As part of our Best Books of 2013 coverage, our editors weigh in on some of their personal favorites from the list. Marisha Pessl’s sophomore effort avoids the dreaded slump with a shadowy, tightly wound thriller. Readers follow Scott McGrath, a journalist who watched his career crumble after leveling a threat against Stanislas Cordova—an elusive cult filmmaker reminiscent of early horror visionaries like Alfred Hitchcock and Dario Argento. But when Cordova’s 24-year-old daughter Ashley is found dead in a warehouse, McGrath sees a chance to salvage his own name while perhaps exposing Cordova’s dark side. Pessl writes with power and authority in Night Film while inviting readers to “explore their darker selves.”
You've seen the bottom 25 of our Top 50 Books of 2013—now it's time to reveal the top 25—and our #1. Drumroll please . . .
6. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
7. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
8. The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
9. The Love Song of Jonny Valentine by Teddy Wayne
10. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
21. Blue Plate Special by Kate Christensen
22. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra
23. Night Film by Marisha Pessl
24. How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid
25. NOS4A2 by Joe Hill
The busy fall publishing season kicked off today, with the release of several anticipated titles, including the long-awaited second book from Marisha Pessl and the launch of a seven-book fantasy series. Click on the jackets to read more. Which one will you pick up?
Enjoying the summer releases somewhere warm? Well, once these sunny days start getting shorter and temperatures begin to drop, you can be consoled by the knowledge that there's excellent reading heading your way.
Night Film by Marisha Pessl (Random House). Pessl's debut novel, Special Topics in Calamity Physics, became the talk of 2006 and went on to sell nearly 200,000 copies in hardcover. Has Pessl generated another bestseller and avoided the dreaded sophomore slump? Our money’s on “yes,” but we can’t wait to crack the covers and find out.
The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes (Viking). Author of Me Before You, Jojo Moyes is back with another heartbreaking story of love and loss that links two women separated by nearly a century. (read more)
The Daughters of Mars by Thomas Keneally (Atria). From the author of Schindler’s List, this is the story of two courageous sisters from Australia who enlist as nurses during World War I.
The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon (Bloomsbury). Early champions of this novel, first in a seven-book series, include Ali Smith and the actor Andy Serkis, who has already optioned the film rights. Though Shannon’s dystopian world can be brutal, the magical elements and tough teenage heroine guarantee YA-crossover potential—and the author herself, who studied English at Oxford, is just 22 years old. (read more)
The Good Lord Bird by James McBride (Riverhead). From the best-selling author of Song Yet Sung is the new story of a young slave who escapes from an abusive slave master with John Brown, the radical abolitionist. Brown believes that he is a girl, and he must hide that secret to stay safe.
After Her by Joyce Maynard (Morrow). The new novel from the journalist and best-selling author of Labor Day and The Good Daughters is set in the summer of 1979 in Northern California, where sisters Rachel and Patty are largely left to their own devices by their distracted mother and perpetually cheating, yet charming, detective father. But when murdered girls begin turning up in the mountains near their home, Rachel and her father embark on separate quests to solve the case.
The Returned by Jason Mott (MIRA). What would you do if someone you loved and lost showed up at your door? That's the premise behind Mott's anticipated debut, which is being adapted for television already.
Claire of the Sea-Light by Edwidge Danticat (Knopf). Danticat's lyrical latest is set in small-town Haiti, where the disappearance of a young girl unites the lives of the residents.
The Affairs of Others by Amy Grace Loyd (Picador). Five years after her husband's death, Celia has created a safe, solitary life in her Brooklyn brownstone—until a new neighbor tests the boundaries. Now Celia and the other tenants are being forced out of their safe spaces. Loyd is the former fiction editor of Playboy, and her debut is both provocative and intelligent.
The Road from Gap Creek by Robert Morgan (Shannon Ravenel). Taking us back to Appalachia, Morgan continues the story of his beloved characters from his best-selling novel Gap Creek.
Shaman by Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit). The author of the Mars trilogy and 2312 returns with the story of a young man's inspiring story of how we lived 30,000 years ago.
Moonrise by Cassandra King (Hyperion). Author of the best-selling novels The Same Sweet Girls and The Sunday Wife brings another novel of dark shadows and friendships set in the mountain retreat, Moonrise, known for its nightly glowing gardens.
