Ursula Le Guin won the Nebula Award (her sixth by our count) for best novel at a ceremony Saturday night at UCLA. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America chose Le Guin's Powers, the third book in the Annals of the Western Shore series, for the top honor. Interestingly, the novel is aimed at young adult readers, as is another Nebula finalist, Cory Doctorow's Homeland Security thriller Little Brother. Can we take this as another indicator that some of the most imaginative fiction being published today is in the YA market?
The winner of the Andre Norton Award for young adult science fiction and fantasy went to Ysabeau S. Wilce for Flora's Dare, a wild romp of a book, which has one of the longest subtitles we've seen lately: How a Girl of Spirit Gambles All to Expand Her Vocabulary, Confront a Bouncing Boy Terror, and Try to Save Califa from a Shaky Doom (Despite Being Confined to Her Room). For a look at the woman behind this fantastical vision, check out Kelly Link's 2007 BookPage interview with Wilce or the author's entertaining (and somewhat bizarre) website.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of months, you’ve probably seen a trailer for The Soloist, a new movie about the remarkable bond between a Los Angeles journalist (played by Robert Downey, Jr.) and a homeless, classically trained musician (Jamie Foxx). But did you know the movie is based on a book by that L.A. journalist, Steve Lopez?
Today is the last day to enter our very first Book Case giveaway. Click here and leave a comment for a chance to win one of the season's most talked-about debut novels. And be sure to read the recommendations from 27 readers (and counting) on their personal favorite coming-of-age stories.
In 2007, a young, handsome and totally unknown writer named Joshua Ferris rocked the publishing scene with his brilliant debut novel And Then We Came to the End. Writing in a first-person-plural narrative, Ferris satirized the American workplace by exploring a fictional Chicago advertising agency at the end of the 90s Internet boom. The book won the PEN/Hemingway Award, was named one of the New York Times Book Review’s “10 Best Books of the Year” and became a finalist for the National Book Award. Not bad for a 32-year-old who worked in—you guessed it—advertising before turning to writing.
In January 2010, Ferris will be back with The Unnamed—a novel that sounds as mysterious as its title. The novel focuses on Tim and Jane Farnsworth, a long-married couple who seem to have it all. But Tim has twice battled a bizarre, inexplicable illness, and when that illness returns, Tim’s behavior becomes so frightening that he and Jane are forced to leave their comfortable existence and battle against a series of terrifying new realities. Industry buzz says that while this book is absolutely a departure for Ferris, the new novel is well-worth the wait.
To read more about Ferris and his debut novel, check out his 2007 interview with BookPage.
Exciting news for Barbara Kingsolver fans—Harper has just announced that they will release The Lacuna, Kingsolver’s first novel in nine years, this November. Kingsolver’s last novel was The Prodigal Summer, following the tremendous success of her blockbuster (and Oprah pick) The Poisonwood Bible.
Seven years in the making, The Lacuna is set in Mexico and the U.S. during the 1930s, 40s and 50s. According to Kingsolver’s publisher, the novel “tells the story of Harrison William Shepherd, a man caught between two worlds—an unforgettable protagonist whose search for identity will take readers to the heart of the twentieth century’s most tumultuous events.” And a bonus for history buffs—The Lacuna includes real-life historical figures like Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Leon Trotsky—a first for Kingsolver’s fiction.
We haven’t read a word of The Lacuna just yet, but Kingsolver is an office favorite and we can’t wait to see what amazing world she has created for her readers this time.
Any other readers out there see this as a very strange piece of casting? I never pictured Patricia Cornwell's famous medical examiner as frumpy, but I didn't see her looking like Lara Croft either! Especially in the early books (Body of Evidence, All That Remains) Cornwell presents Scarpetta as more of a restrained, professional, all-business type. Hollywood, of course, has its own priorities, and fidelity to books isn't one of them. We're especially interested in reports that the first movie won't be based on one book in the series, but several. Does this mean they'll simply take the Scarpetta character and come up with a whole new storyline?
