Shelf Awareness for Thursday, October 24, 2019

 Kokila: Everything We Never Had by Randy Ribay

Nancy Paulsen Books: Sync by Ellen Hopkins

Running Press Adult: Cat People by Hannah Hillam

Beaming Books: Must-Have Autumn Reads for Your Shelf!

Dial Press: Like Mother, Like Mother by Susan Rieger

Severn House: A Messy Murder (Main) (The Decluttering Mysteries #4) by Simon Brett

Forge: My Three Dogs by Bruce W Cameron

Quotation of the Day

'Bookshops Are Havens--and So Say All of Us'

"Bookshops are havens--and so say all of us--but the bookshops we love most offer more than simply quiet waters and room to catch a breath. They belong in the same bracket as libraries: they are a necessary part of a social, civic and cultural ecosystem. They provide oxygen. This role is all the more crucial at times and in places where strains are apparent...."

--Neil Hegarty, author of The Jewel and one of several writers who spoke with the Irish Times about "the beauty of a good bookshop"

G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Restaurant of Lost Recipes (A Kamogawa Food Detectives Novel) by Hisashi Kashiwai, Translated by Jesse Kirkwood


Mind Chimes Bookshop Opens in Three Lakes, Wis.

Mind Chimes Bookshop, an independent bookstore in Three Lakes, Wis., celebrated its grand opening last Saturday, the Northwoods River News reported.

Owner Laura Lowry, a former pediatrician and adjunct professor of anatomy and physiology, told River News she decided to open a store of her own last year, after "feeling the void of living in a town without a bookstore." The store offers books for all age groups and interests, and Lowry noted that she will carry a particularly strong selection of children's books and books about preventive health care.

The grand opening celebration featured a visit from Wisconsin author Josephine Cameron, whose debut novel, Maybe a Mermaid, takes place at a fictional resort closely based on a resort near Three Lakes. She read from her novel, signed books and led a variety of children's activities throughout the afternoon, including a comics-making station and a book scavenger hunt. She also had photos on hand of the real Northwoods resort.

"We've lost so many independent bookstores over the years," Cameron wrote. "So I'm excited to be a part of this grand opening. I'm especially happy to celebrate in Three Lakes where the idea for my book began."

Harpervia: Only Here, Only Now by Tom Newlands

Daunt Books Opening New Store in 2020

Daunt Books will open a new location early next year in Summertown, Oxford, the Bookseller reported.

The 1,800-square-foot store will feature travel, fiction, history, biography and poetry sections, as well as a large children's area. It will reside in a building that formerly housed a bank and, according to the Bookseller, will be Oxford's first independent bookstore since the Book House closed in June of last year. The store is looking to recruit five to six booksellers, and plans to open "early in the new year."

It will be the first new Daunt Books store branded as such to open in nearly 10 years, since Daunt's Cheapside location opened in 2010. The company did, however, open two new stores in 2016 under different names. All told, it will be the seventh official Daunt Books store and the 10th owned by the company.

Daunt Books was founded by James Daunt, who has been the managing director of the U.K. chain Waterstones since 2011. In June of this year, Daunt also became the CEO of Barnes & Noble, after the hedge fund Elliott Advisors, owner of Waterstones, purchased B&N for $683 million. Daunt Books includes a publishing division, Daunt Books Publishing.

Bookseller Launches Nanny Goat Press

Sarah Gardiner

Sarah Gardiner, owner of Nanny Goat Books in downtown Louisville, Ky., has launched Nanny Goat Press, a small press aimed at telling the stories of people from marginalized groups, WFPL reported.

Nanny Goat Press will be "tech-centric" and focused on providing writers from marginalized groups "access to all the tools of the publishing world under one roof." Gardiner is currently signing two authors and is working with three others, all of whom are either people of color or members of the LGBTQ community, as well as native Kentuckians. Their work spans multiple genres, including fiction, poetry and essays.

