Fans of world literature, mark May 14 on your calendar: brilliant young writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie will be publishing her fourth book, Americanah (Knopf).
The title comes from the word Nigerians use for those who have left the country for the US and become "Americanized"—a borderline insult. Adichie's heroine Ifemelu is surprised to find the term applied to her when she returns home after 15 years in the US. Especially since she's always felt ambivalent about America: the country not only separated her from her teenaged love, Obinze, who had his visa denied, it also made her truly conscious of race for the first time. But upon her return, she and Obinze are reunited and must see how their very different expatriate pasts affect both their relationship and their lives in a newly independent Nigeria.
Will you look for it?
Related in BookPage: our review of The Thing Around Your Neck, Adichie's story collection.
As 2012 winds down, more news of 2013 books is trickling in. We're intrigued by the next release coming from Melanie Benjamin, one of the best writers of historical fiction based on real people working today. She's taking on Anne Morrow Lindbergh: writer, mother, and wife of famed aviator Charles Lindbergh, in The Aviator's Wife, out February 19 from Delacorte. Quoth the catalog:
It was a picture-book marriage that prevailed through wild international acclaim and vilification, death-defying flights, and a kidnapping that stunned the world. Their every act and gesture was captured by an insatiable press. Melanie Benjamin deftly peers into the fairy tale that is the marriage of one of America's most famous couples, and brings gorgeous insight into two compelling lives.
Are you looking forward to this one?
Read all of our 2013 release coverage.
Does putting the word "bees" in your book's title guarantee buzz? It seems to be working with these two 2013 debut novels, both of which have made it onto our radar here at BookPage.
The Death of Bees by Lisa O'Donnell (Harper) is set in a Scottish housing project, where two teenage sisters who've been let down by their parents decide not to mention that said parents have died . . . and been buried by the girls in the backyard. Darkly funny and a bit ribald, this novel received positive reviews upon its March UK release, and is hitting shelves here in January. O'Donnell is a Scot who now lives in LA (she's a screenwriter).
Other than the shared title word, Telling the Bees by Peggy Hesketh (Putnam) sounds like it could not be more different from the O'Donnell story (for one, bees are not just a metaphor—they figure in the book's plot). Compared to Remains of the Day, it's a quiet tale of an elderly beekeeper who is looking back on his life after a close friend with whom he had a complicated relationship dies. Hesketh is an experienced journalist who teaches at UC Irvine.
Anyone else heard the buzz? Will you look out for these novels next year?
Teddy Wayne won attention and acclaim (including the 2011 Whiting Writers' Award) for his first novel, Kapitoil, the story of a Muslim immigrant's integration into the corporate world—and America's capitalist society.
In his second novel, The Love Song of Jonny Valentine, coming in February, Wayne turns his satirical eye on the fame machine with the story of Jonny, an 11-year-old pop phenom who has everything—except a normal life. After all, most preteens don't have bodyguards to taste meals for poison, or a mother who is also their manager. When Jonny stumbles across a note in an online forum that might be from his estranged father, he sets off on a quest that could change the course of his life.
It's impossible to read this book without thinking of Justin Bieber, the Canadian pop star who makes preteen girls everywhere swoon. But Jonny's voice is disarming and real, and manages to be credible both as that of a preteen and that of a knowledgeable musician: He throws around terms like "brand perception" and "flat upper register" but is also obsessed with videogames and the Internet. Wayne is unsparing in his critique of the way the modern media builds up and breaks down its stars—and the way that such stars try to play that system. Jonny is both a symptom of this culture and a contributor to it, albeit an at times reluctant one.
So far, writing fiction that centers on fame seems to have been left to the stars themselves (think Britney Spears' A Mother's Gift, or the "novels" of Lauren Conrad). Which is surprising, since it's such a rich topic for an observant writer and such a dominant part of today's culture. Wayne makes the most of his material to come up with a book that is both entertaining and insightful. Look for it in February.
Fans who, like us, were saddened by Maeve Binchy's death this summer, can take solace in the fact that she had a finished novel waiting in the wings. Her American publisher, Knopf, has scheduled it for release in February (UK readers can get their fix in November). The Telegraph reports that it is dedicated to her husband of 35 years: "To Gordon—who makes life great every single day."