Duplex by Kathryn Davis (Graywolf). Davis' imagination is vast and curious, and her latest novel is both mind-bending and lyrical.
The Maid's Version by Daniel Woodrell (Little, Brown). Set in his hometown, the book was inspired by a 1926 dancehall tragedy whose true cause remains a mystery—and whose legacy still haunts the small town today. Was it an accident, or something more sinister? Woodrell is the perfect author to take on this small-town American story.
Burial Rites by Hannah Kent (Little, Brown). As a teenager, Australian Kent went on an exchange to Iceland and discovered the story of Agnes, a servant woman who was executed for murder in the 1820s—the last person, in fact, to be executed in Iceland. Kent has spent the last 10 years piecing together Agnes' story, which finally came together in a book that she calls a “dark love letter” to Iceland.
Subtle Bodies by Norman Rush (Knopf). In Rush's first novel to be set in the U.S., a group of college friends come together 20 years after graduation in this depiction of the trials and joys of marriage and friendship.
Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink (Crown). In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, several elderly patients at a New Orleans hospital were designated the last to be rescued, and subsequently died. Did their doctors hasten their deaths, or end their misery? Pulitzer Prize winner Fink tells the true story of what happened at Memorial Medical Center.
Dissident Gardens by Jonathan Lethem (Doubleday). Centering on two strong women, Lethem creates a decade-spanning story of radical families chasing the American dream.
Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford (Ballantine). The author of the bestseller Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet sets his second novel in 1920s and 1930s Seattle, where a lonely young boy looks for the mother he longs for. (read more)
Someone: A Novel by Alice McDermott (FSG). Subtle and tender, this is the story of one Brooklyn woman's life—a life that runs the course of much of the 20th century.
Enon by Paul Harding (Random House). Tinkers was the dark horse winner of the 2009 Pulitzer Prize. Will Harding hit the bestseller list a second time?
Dirty Love by Andre Dubus III (Norton). From the award-winning author of House of Sand and Fog, this collection of four novellas expresses tenderness and vulnerability of people seeking fulfillment in the wrong places.
Sister Mother Husband Dog by Delia Ephron (Blue Rider Press). Beloved screenwriter Ephron offers a collection of essays and personal stories both poignant and hilarious, including a remembrance of her late sister, Nora Ephron.
Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon (Penguin Press). The famously reclusive author’s latest is set in New York City just after 9/11, a time “not that distant in calendar time but galactically remote from where we’ve journeyed to since,” as the publisher puts it. (read more)
Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward (Bloomsbury). Ward, whose novel Salvage the Bones won the 2011 National Book Award for fiction, now offers a memoir about the deaths of several beloved men in her life. This won't be an easy read, but for those who are interested in poverty and racism in America, it will be an essential one.
Who Asked You? by Terry McMillan (Viking). Back with a new novel, Terry McMillan provides a colorful cast of characters trying to survive Los Angeles.
The Quest by Nelson DeMille (Grand Central). An unlikely group of travelers are given the secret location of the Holy Grail—and set off on a dangerous journey.
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri (Knopf). Lahiri's tale of two brothers whose lives take drastically different paths is an exploration of the toll of idealism. (read more)
Doctor Sleep by Stephen King (Scribner). It's a sequel to King's 1977 classic horror story, The Shining. Do you really need to know more to get on board?
Local Souls by Allan Gurganus (Liveright). Gurganus brings his discerning eye and dark humor to bear on the modern-day South in this long-awaited story.
The Outcasts by Kathleen Kent (Little, Brown). Kent leaves colonial Massachusetts to explore 1800s Texas with a new novel starring a hooker who, refreshingly, lacks the proverbial heart of gold.
Book of Ages by Jill Lepore (Knopf). Both Benjamin Franklin and his youngest sister, Jane, were bright and inquisitive people with deeply held political convictions. Benjamin Franklin became one of America's Founding Fathers; Jane Franklin became the mother of 12 children. Lepore investigates Jane's life in a book that will surely cast new light on the debate about women, work, motherhood, politics and ambition.