"We're really promoting the voices of queer authors, people of color, people who can't go to an MFA because of socioeconomics," Gardiner told WFPL.

She hopes to print the first round of titles by the end of this year, and to help make that happen she will launch a Kickstarter campaign in the next several days. In order to focus on Nanny Goat Press, Gardiner will pause her bookstore's retail operations until 2020, when she will launch a subscription box service for the store.

Gardiner, who opened the 700-square-foot Nanny Goat Books in March 2017, founded the press with the assistance of Wild Accelerator, a local nonprofit that helps female entrepreneurs get their ideas off the ground. Gardiner's was one of six women-led businesses chosen out of a field of 82 start-up pitches.

At an event celebrating the Wild Accelerator winners, Gardiner explained that she's been a lifelong reader, but as a young lesbian never saw herself reflected in her favorite stories. After opening a bookstore and working in publishing for years, she decided finally to make her dream of publishing stories from voices like hers a reality. WFPL noted that since its opening, Nanny Goat Books has frequently hosted LGBTQ+ book swaps and poetry nights, and Gardiner has sold more than 12,000 books.

She said: "If we're doing that on that scale in 700 square feet, what can we do on a major tech platform?"

Lynn Grady New Publisher of Princeton Architectural Press

Effective November 4, Lynn Grady is joining Princeton Architectural Press as publisher. She has more than 30 years of experience in trade book publishing and marketing, most recently at HarperCollins for 15 years, where she was deputy publisher at William Morrow and publisher of Dey Street Books. While at Dey Street, Grady published books that included Notorious RBG, Together We Rise, Rejected Princesses, The World According to Star Wars by Cass R. Sunstein, Yes Please by Amy Poehler and Unbelievable by Katy Tur.

Jack Jensen, president of the McEvoy Group, owner of Princeton Architectural Press, commented: "Lynn is a passionate and widely accomplished book publishing professional who will bring a myriad of knowledge, skills, and abilities to the future growth and success of the Press. She has great respect and admiration for the high-quality, distinctive list that Princeton creates and is firmly committed to continuing to burnish and grow the exceptional company that Kevin Lippert founded and has helped nurture over these many years."

Grady praised the "incredible team at Princeton Architectural Press" and said its "award-winning and gorgeously designed books have inspired so many over the years and their esteemed program remains at the forefront of innovative, creative, and smart publishing. Working with such a bright and talented group will be a privilege, and I look forward to all of the new opportunities ahead."

Princeton Architectural Press has published nearly 1,000 titles on classicism, architectural design, landscape design, history, photography, and visual culture, and in recent years has broadened its scope to include more nonfiction subjects, a children's list and a line of gift and stationery products. Founded in Princeton, N.J., the company's headquarters are now in New York City and Hudson, N.Y.

Obituary Note: Deborah Orr

Award winning journalist and author Deborah Orr, whose work has appeared in many major magazines and newspapers and who was the first female editor of the Guardian's Weekend magazine, died October 19. She was 57. Her memoir, Motherwell: A Girlhood, is due to be published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson in January. Orr "made her most public mark as a columnist, one of the small tribe of trenchant writers with the panache to walk the high wire of tackling social, political and personal issues in an engaging manner, week after week, in her case for the next two decades," the Guardian noted.

"She was completely inspiring and never knowingly not difficult, but beyond the ferocity, she had a huge heart," said novelist Andrew O'Hagan, who became friends with Orr after writing for her at Weekend. "She said what she thought, and it could be quite bracing, but it was always something she actually did think. She was outspoken, but the things she was speaking about were very original."

Katharine Viner, editor-in-chief of the Guardian, described Orr as "a brilliant, clever, funny writer and editor whose uncompromising and insightful approach to her work brought powerful journalism to the Guardian over many years."

