Also published on this date: Thursday, March 10, 2016: Kids' Maximum Shelf: There Is a Tribe of Kids

Shelf Awareness for Thursday, March 10, 2016

Little Brown and Company: This Bird Has Flown by Susanna Hoffs

St. Martin's Press: Hello Stranger by Katherine Center

Dundurn Press: Chasing the Black Eagle by Bruce Geddes

W by Wattpad Books: Hazel Fine Sings Along by Katie Wicks

St. Martin's Press: The Girls of Summer by Katie Bishop

Soho Crime: The Rope Artist by Fuminori Nakamura, transl. by Sam Bett

Flatiron Books: Once Upon a Prime: The Wondrous Connections Between Mathematics and Literature by Sarah Hart

Grand Central Publishing: Goodbye Earl: A Revenge Novel by Leesa Cross-Smith


Seattle Bookstore Damaged in Huge Gas Explosion

Broken windows at Couth Buzzard Books.

A huge natural gas explosion early yesterday morning in the Greenwood neighborhood in Seattle, Wash., destroyed three businesses, damaged 36 others and injured nine firefighters. Among the damaged stores was Couth Buzzard Books, a used and new bookstore that includes the Espresso Buono Café and performance and community gathering spaces.

Owner Theo Dzielak told local TV station Q13 that the store lost most of its windows, which have since been boarded up with plywood. When the explosion occurred, he was at his nearby home and said it was so loud that "my first thought was, 'Oh my God, someone's dead from this.' "

On Facebook, the store wrote: "Under extremely stressful conditions we interacted the First Responders and Seattle Police, PSE employees and others, and all responded to our questions, needs and concerns clearly, efficiently, and with great compassion. Thank you all!"

The store is closed for the time being, and fundraisers are being organized for the affected businesses.

Parallax Press: Radical Love: From Separation to Connection with the Earth, Each Other, and Ourselves by Satish Kumar

Washington State's Lopez Bookshop Expands

Owners Linda Brower (top) and Karen Barringer (bottom).

Lopez Bookshop, Lopez Island, Wash., has started its fifth year in a big way. In January, the store closed for a little over a week to expand and now has another room and an additional 150 square feet of space for its growing inventory of new and used books. The new room also serves as an event space for readings by visiting authors and local writers.

In the new arrangement, it's easier to find new arrivals and staff recommendations, and two comfy chairs and a small table are in front of the new room's picture windows. Customers have said they like the ambience the remodel created. "We've noticed that they linger and browse longer," said Linda Brower, who owns the store with her sister, Karen Barringer.

The remodel was a family affair involving Barringer and Brower, their spouses and Brower's son. But they credit many others. As Barringer put it, "The only reason we could do this is because of the support from our community."

Lopez Bookshop is located on Lopez Island, one of the San Juan Islands.

William Morrow & Company: The God of Good Looks by Breanne Mc Ivor

DBW 2016: Amazon Stores; Book Buyers

"Jeff Bezos denied last year that they [Amazon] were opening hundreds of stores," said Scott Galloway, professor of marketing at the New York University Stern School of Business, at Digital Book World yesterday. "I think that's accurate. They're going to open thousands of stores."

During his talk on the "four horsemen"--Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook--Galloway noted that bricks-and-mortar retailers are currently investing in digital, while e-commerce companies will "either do one of two things: they will either go out of business or they will open stores. And this is true with Amazon. Amazon is about to become the biggest retailer in the world." He speculated that possible perfect acquisition targets for the company would be Macy's or multinational French retailer Carrefour.

Amazon is also quickly transforming itself into a massive shipping company, Galloway added. They are renting planes, buying trucks and building warehouses, without the "pesky business" of having to deal with things like labor unions. Only yesterday, Amazon said it is leasing 20 Boeing 747 freighter jets and taking a 20% stake in its air shipment partner, Air Transport Services Group.


During a panel discussion entitled "The Book Buyer's Journey: Understanding the Consumer Path to Purchase," Peter Hildick-Smith, CEO of Codex Group, said publishers were "really blessed, because book buyers care." Compared to people who use social networks, watch online video or listen to music, Hildick-Smith explained, book buyers are "more invested in books almost as a lifestyle." Also on the panel were Peter McCarthy, co-founder and chief creative officer of the Logical Marketing Agency, and Tom Thompson, senior v-p and group director of Verso Advertising, while Jack W. Perry, v-p of print and e-book sales for Highlights Press, served as moderator.

