Shelf Awareness for Thursday, April 7, 2016


St. Martin's Press: Feared (Rosato & Dinunzio #6 ) by Lisa Scottoline

Ballantine Books: Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman

Atheneum Books: What I Leave Behind by Alison McGhee

Shadow Mountain: The Lemonade Year by Amy Willoughby-Burle

Beach Lane Books: Rosetown by Cynthia Rylant

Little Brown and Company: How Are You Going to Save Yourself by J.M. Holmes

Quotation of the Day

'Books Meant to Be Bought in Bookstores'

"Amazon is for vacuum cleaners and Fifty Shades of Grey toys. Books are meant to be bought at bookstores."

--Lee Woodruff, co-author of In an Instant,
speaking at the St. Francis Parents Association Spring Luncheon yesterday.
[Thanks to Cathy Berner of Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, Tex.]

NYU School of Professional Studies: Center for Publishing: MS in Publishing: Digital and Print Media - Apply Now!


News

Baltimore's Ivy Bookshop Partners in Bookstore-Cafe

Ivy Bookshop, Baltimore, Md., is partnering with Foodshed restaurant group to open a bookstore-café in Charles Village, the Baltimore Sun reported.

The as-yet-unnamed bookstore-café will be in a student housing development being built at St. Paul and 33rd streets and should open in August. The location is near Johns Hopkins University, about four miles south of Ivy Bookshop.

Ivy Bookshop co-owner Ed Berlin told the paper that the bookstore component of the new bookstore-café will have about a third of the titles in Ivy Bookshop, which carries about 26,000 titles. The café will offer sandwiches, pastries and coffee but not have a full kitchen. Foodshed owner Spike Gjerde said he would include some of his favorite books on farming, the environment and cooking.

Berlin added that the new location will become the primary site for Ivy's events because it can handle up to 100 people while the bookstore has a maximum capacity of 60. "It opens us up to a lot of opportunities that we haven't been able to take advantage of," he said.


GLOW: Wendy Lamb Books: The Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon


Harvard University Press Joining Columbia Sales Consortium

Effective September 1, Harvard University Press is joining the Columbia Sales Consortium for sales representation in the U.S. and Canada. Order fulfillment and customer service for Harvard University Press will remain with Triliteral. The move builds on a relationship between Harvard University Press and Columbia University Press that began in 2011 when the Columbia sales force started to represent Harvard University Press in the Southeastern U.S.

The Columbia Sales Consortium has represented university and scholarly presses to the book trade in the U.S. for more than 25 years. Those presses include the University of California Press, Duke University Press, NYU Press, University of Virginia Press and eight others. With the new Harvard agreement, the sales consortium is expanding sales rep services to Canada.

The Columbia Sales Consortium team consists of Brad Hebel, director of operations and sales for Columbia University Press; Catherine Hobbs, Consortium sales manager and sales representative for the Mid-Atlantic and Southern U.S.; Conor Broughan, sales representative for the Northeastern U.S. and eastern Canada; Kevin Kurtz, sales representative for the Midwestern U.S. and central Canada; and William Gawronski, sales representative for the Western U.S. and western Canada.

This marks the second recent shift in university press sales in a week. Late last month, the MIT Press, Princeton University Press and Yale University Press formed a joint U.S. sales team. Triliteral handles customer service, credit and distribution for MIT Press and Yale University Press.


Mandevilla Press: Assassins by Mike Bond


Adult Coloring Books Help Boost 2015 Canadian Sales

In 2015 in Canada, print book unit sales rose 0.8%, to 52.6 million, and dollar sales rose 1.6%, to C$983.4 million (about US$750.5 million), BookNet Canada reported in the 2015 edition of The Canadian Book Market. The figures mark the first gains for the industry in several years, helped by dramatic increases in the sales of adult coloring books. Preliminary estimates in January showed unit sales rising 1% and dollar sales up 3%.

During 2015, nonfiction unit sales grew 5.5% while dollar sales rose 2.8%, jumps "largely owing to adult colouring books in the games and art subject categories," according to BookNet Canada. "Those categories saw significant increases, with games selling 309.5% more units compared to 2014 and art selling 163.1% more units." By contrast, fiction unit sales fell 0.9%, although fiction dollar sales rose 3.5%.

Another strong performer was the house & home category, whose unit sales rose 112.2%, "owing to the success of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo."

