With BookExpo 2017 beginning next week at the Javits Center in New York City, Shelf Awareness is taking a look at one of the show's signature events. Chosen by three committees of booksellers, librarians and publishing professionals, the annual Editors' Buzz panels provide a glimpse of eagerly anticipated books coming out in the second half of 2017 and early 2018. Today's list features the six titles selected for the Adult Editors' Buzz Panel, along with comments from editors and booksellers.
On August 22, Irish author Liz Nugent will make her American debut with the publication of Unraveling Oliver, originally released abroad in 2014. It is the story of Oliver Ryan, who writes and illustrates children's books with his wife, Alice. By all appearances, Oliver is a successful, charming man, and his and Alice's marriage is a happy, fulfilling and often enviable one. One night that facade abruptly shatters when Oliver hits Alice and beats her so savagely she falls into a coma. Those who thought they knew the couple are forced to try to make sense of how something so shocking and horrible could have happened, and the ensuing examination of Oliver's life, told from a variety of viewpoints and perspectives, exposes a truth darker and more sinister than they could have imagined.
Gallery Books senior editor Jackie Cantor said she was hooked on Unraveling Oliver the minute she read the first line, as Oliver dispassionately reflects that he "expected more of a reaction" the first time he hit his wife. Cantor likened the novel to Patricia Highsmith's The Talented Mr. Ripley, for its "dark look at how a sociopath makes his way in the world," and Lionel Shriver's We Need to Talk About Kevin, about a mother's relationship with her "irredeemable" son, adding that her favorite thing about Unraveling Oliver was the way Nugent creates such a compassionate, human portrait of a truly terrible character. Said Cantor: "As soon as I finished it, I knew it was something I wanted to publish." The book appears August 22.
In Stay with Me, the debut novel from Nigerian writer Ayobami Adebayo, Yejide and Akin are a young married couple living in Nigeria in the 1980s. They met and fell in love at university, and though they both agreed that polygamy wasn't right for them, it's been four years since they got married and Yejide still hasn't been able to get pregnant. Facing mounting pressure from Akin's family, Yejide has gone to increasingly elaborate lengths to get pregnant, including visits to fertility doctors and the use of folk remedies. One day she is introduced to a woman whom she is told is her husband's new second wife. Consumed by anger and jealousy, desperate to save her marriage, Yejide resolves to get pregnant, whatever the cost.
Abby Fennewald, director of marketing and publicity at BookPeople in Austin, Tex., said that Yejide and Akin's struggles with love and identity make for a "beautiful and compelling story" that fully explores the many, complicated layers of family life and what happens when a person's wants collide with society's demands. "My heart was breaking over and over for Yejide, and the ending truly caught me by surprise," said Fennewald. "I can't wait to keep reading books by Ayobami Adebayo." Stay with Me will be published by Knopf on August 22.
Arriving from Riverhead on August 29, My Absolute Darling marks the debut of writer Gabriel Tallent and tells the story of 14-year-old Turtle Alveston, who finds refuge from her isolated home life and dangerous father by wandering the rugged landscape of the northern California coast. At school, she refuses to make a connection with anyone, until she meets a high school boy named Jacob. Through her friendship with Jacob, Turtle is exposed to a different way of life, one that is happy, safe and not shut away from the world at large. Gradually she realizes that in order to protect herself, she must escape from her father and create a new life.
"This is the most difficult and best book I've read in a very long time," said Anne Holman, co-owner of the King's English Bookshop in Salt Lake City, Utah. "Everything about this story is lodged in my heart forever: the people, the action, the Mendocino countryside, and especially Turtle [and] her ability to survive the worst that life has to offer and still get up every morning and hope that something will be different."
Brendan Mathews's debut, The World of Tomorrow, opens in June of 1939, just months before World War II breaks out in Europe, as two brothers flee from Ireland to New York City after stealing a huge amount of money from the Irish Republican Army. Their names are Francis and Michael Dempsey, and they hope to hide out at the home of their brother Martin and his wife, Rosemary. Over the coming days, the Dempsey brothers explore prewar New York from Hell's Kitchen to Harlem, encountering mob bosses, artists, jazz musicians and more, all while an assassin hired by the IRA attempts to track them down. Though they hope for a better future, another war is imminent and there is danger at every turn.
Sarah Bagby, co-owner of Watermark Books & Cafe in Wichita, Kan., called The World of Tomorrow a "different kind of big, rich 'New York City' novel." She praised Mathews's playful language, the novel's multi-faceted and unpredictable story, and its flawed, compelling and "all-too-human" characters. The World of Tomorrow will be out September 5 from Little, Brown.
Coming January 9, 2018, from Putnam is Chloe Benjamin's second novel, The Immortalists. In 1969, an itinerant psychic arrives in Manhattan's Lower East Side claiming to be able to tell people the exact day they'll die. Four siblings, Simon, Klara, Daniel and Varya, sneak out together to see the psychic, and what they learn that night will influence them for the rest of their lives. The novel follows the four Gold children over the next 50 years as they branch out in adulthood and contend with the notions of free will and fate: one heads to San Francisco in the 1980s, another becomes a magician in Las Vegas, a third joins the army after 9/11, and the last pursues the dream of immortality through medical research.
According to Daniel Goldin, owner of Boswell Book Company in Milwaukee, Wis., readers will "likely fall in love with the Gold family and Chloe Benjamin's novel," and though each of the book's four sections has its own feel, they all come together into a seamless whole. He called The Immortalists a "whip-smart and unexpectedly philosophical story of fate, faith and family."
Rounding out today's list is A.J. Finn's debut thriller, The Woman in the Window, out January 23, 2018, from Morrow. Anna Fox is a recluse. She lives by herself in New York City, and though she hardly ever goes outside, she keeps a keen eye on the goings-on around her. After a married couple with a teenage son moves in across the street, Anna begins observing them too. One night while looking across the street, she sees something so shocking she can't believe it's real, and as she continues to spy on her neighbors, a Hitchcockian descent into paranoia and madness ensues.
"I have never had so much fun being submerged in a world of fear and suspense," said Luisa Smith, director of buying for Book Passage in Corte Madera, San Francisco and Sausalito, Calif. The book will appeal to "fans of both classic noirs and contemporary thrillers," and more than just a thrilling read, The Woman in the Window features writing that is "perfectly paced throughout, allowing the host of unforgettable characters space to draw us even deeper into this unrelenting mystery." --Alex Mutter