Shelf Awareness for Monday, June 3, 2013

Harlequin: Going Gone by Sharon Sala

Penguin: There Once Lived a Mother by Ludmila Petrushevskaya

Tor: The Midnight Plan of the Repo Man by W. Bruce Cameron

Greenwillow: New Darkness by Joseph Delaney

Little Brown Books for Young Readers: The Doubt Factory by Paulo Bacigalupi

 

News

BEA 2013: Pictures from an Exhibition and Beyond

BookExpo America ended on Saturday with yet another innovation: at least 2,000 "power readers," aka consumers, roamed the halls of the slimmed down, ever more diffuse but surprisingly resilient show. The mood of many over the four days echoed Macmillan CEO John Sargent's comment at his plenary discussion on Wednesday that he is much more optimistic about the industry than a year ago. Booksellers were especially ebullient, pointing to their growing numbers, solid sales and a sense that publishers see them as important partners again.

Once again, BEA was the site to meet established and new authors, whose ranks included a cat (who was perhaps the only grumpy attendee); to learn about everything from cutting-edge digital matters to the nuts and bolts of remainder buying; and, as always, to see Dr. Ruth, who may have attended more ABAs and BEAs than anyone alive.

Our in-depth coverage of BEA will continue over the next week.

Happy booksellers at the Random House party on Friday night: Keaton Patterson and Jeremy Ellis of Brazos Bookstore in Houston; Joe Hickman, Lemuria Books, Jackson, Miss.; Kris Kleindeinst, Left Bank Books, St. Louis, Mo.; Richard Howorth, Square Books, Oxford, Miss.

At the Inside the Mystery Writer's Studio panel, Marcia Clark (her third Rachel Knight novel, Killer Ambition, is coming from Mulholland Books June 18), confessed it was her first time as moderator. "So they started me out with the little guys," she said, introducing David Baldacci (King and Maxwell, Grand Central, Nov.), Michael Connelly (Gods of Guilt, Little, Brown, Dec.), George Pelecanos (The Double, Little, Brown, Oct.) and Scott Turow (Identical, Grand Central, Oct.).

What's BEA without running into old friends (sometimes in new jobs)? Eric Price, director of sales, marketing and publicity at Quercus Publishing, and Sue Ostfield, sales and marketing director at Milkweed Editions, in the Quercus booth.

 
Shelf Awareness children's editor Jennifer Brown (center) led a freewheeling discussion with Newbery Award winners Kate DiCamillo and Cynthia Voigt on BookExpo America's Uptown Stage. In addition to discussing their forthcoming children's books, Flora & Ulysses (Candlewick) and Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things (Knopf), the two authors talked about their writing lives, including their shared habit of writing in the early morning. "The voice in your head that says 'Who do you think you are? You can't do this, you don't know what you're doing....' That voice is not an early riser," DiCamillo said. "It's not there at 6:00 in the morning." Voigt's motivation was somewhat different. "I was raised with the mantra 'You can't do this,' and my response was... not accommodating," she confided, building on an earlier comment about the independent-minded protagonists in their books: "When I was growing up, the quality I call independence was called pigheadedness."
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Marilyn Dahl, editor of Shelf Awareness for Readers (standing), talked about Great Fall Fiction with a group of editors on the Downtown Stage: FSG's Sean McDonald (who discussed Hild by Nicola Griffiths); Little, Brown's Judy Clain (who presented Burial Rites by Hanna Kent); Penguin's Alison Lorentzen (Necessary Errors by Caleb Crain); and Bloomsbury's Nancy Miller (The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon).

 

The Children's Book & Author Breakfast speakers prepare to kick off the events on Friday. L.-r.: Mary Pope Osborne (the Magic Tree House books, Random House), Rick Riordan (The House of Hades, Hyperion/Disney, Oct.); Octavia Spencer (Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective series, S&S), who served as emcee; and Veronica Roth (Allegiant, Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins, Oct.).
Julianne Moore signed posters in the Chronicle booth for her picture book, My Mom Is a Foreigner, but Not Me, illustrated by Meilo So, coming in August. (photo: Davida G. Brier)

In the Norton booth, Andre Dubus III chatted with fans and signed ARCs of his upcoming novel, Dirty Love (October).

The star of BEA: Grumpy Cat, aka Tardar Sauce, the Internet sensation who is the star of Grumpy Cat: A Grumpy Book, to be grumpily published by Chronicle in October. (photo: Davida G. Brier)

Harper: Us by David Nicholls

Neil Gaiman: Why Fiction Is Dangerous

A standing-room-only crowd showed up at the Javits Center on Saturday morning to hear Neil Gaiman explain "Why Fiction Is Dangerous." The first 500 fans to arrive received a signed copy of Make Good Art (Morrow), a commencement speech Gaiman delivered at Philadelphia's University of the Arts last May, designed by Chip Kidd; and an autographed ARC of Gaiman's middle-grade novel Fortunately, the Milk, illustrated by Skottie Young (Harper, September 17, 2013).

