Room by Emma Donoghue
Little, Brown • $24.99 • September 13, 2010
As a longtime fan of Emma Donoghue, I was eager to read Room the moment I heard about it. I took a copy home over the weekend, but didn't have a chance to pick it up until Sunday night. My plan was to read "just a few pages" before bed. An hour and a half later I had to force myself to put it down. Not since The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time have I been so compelled by a child narrator: just-turned-five Jack's account of his life as a captive in an 11 x 11-foot room with his mother is especially powerful because for him, it is not a nightmare. Thanks to his imaginative and loving mother, he is as close to normal as a child raised without other contact can be.
"Can they come here sometime for real?"
"I wish they could," she says. "I pray for it so hard, every night."
"I don't hear you."
"Just in my head," says Ma.
I didn't know she prays things in her head where I can't hear.
"They're wishing it too," she says, "but they don't know where I am."
"You're in Room with me."
"But they don't know where it is, and they don't know about you at all."
That's weird. "They could look on Dora's Map, and when they come I could pop out at them for a surprise."
Ma nearly laughs but not quite. "Room's not on any map."
"We could tell them on a telephone, Bob the Builder has one."
"But we don't."
"We could ask for one for Sundaytreat." I remember. "If Old Nick stops being mad."
"Jack. He'd never give us a phone, or a window." Ma takes my thumbs and squeezes them. "We're like people in a book, and he won't let anybody else read it."
Now publisher Little Brown has announced that Angelina Jolie will play the part of Cleopatra in an upcoming film adaptation (produced by Scott Rudin).
This is the second literary adaptation this year for Jolie, who will also play Patricia Cornwell's M.E. Kay Scarpetta in an upcoming feature film. What do you think of the casting choice?
If you’re an avid Glee fan like me, last night’s season finale was more bitter than sweet. Sure, the kids from New Directions sang their hearts out at regionals, several romantic entanglements got even more complicated and Quinn finally had her baby girl. But with our favorite show on hiatus, what’s a Gleek to do? Well, it turns out you don’t have to watch endless reruns of season one or listen to the cast recordings over and over on your iPod . . . because Glee is hitting bookstores this fall!
Glee: The Beginning: An Original Novel by Sophia Lowell goes on sale September 1 from Poppy, a young adult publishing division of Hachette. And while this first book is a prequel to the TV show, multiple book projects are in the works—and all are authorized by Twentieth Century Fox. Now that’s music to our ears.
Are you a fan of Glee? Will you read the books?
Sena Jeter Naslund is not the type of author who does the same thing twice. She's told the story of Moby Dick from the woman's point of view (Ahab's Wife); portrayed race relations in the Civil Rights Era South (Four Spirits); and channeled a queen's point-of-view to tell Marie Antoinette's tragic tale (Abundance).
Her new book, Adam & Eve (Morrow), which is being published on September 28, is another departure. Set in the near future—2020—it tells the story of Lucy, a young widow whose astrophysicist husband has entrusted her with a major secret. There is life in outer space, and just before Thom died he had come up with the evidence to prove it. Lucy is the only one who knows, and she has the evidence on a flash drive she wears around her neck. The repercussions from this ripple out, affecting three religions and endangering Lucy's own life, as Naslund explores the explosive intersection of religion, tolerance and science.
Add another buzzed-about debut to your September reading list: The Gendarme, by Mark T. Mustian (Amy Einhorn Books).
It has a provocative premise: a 92-year-old man discovers he has a brain tumor that seems to be unlocking memories of his past as an Ottoman Army soldier during the Armenian genocide. Turns out he fell in love with, and spared the life of, an Armenian girl during that time, and despite his age and frailty, he's determined to go back to Turkey to find her.