The bestselling book in Canada in 2015 was The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, followed by All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, Grey by E.L. James, My Secret Sister by Jenny Lee Smith and Helen Edwards, and the adult coloring books Secret Garden and Lost Ocean by Johanna Basford.

Children's book unit sales fell 1.1% and accounted for 37.1% of all book units sold in Canada. The bestselling children's title was Old School by Jeff Kinney, which also was the bestselling hardcover title in any category.


Akashic Books: The Perfume Burned His Eyes by Michael Imperioli


Obituary Note: Peggy Fortnum

Illustrator Peggy Fortnum, who was the first person to create a visual image of Michael Bond's classic children's book character Paddington Bear, died March 28, the Guardian reported. She was 96.

In 1958, Fortnum was commissioned to illustrate the first volume, A Bear Called Paddington, and worked on the next eight books in the beloved series. She later illustrated another three titles, the last in 1983. Bond said of Fortnum: "She thought very highly of Paddington, as I did of her. It was a happy combination."


Conari Press: Your Guide to Forest Bathing: Experience the Healing Power of Nature by M. Amos Clifford


Notes

Image of the Day: Poets Galore at Book Soup

photo: Carmen Suarez

Last weekend, Book Soup, West Hollywood, Calif., celebrated the beginning of National Poetry Month with an event featuring Kim Dower, whose latest book of poetry, Last Train to the Missing Planet, has just been released by Red Hen Press. With Dower (c.) are Steven Reigns, "City Poet of West Hollywood," and Richard Blanco, Presidential Inaugural Poet.


Cool Idea of the Day: Bringing the Amazon Study Home

On Tuesday, April 12, at 5:30 p.m., Bookends & Beginnings, Evanston, Ill., is partnering with Downtown Evanston in hosting a public discussion at the bookstore on "Amazon and Empty Storefronts: The Fiscal and Land Use Impacts of Online Retail," the ABA-Civic Economics study introduced at the Winter Institute in January. The discussion will feature study co-author Matt Cunningham, an Evanston resident.

"I want Matt to present the study the way he and Dan [Houston, his co-author] did it at Winter Institute, because that blew me away," explained Bookends & Beginnings owner Nina Barrett. "Pretty much the moment I got back from Denver, I sent links to the study to the director of Downtown Evanston and to the city's department of economic development and proposed having this as a public event, and they both instantly supported it. So there will definitely be representatives of both Downtown Evanston and the city present at the event, who will be willing to be part of a discussion following Matt's presentation."

Downtown Evanston's mission is working with the city, downtown property owners and retail businesses and others to "ensure a healthy mix of retail uses and foster a vital quality of life in downtown Evanston," Barrett said. "Downtown Evanston organizes wine walks, community dances and festivals, and has been a great ally in retail and community outreach, for instance, helping us recruit other indie businesses for Find Waldo Local, which we undertook last summer with great success."

In promoting the discussion, the store quoted some of the disturbing statistics about Amazon's effects on communities, downtowns, governments and jobs across the country, and added information about its effect on Illinois: "The study estimates that in 2014, Amazon sold $1.8 billion worth of retail goods in Illinois. That is the equivalent of 1,289 retail storefronts, 4.5 million square feet of commercial space, which might have paid $23.6 million in property taxes and more than $59.8 million in revenue lost to state and local governments. Even counting all the jobs in Amazon distribution centers, Civic Economics finds that Amazon sales produced a net loss of 7,802 retail jobs in Illinois."


Personnel Changes at Penguin; HMH; Ingram

Andy Dudley has been appointed an imprint sales director, Penguin Publishing Group, Penguin sales, handling the Putnam, Dutton, Berkley/NAL, Blue Rider, Plume and Avery imprints. He previously was a national account manager for digital retailers.

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Effective April 11, Alia Almeida will join HMH Books for Young Readers as a marketing associate and will be located in the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt office in New York. She has been a marketing operations assistant at HarperCollins Children's.

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At Ingram Library Services:

Doug Voss has been named senior sales representative, Northeast region. He was formerly senior sales representative for New England and the Northeast region.

Robert Scott has joined the company as senior sales representative, New England. He was formerly Northeast representative for Brodart and has more than 20 years of industry experience.

Amy Sackett has joined the company as senior sales representative in the Mountain Territory, which includes Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Nevada and New Mexico. She was formerly an account executive with Outreach Media Group and was earlier sales territory manager at Whitaker House Publishers & Anchor Distributors.

Amanda Inman has joined the company as inside sales representative, East Coast. She formerly worked in medical supply sales at American Home Patient.

