Shelf Awareness for Monday, November 7, 2016

Lorena Jones Books: Black, White, and the Grey: The Story of an Unexpected Friendship and a Beloved Restaurant by Mashama Bailey and John O Morisano

Algonquin Books: Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge

Scribner Book Company: Milk Fed by Melissa Broder

Shelf Awareness: Click Here to Post Your Job


PEN America Decries Abduction of Hong Kong Booksellers

On Saturday, PEN America released a report on the 2015 abduction of five Hong Kong publishers and booksellers that found the abductions "undermined Hong Kong residents' expectation of safety under the 'one country, two systems' framework established when Hong Kong reverted to Chinese control in 1997. Since the incident," PEN America said, "multiple bookstores and publishing houses have closed, authors have pulled works from publication, printers have refused service to books on sensitive topics, and the mainland Chinese audience at popular literary events has dwindled."

Lam Wing-kee

Called "Writing on the Wall: Disappeared Booksellers and Free Expression in Hong Kong," the 71-page report was released during an event at the Hong Kong International Literary Festival that featured publisher Bao Pu, Democratic lawmaker James To Kun-sun, and abducted Causeway Bay bookseller Lam Wing-kee.

The report has a special focus on the cases of Gui Minhai and Lee Bo, both foreign nationals who were seized by Chinese agents in Thailand and Hong Kong, respectively, "in violation of international law." The report said the action "reflects a dangerous escalation of China's tactics to silence dissidents even beyond its borders."

Suzanne Nossel, executive director of PEN America, commented: "As Hong Kong residents grapple with continued encroachments by Beijing, the future of free expression in the territory and its status as the regional publishing hub is in question. The government of Hong Kong must act decisively, now, to buttress the rule of law and the 'one country, two systems' framework that protects creative freedom and has allowed Hong Kong to serve as such a vibrant commercial center."

Book Industry Charitable Foundation: Double your donation!

Black World Books Opens in Killeen, Tex.

"It's important that we have these books available in our community, to bring cultural awareness to others and ourselves, especially to our kids," said Maeva Jackson, owner of Black World Books, which opened in Killeen, Tex., on October 15. "We have to make sure they see positive reflections of themselves, and at the same time get their history and not a distorted world-view."

Located some 70 miles north of Austin, Black World Books is an 850-square-foot African American bookstore and cultural center. Its inventory spans all age groups, from children and early readers to teens and adults, and contains an array of genres, including urban fiction, history, biography, poetry and religion. Among the store's sideline offerings are shea butter, oils and scents, incense and jewelry. Jackson has yet to host a conventional author signing but has several event series either in the works or already in progress, including "mommy and me" events every Tuesday and STEM workshops for local students on Wednesdays.

Among other events that Jackson has planned are African-themed storytime sessions and, for adults, holistic healing classes. At the moment, the store has no food or beverage service beyond simple things like hot tea and cocoa, but Jackson would like eventually to sell coffee and possibly food.

Long before Black World Books opened its doors as a bricks-and-mortar store, it began as an online business, with Jackson selling home education resources to people around the country. In fact, it wasn't until Jackson began home-educating her own two daughters that she thought of opening a bookstore at all, online or otherwise. It started off simply, with Jackson selling books online and using social media as a marketing tool to generate word of mouth. She then began selling at various events and African American functions throughout Texas.

"Social media really was the major tool for marketing," reflected Jackson. "Just that and word of mouth, really. And then I decided to make it bricks-and-mortar."

Maeva Jackson

Jackson, who used to live in Killeen, said she chose to open Black World Books there because she wanted to give back to the community, which hadn't had a black bookstore for years. She also chose a smaller space because she wanted to make sure that the store felt cozy and inviting. "I wanted to do a service to the community by bringing [a bookstore] here and having it available for others," Jackson explained. "I've got a space that is comfortable and homey that's not too big--it's perfect for me."

Jackson said that within the local African American community, the response to the opening of her store has been great, with a common sentiment that she's filling a void within the community. Among other, non-African American members of the community, though, she reported that the response hasn't been so good, with a certain amount of negativity surrounding the store. When asked if she has responded to that negativity at all, Jackson said that she hadn't: "I don't feel like I have to. What I'm doing and what I'm about will show through my work. It's not just for African Americans. Anyone who comes in and wants to learn has the opportunity to do so."

Opening day at Black World Books

Although she ran an online book business for a few years (which will continue to operate now that Black World Books has a physical location, but with a trimmed-down inventory), Jackson had no prior experience working in a bookstore. For research, she "called all the black bookstores still in business" and interviewed their respective owners. In particular, the owner of Under One Roof, a now-closed African American bookstore in Killeen, helped show Jackson the business. And presently, Jackson is the only one working at the store, though several friends volunteered to help on opening weekend.