The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert (Viking). Gilbert's first novel in years is the story of the Whitaker family—and of a century of scientific discovery, wonder and change.
David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell (Little, Brown). In a new book about "underdogs, misfits, and the art of battling giants" (as the subtitle puts it), Gladwell explores the relationship between the weak and the strong, and explains how our advantages and disadvantages can shape us—but perhaps not in the ways we think.
The Tilted World by Beth Ann Fennelly & Tom Franklin (Morrow). Set in 1927 Mississippi, there is a lot more to be found around the rising waters than two missing agents last seen tracking down bootleggers.
One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson (Doubleday). Bryson turns his attention (and his sharp wit) to a formative year in America's history, when Charles Lindbergh, Al Capone and Herbert Hoover (among others) shared the national spotlight.
The Pure Gold Baby by Margaret Drabble (HMH). In her first novel in five years, Drabble presents the hard choices and struggles of a single mother as told through the eyes of the supportive mothers around her.
The Hired Man by Aminetta Forna (Grove). An Englishwoman arrives in a small Croatian village, unaware that her arrival will stir up some unpleasant memories of the civil war that lurk beneath the town's charming surface.
The Rosie Chronicles by Grahaem Simison (St. Martin's). This anticipated first novel is told in the voice of an Asperger's-stricken professor who sets out to find the perfect wife—only to find a woman who upsets all his plans.
The Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson (Grove). Based on the 17th-century witchcraft trials at Pendle Hill, this atmospheric novella will deliver Halloween chills.
Longbourn by Jo Baker (Knopf). In today’s modern world, it’s impossible to go too long without a new take on the enduring classic Pride and Prejudice. British author Baker puts a new twist on the story by telling it from the point of view of the Bennett family’s servants. (read more)
Lighthouse Island by Paulette Jiles (Harper). Jiles, known for her historical fiction, strikes new ground in a future-set tale. Orphaned Nadia Stepan, unhappy with life in this dystopic urban world, strikes out for a possibly mythical island in the Pacific Northwest.
Cartwheel by Jennifer duBois (Random House). DuBois' anticipated second novel is loosely based on the story of Amanda Knox. Entitled, intelligent, charming and a bit careless, American Lily Hayes becomes the prime suspect in her roommate's murder during a semester abroad in Argentina. (read more)
Top Down by Jim Lehrer (Random House). The latest from Lehrer is about the secret service agent who decided to let JFK ride with the top down in Dallas—a nice fictional counterpoint to the deluge of nonfiction books coming out this year to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination.
Focus by Daniel Goleman (Harper). The author of Emotional Intelligence gives readers more food for thought as he discusses the importance of attention and what we can do to sharpen our own mental faculties.
Quiet Dell by Jayne Anne Phillips (Scribner). Based on the real-life serial killer who preyed on widows in the 1930s, this novel is sure to send shivers up your spine.
The Family by David Laskin (Viking). Laskin explores the history of the 20th century through the three branches of his own Jewish family. From their roots in Russia, two of the three branches emigrated—one to America and one to Palestine—while one remained in Europe and faced the horrors of the Holocaust.
The Wolves of Midwinter by Anne Rice (Knopf). With her popular Vampire Chronicles, Anne Rice created one of the most influential modern retellings of the vampire mythology. Now, Rice turns her masterful storytelling skills to another classic monster: the werewolf.
Identical by Scott Turow (Grand Central). In this tangle of a mystery, two twins with very different lives are drawn back into an investigation of their young neighbor's murder from 25 years ago.
The Men Who United the States by Simon Winchester (Harper). Winchester's first book about America focuses on the men who explored, surveyed and connected the far-flung and highly varied states that make up our union, and asks us to consider whether or not we have truly accomplished the goal of uniting the States.
The Last Dark: The Climax of the Entire Thomas the Covenant Chronicles by Stephen R. Donaldson (Putnam). The conclusion to the long-lasting fantasy series, Thomas Covenant and Linden Avery must stop the Worm of World's End from unraveling Time.
Guests on Earth by Lee Smith (Shannon Ravenel). Smith weaves a compelling story explaining the mysterious fire of Asheville's Highland Hospital, the mental institute where Zelda Fitzgerald and eight others mysteriously died.
Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding (Knopf). This fall, Fielding is bringing Bridget back for a modern-day adventure, which we assume will involve facing middle age with the same comic insight that she brought to being a “singleton.” (read more)
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (Little, Brown). Tartt’s first novel, The Secret History, was a huge bestseller and an instant classic when it was published in 1992—her third novel is set in the art world of New York City and is sure to draw attention. (read more)
Sycamore Row by John Grisham (Doubleday). Nearly 25 years ago, Grisham’s debut legal thriller, A Time to Kill, introduced readers to a fearless, entertaining storyteller. Grisham’s new novel, Sycamore Row, is the sequel to this unforgettable story, as good-guy attorney Jack Brigance continues his unwavering pursuit of justice, once again taking on the prejudices of a small Southern town.
We Are Water by Wally Lamb (Harper). Capturing the spirit of the American culture, Lamb tells a humorous story of family, social norms and the search for the meaning of life.
Sense & Sensibility by Joanna Trollope (Harper). What would the story of Eleanor and Marianne be like in today's world? Trollope answers that question in a humorous and enjoyable tribute to Austen.
At Night We Walk in Circles by Daniel Alarcón (Riverhead). In the second, anticipated novel from this talented young writer, things are finally going right for Nelson until betrayal and secrets begin to threaten his theatrical success.
The Bully Pulpit by Doris Kearns Goodwin (Simon & Schuster). Goodwin's latest biography focuses on the relationship between Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. Roosevelt had handpicked Taft as his political successor, but when Taft compromised many of Roosevelt's most cherished beliefs, Roosevelt ran against him for the presidency—a decision with consequences that still echo in our own time.
The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan (Ecco). It’s been eight long years since Tan published Saving Fish from Drowning. Her next full-length novel is about three generations of Chinese and Chinese-American women whose lives are linked by a painting, and is set in San Francisco and Shanghai over the course of some 50 years.
The Supreme Macaroni Company by Adriana Trigiani (Harper). Back with another delicious novel, Trigiani presents the partnerships of old and new world values in a family business based on love and laughter.
This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett (Harper). Novelist Patchett, who gained many new readers with her memoir Truth & Beauty, returns to the nonfiction form with this collection of essays, which explore "her deepest commitments: to writing, family, friends, dogs, books, and her husband."
The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion by Fanny Flagg (Random House). From the author of Fried Green Tomatoes, we return to the South to explore the relationships between mothers and daughters.
The First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom (Harper). What would you do if your neighbor got a phone call from heaven? Would you believe it? That's the premise of Albom's latest book, and his first with new publisher HarperCollins. (read more)
Stella Bain by Anita Shreve (Little, Brown). Set during World War I, the importance of memory is explored as one nurse's aid discovers her memories gone after being injured on the battlefield.
Tatiana by Martin Cruz Smith (S&S). Sleuth Arkady Renko investigates the seemingly unconnected murders of two people in modern Russia.
Someone Else's Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson (Harper). Jackson is known for her insightful, humorous and heartfelt take on the modern world. In her latest novel—her first with Morrow—she tells the story of a woman who falls in love with the wrong man before discovering the right one.
Takedown Twenty by Janet Evanovich (Random House). Stephanie Plum is back again and being joined by all of her previous cohorts.
In honor of Women's History Month, we've selected 11 female authors to keep an eye on this spring and summer. From talented memoirists to first-time novelists to returning phenoms, we predict you'll see their names in headlines—and on bestseller lists.
THERESE ANNE FOWLER
Z (St. Martin's, April)
It's official: The 1920s have completely taken over the American psyche. Take the runaway success of "Downton Abbey" and "Boardwalk Empire" and the omnipresent previews for Baz Luhrmann's star-studded Gatsby adaptation as proof. Fowler, whose three previous contemporary women's fiction titles garnered good reviews but hovered under the radar, joins the crowd with her first historical novel, Z, the story of the life of F. Scott Fitzgerald's talented, beautiful and doomed wife, Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald. From her youth as the belle of Montgomery to the heady early days of marriage to the inevitable breakdowns, Fowler chronicles Zelda's incredible life with sympathy and compassion. (Our assistant editor, Cat, is reading Z right now. See what she has to say about it and read a brief excerpt here.)