John Mangrum has been promoted to inside sales representative, Midwest Territory. He earlier worked for Vanderbilt University Libraries.

Samantha "Sam" Cantrell has been named inside sales representative, Northwest and Western regions.



Media and Movies

Media Heat: Anderson Cooper on the View

Tomorrow:
The View: Anderson Cooper, co-author of The Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son On Life, Love, and Loss (Harper, $27.99, 9780062454942).

Also on the View: Jon Cryer, author of So That Happened: A Memoir (NAL, $27.95, 9780451472359).

The Real: Holly Robinson Peete and Rodney Peete, co-authors of Same But Different: Teen Life on the Autism Express (Scholastic, $17.99, 9780545094689).

Wendy Williams repeat: L.A. Reid, author of Sing to Me: My Story of Making Music, Finding Magic, and Searching for Who's Next (Harper, $29.99, 9780062274755).


TV: His Dark Materials

Jack Thorne will adapt Philip Pullman's trilogy of fantasy novels His Dark Materials for BBC One. Deadline reported that in "its first foray into British television, New Line Cinema is producing the event series with Bad Wolf, a U.K./U.S. production firm founded by Jane Tranter and Julie Gardner."

"It is such an honor and a privilege to be given this opportunity to delve into Philip Pullman's world," said Thorne. "The His Dark Materials trilogy are vast and glorious books full of beautiful characters and I'm going to work as hard as I can to try and do justice to them."

Pullman called Thorne "a writer of formidable energy and range, and I've greatly enjoyed talking to him and learning about his plans for bringing His Dark Materials to the screen. I'm certain he'll do a superb job."

Deadline noted that Thorne "has been on a roll ever since he first emerged as one of the country's most distinctive writers with his work on youth-oriented series Skins... He has won two BAFTA TV awards, for This Is England '88 and The Fades, as well as taking home the London Film Festival's best British newcomer award for his feature debut The Scouting Book for Boys.... His latest miniseries, an original four-parter for Channel 4, is National Treasure."


This Weekend on Book TV: L.A. Times Festival of Books

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this weekend from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, April 9
1:30 p.m. Live coverage of the 21st annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books on the campus of the University of Southern California. (Re-airs Sunday at 12 a.m.)

8:30 p.m. Phil Harvey and Lisa Conyers, authors of The Human Cost of Welfare: How the System Hurts the People It's Supposed to Help (Praeger, $48, 9781440845345). (Re-airs Sunday at 10:45 p.m.)

10 p.m. J.C. Watts, author of Dig Deep: 7 Truths to Finding the Strength Within (Regnery Faith, $24.99, 9781621574606). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m.)

11 p.m. Steve Olson, author of Eruption: The Untold Story of Mount St. Helens (Norton, $27.95, 9780393242799), at Kramerbooks and Afterwords in Washington, D.C. (Re-airs Sunday at 8 p.m.)

Sunday, April 10
1:30 p.m. Continuing live coverage of the the 21st annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. (Re-airs Monday at 1 a.m.)

10 p.m. Gillian Thomas, author of Because of Sex: One Law, Ten Cases, and Fifty Years That Changed American Women's Lives at Work (St. Martin's Press, $26.99, 9781137280053).


Books & Authors

Awards: Miles Franklin; Penderyn Music Book; John W. Dafoe

The longlist for the 2016 Miles Franklin Award, Australia's most prestigious literature prize, is:

Tony Birch for Ghost River
Stephen Daisley for Coming Rain
Peggy Frew for Hope Farm
Myfanwy Jones for Leap
Mireille Juchau for The World Without Us
Stephen Orr for The Hands: An Australian Pastoral
A.S. Patric for Black Rock White City
Lucy Treloar for Salt Creek
Charlotte Wood for The Natural Way of Things

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Jon Savage won 2016 Penderyn Music Book Prize, which is given for "music titles, spanning history, theory, biography and autobiography," for 1966: The Year The Decade Exploded. The winner receives a check for £1,000 (about $1,410) and a bottle of Penderyn whisky.

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Finalists have been named for the $10,000 (about US$7,630) John W. Dafoe Book Prize, "given each year to a nonfiction book focused on Canada or its place in the world," Quillblog reported. The winner will be announced later this month. Check out the shortlisted titles here.


Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, April 12:

Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter (Grand Central, $40, 9781455539741) celebrates the hit Broadway musical and includes the libretto.