"The store opening was a huge success," reported Jackson, who added that the store was filled "corner to corner" with patrons throughout the day. "The atmosphere was one of peace and gratitude. We all felt thankful to have this space filled with these cultural resources to share with one another." --Alex Mutter

GLOW: Insight Editions: Unstoppable: Siggi B. Wilzig's Astonishing Journey from Auschwitz Survivor and Penniless Immigrant to Wall Street Legend by Joshua M. Greene

BAM Publish Partners with FastPencil

Books-A-Million and FastPencil have partnered to launch what is described as "an intuitive publishing platform with an integrated in-store book placement program" through BAM! Publish. Self-publishing benefits will also include potential participation in book signings and other marketing events. 

"As a bookseller, our mission is to connect authors with readers, so we see great value in helping local authors achieve success in our retail environment by having their books available to our customers," said Mary Gallagher, executive v-p, merchandising of Books-A-Million. "Providing a self-publishing platform that includes the opportunity for in-store distribution is a great way for us to enhance our customer's experience and support authors who choose the self-publishing path."

Steve Wilson, CEO of FastPencil, said, "We are pleased to take our partnership with Books-A-Million to the next level by offering their readers and author communities an exciting new solution. Authors have desired a viable option for their books to be displayed in a national chain and this partnership makes that available."

BAM "is still deciding on the best format to market self-published books in stores, but is considering a kiosk at local stores," reported. In addition, Pete Zophy, v-p of e-commerce at BAM, said, "Self-publishing is kind of unique in that it's a smaller portion of our business right now, but it has the potential to grow. We're really looking at it as a new opportunity we want to provide to meet customer demand."

Grove Press: Shuggie Bain: A Novel by Douglas Stuart

Obituary Note: John Rezmerski

John Rezmerski, "one of Minnesota's best-known poets and storytellers and a longtime professor at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn.," died November 5, the Star Tribune reported. He was 74. Rezmerski wrote or contributed to about 20 books of poetry, including his collections Cataloging the Flow: Elegy; What Do I Know?: New & Selected Poems; and Breaking the Rules: Starting with Ghazals.

Apollo Publishers: Holiday Gift Ideas


Image of the Day: Extraordinary Women

photo: Victor Hugo/Patrick McMullan

An extraordinary group gathered at the Rainbow Room in Rockefeller Center in New York City on November 1 to celebrate the publication of The Women Who Made New York (Seal Press). Many of the women featured in the book were on hand, as well as descendants and representatives of others. Among the women who are a focus of the book: Zora Neale Hurston, Audre Lorde, Fran Lebowitz, Grace Jones and Emily Warren Roebling. Pictured: (l.-r.) actress Lexi Lawson, who plays Eliza Hamilton in Broadway's Hamilton, author Julie Scelfo and illustrator Hallie Heald.

Palabras Librería in Phoenix Celebrates Grand Opening

Palabras Librería/Bookstore, a Spanish-language bookstore in Phoenix, Ariz., will celebrate its grand opening this Saturday, November 12, in connection with the Grand Avenue Festival, Downtown Devil reported.

During the grand opening, the store will have a ribbon cutting and hold a traditional Yerba mate tea hour, storytelling and various workshops. "It's going to be a traditional tea hour with the whole gourds and cool metal spoons," owner Rosie Magaña said. "That is going to be followed by a Bomba player and a story telling section."

Magaña opened the store a year ago, inspired by the interactive art instillation "Librería Donceles" by Pablo Helguera at Arizona State University's Combine Studio, which showcased a library of more than 10,000 Spanish-language books. "It was an inspiring piece for me," she said. "This is a space that would help to give a voice to the people in a community."

Magaña also plans to set up pop-up libraries around downtown, a pair of which have already opened: one by the headquarters of Puente, a grassroots migrant justice organization, and the other by the community development center for Tonatierra, an organization supporting indigenous people.

Cool Idea of the Day: Voters' Discount

Broadway Books, Portland, Ore., has an election day special tomorrow, offering a 20% discount on any one item in the store to customers who come in and say that they voted. "And, while they last, we'll give you a special literary election button."

The store explained: "Tuesday is Election Day--so many important issues and races to be decided, both locally and nationally. We encourage everyone to get out and vote and voice your opinion on decisions that will affect us for years, and even decades, to come."

Time Out Bookstore's 11-Year-Old Handseller

Eleven-year-old Eli Flynn has worked for three years at Time Out Bookstore in Mt. Eden, a suburb of Auckland, New Zealand, and is paid in books, Stuff reported, adding that his job is to "engage perusers of the children's section--kids or adults--and make book recommendations during his summer holidays. He's read nearly every volume there; '99% of the time' feeling confident in his endorsements."

Eli Flynn discusses books with store manager Jenna Todd.

"I love the staff, I love the books, and the store is almost as comfortable to me as my own home," said Eli, wearing the three-piece suit and hat he considers his uniform. "Reading so much has really helped me understand other people."

