With the support of the publisher, Shelf Awareness celebrates the new Mariner Books.
With the support of the publisher, Shelf Awareness celebrates the new Mariner Books.
It's a new day for Mariner Books. The storied imprint that traces its beginnings to 1832 continues to maintain and renew a backlist of legendary and classic titles, but at the same time, Mariner Books is publishing a range of new nonfiction and literary fiction that showcases a dazzling array of writers with fresh ideas and voices.
The changes at Mariner Books began following HarperCollins's purchase of the trade publishing division of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt last year. Mariner Books, which had been a trade paperback line, became an independent imprint within HarperCollins's Morrow Group, and Morrow's Custom House imprint was merged into Mariner Books. Now most of HMH's titles are published under the banner of Mariner Books.
The mandate for the new Mariner Books is simple. As Liate Stehlik, president and publisher of the Morrow Group at HarperCollins, explains: "Continuing one of the great legacies in American publishing, Mariner Books publishes captivating works of nonfiction and fiction that are thoughtfully engaged with the world we inhabit. I am excited and proud of the creativity and energy at Mariner Books, and eager for readers to discover our books in the months and years to come."
Peter Hubbard, vice-president, editorial director, adds, "Mariner is continuing the legacy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt with fresh vision and new energy, which is to say we proudly carry forward one of the great traditions of American publishing." He also notes that HarperCollins and Morrow offer a home that "provides Mariner and the former HMH authors and editors with the resources, stability, immensely talented colleagues, and creative autonomy needed to thrive and write another chapter in our storied history. We're not starting from scratch, and the truth is the HMH/Mariner legacy is extraordinary, and it's my job to empower our editors and authors to publish wonderful books that honor that heritage."
New Mariner Books titles set out "to explore and interrogate the full breadth of our world," and are written by "some of today's finest novelists, journalists, historians, sports and travel writers, and scientists." At the same time, Hubbard emphasizes that while Mariner Books is serious, "we're not precious!" The imprint has "fun books in the works" on such subjects as LEGO toys, Bo Jackson, Whitney Houston, and "even a delicious murder mystery called Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson."
Kate Nintzel, v-p, executive editor, is especially excited about Mariner Books' fiction program. "Fiction is culture!" she says. "And fiction is craft. It's where storytelling and culture intersect. The fiction we're doing at Mariner engages with the world around us and interrogates the way we tell stories."
Among examples are several fall novels, including Lynn Steger Strong's Flight, "exploring what it means to be a family in America today," and Sussie Anie's To Fill a Yellow House, "a lyrical debut about gentrification and unlikely friendship set in an unnamed London suburb" (more about them below) as well as Amy Fusselman's The Means, "a sharp satire of class, wealth, and summer homes."
Future titles include Tara Conklin's Community Board, "a non-Covidy novel about unexpected isolation and the double-edged sword that is neighborhood message boards," novels from Kate Morton, Christina Baker Kline, T Kira Madden and Meng Jin as well as the final installment in Elly Griffiths's beloved Ruth Galloway series.
"We're about to see an extraordinary time for fiction," she adds. "It's been a transformative couple of years. I can't wait to see the work that comes out of our collective experience, and I can't wait for Mariner to bring those novels to readers everywhere."
Mariner Books has an astounding backlist that includes among many other classics: Henry David Thoreau's Walden, Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, Willa Cather's My Ántonia and O Pioneers!, T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets, W.E.B. Du Bois's Black Reconstruction in America, J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince, Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, Philip Roth's Goodbye, Columbus and The Plot Against America, Flannery O'Connor's A Good Man Is Hard to Find, Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities, Alice Walker's The Color Purple, José Saramago's Blindness, Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies, Yann Martel's Life of Pi, Jonathan Saffran Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation, Timothy Egan's The Worst Hard Time, Alison Bechdel's Fun Home, and many others.
