August is First Fiction Month on BookPage.com! Click here for complete coverage.
Use your past favorites to discover your favorite new voice! Here are 10 notable first novels paired with their 2013 read-alikes. Agree? Disagree? Duke it out with me in the comments.
Like Prada, Kwan's debut features a likable heroine thrust into a world beyond her ken. Only instead of the fashion elite, Rachel is brought into the secretive kingdom of the offshore Chinese, a community with wealth and privilege beyond her wildest imaginings.
Like Audrey Niffenegger's 2003 bestseller, Rhonda Riley's debut tells the story of an ordinary woman in love with someone who's . . . not so ordinary. Along the way, it explores questions about the nature of love and identity.
If you like quirks, literary chops and a touch of magic in your fiction, The Rathbones is the 2013 debut for you. It stars a spunky teenage heroine who sets out on a search for a missing relative—and encompasses 100 years of Rathbone family history in the process.
Marra's accomplished debut is set in war-torn Chechnya, and, like Obreht's, manages to tell a compelling story while exploring the effects of a brutal civil war. Insightful and enlightening, this is the sort of novel that helps you see the world differently.
Like Fielding, Double Feature manages to tackle the tricky topic of young man coming of age without self-indulgence or pretension—although King's hero Sam Dolan must prove himself in Hollywood rather than on the baseball field. Both novels surround a dynamic male lead with an equally true-to-life, crowd-pleasing cast of characters, and ably walk the line between tragedy and comedy.
Though set in different eras, these two debuts both masterfully evoke the Southern landscape and culture and feature down-and-out protagonists who could use a little bit of luck—not to mention poetic, spare prose.
Alice Sebold's first novel broke the rules by killing her narrator in the opening pages. Nutting's debut is possibly even more transgressive: Its narrator is an unrepentant, beautiful and cold young woman who preys on her teen students. But a bold premise is nothing without an equally strong and original voice—and both of these books have it.
A story told in letters, set mostly on a small, isolated island during a world war—this summary could describe either of these charming novels. Although each has its own distinct voice, both handily evoke their eras and will please fans of love stories and small-town tales.
Though the settings of these two novels could not be more different—an isolated island off the coast of Australia vs. a modern American prison—the moral questions raised by each will have a similar resonance in readers' minds.
With a settings ranging from Sweden to Spain's stunning Costa del Sol, this fast-paced crime thriller is hard-boiled enough to satisfy fans of Stieg Larsson's Millenium trilogy.
First up this week is a lighthearted contribution from the terrific site Open Culture. Anyone who grew up watching Looney Tunes will enjoy these classic cartoons with a literary angle. 1946's "Book Revue" (embedded below), has all the elements—memorable musical numbers, wacky humor and prolonged chase scenes—that make Warner Brothers cartoons so beloved. Apologies in advance for leaving you humming "nothing could be feener than to be in Caroleeena in the moooorning." Click here to read Open Culture's post and see an even earlier version of the "books come to life" genre.
We told you about World Book Night coming stateside earlier this week—but giving away free books is not without controversy. Unhappy with the selections to be given away in the UK, and with the expense being shouldered by publishers, author Susan Hill is starting her own event, Not World Book Night, that encourages people to pick a book from her list of selections, read it and pass it on. The Guardian says of her list and mission:
From Metroland to The Turn of the Screw, Midnight's Children to The Day of the Triffids, it's a wonderfully eclectic line-up – Hill was "looking to stimulate interest in the best, not suggest the obvious and recommend", she tweeted, later telling me that she was "thinking just to do some more recommends… no hidden agenda!"
So the Steve Jobs bio is out, and the reviews and excerpts are everywhere (including our site!). But one of the funniest takes I've seen is that of Book Shop Santa Cruz, who created the tumblr site "Watched by Steve" in homage to that memorable cover photo. Hard to pick my fave, but I think it might be this one (look hard to find Jobs!).
We're less than two months away from the release of the American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movie, and I bet I'll run into more than a few Lisbeth-look-alikes this Halloween weekend. Those of you who want to look like Lisbeth, but, perhaps, didn't get your act together in time for October 31 can still look forward to some wardrobe additions. Swedish chain store H&M is launching a line of clothing inspired by the Stieg Larsson's books. Have to say that I agree with a comment from The Guardian . . . "Hard to think a high street collection stems back to a book originally called Men Who Hate Women."
Happy weekend! What have you been reading this week?
Ever opened a magazine and seen an ad for a sweepstakes . . . only to think: What's the point? I'll never win. I am here to tell you to forget that thought.
In the June 2010 issue of BookPage—the one with Justin Cronin on the cover—Knopf ran a full-page ad promoting The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, which came out in May of 2010. The ad looked something like this:
In November, we were thrilled to learn that the winner of the contest, Laura, entered thanks to an ad in BookPage! Then we were especially thrilled when we heard that Laura is a big BookPage fan; she even persuaded her local Friends of the Library group to hand out copies of BookPage at her branch.