How to Create the Perfect Wife (Basic, April)
This strange true story arises from a dilemma many people confront in the search for true love: What would you do if you knew the exact characteristics your ideal spouse should have, but couldn't find an actual person who embodied them all? Many of us might broaden our search a little, or concede that "must love dogs" is less important than "good sense of humor." But Thomas Day, a writer and philosopher in 18th-century Britain, took a different tack: He found two young orphan girls, contrived to become their guardian, and set about molding them into perfect housewives, according to his bizarre and stringent specifications. Unsurprisingly, one soon proved herself less than equal to the task, but the other spent several years in Day's household, subjected to his increasingly odd methods of education. Historian Wendy Moore tells this fascinating story with novelistic aplomb.
The Golem & the Jinni (Ecco, May)
New York City, the Gilded Age. A beautiful young woman and a handsome young man arrive in the city from far-off lands. When they meet, they immediately feel that they are kindred spirits, and soon discover that they share a common enemy. Think you've read this one before? What if we told you that the woman is a golem, the man is a genie (aka jinni) and their enemy is a powerful magician? Wecker's fresh, magical debut is already being compared to Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell and is sure to receive an enthusiastic welcome from the thousands of readers who made The Night Circus a hit in 2011.
A Dual Inheritance (Ballantine, May)
A teacher of creative writing at Columbia, Joanna Hershon is the author of three critically acclaimed novels, including the book club favorite The German Bride. Her fourth and most ambitious novel yet is drawing comparisons to Cheever, Franzen and Eugenides—as well as to Victorian social novelists like George Eliot. It's a decades-spanning story of the friendship between two young men—one a Jewish scholarship student, the other a Boston Brahmin from a privileged background—who meet at Harvard in 1963. Though their friendship eventually ends as suddenly as it begins, their lives and families remain connected through the women they both love. At nearly 500 pages, this is a novel readers can really sink their teeth into, and could be one of the year's true literary highlights.
She Left Me the Gun: My Mother's Life Before Me (Penguin Press, May)
Out of incredible trauma and unspoken secrets, Emma Brockes fashions a riveting memoir about her mother, Paula, and a life Brockes never knew. Paula grew up in South Africa during the bloody reign of apartheid, with seven half-siblings and a violent father; once she made it to England, she rarely spoke of the life she'd left behind. After her death, Brockes begins to uncover long-buried secrets about those years, which left their mark on her mother for the rest of her life, and eventually visits South Africa to seek the truth about her family history. Brockes, a regular contributor to the Guardian, has written a standout in the disturbing-family-memoir field.
We Need New Names (Reagan Arthur, June)
Born and raised in Zimbabwe, Bulawayo moved to America to get an MFA at Cornell, and is currently a Stegner fellow at Stanford. She was discovered and championed by none other than Junot Díaz, and her short stories won the 2011 Caine Prize for African Writing. Her debut novel is a coming-of-age story told in the slowly maturing voice of a young girl, Darling, who moves from Zimbabwe to live with family in Detroit in her early teens. But American suburban life has its own hardships. Fans of Zadie Smith and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, take note of this one.
You Are One of Them (Penguin Press, June)
I'm a sucker for novels with a Russia connection, but many more illustrious names than I have fallen for Holt's literary debut—A.M. Homes, Lauren Groff and Kevin Wilson among them. The plot description is a bit complicated to summarize, so let's use Holt's own words: "It’s about friendship and loss, allegiance and betrayal, propaganda and advertising, fear and courage, the Cold War, secrets and surveillance, history—both personal and cultural, growing up female, and the stories we humans tell ourselves in order to cope." Holt's short fiction has been published in several prestigious journals, including The Kenyon Review.
The Never List (Pamela Dorman, July)
Talk about pressure: This debut novelist from Alabama is already being touted as this year's Gillian Flynn—and her first novel certainly sounds as dark and disturbing as anything Flynn has dreamed up. The Never List is the story of a survivor—Sarah, a 31-year-old woman who was kept prisoner for three years by a sadistic kidnapper, along with three other women. Not all of them made it out, including Sarah's best friend Jennifer. When her kidnapper comes up for parole, Sarah is forced to confront her demons, and the unbreakable bond between her and her fellow surviving captives, once and for all.