Mariner Books editors have many backlist favorites that they believe warrant renewed attention. For Hubbard, one of these is Let the Dead Bury the Dead by Randall Kenan, which Mariner Books plans to reissue later in 2023. He promises there are more since "I discover a new 'hidden gem' seemingly every week!"
For senior editor Nicole Angeloro, who focuses on backlist, picking favorite backlist titles is "like picking a favorite child," but several authors and titles stand out. One is Ann Petry, who's having "a bit of renaissance." In 2020, Mariner published a new edition of The Street, first published in 1946, with an introduction by Tayari Jones. And new editions of other titles, including Country Place and Miss Muriel and Other Stories, are appearing soon. In addition, Petry's The Narrows will be, along with The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt and The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien, one of the three inaugural titles in the launch of Mariner Books Classics in 2023.
Angeloro also cites Virginia Woolf, "not a hidden gem in the least," but someone people should read more of, beyond her best known books Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse. "We had a long publishing relationship with Woolf and have a lot of titles that fly under the radar," like Between the Acts. "You don't have to a completist," she says. "And the classics are classic for a reason, but reading more of an author's body of work can be really rewarding."
Another example of the dynamic of a important author with some lesser-known work is George Orwell, whose classic books are 1984 and Animal Farm but who is also the author of a range of nonfiction, including Homage to Catalonia, particularly resonant after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Mariner Books is highlighting some of its backlist with repackages that create a signature look for the author, including titles by Woolf, Philip K. Dick, and José Saramago. It plans to do with same with Orwell.
Angeloro emphasizes that there's much more to come. While Mariner Books has "a storied past, it is more than its history. I'm so excited about the prospective Mariner backlist. All the amazing frontlist titles that we are publishing now and in the future that will be classics one day."
Kate Morton is the author of six novels, including The Lake House, The Forgotten Garden and The Clockmaker's Daughter. Her books have been published in 42 countries and 34 languages. She lives in Australia with her family and is currently at work on her next book. About joining Mariner Books, she says, "I'm thrilled to be working with Kate Nintzel and the team at Mariner. It's an honor to be published on such a prestigious list."
Your books all deal in some way with the past and its effects on the present. Can you talk about that?
As a writer (and as a person), although I love history, it is the relationship between now and then that interests me. I think a lot about the way time passes and the way objects, ideas and people pass through time. I never tire of exploring the subject in my books.
You've talked about having a mother who was an antiques dealer and imagining the stories behind the objects in her shop. Does that same fascination still influence your writing now?
Absolutely. As a writer, it's very fruitful--ideas are everywhere. As a person, though, I would love to cure myself, because attaching meaning to every object carries a weight. Alas, I suspect it is getting worse over time.
While you don't write "traditional" mystery novels, all your books have a mystery (or several) at the heart of them, often involving family secrets. Can you say more about that?
I began my reading life as a mystery-lover. The Famous Five, The Secret Seven, Trixie Belden... I longed to be part of a child detective squad and to uncover an evil team of neighborhood smugglers. To some degree, I think our ideas about narrative are shaped through childhood reading--there was never a question in my mind when I decided to write my first book that its structure would hinge upon a secret.
You've said: "My novels always contain an historical element, but what interests me more than history itself is the way the past and the present remain tethered." Would you say that's still the case?
Yes. Our human story is a continuum: there are no narratives that belong discretely within a particular period. All actions cause reactions, and the ripples travel along the generations. It's always the unintended consequences that interest me. --Katie Noah Gibson
The Bad Angel Brothers: A Novel by Paul Theroux ($28.99, 9780358716891, September 6, 2022)
The acclaimed author of a range of novels and travel books, including The Mosquito Coast and Ghost Train to the Eastern Star, Paul Theroux has written a brilliant new novel of chilling psychological depth, the tale of a younger brother whose lifelong rivalry with his older brother--a powerful lawyer with a pattern of gleefully vicious betrayals--culminates in the ultimate plan: murder. Editor Millicent Bennett says, "There are few writers as good at skewering humanity in all its brutal and poignant hilarity as the legendary Paul Theroux, and in The Bad Angel Brothers we get two of his most powerful and irresistible characters yet. Frank Belanger is a villain for the ages--because who can get under your skin as deeply and viciously as a sibling?"