The description sounds like classic Binchy:
Stoneyville is a small town on the coast of Ireland where all the families know each other. When Chicky decides to take an old decaying mansion, Stone House, and turn it into a restful place for a holiday by the sea, the town thinks she is crazy. She is helped by Rigger (a bad boy turned good who is handy around the place) and her niece Orla (a whiz at business). Finally the first week of paying guests arrive: John, the American movie star thinks he has arrived incognito; Winnie and Lillian, forced into taking a holiday together; Nuala and Henry, husband and wife , both doctors who have been shaken by seeing too much death; Anders, the Swedish boy, hates his father's business, but has a real talent for music; Miss Nell Howe, a retired school teacher, who criticizes everything and leaves a day early, much to everyone's relief; the Walls who have entered in 200 contests (and won everything from a microwave oven to velvet curtains, including the week at Stone House); and Freda, the psychic who is afraid of her own visions. You will laugh and cry as you spend the week with this odd group who share their secrets and might even have some of their dreams come true.
Few first novels have gotten the attention and acclaim of Diane Setterfield's 2006 debut, The Thirteenth Tale. The former French professor's Gothic tale, with echoes of classics like Rebecca and Wuthering Heights, struck a chord with book lovers in particular, who sent it straight to the top of the bestseller lists: 70,000 copies were sold in the U.S. in the first two weeks of its release.
In our review, we said that Setterfield would have to write her next book quickly, since readers would be "clamoring for more." But news of a second novel has been slow in coming—Setterfield spent five years writing her first—even though The Thirteenth Tale was sold in the U.S. to Atria and the U.K. to Orion as part of a two-book deal.
But yesterday, Publisher's Lunch reported that Setterfield had sold a novella described only as "a ghost story" to Emily Bestler at her Atria imprint, for publication in fall 2013. While it's a little disappointing to get a novella instead of a second novel, we're happy to finally have news from Setterfield after years of fruitless Google searches. Anyone else looking forward to this one?
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. Benediction (Knopf) will be published on March 5.
From the catalog:
When Dad Lewis is diagnosed with terminal cancer, he and his wife must work together, along with their daughter, to make his final days as comfortable as possible, despite the bitter absence of their estranged son. Next door, a young girl moves in with her grandmother and contends with the memories that Dad's condition stirs up of her own mother's death. A newly arrived preacher attempts to mend his strained relationships with his wife and son, and soon faces the disdain of his congregation when he offers more than they are used to getting on Sunday mornings. And throughout, an elderly widow and her middle-aged daughter do all they can to ease the pain of their friends and neighbors.
Haruf is an expert at depicting small-town life, and this sounds like a powerful tale of faith and community. As he told us in 2004, "I want people to think that they have been in the presence of real people." We're looking forward to meeting the real people in Benediction. Will you read it?
What comes next for a 31-year-old whose first novel was a Pulitzer Prize finalist? A second story collection. Knopf is publishing Karen Russell's Vampires in the Lemon Grove on February 12, 2013. The collection contains eight new stories that promise the same combination of surrealism and insight as those in her striking debut, St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves (2006).
The title story, for example, is set in a lemon grove in Sorrento, Italy. There, a vampire couple watches time pass, and tourists come and go—but what does marriage mean without "till death do us part"?
Will you read it?
In an interview with The Globe and Mail, Gladwell was vague on the specifics but said he is "very interested in the foibles of the powerful."
He also discussed the Occupy movement, one of the primary influences on this next book:
It's the beginning of something. It's the opening salvo. What they're tapping into is something very profound, which is a level of frustration, a genuine level of anger and frustration with the way our society is organized, and the imbalances in the economic inequality and the imbalances in power and the way that the political system has been hijacked by special interests. These are all, particularly in the United States, less so here, but these are all profoundly important issues that absolutely, I think, will find some more coherent voice. This is going to be going on for years. I think it's foolish to pass judgment on Occupy after six months.
She's just finishing up filming on One for the Money, but a New York Times profile hints that Katherine Heigl has a new literary adaptation in the works: Diana Gabaldon's Outlander. Randall Wallace (Braveheart) is adapting this time-travel romance for the big screen, and a release date of 2012 is projected.
Evanovich fans (well, at least the ones who comment on our site) aren't big on the idea of Heigl as Stephanie Plum—will Gabaldon readers embrace the actress? T.Y. at the Lit Connection, who's a big Outlander saga fan, is an advocate for an unknown actress, and a brief scan of some fan sites turned up names like Kate Beckinsale and Kate Winslet. (At least Heigl's in the right first-name neighborhood.)
Any opinions on this casting?
Related in BookPage: reviews of Diana Gabaldon's books; an interview about the latest installment, An Echo in the Bone; a Q&A about Drums of Autumn and a blog post on the upcoming 8th book in the Outlander saga.