The atrocities referred to in Mustian's book are still a point of contention today, as the Turkish government still considers it a crime to refer to the murders, arrests or mass deportations that took place between 1915 and 1918 as "genocide." Mustian traveled the route between Turkey and Syria that many Armenians were forced to travel by foot and without much food, and posted about the journey on his site. "Traveling paved highways in an air-conditioned van, I tried to imagine what it would have been like for old men, women, and children to make this journey on foot. . . . They would have had to leave almost all of their possessions behind. The sun would have been searing, the paths dusty and arduous and long. Water would have been scarce. Disease and lack of food and thievery would have taken their toll. . . . It was easy to see how many would have failed to survive it."
Library Journal says, "A first look suggests that the dreamlike, staccato language opens up into a moving but fiercely unsentimental book. Not for your lighter time-traveler readers; recommend to smart book clubbers in search of something intriguing and different."
Rights have already been sold in at least six countries, and the book's striking cover recalls National Geographic's "Afghan Girl."
Does learning more about this period of history interest you? Will you read?
Coming in October from Little, Brown—The Wolves of Andover, the prequel to the 2008 hit The Heretic's Daughter. Dallas novelist Kathleen Kent tells the story of Martha Allen and Thomas Carrier, who in her earlier novel experienced the Salem Witch Trials. Their courtship sounds equally daunting: Thomas, who played a significant role in the English Civil War, finds himself pursued by assassins sent to the New World from London, while Martha navigates the complicated world of a household servant.
Related in BookPage: Our review of The Heretic's Daughter.
This expanded version of the popular feature from the print edition of BookPage shares the release dates for some of the guaranteed blockbusters hitting shelves in May. Which May release are you most looking forward to? Tell us in the comments.
Spoken from the Heart by Laura Bush
The highly anticipated memoir from the notoriously
private former first lady. It will also be available as a signed collector's edition.
Tell-All by Chuck Palaniuk
Knopf Doubleday, $24.95
The always edgy author gives his unique take on old Hollywood in a subversive new novel.
Blue-Eyed Devil by Robert B. Parker
Parker's posthumous Western brings back Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch for some vigilante justice.
Executive Intent by Dale Brown
Morrow, $26.99, ISBN 9780061560859
It’s president against vice president in Brown’s near-future political thriller.
Miracle on the 17th Green by James Patterson & Peter de Jonge
Little, Brown, $19.99
Patterson and de Jonge pair up for the inspiring story of a man who, at 50, suddenly achieves his life's dream of becoming a professional golfer.
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson
The final novel in the Millennium Trilogy brings back Lisbeth Salander for more adventure, danger and suspense.
Last Night at Chateau Marmont by Lauren Weisberger
Simon & Schuster, $25.99
What happens when normal girls are left behind when their boyfriends hit the big time? They get revenge.
British author John le Carré, who does spy suspense like few others, has a new book coming this fall—from a new publisher. His 22nd novel, Our Kind of Traitor, will be published by Viking on October 12.
Though not much is known about the new book yet, Viking describes it as "a fast-moving story that reveals the battles of the British Secret Service in addition to the brutal maneuvering of the international criminal world."
Le Carré is nearly 80, but like his compatriot P.D. James, his age hasn't affected the quality of his work, which continues to garner top-notch reviews and hit bestseller lists.
Related in BookPage: Review of le Carré's last thriller, A Most Wanted Man.
It’s always a treat to have the opportunity to speak with authors after you’ve read their books. So I was thrilled to interview Emily Giffin about her latest novel, Heart of the Matter, for our May issue.
We mostly talked about Heart of the Matter, of course, but I was delighted as our conversation veered off-course a few times. I couldn’t include all of the great content in my print interview, so here's the dish on Giffin’s writing process, how she balances a full-time writing career with raising three young children and—gasp—some then “off-the-record” (and now public) details on the upcoming movie version of her debut novel, Something Borrowed.
We’ve heard the good news that Something Borrowed (and Something Blue) are being adapted for film. Something Borrowed is slated to begin filming this summer. What can you tell us about that experience?
