commenters: What do you think about this marketing/fundraising technique? Would YOU like to have a character named for you in a book? Or your title splashed across a new hardcover? Or is editorial content best left to the experts—the authors themselves?
There's been no shortage of major books about political figures recently—think Going Rogue and Game Change, just for starters—but a few titles coming out this spring will be sure to generate even more interest in these very public lives.
President Obama may already have two books to his name, but David Remnick's The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama is the first major biography to be published about him. Remnick, who won the Pulitzer Prize for 1993's Lenin's Tomb, will cover both Obama's personal life (such as his relationship with his mother) and his political life. Says Paul Bogaards, executive director of publicity at Knopf, "Remnick conducted hundreds of on-the-record interviews to write the fullest narrative possible of a sitting President. He relies on conversations with family, friends, teachers, professors, mentors, donors, and rivals of Barack Obama––as well as with the President himself." Knopf will publish The Bridge on April 6th, with a first printing of 200,000 copies.
And a mere two weeks later, on April 20th, Gotham will publish Michelle Obama's brother Craig Robinson's family memoir, A Game of Character: A Family Journey from Chicago's Southside to the Ivy League and Beyond (Gotham). With a first printing of 250,000, Robinson's book promises to share his insights into developing that elusive quality known as "character," with stories about his and Michelle's childhood, growing up and eventual acceptance into Princeton University.
Finally, with a first printing of a whopping 750,000 (!), Laura Bush's memoir, Spoken From the Heart, will be released by Scribner on May 4th. There's very little official information to be found about this book—they aren't even sending out advance copies—but with numbers like that, expect this one to be HUGE.
From the catalog:
In 1934 all the national publications sent their star reporters to remote Virginia to cover the trial of Erma Morton: a beautiful 21-year-old year old mountain girl with a teaching degree, accused of murdering her father--a drunken tyrant of a man.
We've said before that McCrumb "is just the author to unearth the facts, sprinkle them with a little mountain magic and bring them to life in her fiction." (from an interview for Ghost Riders). The Devil Amongst the Lawyers should bring more of the same.
I don't know yet if I'm taking a vacation this summer, but if it happens, Ayelet Waldman's latest will be tucked in my suitcase. Red Hook Road is being published in July 13. It's her first novel since 2006's Love and Other Impossible Pursuits, which interviewer Alden Mudge called "sharply observed, completely absorbing and sometimes wickedly humorous. Like Lionel Shriver and Zoe Heller, Waldman has a gift for creating flawed, and therefore human, characters. You may not always like them, but you root for them.
Red Hook Road sounds a little more dramatic than Love, which centered on the not-so-unusual dilemma of a stepmother struggling to accept her role. In an interview with Amazon, Waldman says that Red Hook Road was inspired by a newspaper story—a young couple, killed in a car crash on their way to their wedding reception. On her twitter feed, she describes it more succinctly: "Abt 2 families in Maine, connected & divided by tragedy and hope. Hey, just pulled that outa my butt. Pretty good!"
The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. announced the Nebula Award Nominees today. The awards celebrate—you guessed it—the best in science fiction and fantasy writing. The Awards honor a short story, novelette, novel, YA book and movie. View the complete list of nominees here. Click the highlighted titles below to read reviews on BookPage.com.
Best Novel nominees:
The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi (Nightshade)
The Love We Share Without Knowing by Christopher Barzak (Bantam)
Flesh and Fire by Laura Anne Gilman (Pocket)
The City & The City by China Mieville (Del Rey)
Boneshaker by Cherie Priest (Tor)
Finch by Jeff VanderMeer (Underland Press)
Hotel Under the Sand by Kage Baker (Tachyon)
Ice by Sarah Beth Durst (Simon and Schuster)
Ash by Malinda Lo (Little, Brown and Company)
Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev (Feiwel and Friends)
Zoe’s Tale by John Scalzi (Tor)
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (Wendy Lamb Books)
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente (Catherynne M. Valente)
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld (Simon)
Any one else surprised that Newbery Medal winner When You Reach Me is on that list? Time travel is certainly an important element of the plot, but I never would have placed the book in the fantasy genre. (Although Stead does repeatedly refer to A Wrinkle in Time, which is probably one of the most beloved YA fantasy books of all time.)
Do any of our Sci-Fi fans have award predictions?