The Frankfurt Book Fair took place last week, and it's always a source for major publishing news. One of the early news items has to do with author Ken Follett, whose historical novels and thrillers have been huge hits worldwide.
In a feature in BookPage about his last novel, World Without End, Follett said he wanted to "write another book that gets this kind of enthusiastic reception." We're pretty sure rights being sold in six countries, and a worldwide one-day laydown, counts as enthusiasm!
Fall of Giants will go on sale September 28, 2010, just in time for a planned miniseries based on Pillars of the Earth. (Penguin/Dutton got the U.S. rights.) It is the first of three books planned for the "New Century Trilogy," which will cover most of the 20th century. Fall of Giants follows five families through World War I and the Russian revolution, setting the stage for the next novel, which will cover World War II.
The talented Adriana Trigiani will continue her series starring Valentine Roncalli this February in Brava, Valentine. Her Italian-American heroine, who runs her own custom shoe design boutique in Greenwich Village, is still struggling to balance love, a career and her well-meaning but nosy family.
Read our review of Valentine's first adventure, Very Valentine, which comes out in paperback in January (the pb version will include the first chapter of Brava and "a divine recipe section including Roman Falconi’s savory pizzelles with caviar," according to Trigiani's website.)
We interviewed Trigiani in 2005 for Rococo, her first book featuring a male hero. "This is the thing about families: we know everything about each other. We just don't talk about it," she told us, explaining the theme of many of her books.
This week's mail brought something beautiful to BookPage: a set of Penguin's new clothbound classics. Designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith and previously available only at Waterstone's bookstore in the UK, these new jacketless hardcovers pair early 20th-century styling with classic content.
The eight titles available in the US are Great Expectations, Wuthering Heights, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Cranford, Tess of the d'Urbervilles, Jane Eyre and The Picture of Dorian Gray. (Links go to images of each book.) Each retails at $20 and contains a ribbon bookmark. In a nod to their stylish appearance, the books will be sold at Anthropology and Urban Outfitters as well as your local bookstore. More titles—including Madame Bovary and Crime and Punishment—are available in the UK; if the series proves popular here, perhaps they'll make the jump as well.
Bickford-Smith is a senior designer at Penguin UK, and is responsible for some of the more memorable Penguin Classic covers that have appeared over the past few years. In a recent interview, she gave her designer's perspective on the ebook phenomenon:
Electronic books are inevitably going to impact physical publishing, but the printed book is a very successful technology in its own right and I don’t think it will be entirely displaced. For all the advantages of ebooks—portability, interactivity, production and distribution savings—there’s something potent about the physical object that will always have a strong appeal. I like to think that as the volume of physical books declines, the average quality of the design will increase, because books will have to work harder to justify their physical presence.
More about the series can be found on Penguin UK's blog.
This morning brought news of this year's National Book Award nominees. It's an eclectic list that contains a couple of surprises (such as American Salvage). We're rooting for Colum McCann or Jayne Anne Phillips for fiction (fun fact: the same reviewer who wrote about this year's Booker Prize winner, Wolf Hall, for BookPage also covered Lark and Termite—does that mean Jayne Anne's a shoo-in?), and my personal nonfiction pick is the fascinating Fordlandia.
David Small's Stitches seems like the obvious front-runner for Young People's Literature, given its crossover success and starkly powerful images, though we wouldn't rule out Charles and Emma, a moving exploration of the Darwins' marriage. We'll find out whether we're right when the winners are announced on November 18.
Full list of nominees after the jump! Who's your favorite on the list? Is there a book you thought should have made it that didn't?
Bonnie Jo Campbell, American Salvage (Wayne State University Press)
Colum McCann, Let the Great World Spin (Random House)
Daniyal Mueenuddin, In Other Rooms, Other Wonders (W. W. Norton &
Jayne Anne Phillips, Lark and Termite (Alfred A. Knopf)
Marcel Theroux, Far North (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Judges: Alan Cheuse, Junot Díaz, Jennifer Egan, Charles Johnson, Lydia Millet
David M. Carroll, Following the Water: A Hydromancer's Notebook (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Sean B. Carroll, Remarkable Creatures: Epic Adventures in the Search
for the Origins of Species (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Greg Grandin, Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City (Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt)
Adrienne Mayor, The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithradates, Rome's Deadliest Enemy (Princeton University Press)
T. J. Stiles, The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt (Alfred A. Knopf)
YOUNG PEOPLE'S LITERATURE
Deborah Heiligman, Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith (Henry Holt)
Phillip Hoose, Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
David Small, Stitches (W. W. Norton & Co.)
Laini Taylor, Lips Touch: Three Times (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic)
Rita Williams-Garcia, Jumped (HarperTeen/HarperCollins)
Rae Armantrout, Versed (Wesleyan University Press)
Ann Lauterbach, Or to Begin Again (Viking Penguin)
Carl Phillips, Speak Low (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon, Open Interval (University of Pittsburgh Press)
Keith Waldrop, Transcendental Studies: A Trilogy (University of California Press)
You can find more information about the awards on the site for the National Book Foundation.