The People in the Trees (Doubleday, August)
An accomplished first novel from a former Vintage publicity assistant and travel magazine editor, The People in the Trees is already being compared to the works of Norman Rush and Ann Patchett. It's the story of Norton Perina, a doctor and man of science who discovers the secret to eternal life on a Micronesian island. But as with all things too good to be true, there is a price to be paid. Yanagihara's travel writing experience yields some fantastic descriptions of the island paradise, and in Perina she's created a complex and fascinating character.
Night Film (Random House, August)
OK, we know—Pessl's been watched before, when her debut novel, Special Topics in Calamity Physics, became the talk of 2006 and went on to sell nearly 200,000 copies in hardcover. But it's been a long wait for her second novel—and Night Film went to a new publisher and a new editor, Kate Medina. Has Pessl generated another bestseller and avoided the dreaded sophomore slump? Our money's on "yes," but we can't wait to crack the covers and find out.
The Bone Season (Bloomsbury, August)
Perhaps the most heavily hyped debut of the season, Shannon's first novel is the start of a seven-book series and is drawing comparisons to the work of none other than J.K. Rowling. Set in 2059, The Bone Season features a dystopian world where many have psychic abilities—and are persecuted for them. Shannon's 19-year-old heroine, Paige Mahoney, is able to "dreamwalk" into others' minds, a potentially lethal talent that more than one faction of this brave new world would like to get their hands on. Early champions of the novel include Ali Smith and the actor Andy Serkis, who has already optioned the film rights. Though Shannon's dystopian world can be brutal, the magical elements and tough teenage heroine guarantee YA-crossover potential—and the author herself, who studies English at Oxford, is just 22 years old.
Which women are you keeping an eye on in 2013? Let us know in the comments! (And if you're curious about our track record, check out the 2012 edition of "women to watch.")
[Fowler author photo by Tom Clark; Moore author photo by Colin Chrisford]
When pulling together our early 2013 forecast, one thing stood out: This year heralds the arrival of plenty of long-awaited releases. Below are several novels that readers have been anticipating for quite some time—here's hoping they were worth the wait!
Benediction by Kent Haruf (Knopf). It has been 8 years since Colorado writer Kent Haruf published a novel, but we’re happy to hear that the author of Plainsong and Eventide will be back in 2013. Haruf is an expert at depicting small-town life, and this sounds like a powerful tale of faith and community. (March)
The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout (Random House). Yes, her collection of linked stories, Olive Kitteridge, was published just three years ago, but Strout fans have been waiting for a new novel since 2006. Here she returns to rural Maine, which the Burgess brothers have left for a life in Brooklyn. But they're drawn back into hometown life after their nephew's thoughtless prank becomes a scandal. Random House says the book is Strout's "richest, deepest novel to date." (read more) (April)
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Knopf). The first novel in seven years from this brilliant young writer follows two teenagers who fall in love in Nigeria, are separated for years and reunite in their home country to find that it—and they—may have changed forever. (read more) (May)
The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud (Knopf). It has been seven years since Messud’s last novel—the acclaimed The Emperor’s Children—but being married to a literary critic probably doesn’t speed up the writing process. She returns with the story of a quiet teacher with dreams of becoming an artist. When she is drawn into a glamorous crowd through the family of one of her students, what appears to be her big break is instead an opening for something more sinister. (May)
Night Film by Marisha Pessl (Random House). Marisha Pessl's debut novel, Special Topics in Calamity Physics, was one of the most-hyped novels of 2006. Pessl's writing, her $500K+ publishing deal and her fetching author photo combined to create a perfect storm of publicity around the book, which garnered mixed reviews, but all-around high marks for ambition. In 2008, she sold her second novel to a new editor, Kate Medina, and a new publisher, Random House, and it's finally been scheduled for release on August 20. (read more)
Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan (Harper). It's been eight long years since Tan published Saving Fish from Drowning. Her next full-length novel is about three generations of Chinese and Chinese-American women whose lives are linked by a painting, and is set in San Francisco and Shanghai over the course of some 50 years. (read more) (October)