J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit "was his first foray into literature. His dad had read it to him when he was five--one year later Eli read the classic Tolkien novel himself," Stuff wrote, adding that while kids' books are his specialty, "he said helping a 43-year-old woman find her next book might take some thinking, but he'd 'put myself in mum's shoes' and probably go for a Sebastian Faulks novel."

And how does Eli feel about being paid in books rather than money? "I'm too young to paid money and besides, I'd just spend it on books anyway," he replied.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Garry Trudeau on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Garry Trudeau, author of Yuge!: 30 Years of Doonesbury on Trump (Andrews McMeel, $14.99, 9781449481339).

Diane Rehm: Norman Ornstein, co-author of It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism (Basic Books, $16.99, 9780465096206).

Also on Diane Rehm: E.J. Dionne Jr., author of Why the Right Went Wrong: Conservatism From Goldwater to the Tea Party and Beyond (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781476763798).

Diane Rehm: Dinah Miller and Annette Hanson, authors of Committed: The Battle over Involuntary Psychiatric Care (Johns Hopkins University Press, $22.95, 9781421420783).

Dr. Oz: Sue Hitzmann, author of The MELT Method (HarperOne, $18.99, 9780062065360).

TV: A Series of Unfortunate Events

A first look teaser trailer has been released for A Series of Unfortunate Events, the upcoming Neflix series based on the popular children's book series by Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler), Indiewire reported. Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld (Men in Black), the project stars Patrick Warburton, Neil Patrick Harris, Joan Cusack, Malina Weissman, Aasif Mandvi and more. All eight episodes of A Series of Unfortunate Events will be released on January 13, 2017.

Books & Authors

Awards: Prix Goncourt Winner

French-Moroccan novelist Leïla Slimani won the 2016 Prix Goncourt, the most prestigious French book award, for her novel Chanson Douce (Sweet Song). The New York Times reported that "several commentators had predicted that Ms. Slimani would win. The novel has been a best seller--more than 76,000 copies have been purchased--and Ms. Slimani, 35, has a high profile as a former journalist at Jeune Afrique, a French-language magazine of African news."

"She's a young woman, talented, so we're completely in the spirit of the Goncourt prize," Bernard Pivot, head of the Goncourt Academy.

Book Review

Review: Everything Love Is

Everything Love Is by Claire King (Bloomsbury USA, $27 hardcover, 384p., 9781632865380, December 6, 2016)

Claire King launches her beautifully rendered sophomore novel with a riveting scene on a train bound for Toulouse, France, in May of 1968. At the center of the action is a mysterious young woman--"her feet bare against the dirt of the carriage floor," wearing a green woolen coat, the word Toulouse inked on her forearm--who goes into sudden, violent labor. Sharing her train compartment is a midwife who, seeing her distress, offers help. But the two are unable to communicate, as the young woman clearly does not speak French. By the time this brutal, powerful scene is over, the foreign woman--with no identification--will lose her life giving birth to a baby boy, who will be saved by the midwife, a married woman unable to have children, who will become the baby's mother.

What follows is the story of Baptiste Molino, the infant, now a middle-aged bachelor, a man raised in the French countryside by loving adoptive parents. Baptiste has lived a good--yet rather uneventful--life filled with a few friends, including a hip young woman named Sophie, who works in a local bar and takes a shine to Baptiste, a regular patron. She goads Baptiste to step beyond his comfort zone, as his pleasures are simple: he resides on a houseboat he calls "Candice," moored on a Toulouse canal; he basks in the peace and tranquility of living on the water and playing the piano; and he works as a therapist, counseling people in their own personal quests for happiness.

Benevolent Baptiste thinks he is fulfilled and happy until Amandine Rousseau, an attractive woman wearing green shoes, shows up at his door. During their first meeting, Amandine tells Baptiste she wants "something that makes me feel alive. Joy, passion, despair, something to remember or something to regret. I want to have my breath taken away, or knocked out of me altogether. Perhaps after all this time, what I really want... is to fall in love." As Baptiste learns more about Amandine and her life, he is drawn to her intensity, passion and zest--and is stirred by romantic feelings. In the process, Baptiste feels challenged, and he begins to question himself: Is there something missing from his life? Is he truly happy? Amandine's presence causes ripples that turn into waves of memories that encourage Baptiste to go on a labyrinthine journey in search of himself.

King's haunting and heart-rending--yet life-affirming--narrative is infused with poetic prose, philosophical insights and dual points of view that are initially puzzling. However, as she slowly distributes details--braiding the past, present and future of her well-drawn, amiable cast of characters--her enigmatic story gains startling clarity. King (The Night Rainbow) thoughtfully plumbs the tangled depths of the human psyche, the meaning of life and the evolution of love in its many incarnations. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

Shelf Talker: A haunting, rewarding memory novel about a man who goes in search of himself and learns the true meaning of love.

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