"Fortunately, the Milk began because I felt guilty about dads," Gaiman said of his upcoming children's book. He was putting his then four-year-old son Michael to bed 25 years ago. Michael did not want to go to bed. "He looked at me furiously and said, 'I wish I didn't have a dad. I wish I had [pause] goldfish." Gaiman wrote the first paragraph of The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish that night, then put it away. It was "technically" his first children's book. "It gets given to dads," Gaiman says solemnly. "I felt guilty." In Fortunately, the Milk, the father goes to get milk for his children's cereal and has all sorts of adventures.

The lane in England where Gaiman grew up inspired his The Ocean at the End of the Lane (Morrow, June 18). When he was eight or nine, someone told him a farm on the lane was listed in the Domesday Book, an 11th-century property survey ordered by William the Conqueror. "Have the people been on the lane for 1,000 years, too?" wondered the then eight-year-old Neil. This idea became "a weird little thing in my head," said Gaiman. The Hempstocks, who lived at the end of the lane, make appearances in Stardust and The Graveyard Book. Now the empty places at the end of the lane, where a young Neil used to go, are giant housing estates. Adapting a quote from E.L. Doctorow, Gaiman said writing Ocean was "like driving at night with one headlight out in the fog, I could see just far enough ahead to not drive off the road."

Gaiman noted that he has two books being published within two months of each other: one, a children's book with an adult narrator, the other an adult book from a seven-year-old's perspective.

He pointed out that he had not yet explained the title of his talk. "Fiction is dangerous because it lets you into other people's heads," Gaiman said. "It shows you that the world doesn't have to be like the one you live in." At the first nationally recognized science fiction convention in China in 2007, Gaiman took a party official aside and said, "While not actually illegal, science fiction is regarded as dangerous and subversive in China. Why did you say yes to a science-fiction convention?"

The party official answered, "In China, we're really good at making things people bring to us, but we don't invent, we don't innovate." When Chinese party officials visited Google, Apple and Microsoft, they asked what the executives read as children. The official continued: "They all said, 'We read science fiction. The world doesn't have to be the way it is right now. We can change it.' " "That," said Gaiman, "is the big dangerous thing." --Jennifer M. Brown

Talent Smart: Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry & Jean Greaves

Water Cooler Books on a Sizzling Day

Authors Jason Mott and Congressman John Lewis flank moderator Vanesse Lloyd-Sgambati.

Acting as moderator at an event dubbed "Water Cooler Books that Buzz," Vanesse Lloyd-Sgambati, WURD-AM reporter and founder of Literary Media and Publishing Consultants and of the African American Children's Book Project, called Congressman John Lewis an "American treasure for his tireless work for making out planet better." Lewis is the author of the graphic novel-style memoir March (due out in August), the first in a trilogy to be published by Top Shelf Productions (which is headquartered in Rep. Lewis's district in Georgia) and distributed by Diamond.

Lewis said that he was raised in a family headed by his sharecropper father (who saved $300 to buy the land his family still owns) to not "get in the way and not get into trouble." But, he said, as a young man aspiring to college who heard of Rosa Parks and was given a round-trip ticket and an invitation for a meeting by Martin Luther King Jr., he quickly became someone who got in the way and got into trouble. "I hope the book is an inspiration for people to get in the way," said Lewis. "We're one people, one family. We all live in the same house--the American house."

Lewis signed copies of March for a long line of fans.

But why a graphic-style memoir? The idea came as a suggestion from Andrew Aydin, Lewis's campaign press secretary--a 24-year-old white guy who was writing his graduate thesis on Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story, a 1958 comic book that had inspired Lewis and other student activists in the civil rights movement.

"I wanted to know the rest of the story," said Aydin, who co-authered the book, from the audience. "And I wanted it to speak to me on my level." He said he hopes to "resurrect" the idea of books influencing young people toward the discipline and philosophy of nonviolence like that 1958 comic did.

"People will be saying they want their literary careers to be 'Mott-sized' " said moderator Lloyd-Sgambati, by way of introducing Jason Mott, a poet whose debut novel, The Returned (Harlequin Mira, Aug.), is being made into an ABC series. When ABC brings Mott's novel to the small screen in January it will be renamed Resurrection, which is fine with the author. The Returned is about a couple in their 70s who are visited by their deceased son--who drowned when he was eight. Mott said the idea came from a dream he had in 2010 in which his mother--who died in 2001--was sitting at his kitchen table.