Servants of the Damned: Giant Law Firms, Donald Trump, and the Corruption of Justice by David Enrich ($32.50, 9780063142176, September 13, 2022)
David Enrich, Business Investigations Editor of the New York Times and author of the bestselling Dark Towers, here offers an exposé of the astonishing yet shadowy power wielded by one the world's largest law firms, Jones Day, which has represented the Trump campaign, Big Tobacco, Purdue Pharma, Fox News, Russian oligarchs, and many Fortune 500 companies. The story of Jones Day, founded in 1893, illustrates the changes that have swept the legal industry in recent decades. Peter Hubbard comments, "In this masterful book--more than once it had me thinking of Michael Clayton and The Firm--one of the finest business reporters of our time reveals the dark side of American law."
Jacqueline in Paris: A Novel by Ann Mah ($27.99, 9780062997012, September 27, 2022)
Ann Mah, the food and travel writer and bestselling author of The Lost Vintage, provides a rare and dazzling portrait of Jacqueline Bouvier during her college year abroad in Paris--before the world came to know her as Jackie Kennedy and then Jackie Onassis. This is an intimate and electrifying story of love and betrayal, and the coming-of-age of an American icon. Katherine Nintzel says, "Rigorously researched, deliciously imagined, this is the most beguiling Jackie novel I've read. As much a love letter to post-war Paris as it is a nuanced character study of one of the most famous women of our time. Mah has created a rich and satisfying treat."
Grace: President Obama and Ten Days in the Battle for America by Cody Keenan ($29.99, 9780358651895, October 4, 2022)
President Obama's chief speech writer Cody Keenan focuses on ten electrifying days in June 2015 that included the racist massacre in Charleston, S.C., and the Supreme Court decisions in favor of the Affordable Care Act and marriage equality--and the creation of the president's speeches on those powerful subjects. He highlights the craft of speechwriting at the highest level, with a boss who is relentlessly poetic and perfectionist. (At one point, Obama suggests that Keenan pour a drink and listen to some Miles Davis to "find the silences.") Editor Deanne Urmy praises Keenan's "intimate, insider view of Barack Obama making brilliant edits with a stroke, on incredibly high-stakes speeches under intense deadlines... for writing/editing geeks, there's nothing like it."
American Midnight: The Great War, a Violent Peace, and Democracy's Forgotten Crisis by Adam Hochschild ($29.99, 9780358455462, October 4, 2022)
Award-winning historian Adam Hochschild (King Leopold's Ghost, To End All Wars and Bury the Chains) provides a timely, fast-paced, revelatory new account of a pivotal but neglected period in American history: World War I and its stormy aftermath, when bloodshed and repression on the home front nearly doomed American democracy. The period's toxic currents of racism, nativism, red-baiting, and contempt for the rule of law feel ominously familiar today. Peter Hubbard says, "Legendary historian Adam Hochschild delivers an expansive, character-driven account of one of the darkest yet most overlooked periods in U.S. history: 1917-1921, and effectively illuminates the present by revealing this resonant past."
The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson by Jeff Pearlman ($29.99, 9780358437673, October 25, 2022)
From Jeff Pearlman, the sports journalist whose Showtime was the basis for HBO's Winning Time, The Last Folk Hero tracks the story and mystery of Bo Jackson, the great athlete from the late '80s to the early '90s who played both professional football and baseball but then seemingly vanished. Peter Hubbard says the author is perfect for the subject: "Jeff is one of the great sportswriters of our time, and he calls Bo 'the most fascinating subject of all his ten bestselling books.' As a child of the '80s and '90s, I agree, and will add it's a must read for any sports fan, regardless of what sport you follow or team your root for."