W&N's publisher, Jenny Lord, told the Bookseller: "To say we are devastated by the loss of this most remarkable of women--an intellectual force, a writer whose life and career has most certainly been cut short far too soon--is the wildest understatement. Deborah was a writer we had all admired long before we became her publisher. With her unrivaled ability to stare at something (sometimes someone) right in the eye, she was an inspiration as well as an exceptional writer. It became clear, very quickly, that Motherwell: A Girlhood was the book Deborah was always supposed to write. It wasn't always easy to do so--it would be weird if mining for difficult memories was not brutalizing at times--but it poured out of her in almost perfect form. My editorial input centered largely around asking her for more; and more and more. It also became clear, very quickly, that Motherwell should be not just Deborah's debut, but the first book of many.

"Her voice, so sharp, deliciously spiky, crystalline and true. Her dialogue, so precise yet so easy. If she was born to write this incredible memoir, this reckoning that it turned out was bubbling away under the surface for so long, she was surely also born to write fiction. It is grossly unfair for all of us that those future books will have to remain unwritten, but we hope that Motherwell can be a lasting testament to a life lived in defiance, with ferocity and strength, and always alive to the humor to be found in both absurdity and banality. We will miss Deborah enormously and our thoughts are with her friends and family."

Describing Orr as "beautiful, fierce and funny," her literary agent, Clare Conville, said: "When I first suggested she write a book some 12 years ago, she roared with laughter and replied, 'I have nothing to say.' Unusually for Deborah she proved herself wrong. Her memoir when it finally came was astonishing. Painful and revealing in parts, joyful in others. A tour de force of the form itself."


Image of the Day: Farrow in Frisco

Book Passage and Curran Theater hosted more than 850 attendees at Calvary Presbyterian Church in San Francisco for an event celebrating Ronan Farrow's new book. Farrow is pictured backstage with stacks of Catch and Kill (Little, Brown) to be signed.

#WorldSeries Update: Betting Booksellers

In yesterday's edition of Shelf Awareness, we shared a photo of the World Series display at Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston, Tex. In the wake of the Astros' Game 1 loss to the Washington Nationals, Blue Willow has doubled down on its fan frenzy in a friendly wager with East City Books in D.C. (And the store is farther in the hole, following the Nationals' 12-3 victory last night.)

Blue Willow's bet

"Game 1 didn't quite go our way, but we still feel confident," Blue Willow tweeted. "In fact, we just cooked up a friendly, between-stores wager with our friends at @eastcitybooks. The winning city will receive a book donation for a school in need--help us spread the word!"

The wager also states: "In addition, the losing city will wear the opposite team's T-shirts at the big annual book industry conference in January so that they can be laughed at."

East City Books has stepped up to the plate: "Excited for this wager with our friends at @BlueWillowBooks and confident in the @Nationals ability to win and help us save face at @ABAbook's Winter Institute."

Happy 30th Birthday, Buttonwood Books & Toys!

Congratulations to Buttonwood Books and Toys, Cohasset, Mass., which has been "rooted in the community" for 30 years and celebrated its anniversary October 19 with the Buttonwood Bear and a day-long party that included author events, raffles, giveaways and a festive cake, as well as treats from Nona's Ice Cream Truck, the Fresh Feast and Seabird Coffee.

Consortium Adding Six New Publishers

Ingram's Consortium Book Sales & Distribution is adding six new publishers, effective with the spring 2020 season:

Black Dog Press and its sister company, Artifice Press, both located in London, publish illustrated titles in collaboration with major figures in contemporary art, architecture, and design. Black Dog focuses on the future of art and design, while Artifice Press focus on architecture as a discipline. They also have a selection of illustrated monographs from architecture practices around the world. Lead titles from Black Dog Press for 2020 include Vantage: Ryan Koopmans and Julia Dault; Artifice Press lead titles include Food for Thought Truck and The Founding Myths of Architecture.

Bloodaxe Books, founded in Newcastle, England, in 1978, has a mission to publish and expand contemporary poetry to a broader readership. Bloodaxe's poets, who include Simon Armitage, Imtiaz Dharker, and Helen Dunmore, have won nearly every major literary award, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the Nobel Prize for Literature. In spring 2020, the press will publish Completing the Circle by Anne Stevenson, Platinum Blonde by Phoebe Stuckes, and Tiger Girl by Pascale Petit, among others.