My co-workers and I were so happy about (and quite jealous of) Laura's trip—and that was before she sent us pictures. Just a couple weeks ago, Laura and her husband spent four nights exploring the Sweden of Lisbeth Salander. They visited both Stockholm and the outer archipelago of the city.
Laura wrote after the trip to say how beautiful Stockholm is—and her pictures don't disappoint. It is always an incredible experience to visit a new country, but when the sites you're seeing are also described in a favorite novel? Priceless.
Thank you for sharing your experience in Sweden, Laura! Have any other readers been on a fantastic vacation this summer? What about a trip with a literary bent?
Rooney Mara stars as Lisbeth Salander in David Fincher's adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. If you saw her in The Social Network and were puzzled over how she could portray tougher-than-tough computer hacker Lisbeth, then wonder no longer. Just pick up the February issue of W, which features a photo spread of Mara going full-out Lisbeth.
Fincher’s film departs dramatically from the book: Mikael Blomkvist is more gentlemanly, Salander... is more aggressive—and the ending has been completely altered.
Lisbeth Salander (aka the girl of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) is a "tattooed, waif-thin, 20-something hacker known for her extreme antisocial behavior and capacity for violence."
And she has captured the reading public's imagination as the star of Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy.
By now, we all know that Sony is releasing an American adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, directed by David Fincher, in December of 2011. On The Book Case, we've been speculating about the movie's casting for months.
Today Sony announced that Rooney Mara will star as Lisbeth. Daniel Craig is already confirmed in the role of Mikael Blomkvist.
Mara starred in the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street and will also appear in The Social Network, Fincher's movie about the founding of Facebook (and based on Ben Mezrich's book The Accidental Billionaires).
Mara is quite obscure compared to other actors rumored to have been in the running to play Lisbeth: Carey Mulligan, Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson...
Do you think Fincher made the right choice?
Keira Knightley, watch your back: Carey Mulligan might just be the new queen of literary adaptations. So far she's starred/will be starring in at least six.
Pride & Prejudice (2005)
Bleak House (2005)
Northanger Abbey (2007)
An Education (2009)
Never Let Me Go (2010)
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011)*
Next, it seems she'll play the role of Florence Ponting in the film adaptation of Ian McEwan's novella On Chesil Beach. The film is still being cast, but it's expected to hit theaters in 2012. Sam Mendes will direct, and McEwan adapted the screenplay himself. That must have been quite a task, since much of the novel takes place inside the characters' minds.
Newlyweds Edward Mayhew and Florence Ponting, not long out of university, are both still virgins on their wedding night, and the overlapping anticipation and anxiety of what they will encounter in the marriage bed provide the drama of the story. They live, we are told, in a time when a conversation about sexual difficulties was plainly impossible. So, as they eat their supper in the room of a Georgian inn on the Dorset coast, just a few hours after their marriage, Edward and Florence each think, but never speak, about what they hope will or will not soon transpire in the adjoining bedroom. (Read more)
*see comments for details.
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.
Last month I posted about the Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movie, and I could tell from the comments that readers are really excited about this adaptation—not to mention The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, book three in Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy (out May 25).
So I know you'll be happy to hear this news from Hollywood, too. Rumors are swirling about the American version of the movie, directed by David Fincher (Fight Club, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) and produced by Scott Rudin (No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood). Word is that Carey Mulligan (An Education) will play Lisbeth Salander and Brad Pitt will star opposite as Mikael Blomqvist.
Casting has not been confirmed, although this IMDb message board suggests Mulligan and Pitt are a "strong bet." Do you agree with these picks? Is there anyone you'd rather see as Lisbeth and Mikael?
Related in BookPage: Reviews of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played with Fire. We'll be covering The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest in our June issue, along with info on how the books came to be published in the United States. Stay tuned!
Stieg Larsson fans have something to look forward to until the release of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest on May 25. I knew that there had been Swedish film adaptations of the Millennium Trilogy, and that a Hollywood version is in the works. What I didn’t know—until last night, when a trailer screened at the Belcourt movie theater in Nashville—is that the Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is coming to the United States. Directed by Niels Arden Oplev, the movie has already grossed $100 million abroad. It’s also 153 minutes long and features brutally violent scenes.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the adaptation is worth a watch:
The film adaptation of the first book, "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," is, like its source material, at once formula thriller, scathing social commentary and dark history lesson. But it's also a more eloquent work; smartly condensing the novel's sprawl, the feature forgoes prosaic detail for cinematic vigor. The result is a character-driven mystery of considerable emotional power, often harrowing and always compelling.