Hildick-Smith also brought up the concept of "discovery quality." Based on how someone discovers a book, the chances of that person actually reading said book and thinking highly of it can vary tremendously. With a personal recommendation, Hildick-Smith said, a person is more likely to read the book and, if not finish it, at least read enough to form an opinion of it, and is then more likely to rate the book highly. On the other side of the spectrum, if a reader discovers a book through an e-mail offering a 99-cent buy or a similar extreme discount, there's about a 50% chance that he or she will even start that book.

McCarthy, meanwhile, discussed the idea of "dark social" or "dark word of mouth." Publishers, he said, can see whether someone ended up buying a physical book or digital book, but very rarely is the process of the "funnel" entirely physical or entirely digital; dark social refers to the "squishy" interactions between physical and digital discoverability. Noted McCarthy: "Not a whole lot is observable there." --Alex Mutter

Shelf Awareness Job Board: Click Here to Post Your Job

DBW 2016: Amazon and U.S. Antitrust

In a Digital Book World session yesterday on "Antitrust, Tech and Book Publishing," antitrust lawyer Jonathan Kanter, a partner at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, gave an overview of how antitrust law might apply to the "four horsemen": Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook.

While acknowledging all the benefits of the "Internet revolution," he said, "Beware... the revolution devours its children." Every revolutionary fears "the next revolution," and as new companies become powerful and do a lot of good, "they fear losing that power and sometimes they use what they have... to create a moat around their businesses and protect themselves, and that's where the antitrust laws come into play."

Jonathan Kanter

In the case of the tech giants, he continued, companies often compete on their own platforms, which creates conflicts of interest and sometimes results in behavior that's "not beneficial to competition or the competitive process."

One example of this he gave involved Amazon for its punishment of Hachette during contract negotiations or "favoring its own self-publishers from Kindle to the exclusion of other self-publishers in how they list books could be problematic."

A related problematic area involves tech companies that "charge really low prices on one side, to keep folks locked in," then try "to extract that on the other side." His example of this likely resonated with publishers in the audience: "That can be the prices to consumers on Amazon for buying the book but then extracting that from publishers and others."

He noted, too that many of the big tech companies are "intermediaries" who don't create content and are "simply there to help others distribute and consume what they create," but things can get problematic, because their position becomes "self-reinforcing. The bigger they get, the harder it is to compete with them." They take "a disproportionate share of the revenue" because as they get bigger, "more money will be captured in the middle and less money will be distributed out to those who actually create the content."

He noted that people often ask why the government doesn't go after monopolies merely for being monopolies. He answered by citing an adage among antitrust lawyers: under U.S. law and practice, "big isn't necessarily bad." The government wants to encourage companies to compete and enjoy the benefits of their innovations and success. Still, Kanter emphasized that even the late Justice Scalia, not a friend of antitrust efforts, recognized that "conduct that might be efficient and totally pro-competitive for a small company" might not be competitive for "a large, dominant monopolist."

Antitrust regulators often focus on "exclusionary conduct," which is hard to define. Kanter called it "a matter of making sure that once companies are successful, they're not using that dominant position and their market power to exclude rivals, to hinder the competitive process."

In a related area, the large tech companies are also worried about competitors doing a better job than them, so an antitrust investigation can focus on whether "these companies are sacrificing the well being of their own platform as a means to protect their own power," Kanter said.

As for pricing, antitrust law approves low prices so long as they're not predatory, which Kanter called "a challenging line of case to bring." Regulators have to prove that such pricing was done in order to exclude competitors. --John Mutter

Obituary Note: Ram Advani

Ram Advani, who "started selling books in Lucknow in 1947 and was passionate about his work," died March 9, the Times of India reported, noting that the "city is mourning the demise of its iconic bookseller." He was 95. "Everyone knows that Ram Advani was more than a bookseller," his best friend's son said. "His store was a place to contemplate, learn and feel the pulse of society without feeling the burden of it. A visit to his store was an experience because of the love and affected extended by Advani to all." In a previous interview with TOI, Advani observed: "It is difficult to make a Tata or a Birla understand the happiness I derive when I can give my reader a book he's looking for. Money can't be equated with a bookstore."