Blue Dot Kids Press, San Francisco, Calif., and Wellington, New Zealand, publishes children's fiction and nonfiction, aspiring "to embolden the next generation of global citizens with empathy, resilience, creative thinking, and the shared value of nature and its stewardship." Key titles for its first season include Ivy Bird by Tania McCartney, illustrated by Jess Racklyeft; My Favorite Memories by Sepideh Sarihi, illustrated by Julie Völk and translated by Elisabeth Lauffer; and Who Will It Be?: How Evolution Connects Us All by Paola Vitale and illustrated by Rossana Bossù.

Buño Books, Tryon, N.C., is a children's comics publisher that publishes titles from around the world whose creators are often "ignored either because of geography or genre" and who have "unique styles and experiences." Spring 2020 titles include Warm Blood: Vol 1. by Josh Tierney and Lost by Rob Cham.

Inhabit Education Books is an Inuit-owned educational publishing company in Nunavut, Canada's northernmost territory, that has the mandate of providing educators and parents with educational resources that are infused with indigenous Northern perspectives, ways of life, and imagery. Its publications are developed by a team of Northern educators and language experts and incorporate concepts that students are familiar with--counting, animals, family, legends, and so on--within a Northern context. spring 2020 titles include Tuktu's Journey by Rachel Rupke, illustrated by Ali Hinch, and Arctic Animals, illustrated by Amanda Sandland.

Street Noise Books, Brooklyn, N.Y., focuses on nonfiction graphic novels and memoirs for young adult and new adult readers and have "a radical, intersectional feminist, queer, and inclusive vision, and seek to provide a platform for the voices of marginalized people." Key titles for Street Noise Books' first season include the graphic memoirs Spellbound by Bishakh Som, Shame Pudding by Danny Noble, and Stupid Black Girl: Essays from an American African by Aisha Redux, illustrated by Brianna McCarthy.

Personnel Changes at Abrams; Tom Doherty Associates

Trish McNamara O'Neill has been promoted to senior manager, digital & social media marketing, children's books, at Abrams. She was previously digital & social media marketing manager, children's books.


Jordan Hanley has joined Tom Doherty Associates as marketing manager for the Nightfire imprint. She was previously at St. Martin's Press.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Tilman Fertitta on Good Morning America

Good Morning America: Tilman Fertitta, author of Shut Up and Listen!: Hard Business Truths that Will Help You Succeed (HarperCollins, $24.99, 9781400213733).

The Talk: Alyssa Milano, co-author of Project Middle School (Scholastic, $14.99, 9781338329407).

This Weekend on Book TV: The Texas Book Festival

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, October 26
11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Coverage of the 2019 Texas Book Festival in Austin, Tex. (Re-airs Sunday at 12 a.m.) Highlights include:
  • 11 a.m. Suketu Mehta, author of This Land Is Our Land: An Immigrant's Manifesto, and Aarti Shahani, author of Here We Are: American Dreams, American Nightmares.
  • 12 p.m. Gilbert Gaul, author of The Geography of Risk: Epic Storms, Rising Seas, and the Cost of America's Coasts, and Nathaniel Rich, author of Losing Earth: A Recent History.
  • 1 p.m. Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Michael Shear, authors of Border Wars: Inside Trump's Assault on Immigration.
  • 2 p.m. Tom LoBianco, author of Piety & Power: Mike Pence and the Taking of the White House, and Anne Nelson, author of Shadow Network: Media, Money, and the Secret Hub of the Radical Right.
  • 3 p.m. Samantha Power, author of The Education of an Idealist.
  • 4 p.m. Richard Stengel, author of Information Wars: How We Lost the Global Battle Against Disinformation and What We Can Do About It.
  • 5 p.m. Mike Isaac, author of Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber, and Ben Mezrich, author of Bitcoin Billionaires.
7:50 p.m. Jack Goldsmith, author of In Hoffa's Shadow: A Stepfather, a Disappearance in Detroit, and My Search for the Truth (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $28, 9780374175658), at Politics and Prose in Washington, D.C.