Also, we're wondering who'll play Scarpetta's niece, Lucy. And her policeman pal, Marino. Nominations anyone?
(Bloomsbury, March, trade paperback original)
This "memoir of near-fame experiences" takes the author from her days as an NYU drama student through auditions, rehearsals, a stint in L.A. and a role on "Seinfeld" with Jerry Himself. (Remember the episode about Jon Voight's car? Me neither.) The book's title comes from a piece of advice the author received from playwright David Mamet, master of subtlety: "Being a woman in this business, you'll be asked to do only two things in every f**** role you ever play; take your shirt off and cry. That's it." Who could argue with that assessment? Thankfully, Balbirer refuses to play the victim here, and she can take a well-deserved bow for this frank and funny account of her trek through the perilous world of show biz.
Like all of the BookPage staffers, I've always been an avid reader. But after majoring in English in college and then working in publishing in New York, I never thought I had the time to join a full-fledged book club. A few publishing girlfriends and I briefly began "The Bad Girls' Book Club" (where we would only read fun, self-indulgent books we couldn't admit to reading in the office) but we only met twice—and we weren't terribly diligent about our assignments. For the record, we WERE diligent with the delicious appetizers and specialty cocktails—and maybe that was the root of our problem...
After leaving the craziness of New York City for Nashville, I found myself with more time to read outside of work. The idea that I might actually finish one of the many books on my "to read" list was thrilling. And while gleefully explaining to my Nashville friends that I had all this time to read again, just for fun, I decided it was time to start a REAL book club. I pitched the idea to a few friends, who pitched the idea to a few of their friends, and voila—instant book club. We decided our first read will be Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. It's almost 1,200 pages long, so I'm a bit worried we've set the bar a little too high for our first meeting. But I have faith in our group. I'll check back in after our first meeting—hopefully in the next month or so!
What are your book clubs reading? Here are a few ideas, just for fun.
Bad Girls' Book Club reading list
The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe
Lighting Up by Susan Shapiro
From my mom’s "Ladies Who Lunch" book club
Peony in Love by Lisa See
The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan
From my dad’s “Guys Only” book club
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
The Tender Bar by J. R. Moehringer
(For the record, they meet at a bar, and they talk about sports, too)
If you're tempted to rush out and buy a copy of Jon Meacham's Pultizer Prize-winning biography, American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House, you might want to wait a few days. Random House announced this morning that it is moving up the paperback release date for American Lion from mid-June to the end of April. The paperback will have a first printing of 200,000; Random House reports that 500,000 copies of the hardcover edition are already in print.
Congratulations to Newsweek editor Jon Meacham, who won the Pulitzer Prize for biography for American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House. Meacham told BookPage in an interview last fall that he saw many parallels between Jackson's age and our own. "It's somewhat depressing, actually, to be a journalist who writes history because you realize that everything has happened before," he said. Tennessee bragging rights: Meacham is a native of Chattanooga, and he wrote much of American Lion in his summer house in Sewanee, Tennessee (near his alma mater, the University of the South).
Other Pulitzer winners include Annette Gordon-Reed, who took the History prize for The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family (BookPage review here); Douglas A. Blackmon, who won in General Nonfiction for Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II; and W.S. Merwin, whose collection The Shadow of Sirius won the Poetry prize.
The somewhat surprising winner in Fiction (at least to us! see prognostication post below) is Elizabeth Strout for Olive Kitteridge. The Pulitzer citation describes the book as "a collection of 13 short stories set in small-town Maine that packs a cumulative emotional wallop, bound together by polished prose and by Olive, the title character, blunt, flawed and fascinating." A 2006 BookPage interview notes Strout's fascination with Maine and her keenly observed portraits of its people. Fiction finalists are The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich (BookPage review) and All Souls by Christine Schutt (BookPage review). Book clubs, take note: Olive Kitteridge is already out in paperback, while The Plague of Doves comes out in paperback in May, and All Souls in June.