Mott, who still lives in a small southern town of 600 people where the legacy of Jim Crow and race issues are just part of life, said that when he started writing the story that fact that the couple in The Returned was white did not occur to him. After both of Mott's parents died, he said, a white family "adopted" him, and became unconditional supporters when he was just a "random guy" writing poetry in his 20s. Mott credited John Lewis, and the others Lewis writes about in March, with making his story possible.

"It says something about the distance we've come and the hurdles we've made," said Lewis. "Maybe one day we'll emerge as a model for the rest of the world." --Bridget Kinsella

At BEA, Dawn of Bookstore Day

A proposal by Northern California booksellers to create a Bookstore Day modeled after Record Store Day and Free Comic Book Day received a positive reception at BookExpo America.

Northern California Independent Booksellers Association executive director Hut Landon wrote to NCIBA members that he and board member Pete Mulvihill, co-owner of Green Apple Books in San Francisco, "met with several houses and received pledges of support from everyone we talked to. Conversations with the ABA made it clear that they would support a pilot program produced by NCIBA, and further discussions led to the belief that we should invite Southern California booksellers to participate and create California Bookstore Day."

NCIBA would like to do a pilot Bookstore Day early next year and perhaps make it a national event late next year or early 2015.

Under the plan, as outlined by Mulvihill, publishers would create something "word-based that is limited, unique, and only available for sale at NCIBA stores on a certain day. We're thinking of print runs of 100-1,000, depending on anticipated demand, perhaps a total of 10-15 items from a variety of publishers for the trial run. Not every bookstore will get everything they order, of course. The goal is that demand exceed supply."

Among examples:

  • Signed copies of the book poster or dust jacket from Murakami's recent release in Japan
  • A broadside of a Michael Chabon essay with appropriate artwork
  • An Adam Johnson story, with a letterpress cover, and a simple staple binding
  • An anthology of short stories by Northern California authors with a cover designed by a favorite illustrator
  • A canvas bag featuring art from a children's book
  • The first chapter of a forthcoming Stephen King book with editors' notes printed
  • A Nabokov story with a pressed butterfly

"Anything that's unique in packaging and limited in availability," Mulvihill added. "Think numbered and signed--items to create chatter and inspire that collecting sensibility."

Mulvihill emphasized that the items would be sold at "higher-than-normal ranges," not given away, and, in the pilot, that they would be available only in NCIBA member stores. Customers will have to come into stores to buy these items and will not be able to order them online, reserve them or put them on hold.

Suggested Bookstore Day events could include author appearances, live music, food and drink, storytelling for children, balloon animals, food trucks and poetry slams, Mulvihill wrote. Authors would likely be "very supportive," waive royalties, appear in stores, and more. For publishers, benefits include publicity for authors and titles, "the ability to capitalize on backlist and unfinished works," authors supporting indies and their own writing, media coverage "benefiting the entire bookselling ecosystem" and "love love love from indie bookstores and their customers."

The idea is for no special terms, "just an innovative partnership to drive readers into bookstores and sell more books."

In reporting on the BEA meetings, Landon said that publishers "immediately began thinking of ideas of their own, which was the intention and crucial to the success of the project. We made it clear that any items created could not be offered to Amazon, and that was not an issue for anyone. We also asked them to consider, when thinking of what they might produce, whether customers would line up outside a bookstore for an hour before the store opens on a Saturday morning to make sure they got what they wanted. If not, maybe that item isn't right."

For more information, contact Hut Landon, hut@nciba.com, or Pete Mulvihill, pete@greenapplebooks.com.

Elizabeth Gilbert, Wally Lamb and Michele Filgate Talk Book Clubs

At one of the final events on the consumer day of BEA, Andrew Losowsky of the Huffington Post engaged two of the most famous Oprah Book Club authors in conversation on the topic of book clubs and their new books.

Community Bookstore's Michele Filgate chats with Wally Lamb and Elizabeth Gilbert.

Elizabeth Gilbert said she knows that history will say otherwise, but she thinks her new 19th-century saga, The Signature of All Things (Viking, Oct.), is really her story. "I wanted to write the missing George Eliot book that I wanted to read," Gilbert said. Of course, she pointed out, in most 19th-century novels the heroine's fate is "either you get a good marriage and a happy ending, or you're under the train." The truth is, said the author of Eat, Pray Love, "most of us are capable of having incredible disappointments and are still able to live incredible lives."