This post about the past weekend's Southern Festival of Books goes back to the very first night, when BookPage reserved a table at the Authors in the Round dinner. We got to the cocktail party a little late but there was plenty of time to catch a glimpse of authors like Kathryn Stockett, Robert Hicks, Jill McCorkle, Michael Sims and even John Carter Cash, who was wearing a dapper seersucker suit.
Our dinner companion was Madison Smartt Bell, who we're pretty sure was happy with his seat between two lovely ladies.
Conversation ranged from his early years in Nashville, to the Bell witch, to the merits of Goucher College, where he is a professor of English. And of course we talked about his forthcoming novel, Devil's Dream, which brings one of the Civil War's most complicated generals, Nathan Bedford Forrest, to life. Bell told us his college-aged daughter helped him finalize the book's structure, which jumps backward and forward through time with each chapter. Watch for more details in a website interview in November.
If you could have dinner with an author, who would it be?
While the anticipation grows for Stephen King's Under the Dome, buzz is also building for the latest project from his son, who writes as Joe Hill. Hill's debut, Heart-Shaped Box, was an uber-creepy tale of a haunted rock star that demonstrated that a talent for tapping into the dark side of human nature just might be genetic.
In February, Morrow will publish Hill's second novel, Horns, a book the author describes as "another heart-warmer." It's already been optioned for film by Mandalay entertainment. The premise: a man wakes up after a wild night to find horns growing out of his head—and like Pinocchio's nose, they keep growing every day. Turns out his girlfriend's murder might have something to do with his strange condition.
Like King's Under the Dome, Horns will also be released (in the UK, at least) in a limited edition by PS Publishing. The limited edition of 500 will include art by Vincent Chong and be signed by the author. Full details on the special edition can be found here.
What do you think of this special edition trend? Are there any books you'd like to have a $300 deluxe version of?
In January, author Amy Bloom returns with her first work since 2007's much-lauded Away. The new book, Where the God of Love Hangs Out (Random House) will be an interconnected collection of short stories that "explores the unexpected patterns that all forms of love and loss weave into our lives"—at least, according to the catalog copy.
Away, which made several "Best Book of the Year" lists, was something of a comeback for Bloom, whose previous work of fiction, A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You, was published in 2000. BookPage reviewer Arlene McKanic described Bloom's writing in Away as "clear, rich and shot through with moments of humor" that perhaps made it more accessible than the edgier tales of "people on the edge" she'd published previously.
We'll be interested to see where God of Love fits into Bloom's oeuvre. Title-wise, it seems more in line with her early works: of her first four works of fiction, two have the word "love" in the title.
Over the summer, I posted about the ABC series "Castle," about a novelist and a cop who form an unlikely partnership when the author decides to make the cop the model for the heroine of a new series. Well, season two is airing now—and more real-life authors appeared in the very first episode. I still get a kick out of seeing writers on TV, especially when Castle starts referring to plot points in their novels in order to get them to let him know where a "tattooed Russian mobster" is most likely to hang out.
But wait, there's more: "Richard Castle's" first mystery starring detective Nicki Heat went on sale—outside TV land—at the end of last month. And for a based-on-TV book, it's getting some great early reviews. (Perhaps those illustrious literary extras were also contributors?) You can watch a trailer here.
Would you read a book that's inspired by TV? Or if you already have, what's your favorite? As a dedicated viewer of the late, lamented (by me anyway) "Passions" I have to admit to checking out a copy of Hidden Passions back when it came out.
In a new video interview with The Guardian, Audrey Niffenegger reveals more tantalizing tidbits about the inspiration behind Her Fearful Symmetry, as well as atmospheric scenery from Highgate Cemetery.
As she told our interviewer, much of the novel was consciously structured along the lines of Victorian classics like The Woman in White—but a good bit was organic as well. It wasn't until she started writing about Elspeth that she realized the character needed to be a ghost. She tells The Guardian, "having killed this character before she even existed, I started trying to think who she might have been and what she was like . . . I really liked her, I thought she was interesting and cool and I wanted to write about her, but I had already killed her, so I thought right, OK, she's a ghost."
Of course, you'd have to check out our interview to see how Niffenegger feels about God and the film version of the Time Traveler's Wife. If you haven't read it yet, what are you waiting for?
And for anyone who's already finished Symmetry–what did you think? I'd love to discuss it with you.
It’s no secret that I’m a Lauren Conrad fan. Earlier this year, I forced Trisha to come with me to a Nashville signing of her first Y.A. novel, L.A. Candy (check out our adventures here). And I read—and enjoyed—the book. But when news broke yesterday that Temple Hill Entertainment had acquired screen rights to L.A. Candy, even I had mixed feelings.
Let’s think about this: once Lauren Conrad was just an average California high school student. Then she agreed to have her life taped as part of MTV’s reality show, “Laguna Beach.” Then came “The Hills,” chronicling Lauren’s move to L.A. Then Lauren wrote L.A. Candy about her experiences on “The Hills.” And now we have a movie about the book about the TV show about the girl. But it's fiction. Based on reality. The mind reels.
It’s great news for Lauren, though. Not only will she “be involved in shaping the direction of the script” and given the title of Executive Producer on the film, but Temple Hill is executive producing the movie. Maybe you've heard of their current film projects, the "Twilight" sequels "New Moon" and "Eclipse"?
I guess the only remaining question is: who will play Lauren Conrad in a movie version of her literary life?