8:55 p.m. Allison Stanger, author of Whistleblowers: Honesty in America from Washington to Trump (Yale University Press, $27.50, 9780300186888), at Book Stall Bookstore in Winnetka, Ill. (Re-airs Sunday at 10:55 p.m.)

10 p.m. Rand Paul, author of The Case Against Socialism (Broadside, $28.99, 9780062954862). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

Sunday, October 27
12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Continuing coverage of the Texas Book Festival. (Re-airs Monday at 12:50 a.m.) Highlights include:
  • 12 p.m. Katherine Eban, author of Bottle of Lies: The Inside Story of the Generic Drug Boom, and Dr. Marty Makary, author of The Price We Pay: What Broke American Healthcare--And How to Fix It.
  • 1 p.m. Ben Westhoff, author of Fentanyl, Inc.: How Rogue Chemists Are Creating the Deadliest Wave of the Opioid Epidemic (Atlantic Monthly Press, $27, 9780802127433).
  • 2 p.m. Amaryllis Fox, author of Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA.
  • 3 p.m. Ibram Kendi, author of How to Be An Antiracist, and Harriet Washington, author of A Terrible Thing to Waste: Environmental Racism and Its Assault on the American Mind.
  • 5 p.m. Igor Volsky, author of Guns Down: How to Defeat the NRA and Build a Safer Future with Fewer Guns.
6:50 p.m. Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan, authors of The Compatriots: The Brutal and Chaotic History of Russia's Exiles, Émigrés, and Agents Abroad (PublicAffairs, $30, 9781541730168).

9:50 p.m. Robert Wilson, author of Barnum: An American Life (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781501118623).

Books & Authors

Awards: Polari Winners

Angela Chadwick and Andrew McMillan won the 2019 Polari Prizes, celebrating work that explores the LGBT experience. Chadwick's dystopian thriller XX picked up the £1,000 (about $1,300) Polari First Book Prize for best debut, while McMillan's poetry collection, Playtime, won the inaugural £2,000 (about $2,600) Polari Prize for best overall book of the year.

Judge and author Rachel Holmes called XX "an exquisitely plotted page-turner," and judge Cerys Evans described it as "an essential read for our times."

Judge and Booker-winning novelist Bernadine Evaristo said that in Playtime, McMillan "is exploring coming of age, masculinity and sexuality in ways that move and surprise. His poetic voice is completely natural and free, with no pretense or attempts to obfuscate meaning, yet the work has emotional complexity, power and depth."

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, October 29:

The Fall of Richard Nixon: A Reporter Remembers Watergate by Tom Brokaw (Random House, $27, 9781400069705) chronicles the end of Nixon's presidency from the point of view of a journalist who covered it daily for NBC News. (October 28)

Holding the Line: Inside Trump's Pentagon with Secretary Mattis by Guy M. Snodgrass (Sentinel, $27, 9780593084373) chronicles the former Defense Secretary's relationship with Trump.

The Truth Will Set You Free, But First It Will Piss You Off!: Thoughts on Life, Love, and Rebellion by Gloria Steinem (Random House, $22, 9780593132685) is an illustrated collection of quotes.

The Other Side of the Coin: The Queen, the Dresser and the Wardrobe by Angela Kelly (Harper, $35, 9780062982551) highlights the designer who dresses Queen Elizabeth II.

Blue Moon by Lee Child (Delacorte, $28.99, 9780399593543) is the 24th thriller with Jack Reacher.

The Lost Causes of Bleak Creek by Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal (Crown, $26, 9781984822130) takes place in a small North Carolina town with a mysterious reform school.