In Wally Lamb's new book, We Are Water (HarperCollins, Oct.) a middle-aged woman--wife, mother, outsider artist--falls in love and decides to wed a woman in a state that has just legalized gay marriage. Though the story is contemporary, Lamb told attendees that the book was based on the Norwich, Conn., flood of 1963 and the "accidental" death a few years earlier of an African American outsider artist who married a white woman.

Before Oprah, Gilbert said, she knew most of her fans by name. Now, of course, that is impossible, but she said that she still feels the readers in the room with her as she writes, in a kind of "invisible collaboration." It was an idea that resonated with Lamb, who said that, post-Oprah, he had to imagine escorting his readers out of the room before he could get back to work.

"Of course after it's written," said Lamb, engaging with readers is "all I want to do." Both Lamb and Gilbert are active on social media--Gilbert's Facebook fans even helped her choose a cover for The Signature of All Things when she and Viking were at an impasse.

"I can tell you, as a bookseller, how important a cover is," said Michele Filgate, from Community Bookstore in Brooklyn. "Booksellers," she reminded the book club audience, "are very good at handselling and recommending books."

As for the key to a successful book club, Filgate said, it often comes down to diversity and even disagreement within a group about what to read next. "What makes it work are people with varied tastes," she said.

The practice of serving wine can often help a book club discussion; and in keeping with that tradition, the attendees and authors hung around for a glass following the panel. --Bridget Kinsella

Notes

Book Trailer of the Day: Exploring the Deep

Exploring the Deep: The Titanic Expeditions by James Cameron (Insight Editions).

Pennie Picks The Art Forger

Pennie Clark Ianniciello, Costco's book buyer, has chosen The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro (Algonquin, $14.95, 9781616203160) as her pick of the month for June. In Costco Connection, which goes to many of the warehouse club's members, she wrote:

"In March of this year I heard a story on NPR about how FBI agents think they know who's behind the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum art heist in 1990--although at press time they still haven't divulged any names. While the theft is fascinating on its own, I love that B.A. Shapiro used that mystery as a springboard for the captivating story she tells in The Art Forger.

"Claire Roth, a young artist, makes a deal to copy a famous work of art--one stolen from the Gardner's collection--in exchange for a one-woman show at a prestigious art gallery. Shapiro's examination of blind ambition is a fresh look at what any of us would do to get what we most want in life."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Jonathan Alter and The Center Holds

This morning on MSNBC's Morning Joe: Jonathan Alter, author of The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781451646078). He will also appear today on Hardball with Chris Matthews and tomorrow on MSNBC's Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell.

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This morning on CBS This Morning: Meredith Whitney, author of Fate of the States: The New Geography of American Prosperity (Portfolio, $27.95, 9781591845706). Tomorrow she'll be on CNBC's Closing Bell with Maria Bartiromo.

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This morning on the Today Show: Mark Bittman, author of VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health . . . for Good (Clarkson Potter, $26, 9780385344746).

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Today on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Ru Freeman, author of On Sal Mal Lane: A Novel (Graywolf Press, $26, 9781555976422).

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Today on NPR's Fresh Air: Alysia Abbott, author of Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father (Norton, $25.95, 9780393082524).

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Today on the View: Mika Brzezinski, author of Obsessed: America's Food Addiction--and My Own (Weinstein, $26, 9781602861763).

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Tomorrow morning on CBS This Morning: Jason Matthews, author of Red Sparrow: A Novel (Scribner, $26.99, 9781476706122).

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Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Lauren Weisberger, author of Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns (Simon & Schuster, $25.99, 9781439136638).

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Tomorrow on CBS's the Talk: Melissa d'Arabian, author of Ten Dollar Dinners: 140 Recipes & Tips to Elevate Simple, Fresh Meals Any Night of the Week (Clarkson Potter, $24.99, 9780307985149).

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Tomorrow on Fox News Radio's Kilmeade and Friends: Craig Carton, author of Loudmouth: Tales (and Fantasies) of Sports, Sex, and Salvation from Behind the Microphone (Simon & Schuster, $24.99, 9781451645705). He will also appear on CBS Sport's Lead Off.

TV: Outlander

Starz has greenlighted Outlander, based on Diana Gabaldon's bestselling series of books. Deadline.com reported that the project, "from Battlestar Galactica developer Ron Moore and Sony Pictures TV, has received a 16-episode order, with production slated to begin in October in Scotland where the books are set." The seven-book series has sold more than 20 million copies, with an eighth novel, Written in My Own Heart's Blood, scheduled for release this fall.