Most Wanted by Lisa Scottoline (St. Martin's Press, $27.99, 9781250010131) finds an expectant couple grappling with the disturbing identity of their baby's sperm donor.

The Obsession by Nora Roberts (Berkley, $28, 9780399175169) follows a photographer unable to escape her father's grisly crimes.

Fever at Dawn by Péter Gárdos, translated by Elizabeth Szász (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $24, 9780544769793) is a Hungarian novel about two concentration camp survivors.

The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America by Andrés Reséndez (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30, 9780547640983) reveals centuries of Native American slavery.

Daredevils by Shawn Vestal (Penguin Press, $27, 9781101979891) follows a Mormon teenager in the mid-1970s.

One Wild Bird at a Time: Portraits of Individual Lives by Bernd Heinrich (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28, 9780544387638) chronicles the behaviors of individual wild birds.

First Women: The Grace and Power of America's Modern First Ladies by Kate Andersen Brower (Harper, $28.99, 9780062439659) profiles the First Ladies from Jackie Kennedy to Michelle Obama.

Think Big: Overcoming Obstacles with Optimism by Jennifer Arnold and Bill Klein (Howard, $26, 9781501139277) is by the stars of TLC's The Little Couple.

One in a Billion: The Story of Nic Volker and the Dawn of Genomic Medicine by Mark Johnson and Kathleen Gallagher (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781451661323) explores the case of gene sequencing used to save a little boy's life.

Paperbacks:
The Cookies & Cups Cookbook by Shelly Jaronsky (Gallery, $23.99, 9781501102516).

Vexation Lullaby: A Novel by Justin Tussing (Catapult, $16.95, 9781936787388).

Yuki Chan in Brontë Country by Mick Jackson (Faber & Faber, $15.95, 9780571254255).

Movie:
The Jungle Book, based on Rudyard Kipling's classic, opens April 15.


IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at IndieBound.org, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

Hardcover
The Madwoman Upstairs: A Novel by Catherine Lowell (Touchstone, $25.99, 9781501124211). "The Madwoman Upstairs is both a reference to the insane wife of Edward Rochester in Jane Eyre and to Samantha Whipple, who is the last remaining descendant of the Brontë sisters. This exciting literary debut is in part a study of literature, specifically the works of the Brontë sisters, and in part an exploration of the mystery of their legacy. Samantha cannot escape her past with their work, the world's interest in her inheritance of previously undiscovered family treasures, and the current puzzle of artifacts mysteriously appearing in her room that may or may not answer some of her questions. For mystery and Brontë fans alike, this is a delightful romp by very clever author to watch." --Terry Gilman, Mysterious Galaxy, San Diego, Calif.

Two If by Sea: A Novel by Jacquelyn Mitchard (Simon & Schuster, $25.99, 9781501115578). "Mitchard has woven a gripping narrative of a family borne out of tragedy. Frank loses his wife and unborn son to a tsunami, and in the midst of rescuing others saves a small boy. This child, Ian, possesses a special gift that impacts those around him in powerful ways. As Frank tries to form a new family, there are repercussions from Ian's past that put them both at risk. This is the marvelous story of Frank and Ian's journey as both try to handle the pain of the past and accept the joy of new beginnings. I loved it!" --Stephanie Crowe, Page & Palette, Fairhope, Ala.

Paperback
Bottomland: A Novel by Michelle Hoover (Black Cat, $16, 9780802124715). "In the years following World War I, the Hess family settles on Iowa farmland hoping to escape anti-German sentiment. Two of their girls disappear as the U.S. marches towards World War II, and relationships both within and outside of the family suffer. Based loosely on an unearthed family secret, Hoover has written an atmospheric novel evocative of both a time and place." --Kris Kleindienst, Left Bank Books, St. Louis, Mo.

For Ages 4 to 8
Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book) by Julie Falatko, illustrated by Tim Miller (Viking, $16.99, 9780451469458). "This is a tremendously funny tale for readers of all ages. Partway through the story, Snappsy interrupts to chastise the narrator for trying to 'spice up' his story. Their give-and-take allows for lots of humor, while exposing children to the idea of narrator, character, illustrations, and storyline." --Valerie Welbourn, The Fountainhead Bookstore, Hendersonville, N.C.

