Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Harper: Black Girls Must Have It All (Black Girls Must Die Exhausted) by Jayne Allen

Berkley Books: Mrs. Nash's Ashes by Sarah Adler

Berkley Books: Meet Me at the Lake by Carley Fortune

Pantheon Books: Chain Gang All Stars by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

Scholastic Press: The Guardian Test (Legends of Lotus Island #1) by Christina Soontornvat, illustrated by Kevin Hong

Quotation of the Day

'Books Are Not Exclusive'

"Storytelling is fundamental to human beings. It is how we explore and make sense of this world and understand one another. Because books absorb us and harness our imaginations, they are an essential medium for storytelling--as well as a satisfying one. The idea that these benefits and pleasures are for a limited subset of any given population is dangerous. Books are not exclusive.

"Literature strengthens our imagination. If we all have the tools to try to imagine a better world, we're already halfway there. Each day, there are more books being published that speak to every kind of person, from every kind of place. And I believe readers can be built--because I know we have an unlimited number of invitations to this party."

--Lisa Lucas, executive director of the National Book Foundation, in Time magazine's "The Art of Optimism" special issue


Arcade Publishing: A Mysterious Country: The Grace and Fragility of American Democracy by Normal Mailer, edited by Michael J. Lennon and John Buffalo Mailer


Verso Books Founds Fiction Imprint

Verso Books, which calls itself "the world's largest independent radical publisher," is launching a fiction imprint called Verso Fiction that annually will publish two to four "uncompromisingly intelligent and beautiful books without regard for borders, genres, and political convention." The first two titles, appearing this fall, are:

Kitchen Curse by Eka Kurniawan, translated by Annie Tucker, the first collection of the Indonesian author's short stories to be published in English (October 15). Verso commented: "Dark, sexual, scatological, violent, and mordantly funny, these fractured fables span city and country, animal and human, myth and politics."

Will and Testament by Vigdis Hjorth, translated by Charlotte Barslund (September 10). A bestseller when published in Norway in 2016, the novel is, Verso said, "an emotionally charged family drama about the settling of a father's will, told by the family's eldest daughter, which is overshadowed by memories of being abused by her father as a child. The searing story is at once a wrenching look at a family fractured and an intimate meditation on the lasting impacts of trauma and the shifting nature of memory."

Verso marketing manager Anne Rumberger noted that "between 2001 and 2015, sales of translated fiction grew by 96%. We hope to be part of the increased appetite for translated literature, and we're proud to bring these bold books to an English-reading audience."

Founded in 1970, Verso has published fiction by authors such as John Berger, José Saramago, Georges Perec, Nanni Balestrini, Tariq Ali and Jenny Hval.

G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Only Game in Town by Lacie Waldon

S.C.'s Elephant Ear Gallery Opens Bookstore

Elephant Ear Gallery, Sumter, S.C., the art gallery and gift shop, has opened a bookstore and hosted a grand opening party last Thursday that featured many local authors. The bookstore carries new and used books and has an emphasis on South Carolina writers, according to the Item.

Elephant Ear Gallery is located at 672 Bultman Dr., Sumter, S.C. 29150; 803-773-2268.

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Love & Other Scams by Philip Ellis

Obituary Note: Patricia Nell Warren

Patricia Nell Warren, the novelist who was "an inspiration to a generation of gays and lesbians who were venturing out of the closet in numbers, but still felt terrified when alone," died February 9, LGBTQ Nation reported. She was 82. Her 1974 book, The Front Runner, "told the story of an out young Olympic athlete in love with his closeted older coach," and led to "LGBTQ running groups all over the nation [being] named Front Runners after the book. She was working on the fourth book in the series when she died."

The Front Runner "left a seismic cultural imprint," making the New York Times bestseller list and selling over 10 million copies, Lambda Literary noted. Shortly after the book's publication, Warren came out as a lesbian. She continued to publish gay-themed novels, including 1998 Lambda Literary Award-winner Billy's Boy, "while also maintaining an active presence as a LGBTQ rights advocate." Her other books include Harlan's Race, The Wild Man, The Fancy Dancer, and The Lavender Locker Room.

Author Christopher Rice tweeted: "I'm so incredibly saddened to hear of the death of my friend, the author Patricia Nell Warren. An amazing body of work, an amazing person. I was gifted to spend the time with her that I did."

February Indie Next List E-Newsletter Delivered

Last Thursday, the American Booksellers Association's e-newsletter edition of the Indie Next List for February was delivered to more than half a million of the country's best book readers. The newsletter was sent to customers of 137 independent bookstores, with a combined total of 532,430 subscribers.