Books & Authors

Awards: Boston Globe-Horn Book; Reading the West; IRDA

For the second year, Roger Sutton, editor-in-chief of the Horn Book, and Rebecca Stead (the 2010 winner in the fiction category for When You Reach Me), presented the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards in front of a live audience at BEA in the Librarians' Lounge.

Previous winner Rebecca Stead and Horn Book's Roger Sutton flank author-artist Jonathan Bean, winner in the picture book category of the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards.

The award was established in 1967 by Paul and Ethel Heins, former editors of the Horn Book, and it's given in three categories: nonfiction, picture books and fiction. Each category has one winner and up to two honor books. Last weekend, three judges met and made their choices. The judges are: selection committee chair Thom Barthelmes, curator and lecturer at Dominican University’s Butler Children's Literature Center; Megan Lambert, English instructor at Simmons College; and Lauren Adams, high school English teacher and former editor at the Horn Book.

The awards will be presented on October 4, 2013, at Simmons College, followed the next day by The Horn Book at Simmons Colloquium. The honored and winning books are:

Picture book: Building Our House by Jonathan Bean (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Picture book honor:
Open This Little Book by Jesse Klausmeier, illustrated by Suzy Lee (Chronicle Books)
Black Dog by Levi Pinfold (Templar Books/Candlewick Press)

Fiction: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (St. Martin's Griffin)
Fiction honor:
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (Random House Books for Young Readers)
A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty (Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic)

Nonfiction: Electric Ben: The Amazing Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin by Robert Byrd (Dial Books for Young Readers)
Nonfiction honor:
Dreaming Up: A Celebration of Building by Christy Hale (Lee & Low Books)
Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Brian Pinkney (Jump at the Sun Books/Disney)

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The winners of the 2012 Reading the West Book Awards, sponsored by the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association, are:

Adult nonfiction/memoir: Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats by Kristen Iversen (Crown)
Adult fiction: Theft: A Novel by B.K. Loren (Counterpoint Press)
Children's: Kepler's Dream by Juliet Bell (Putnam)

In addition, the association's Spirit of the West award, given to authors in recognition of their outstanding body of work, has been reinstated and will go this year to Kent Haruf.

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The winners of the IndieReader Discovery Books include three titles in fiction and nonfiction each as well as a range of subcategories. The first place fiction winner is The Burning of Cherry Hill by Amber Butler, and the first place nonfiction winner is Cyberslammed by Kay Stephens. See all the winners here.

Book Review

Review: Five Star Billionaire

Five Star Billionaire by Tash Aw (Spiegel & Grau, $26 hardcover, 9780812994346, July 2, 2013)

Tash Aw's Five-Star Billionaire takes readers inside the hopes, dreams and failures of five lost souls struggling to rise to the top in a world of ambition, greed and political maneuvering.

Amid the glitter of modern Shanghai, dreams come true and shatter; empires rise and fall in the span of a heartbeat. Phoebe hopes to make the city her oyster but arrives to find her promised employer already out of business. Armed with self-help books and an indomitable spirit, she works to reinvent herself into someone attractive and sophisticated enough to compete with the thousands of other young, single girls trying to land a career and a husband. Yinghui already has a fabulous career, despite her youth as a philosophical left-wing activist with no use for business--but has she let her need for success turn her heart cold? Her ex-fiancé's brother, Justin, has yearned for Yinghui from afar for years, but the pressure of saving his family's bankrupt property empire has left him cut off from his own life and desires. Pop star Gary is the object of every young girl's fantasies--including Phoebe's--but his meteoric rise from poverty to fame has shown him his own emptiness and sparked a downward spiral of dangerous behavior.

Walter Chao, the five-star billionaire, has links to all these other characters, links forged by love, business or vengeance. As time passes, fortunes will soar and crumble as five lives collide, sometimes with disastrous results, sometimes with a near-miss reach for true intimacy in a society that packs people together physically but encourages emotional isolation.

Aw has a knack for assessing the intricacies of making it in the fast-paced life of big business and presenting that world's Catch-22s: a young woman must look successful to be successful, for example, but she must be successful in order to earn enough money to look successful in a city where even counterfeit couture is exorbitantly overpriced. He also shows time and again how quickly life can unravel in the ever-changing, highly competitive world of the New China.

Readers who prefer tidy endings may balk at the final fadeout, but it perfectly fits the story's theme of possibility and uncertainty. Not only does Aw provide Westerners a peek into Shanghai, he gives us a cross-section of a society all too similar to our own rat races and forces us to examine why we run in them at all. --Jaclyn Fulwood

Shelf Talker: Aw (Map of the Invisible World) tells the story of five lonely people--from a provincial girl to a shadowy billionaire--struggling to achieve their dreams in modern Shanghai.

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