For Ages 9 to 12
The Girl in the Well Is Me by Karen Rivers (Algonquin, $16.95, 9781616205690). "Kammie is trying to navigate the social hierarchy of her new school after her old life fell apart. When she finds herself stuck in a well after an outing gone wrong, she has to reexamine the circumstances and choices that landed her there. River's novel weaves together a number of important issues in an original story with some surprisingly quirky twists. It's a story that starts out simple, but grows in complexity and emotional depth, until readers find themselves falling down the well of Kammie's emotions. The only way out is to keep reading!" --Marika McCoola, Porter Square Books, Cambridge, Mass.

For Teen Readers: An Indies Introduce Title   
The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner (Crown, $17.99, 9780553524024). "Three friends growing up in a small Southern town realize how little they really know about one another until tragedy touches each of them. Dill is the son of the recently jailed Serpent King, a Pentecostal minister known for handling deadly snakes. Lydia is a fashion blogger determined to flee their small town for New York. Travis is a misfit who prefers to dwell in the fantasy worlds he reads about. Readers will ache for them as they battle their demons and fight to shed the dark histories they've inherited. The Serpent King is a contemporary Southern novel about loyalty, betrayal, and becoming your most honest self." --Erin Barker, Hooray for Books!, Alexandria, Va.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]


Stand Up Comics: Top Ten of 2015

This is a bit late, but there's never enough time to read everything you want as it comes out. I'm finally done reading a sizable chunk of everything that came out last year (i.e., 10% or so), and here are my favorites of 2015, in alphabetical order. --Adan Jimenez

Drawn and Quarterly: Twenty-Five Years of Contemporary Cartooning, Comics, and Graphic Novels, edited by Tom Devlin, Chris Oliveros, Peggy Burns, Tracy Hurren and Julia Pohl-Miranda (Drawn & Quarterly, $49.95, 9781770461994)
I cannot emphasize enough how amazing this book is. It contains essays, interviews, photographs, appreciations, and new and reprinted work from some of the best indie creators currently working in comics, and that's still not the best part--the history of D+Q at the beginning of the book is worth the price of admission alone. You can read my original, gushing review here.

Hitler by Shigeru Mizuki, translated by Zack Davisson (Drawn & Quarterly, $24.95, 9781770462106)
Shigeru-sensei unfortunately passed away last year after decades of creating some of the best comics in the world. Before he died, English speakers got another of his non-fiction comics, this time chronicling the rise and fall of one of history's worst dictators. Once again blending cartoony characters with realistic backgrounds, Mizuki captures just how ridiculous Hitler ultimately was, while still portraying the power the man wielded so savagely.

If You Steal by Jason (Fantagraphics, $29.99, 9781606998540)
The latest collection of short stories by a master of the craft features both hilarious stories like "Ask Not," which tells us what we really happened leading up to JFK's assassination, and sobering stories like "Nothing," in which a woman slowly forgets everything around her. It's hard to have a complete collection of excellent short stories, but Jason manages it. My original review can be found here.

Killing and Dying by Adrian Tomine (Drawn & Quarterly, $22.95, 9781770462090)
Tomine's latest collection contains six amazing short stories by another master of the craft . These stories are not uplifting in any sense of the word. They showcase some horrible and depressing corners of humanity, which are made all the more horrible and depressing thanks to how utterly realistic they are.

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson (HarperTeen, $17.99, 9780062278234)
Stevenson consistently creates some of the best and most grounded characters in comics today, and nowhere are they more "real" than in the fantastical Nimona. The three main characters--Nimona, Lord Ballister Blackheart and Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin--must overcome pasts filled with pain and regret to become better people, even as they fight against and amongst each other for control of the empire. My original review can be read here.

Private Eye by Brian K. Vaughan, Marcos Martin, and Muntsa Vicente (Image Comics, $49.99, 9781632155726)
What if everybody's online secrets were laid bare for the whole world to see? What if everybody had to have a secret identity whenever they stepped outside as a result? A really crazy concept is brought to brilliant life by three excellent creators. Originally presented in a digital, pay-what-you-wish format, Image released a beautiful hardcover version that presents the main story along with some great process matter in the back.

Star Wars: Darth Vader Vol. 1: Vader by Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca (Marvel Comics, $19.99,  9780785192558)
This is an excellent piece of science fiction that blazes new ground on a well-tread path. New facets of Vader are revealed and every new character created for this series is fantastic, especially Dr. Aphra and the Mirror Universe versions of droids C-3PO and R2-D2: Triple-Zero and BT-1. Even non-Star Wars fans can find something in here to love.