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
The Wisdom of Morrie:
Living and Aging Creatively and Joyfully
by Morrie Schwartz, edited by Rob Schwartz
GLOW: Blackstone Publishing: The Wisdom of Morrie: Living and Aging Creatively and Joyfully by Morrie Schwartz, edited by Rob Schwartz

Twenty-five years ago, Mitch Albom immortalized his former college professor in Tuesdays with Morrie, the blockbuster memoir that shared Morrie Schwartz's profound insights about life as he was dying of ALS. In The Wisdom of Morrie, Rob Schwartz, Morrie's son, resurrects his father's voice, sharing Morrie's philosophical wisdom and humor about the aging process--what can be an emboldening period filled with meaning and purpose. "This book is invaluable to anyone interested in improving their quality of life," says Rick Bleiweiss, head of new business development at Blackstone Publishing. "Readers who enjoy[ed] The Last Lecture and When Breath Becomes Air will expand their awareness and find new ideas and insights into living more fully." Schwartz's musings are timeless, and inspirational for readers of all ages. --Kathleen Gerard

(Blackstone Publishing, $25.99 hardcover, 9798200813452,
April 18, 2023)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported


Sanibel's MacIntosh Books Thrives in New Location

MacIntosh Books and Paper, Sanibel, Fla., a "business that has offered a warm welcome to all of its customers, with a great deal of knowledge, for more than 60 years, moved to its fifth location here on the island," Captiva Sanibel reported. The new store features "additional space that is much brighter."

"It's a Sanibel tradition. For us it's more about relationships with customers," said manager Rebecca Binkowski of the store, which originally opened in March 1960 on the east end of the island and made its debut at its new location January 1 in Palm Ridge Place.

"Our staff has never been better. We are all rooted in the community," Binkowski said, adding that she was grateful for the help the store received during the move. "We are thankful to our dear friends and customers. Great supporters was essential."

'The Philosopher's Guide to Manhattan Bookstores'

"The philosopher's guide to Manhattan bookstores" was featured by Journalistic Blogging, which noted that its "list is for both those who are new to philosophy but don't quite know where to start, and for those who find themselves constantly muttering, 'That's it?!' under their breath at the sight of a stark selection that only ever contains Plato's Republic and Machiavelli's The Prince."

Personnel Changes at Sasquatch Books

At Sasquatch Books:

Nicole Banholzer has joined the company as publicity and marketing manager for Little Bigfoot, Sasquatch Books' children's imprint. She formerly worked in children's publicity at Macmillan and Random House.

Corinna Scott has joined the press as senior publicist, adult titles. She formerly worked at several public relations agencies.

Kate Reingold has been promoted to marketing coordinator. She was formerly marketing assistant and joined Sasquatch Books in 2013.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Aaron Sanchez Talks Food on the Talk

The Talk: Aaron Sanchez, co-author of Simple Food, Big Flavor: Unforgettable Mexican-Inspired Recipes from My Kitchen to Yours (Atria, $22, 9781501141812).

Last Call with Carson Daly repeat: Jalen Rose, author of Got to Give the People What They Want: True Stories and Flagrant Opinions from Center Court (Crown Archetype, $28, 9780804138901).

TV: GoT Trailer; Model Woman; Time After Time

"At last! HBO has released the very eagerly awaited Game of Thrones season 6 trailer," Entertainment Weekly reported, adding that this "is the real thing and gives fans their first real look at the ultra-mysterious sixth season which extends the Emmy-winning drama's storyline almost entirely beyond George R.R. Martin's novels for the first time."


Andie MacDowell will play the lead in ABC's drama pilot Model Woman, a "fictionalized family soap" inspired by Robert Lacey's book Model Woman: Eileen Ford and the Business of Beauty, Deadline reported. Written by Helen Childress (Reality Bites) and directed by Richard Shepard, Model Woman "is set in the late 1970s during the notorious Model Wars and centers on Bertie Geiss (MacDowell)--a tempestuous matriarch and uncompromising businesswoman at the helm of an internationally renowned modeling agency," Deadline wrote.


Genesis Rodriguez (Tusk, Big Hero 6) has been cast as the female lead opposite Freddie Stroma and Josh Bowman in Kevin Williamson's ABC pilot Time After Time, which uses Karl Alexander's 1979 novel and a film adaptation "as a starting point" to "chronicle the epic adventures of young H.G. Wells (Stroma)," Deadline reported. Williamson wrote the script and is executive producing. Marcos Siega directs.

This Weekend on Book TV: Tucson 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, March 12
12 p.m. Live coverage of the 2016 Tucson Festival of Books at the University of Arizona. (Re-airs Sunday at 12 a.m.)