Untitled by Diane Setterfield (Emily Bestler Books). OK, this one's a novella and not a novel, but since Setterfield fans have been waiting since 2006 for more from the British author after her debut, The Thirteenth Tale, rocketed up bestseller lists, we felt it deserved inclusion. (read more) (Fall 2013)
Middle C by William H. Gass (Knopf). It has been 17 years since Gass, an influential writer and critic whose work has won just about every award out there, published a novel. This book goes from 1938 Austria to modern-day Ohio in its exploration of evil, sin and blame. (March)
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri (Knopf). It's been a long time since 2003's The Namesake! Set in the 1960s and ’70s, The Lowland is a tale of two Calcutta-born brothers, Subhash and Udayan. Inseparable as children, they find themselves torn apart by the turbulent times when the idealistic Udayan makes a decision that will affect the family for generations to come. (read more) (September)
Untitled Bridget Jones novel by Helen Fielding (Knopf). Fielding published her most recent novel in 2003, but it's been 14 years since we last heard from her iconic heroine, Bridget Jones. This fall, Fielding is bringing Bridget back for a modern-day adventure, which we assume will involve facing middle age with the same comic insight that she brought to being a "singleton." Fielding says of the project, "If people laugh as much reading it as I am while writing it then we'll all be very happy." (November)
All That Is by James Salter (Knopf). Pretty sure Salter wins the "most long-awaited" award: His last novel, Solo Faces, was published more than 30 years ago, and it’s been seven years since he published his last work of fiction, the short story collection Last Night. This novel is billed as “a sweeping, seductive love story set in post-World War II America that tells of one man’s great passions and regrets over the course of his lifetime.” (April)
Which of these releases have YOU been waiting for? Tell us in the comments!
The title of this post was probably the refrain of many an author in 2006, when they found themselves overshadowed by a certain 27-year-old female debut novelist. In 2005, six-figure deals for first novels were more common than they are these days, but the $500K+ sale of Special Topics in Calamity Physics still made headlines—and combined with Pessl's fetching author photo and undeniable writing chops to create a perfect storm of publicity around the book's August release.
Reviews of the novel were mixed, but this line from the BookPage review echoes a sentiment that all readers agreed on: "There can be little doubt of Pessl's talent, and her very clever debut undoubtedly marks the beginning of what is sure to be a long and successful career." The novel was named one of the New York Times' 10 best books of the year and won the John Sargent Sr. First Novel Prize.
But over the past 7 years, little has been revealed about Pessl's work-in-progress, which has been postponed more than once. Recently, however, it has been confirmed as a fall 2013 release from Random House—August 20, 2013, to be exact. Night Film was summarized when the deal was announced as a "psychological thriller about obsession, family loyalty and ambition set in raw contemporary Manhattan." Pessl recently described it on Twitter as "both different and the same [as Special Topics]. Or something like that." Whatever it is, we can't wait to dig in. How about you?
Some of the week's best book blog posts are below. Add your favorites in the comments.
How YOU can get a book deal
Posted by Lorelei Vashti on The Vine
The movie version of Eat, Pray, Love comes out a week from today, and excitement is building . . . everywhere you look, there is EPL merchandise: hats, bags, a fragrance. I will admit that I have not actually read EPL and therefore cannot fairly participate in any sort of poo-pooing on Elizabeth Gilbert's massive success. But I can get a laugh out of this post on memoirs of "experiments in living," from Living Celibately to Living Biblically to Living like Oprah.
Lisbeth Salander Is The Cure To Elizabeth Gilbert
Posted by Lizzie Skurnick on Jezebel
Is Salander's hostile, embattled avenger the responsive ying to Gilbert's sunny, drifting yang? Are we avoiding some golden mean of literary womanhood, or is the appeal their clumsy extremes? Should everyone read Olive Kitteridge and rethink the whole thing?
In Praise of Precocious Narrators
Posted by Anne Shulock on The Millions
I enjoyed Shulock's ode to precocious young narrators defined by "idiosyncratic voices, unapologetic intelligence and bold curiosity" (à la Blue van Meer in Marisha Pessl's Special Topics in Calamity Physics—which, as a side note, was probably my favorite book of 2006). Shulock's book recommendations and commentary on why these characters are "comfortable and exciting" is worth a read.