The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer by Sydney Padua (Pantheon, $28.95, 9780307908278)
Padua's love letter to Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage takes place in an alternate universe where the two were actually able to build the world's first computer and use it to fight "crime," like terrible poets, economic collapses and Queen Victoria's fiendish questions. Not only is this the best comic on computing and mathematics I have ever read, it also contains the greatest Boolean logic joke of all time. My original review is here.

Two Brothers by Gabriel Bá and Fabio Moon (Dark Horse, $24.99, 9781616558567)
Ridiculously good-looking real-world twin brothers Moon and Bá reimagine a powerful story of ridiculously good-looking fictional twin brothers who grow further and further apart as they get older thanks to their doting mother, a violent episode in their youth and a forced relocation for one of the twins, causing unending havoc for three generations of their family. In this adaptation of a novel by acclaimed author Milton Hatoum, the real-world twins also do a fantastic job of transporting readers to the port city of Manaus on the riverbanks of the Amazon river, a place changing as it marches toward modernity.

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 1: Squirrel Power by Ryan North and Erica Henderson (Marvel, $15.99, 9780785197027)
Originally a joke throwaway character, Squirrel Girl has become a fan-favorite not just because of the humor infused in the series but because of her relentless optimism and friendliness in the face of some not great people. One of Squirrel Girl's greatest features is her ability to talk down the bad guy she's supposed to be fighting, turning the hero/villain dynamic on its head. My original review can be read here.

And a quick list of honorable mentions because there really were that many great comics in 2015:

The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye by Sonny Liew (Pantheon, $30, 9781101870693), originally reviewed here.

The Complete Eightball 1-18 by Daniel Clowes (Fantagraphics, $119.99, 9781606997574), originally reviewed here.

Giant Days Vol. 1 by John Allison, Whitney Cogar and Lissa Treiman (BOOM! Box, $9.99, 9781608867899), originally reviewed here.

Injection, Vol. 1 by Warren Ellis, Jordie Bellaire and Declan Shalvey (Image Comics, $9.99, 9781632154798), in which five people accidentally poison the world with weirdness and then try to undo it.

Lumberjanes Vol. 1 by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis and Brooke Allen (BOOM! Box, $14.99, 9781608866878), originally reviewed here.


Book Review

Review: Ladivine

Ladivine by Marie NDiaye (Knopf, $26.95 hardcover, 9780385351881, April 26, 2016)

On the first page of Ladivine by French novelist Marie NDiaye (Three Strong Women), readers meet a woman who is and is not named Clarisse Rivière. She grew up as Malinka, the daughter of a black West African single mother, Ladivine Sylla, and an unknown white man. Raised as "the princess" by her devoted, isolated mother, "the servant," Malinka realized early on that she could pass as white. She fled home, made a new life as the "resolutely inoffensive" Clarisse, married white Richard Rivière, and kept him and her mother secret from each other all her life. Like her mother, she devotes herself entirely to her family, but "her voluntary, permanent self-effacement had constructed a thin wall of ice all around her, that sometimes her daughter and husband couldn't understand," and in time she loses them too. Alone, she becomes Malinka again for a short time, with an accepting but dangerously broken lover.

After Clarisse's death, NDiaye switches to the perspective of her grown daughter, Ladivine Rivière, who is struggling to reconcile her parents, her childhood and her young family. On a nightmarish African vacation, she and her husband transform in monstrous and illuminating ways.

Near the end, Richard Rivière thinks that he and his wife and daughter "had lived an existence deformed by something huge and unnameable, hovering over them but never taking shape or fading away, making of their life a hollow travesty of life." Love and hate, attachment and rejection cycle through these generations like a family curse, alienating the characters from themselves and each other. As in NDiaye's previous work, a supernatural element derived from West African mythology appears, this time as a series of protective and sometimes vengeful dogs. They seem to embody involuntary alternate lives or afterlives for these women, in which they live out the yearning love and anger they could never fully express in ordinary ways. Their presence, balanced by the cool restraint of NDiaye's voice, magnifies the strangeness and visceral emotional power of her novel.

NDiaye is a fine literary writer of the highest quality, and her work rewards careful reading and rereading. The world of Ladivine is complex and ambiguous, with the clarity and structure of art. In many ways this is a bleak account of frustrated lives and loves, but it is tempered and graced by NDiaye's vision of beauty and strangeness in the world, the depth and strength of love and a final resolution of recognized truth. --Sara Catterall 

Shelf Talker: A powerful and elegant saga of women and their families in a fated struggle of love, responsibility and integrity.


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