The e-newsletter, powered by Shelf Awareness, features all of the month's Indie Next List titles, with bookseller quotes and "buy now" buttons that lead directly to the purchase page for the title on the sending store's website. The newsletter, which is branded with each store's logo, also includes an interview (from Bookselling This Week) with the author whose book was chosen by booksellers as the number-one Indie Next List pick for the month, in this case Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive by Stephanie Land (Hachette Books).

For a sample of the February newsletter, see this one from the Short Stories Bookshop, Madison, N.J.

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
The Crane Husband
by Kelly Barnhill
GLOW: Tordotcom: The Crane Husband by Kelly Barnhill

In this imaginative retelling of a Japanese folktale, Kelly Barnhill's second novel for adults, a pragmatic Midwestern teenager must grow up fast to protect her family. On the outskirts of what was once her family's farm, a girl raises her younger brother and manages the household while her artist mother weaves tapestries. But when her mother brings home a sharp and foreboding six-foot-tall crane who has ensnared her heart, the girl becomes desperate to bring her mother back to reality and snap her out of her obsession. For Tor editor Jonathan Strahan, Barnhill's singular novel stands out for its compelling depiction of one teenage girl facing "a world becoming less and less understandable, where the rules seem to change." There are three words to describe this fierce and evocative book: passionate, powerful, beautiful. --Alice Martin

(Tordotcom, $19.99 hardcover, 9781250850973, February 28, 2023)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported


Dealing with Snow and Ice

As much of the country braces for yet more snow, it's amusing to see how some booksellers and readers have dealt with the wild winter weather.

Intrepid customers at Milkweed.

During the polar vortex freeze the week before last, the staff of McLean and Eakin Booksellers, Petoskey, Mich., posted videos on Facebook showing what they were reading. As co-owner Jessilynn Norcross noted, "All told, we had over 500 interactions that day with customers, so even though we were closed, we were still handselling!" The most "liked" video starred co-owner and husband Matt Norcross and explained that the store would be closed.

Last Friday, Hans Weyandt, manager of Milkweed Books, Minneapolis, Minn., reported on Instagram that "two intrepid souls" cross-country skied to the store to pick up copies of Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James.

B&N's February Book Club Pick: The Last Romantics

Barnes & Noble has chosen The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin (Morrow) as its February national book club selection. The book will be the focus of a book club night at B&N stores around the country on Tuesday, March 5, at 7 p.m.

B&N described the book this way: "Filled with unforgettable characters and storytelling, The Last Romantics is a universal and poignant story of growing up, growing apart, and coming back together--even when the odds appear impossible."

B&N's book club edition of The Last Romantics includes an essay by Conklin, a deleted scene with author commentary and a reading group guide. For more information on the event, click here.

Limb, Durepos, DeStefano Join Catholic Publishers' Hall of Fame

Congratulations to John Limb, Joe Durepos, and Ed DeStefano, who are being inducted into the Association of Catholic Publishers' Hall of Fame this Friday, February 15, during the group's 2019 Mid-Atlantic Congress in Baltimore, Md.

The Hall of Fame recognizes people who have "dedicated their careers to the Catholic publishing industry and achieved significant accomplishments that have advanced the industry." The association added that the trio have "one trait in common based on the nominations that were submitted--a generosity of spirit that they used to mentor and develop authors and other publishing professionals they worked with."

Limb worked at Oregon Catholic Press for 30 years, 25 years of which as publisher. Since his retirement in 2017, he continues to serve as OCP's publisher emeritus and on the ACP board as well as other national boards.

Durepos has been a publisher's sales rep, a bookseller at Anderson's Bookshops, a literary agent, and was executive editor, acquisitions at Loyola Press from 2002 until his retirement late last year. While there, he worked on a variety of projects and helped introduce, as the association put it, "a generation of readers to the best and brightest Jesuit/Ignatian spiritual writers of the age."

For most of his professional career, DeStefano has worked in Catholic publishing, including at Tabor, Sadlier, RCL Benziger, and Veritas. He has been, the association said, "the editorial vision behind many successful programs in catechesis while also mentoring many emerging professionals in the industry."

Personnel Changes at Harlequin

Emer Flounders has been promoted to senior publicity manager at Harlequin, working on Hanover Square Press, Park Row Books and MIRA Books. He was previously publicity manager.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Trevor Noah on Colbert's Late Show

Rachael Ray: Melissa Hartwig, author of The Whole30 Slow Cooker: 150 Totally Compliant Prep-and-Go Recipes for Your Whole30 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30, 9781328531049).

Fresh Air: Judith Grisel, author of Never Enough: The Neuroscience and Experience of Addiction (Doubleday, $26.95, 9780385542845).