8:30 p.m. Edward G. Lengel, author of First Entrepreneur: How George Washington Built His--and the Nation's--Prosperity (Da Capo, $25.99, 9780306823473).

10 p.m. Michael Eric Dyson, author of The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27, 9780544387669). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m.)

11 p.m. Brady Carlson, author of Dead Presidents: An American Adventure into the Strange Deaths and Surprising Afterlives of Our Nation's Leaders (Norton, $26.95, 9780393243932), at Politics & Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C. (Re-airs Sunday at 8:30 a.m.)

Sunday, March 13
1 p.m. Continuing live coverage of the Tucson Festival of Books. (Re-airs Monday at 12 a.m.)

11 p.m. Randy Roberts, co-author of Blood Brothers: The Fatal Friendship Between Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X (Basic Books, $28.99, 9780465079704), at Kramerbooks and Afterwords in Washington, D.C.

Books & Authors

Awards: Ottaway; Man Booker Int'l; Kitschies; RoNA

Barbara Epler

Barbara Epler, president and publisher of New Directions Publishing Company, has won the 2016 Ottaway Award for the Promotion of International Literature, sponsored by Words Without Borders and recognizing "an individual whose work and activism have supported WWB's mission of promoting cultural understanding through the publication and promotion of international literature."

"Throughout her long and illustrious tenure at New Directions, Barbara Epler has broadened our literary tastes by introducing us to some of the world’s great writers," said Words Without Borders board chair Samantha Schnee. "For her unyielding commitment to international literature in translation, we are delighted to honor her with the Ottaway Award."

The Ottaway Award will be presented to Epler at the annual Words Without Borders gala on November 1 in New York City.


A 13-book longlist has been unveiled for the £50,000 (about $71,135) Man Booker International Prize. This is the first longlist announcement in the history of the award, which has joined forces with the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and is now presented annually. The award will be divided equally between the author of the winning book and its translator. A shortlist of six books will be released April 14, and the winner named May 16. This year's longlisted titles are:

A General Theory of Oblivion by José Eduardo Agualusa (Angola), translated by Daniel Hahn
The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante (Italy), translated by Ann Goldstein
The Vegetarian by Han Kang (South Korea), translated by Deborah Smith
Mend the Living by Maylis de Kerangal (France), translated by Jessica Moore
Man Tiger by Eka Kurniawan (Indonesia), translated by Labodalih Sembiring
The Four Books by Yan Lianke (China), translated by Carlos Rojas
Tram 83 by Fiston Mwanza Mujila (Democratic Republic of Congo/Austria), translated by Roland Glasser
A Cup of Rage by Raduan Nassar (Brazil), translated by Stefan Tobler
Ladivine by Marie NDiaye (France), translated by Jordan Stump
Death by Water by Kenzaburō Ōe (Japan), translated by Deborah Boliner Boem
White Hunger by Aki Ollikainen (Finland), translated by Emily Jeremiah & Fleur Jeremiah
A Strangeness in My Mind by Orhan Pamuk (Turkey), translated by Ekin Oklap
A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler (Austria), translated by Charlotte Collins


Winners were announced for the Kitschies, which honor "novels containing elements of the speculative and fantastic" that were deemed the most "progressive, intelligent and entertaining" books of 2015. Margaret Atwood won the £1,000 (about $1,420) Red Tentacle (best novel) category for The Heart Goes Last. The Golden Tentacle (debut) went to Tade Thompson for Making Wolf. Jet Purdie received the Inky Tentacle (cover art) for Sally Gardner's The Door That Led to Where. The Invisible Tentacle ("natively digital fiction") went to Life Is Strange by Square Enix Studios. They each received £500 (about $710).

The Black Tentacle, a judges' discretionary award for "an outstanding achievement in encouraging and elevating the conversation around genre literature," was given to the genre community, personified by Patrick Ness, for response to the humanitarian refugee crisis. The fund Ness began raised £689,793 (about $981,362) for Save the Children, from more than 6,000 donors, including a marathon series of £10,000-plus matching prizes from more than 20 authors. Virgin Giving even waived their fees.