It’s been totally thrilling and I’ve been very involved with the details and become very close to both producers and the director. It’s been such a positive experience. I’ve heard that it can be a very negative experience for writers and they can be completely not involved and hate the direction. They have listened to my thoughts, and they don’t always agree with what I say—which is fine, because I’ve always viewed it as a separate project—but they listen and they are just great people. So it’s been awesome. Ginnifer Goodwin has been cast as Rachel—she’s perfect. So sweet. And John Krasinski is in for Ethan.
[This is where Abby devolved into total celeb geek mode and Emily and Abby discussed all the casting options and possibilities. Recently, more of the cast has been revealed (and even seen on set the week of April 19), including: Kate Hudson as Darcy, Colin Egglesfield (from the new Melrose Place) as Dexter and Steve Howey (who co-starred with Hudson in Bride Wars) as Marcus. Giffin said the movie is slated for release in early spring 2011, and you can bet I’ll be first in line at the theaters.]
So will you get to be on set and meet all these fabulous people?
My book tour starts May 11 and filming starts April 27 and I’m like, 95% of my life is totally boring, why do these two things have to happen at once? But I should be able to get up there a few times. And technically, in the contract, I’m supposed to have a small speaking part.
How does your creative process work? What comes to you first? The characters? The situations?
It’s pretty much worked the same with all of my books. It’s more of a very general premise. What would happen if a woman fell in love with her best friend’s fiancé, or what would happen if a couple got married and then, a few years into their marriage, one changed their mind about something that was fundamental to their marriage? Or what would happen if you ran into your “one who got away” and suddenly you realized that being with him was an option. I think I always start with that scenario, and I try to make it very relatable. Most everyone has someone from their past who they wonder about; and most of us have a friendship that is not 100% pure, marked by an undertone of insecurity or competitiveness, or something toxic about it. I think women—people—of all ages can relate to that. So the situation comes first and then the characters emerge from that. And then as I get to know the characters and write about them, the plot comes after [that]. It’s a very character-driven process for me.
Do you outline and plan it all out?
No, I don’t. I haven’t for any of my books. I have a very general sense of beginning, middle and end, but I don’t outline any scenes or specifics. I just think to myself, “Ok, this is where they’re starting out, this is where they’re going and this is where I think they’ll end up.” But in many cases they don’t end up where I think they will because as I get to know them, I think to myself, “Well, that’s not actually what this person would do.” You get to know the characters as you spend time with them, and sometimes I’m very surprised. For me, it’s a lot more fun to write that way. It’s inefficient, but I enjoy the little surprises along the way.
How do you balance a full-time writing career with raising three young children?
I think it’s interesting that people often ask that question. In a way, I think it gives me too much credit. I think every time we go into a bookstore, Harriet that she’ll have a role model—someone who does both.
You initially tried to break into publishing by writing a YA novel. Do you ever think of revisiting that genre and writing anything for a younger audience now that you’re a best-selling author?
Occasionally. If I had more time, I definitely would. I have been writing the screenplay for Baby Proof and I’ve been thinking about young adult books. I just wish I had more time because there is so much I would like to do. But I have to prioritize because I do have small children and I don’t have all the time in the world to work. So I think I’m going to stick with what I’m doing, for the most part.
Are you working on your sixth novel? Can you tell us anything about it?
I’ve started it. But it’s a little too new to get into what it’s about.
Read the complete interview with Giffin on BookPage.com.
The fall publishing season usually contains at least one blockbuster celeb bio. On the radar for 2010 is Keith Richards' Life, which will be released in October. Little Brown publisher Michael Pietsch calls it "the most exciting memoir I’ve ever had a hand in." He goes on to say
All those encounters and adventures we’ve heard of for decades—Redlands, Morocco, exile in France, Altamont—and the people—Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Marianne Faithfull, Anita Pallenberg, Gram Parsons, Patti Hansen, Johnny Depp and more—are here in Keith’s own vivid memories. The best news of all is how superbly written this book is. [Richards collaborated with writer James Fox.]