To Fill a Yellow House: A Novel by Sussie Anie ($27.99, 9780063087385, November 1, 2022)
This debut novel by Sussie Anie, a British-Ghanaian writer, is set in London and tells the story of an unlikely friendship between a young first-generation immigrant and the white middle-aged owner of a local charity shop. Katherine Nintzel says, "It's always a joy to find a writer whose use of language makes me see the world differently. This is a novel that is impossible to read fast; you want to luxuriate in the playful and inventive portrait of modern London."
Flight: A Novel by Lynn Steger Strong ($27.99, 9780063135147, November 8, 2022)
Lynn Steger Strong, the author of Want and Hold Still, uses shifting perspective to tell the story of a family gathering for Christmas in upstate New York after the death of their beloved matriarch, at odds over the settling of her estate--a novel about art, grief, shame, ambition, joy, and the American safety net. Katherine Nintzel observes, "Strong writes about the complexities and challenges of living in America today with grace, elegance and unparalleled insight. This is a knockout of a novel, as intimate as it is ambitious."
Screaming on the Inside: The Unsustainability of American Motherhood by Jessica Grose ($28.99, 9780063078352, December 6, 2022)
An opinion writer at the New York Times who writes a popular newsletter on parenting, Jessica Grose dismantles centuries of unrealistic parenting expectations and empowers today's mothers to make choices that serve themselves, their children, and their communities. Katherine Nintzel attests that Grose knows her stuff, saying, "I consider myself one of many parents I know who would not have made it through those first six months of the pandemic without Grose's clear-eyed, wise journalism. She's the voice of modern parenting: feminist, inspiring and thought-provoking without ever inducing guilt or shame. This book will change the way you think about motherhood for the better."
An annual celebration of the country's best short fiction and nonfiction, the Best American Series launched in 1915 and this year features anthologies of the best American short stories; science fiction and fantasy; mystery and suspense; essays; food writing; and science and nature writing. The series has an unusual approach that gives it broad appeal and captures current trends in the field. The editor of each anthology combs through hundreds of journals, magazines, and websites to find the best writing of the year. A guest editor, a leading writer in the field, then selects about twenty of those pieces, which are by both established and new authors.
Nicole Angeloro, senior editor at Mariner and long-time in-house editor for the series, explains, "Our hope is to capture a snapshot of the very cultural moment we are in and a literary time capsule for the people who come after us. The staying power of the series comes down to the guest editor model. No two people will ever pick the same table of contents. And that keeps it interesting. It's a peek into the guest editor's world that is unique to their own body of work."
This year's anthologies all publish on November 1 in trade paper and a limited hardcover collectors' edition and include these two key titles:
The Best American Short Stories 2022 ($17.99, 9780358664710). The series editor is Heidi Pitlor. The guest editor is Andrew Sean Greer, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of six works of fiction, including the bestsellers The Confessions of Max Tivoli and Less. He has taught at several universities, including the Iowa Writers Workshop, been a Today Show pick, a New York Public Library Cullman Center Fellow, a judge for the National Book Award, and a winner of the California Book Award and the New York Public Library Young Lions Award. He is the recipient of a NEA grant, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. In his foreword, he writes, "The American short story is thriving... For here we are, in a time when, more than ever, we realize the great necessity of art."
The Best American Essays 2022 ($17.99, 9780358658870). The series editor is Robert Atwan. The guest editor is Alexander Chee, the bestselling author of the novels The Queen of the Night and Edinburgh and the essay collection How to Write an Autobiographical Novel. He is a contributing editor at the New Republic and an editor at large at Virginia Quarterly Review. His work has appeared in The Best American Essays 2016, the New York Times Magazine, the New York Times Book Review, the New Yorker, T Magazine, Slate, Vulture, among others. In his foreword, he writes, "This anthology, the work it does year after year, is at least one place some of these essays may be found again, a poker hand laid down in a bet against oblivion, and this year that hand is mine."