Iona Grey won the Romantic Novelists' Association's £5,000 (about $7,115) Romantic Novel of the Year award for Letters to the Lost. The judges described Letters to the Lost as "a skillfully told story with captivating characters, convincing and compelling. Beautifully done." This year's RoNA category winners are:

Contemporary romantic: The Wedding Cake Tree by Melanie Hudson
Epic: The Secrets We Share by Emma Hannigan
Historical: Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey
Romantic comedy: Afternoon Tea at the Sunflower Café by Milly Johnson
RoNA Rose: Doctor... to Duchess? by Annie O'Neil
Young adult: Crow Mountain by Lucy Inglis

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

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

Hardcover: An Indies Introduce Title
Hide: A Novel by Matthew Griffin (Bloomsbury, $26, 9781632863386). "On the outer edge of a struggling small town in North Carolina lives a long-married--in name, if not in fact--couple, Frank and Wendell. For all the decades they have been together they have hidden from the world to protect themselves, but now Frank's health is failing. The poignancy of Wendell's struggle to keep Frank safe is heartbreaking. These are not characters we see often in fiction--poor and rural and gay and old--but Griffin draws them so honestly and well that we quickly know them and come to care deeply for them." --Michael Barnard, Rakestraw Books, Danville, Calif.

Green Island: A Novel by Shawna Yang Ryan (Knopf, $26.95, 9781101874257). "Like Vaddey Ratner's In the Shadow of the Banyan, Ryan's heartbreaking novel takes readers to an island with a history unknown to many: Taiwan. Rarely portrayed in a work of fiction, Taiwan is an island of complex political relations, families torn apart by political unrest, and a lush and beautiful physical landscape. Told in luscious prose, Green Island teaches readers about the humanity of mankind, the brutality of political power and unrest, and why some secrets are never told. I cannot wait to handsell this!" --Annie Philbrick, Bank Square Books, Mystic, Conn.

13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl: Fiction by Mona Awad (Penguin Books, $16, 9780143128489). "For anyone who has ever, at any moment of her life, felt inadequate, insecure, inferior, or inept, and turned to the LifeCycle for a bit of solace only to find herself feeling even worse, 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl will resonate, rattle, and inspire. Mona Awad is an exciting new voice, both honest and hilarious, with the ability to face, with head held high, all of the obstacles we throw at ourselves that often stand in the way of our own happiness." --Susan Hans O'Connor, Penguin Bookshop, Sewickley, Penn.

For Middle Grade Readers: An Indies Introduce Title
Beetle Boy by M.G. Leonard (Scholastic/Chicken House, $16.99, 9780545853460). "Wickedly comedic buffoons, genetically modified villains, industrious insects, and a scrappy protagonist fighting for his father's life keep this old-fashioned-feeling story fresh and contemporary. Readers will find themselves cheering for Beetle Boy and his amazing beetles. --Erin Barker, Hooray for Books!, Alexandria, Va.

For Ages 4 to 8
Echo Echo: Reverso Poems About the Greek Myths by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Josee Masse (Dial, $16.99, 9780803739925). "What a wonderful and unique way of presenting Greek myths! I read each mirrored poem with delight and amazement. Singer does a fantastic job of telling two sides of the same story while keeping true to the myths. The great art also mirrors the spirit of the poems." --Liesl Freudenstein, Boulder Book Store, Boulder, Colo.

For Teen Readers
A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro (Katherine Tegen, $17.99, 9780062398901). "This thoroughly entertaining addition to the Sherlock Holmes canon introduces readers to the great-great-great grandson of John Watson and the great-great-great granddaughter of Sherlock Holmes, who meet at a Connecticut boarding school and are almost immediately drawn into a murder investigation--one in which they become the chief suspects. This is a clever, satisfying novel that holds its own with the best works of the great Conan Doyle." --Nancy Banks, City Stacks Books and Coffee, Denver, Colo.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, March 15:

Rightful Heritage: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Land of America by Douglas Brinkley (Harper, $35, 9780062089236) looks at FDR's environmental legacy.

The Cosmopolitans by Sarah Schulman (The Feminist Press at CUNY, $15.95, 9781558619043) is a retelling of Honoré de Balzac's Cousin Bette.

The Rope: A Novel by Kanan Makiya (Pantheon, $25.95, 9781101870471) follows an Iraqi militiaman in the wake of the U.S. invasion.

Vessels: A Love Story by Daniel Raeburn (Norton, $23.95, 9780393285383) expands a popular New Yorker essay into a memoir about a difficult conception. (March 14.)

The Total Package: A Novel by Stephanie Evanovich (Morrow, $26.99, 9780062234858) follows a comeback quarterback and a skeptical female sports commentator.