The Real: DeVon Franklin, author of The Truth About Men: What Men and Women Need to Know (Howard, $26, 9781982101275).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Trevor Noah, author of Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood (Spiegel & Grau, $18, 9780399588198). He will also be on CBS This Morning.

TV: The President Is Missing

Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects) and Anthony Peckham (Invictus) have joined the cast of The President Is Missing, the drama series based on the novel by President Bill Clinton and James Patterson. Deadline reported that Showtime acquired the rights to the book in fall 2017 "in a very competitive situation and the project has since been in development."

McQuarrie will executive produce the project, currently in development, with Heather McQuarrie and the book's authors. Peckham is executive producing and writing the adaptation.

"Christopher McQuarrie is a master of complex and compelling filmmaking. We feel so lucky to have ensnared him along with the supremely talented Tony Peckham to adapt The President Is Missing," said Gary Levine, president of entertainment, Showtime Networks. "They are both extremely enthusiastic about bringing this uniquely authentic political thriller to life on Showtime."

Books & Authors

Awards: Stella Longlist

The longlist of 12 titles for the 2019 Stella Prize, which honors the best fiction and nonfiction by Australian women, can be seen here. The shortlist will be announced March 8 and the winner April 9.

Book Review

Review: The Bird King

The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson (Grove Press, $26 hardcover, 440p., 9780802129031, March 12, 2019)

Acclaimed for her work in comics, G. Willow Wilson (Ms. Marvel) is also a formidable force in prose. Her first novel, Alif the Unseen, received the World Fantasy Award and the PNBA Book Award, and was listed as a 2012 Best Book in many periodicals. With The Bird King, Wilson again rises to impressive new heights.

Set amid shifting political landscapes of the late 15th century, this gripping fantasy captures a desperate act of resistance in the face of an imposing new empire. Fatima is the favored concubine of an Iberian sultan; nevertheless, she is lonely but for the platonic affection of the royal cartographer, Hassan. The friends while away hours together in the palace, conjuring new installments for the long, unfinished story of the Bird King, the avian ruler who set out for paradise and never returned.

Their languid days reach an abrupt end, however, when emissaries from Christian Spain arrive to demand the Muslim ruler's surrender. General Gonzalo and the lay-sister Luz may have come in peace on a mission from King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, but the Catholic claim on this kingdom is firm and unflinching. Defiance would mean answering to the ominous Inquisition.

Headstrong Fatima, then, is on thin ice as it is. But when Hassan's mystical gift for making maps that bend reality, and his taste for other men, come to Luz's attention, the friends flee for the paradise they have long imagined.

To say Wilson is a talented storyteller does not adequately capture the magnificent dimensions of her work. The adventure at hand is a riveting escape through worlds seen and unseen, with high stakes and near-misses, toward a freedom neither Fatima nor Hassan are sure they entirely believe in. Faith is all they have--besides one another. To that end, Wilson's characters are both rich and fallible, disrupting the spectrum of heroes and villains. The Bird King considers how power can corrupt virtue, and how easily corruption can be mistaken for piety. "Some ideas are so beautiful that even evil people believe in them," says one disillusioned sage. "But I've come to realize that I must share God with the things that God has set askew." It's an insight with startling relevance for times as uncertain as the 21st century.

But there is a hefty dose of humor, too, amid these ornate corridors of history and philosophy. Vikram the Vampire, sharp-tongued anti-hero from Alif the Unseen, emerges as Fatima and Hassan's reluctant guide through the wilderness. Although he would just as soon eat his charges as lead them, the jinn's presence firmly establishes Wilson's second novel as wildly entertaining.

Whether it's the grand arena of clashing empires or a humble prayer mat in a quiet room, Wilson pays close attention to the gentle nuances of her subjects. Friendship and devotion are at the center of her focus in The Bird King, a more-than-worthy follow-up to Alif the Unseen. It's not necessary to read one before the other, but only a fool would miss them both. --Dave Wheeler, associate editor, Shelf Awareness

Shelf Talker: Two servants of the sultan flee rather than surrender to the Inquisition in a breathtaking historical fantasy from the acclaimed G. Willow Wilson.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. Free (Chaos Series Book 7) by Kristen Ashley
2. Not a Hero by Cherise Sinclair
3. Can't Hurt Me by David Goggins
4. We Shouldn't by Vi Keeland
5. Licensed to Lie by Sidney Powell
6. Angela Marchmont Mysteries: Books 4-6 by Clara Benson
7. The Matrimonial Advertisement by Mimi Matthews
8. If I Only Knew by Corinne Michaels
9. Protecting Piper by Cynthia Eden
10. Mixtape: A Love Song Anthology by Various

[Many thanks to!]

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