The Last Confession of Thomas Hawkins by Antonia Hodgson (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27, 9780544639683) is the second novel with Georgian London gentleman Thomas Hawkins.

As Close to Us as Breathing: A Novel by Elizabeth Poliner (Lee Boudreaux Books, $27, 9780316384148) follows generations of one family after a tragic summer.

Under New Management: How Leading Organizations Are Upending Business as Usual by David Burkus (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28, 9780544630970) critiques classic forms of business management.

New Blood (HALO) by Matt Forbeck (Gallery, $9.99, 9781501128080).

Miss Fortune: Fresh Perspectives on Having It All from Someone Who Is Not Okay by Lauren Weedman (Plume, $16, 9780142180235).

Allegiant, based on the third book in the Divergent series by Veronica Roth, opens March 18. A movie tie-in edition (Katherine Tegen, $12.99, 9780062420091) is available.

The Program, based on the book Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong by David Walsh, opens March 18.

Miracles from Heaven, based on the book by Christy Wilson Beam, opens March 18. A movie tie-in edition (Hachette Books, $7.99, 9780316355322) is available.

The Little Prince, an animated film based on Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's children's classic, opens March 18. The voice cast includes Jeff Bridges, Rachel McAdams, Paul Rudd, Marion Cotillard, James Franco, Benicio Del Toro and Ricky Gervais.

Book Review

Review: The Little Red Chairs

The Little Red Chairs by Edna O'Brien (Little, Brown, $27 hardcover, 9780316378239, March 29, 2016)

Younger writers like Aleksandar Hemon and Anthony Marra have taken as their subject matter the ethnic conflicts that have riven postwar Europe. Nearing the end of an illustrious career, Ireland's Edna O'Brien (Saints and Sinners) brings a distinct perspective to one of these tragedies as it plays out in the life of a woman far from the field of battle in her novel The Little Red Chairs.

Set mostly in the western Ireland town of Cloonoila sometime after the collapse of Irish economy in 2008, O'Brien's novel begins with the arrival of mysterious Eastern Europe holistic healer and poet Dr. Vladimir Dragan, who senses in the town "that primal innocence, lost to most places in the world." His resemblance to the real life Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžić is hardly coincidental, as Vlad's courtly demeanor conceals a terrible secret: he's a war criminal known as the "Beast of Bosnia," who directed the genocidal assault on that region's Muslims in the early 1990s, a bloodbath marked by the 2012 commemoration of the 643 children slaughtered in Sarajevo that provides the novel's title.

Like many of the townspeople, Fidelma McBride, a woman whose own husband finds her "elusive, like thistledown," is irresistibly drawn to the exotic, enigmatic Dragan. She's still submerged in grief over two failed pregnancies and the loss of her clothing boutique in the economic meltdown. Her decision to engage in an affair with Vlad, in the hope it will result in a pregnancy she believes is impossible with her much older husband, is driven more by impulse than reason. When Dragan's past is exposed, the physical and emotional suffering Fidelma endures as a result of a choice that's as innocent as it is calculated is Job-like in its devastation. She's forced to flee Cloonoila for London, where she becomes part of the community of the rootless, seeking a safe haven somewhere on the European continent.

O'Brien shifts effortlessly between a moving depiction of Fidelma's humiliation and search for personal redemption and the broader context of "migrants with babes in arms fleeing atrocities and heading for nowhere" into which she's thrust. On either level, she writes with surpassing empathy and insight. The story she tells in The Little Red Chairs is as ancient as national blood feuds dating back hundreds of years and as contemporary as today's Internet headlines. That timeless feeling is only enhanced by the melancholy wisdom she imparts about the inscrutability of human desire. --Harvey Freedenberg, attorney and freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: Edna O'Brien's novel is the moving story of an Irish woman whose life unexpectedly intersects with the sectarian violence in central Europe.

The Bestsellers

Top Book Club Picks in February

The following were the most popular book club books during February based on votes from more than 120,000 book club readers from more than 39,000 book clubs registered at

1. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
2. All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel by Anthony Doerr
3. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry: A Novel by Gabrielle Zevin
4. The Girl on the Train: A Novel by Paula Hawkins
5. A Man Called Ove: A Novel by Fredrik Backman
6. Me Before You: A Novel by Jojo Moyes
7. Orphan Train: A Novel by Christina Baker Kline
8. The Invention of Wings: A Novel by Sue Monk Kidd
9. The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens
10. Ordinary Grace: A Novel by William Kent Krueger

[Many thanks to!]

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