A Garden Miscellany: An Illustrated Guide to the Elements of the Garden by Suzanne Staubach (Timber Press, $27.50, 9781604698817) is written and illustrated by a former indie bookseller.

Maangchi's Big Book of Korean Cooking: From Everyday Meals to Celebration Cuisine by Maangchi and Martha Rose Shulman (Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $35, 9781328988126) collects recipes from "YouTube's Korean Julia Child."

Poilâne: The Secrets of the World-Famous Bread Bakery by Apollonia Poilâne (Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $35, 9781328810786) shares secrets from a famous Parisian bakery.

Muslim Girls Rise: Inspirational Champions of Our Time by Saira Mir, illus. by Aaliya Jaleel (Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster, $17.99, 9781534418882) introduces picture book readers to 19 history-making Muslim women.

A River of Royal Blood by Amanda Joy (Putnam, $18.99, 9780525518587) is a debut North African inspired YA fantasy featuring sisters who must defeat each other to win the crown.

The Hard Times: The First 40 Years by Matt Saincome, Bill Conway and Krissy Howard (Mariner, $20, 9780358022374) is a history of punk and hardcore music.

Angel in a Devil's Arms: The Palace of Rogues by Julie Anne Long (Avon, $7.99, 9780062867490).

The Irishman, based on I Heard You Paint Houses: Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran & Closing the Case on Jimmy Hoffa by Charles Brandt, opens November 1. Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci and Harvey Keitel star in the story of a mob hitman's involvement with Jimmy Hoffa's disappearance. Directed by Martin Scorsese. A tie-in edition (Steerforth, $17, 9781586422479) is available.

Motherless Brooklyn, based on the novel by Jonathan Lethem, opens November 1. Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Willem Dafoe and Alec Baldwin star in this story about a private detective in 1950s New York. A movie tie-in edition (Vintage, $16.95, 9781984899392) is available.

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:

A Cosmology of Monsters: A Novel by Shaun Hamill (Pantheon, $26.95, 9781524747671). "When is the last time a horror novel was both scary and charming? A Cosmology of Monsters is that book! Riffing on themes from H.P. Lovecraft and Ray Bradbury, Hamill weaves a complex tale of lost cities, haunted Halloween attractions, and doorways to other worlds. I really enjoyed this literary horror story, which starts out as a love story (don't ALL good horror tales?) and grows progressively creepier. The book posits the questions: Who are the real monsters, and why do we love to be scared? Truly an uber-creepy yet delightful homage. I loved it." --William Carl, An Unlikely Story, Plainville, Mass.

The Butterfly Girl: A Novel by Rene Denfeld (Harper, $26.99, 9780062698162). "Rene Denfeld has done it again: written a mystery that sucks you in and thoroughly absorbs you until you're done. We pick up the story with Naomi Cottle, who has been searching for the sister she left behind when she escaped the clutches of their childhood kidnapper. Haunted by guilt, her search leads her back to her hometown, where a number of young girls have been murdered. By chance or by fate, she encounters Celia, a 12-year-old girl living on the streets who may be the key to everything--including finding her sister and a rapacious killer. Heart-wrenching, thought-provoking, and utterly unputdownable, this really should be the gold standard for mysteries." --Destinee Hodge, East City Bookshop, Washington, D.C.

Melmoth: A Novel by Sarah Perry (Custom House, $16.99, 9780062856401). "Melmoth is evocative and atmospheric, the perfect book for a chilly night and the turning of the seasons. Through diaries, letters, and narration, we are introduced to the legendary Melmoth, who is cursed to wander the world alone and watch humans destroy themselves over and over. This quintessential gothic tale is set against the vivid backdrop of winter in Prague and populated by fully realized supporting characters and a protagonist with a hell of a secret. Melmoth, eternal witness to humanity at both its most banal and its most depraved, will haunt me." --Chelsea Bauer, Union Avenue Books, Knoxville, Tenn.

For Ages 4 to 8
Mr. Pumpkin's Tea Party by Erin Barker (blue manatee press, $17.99, 9781936669776). "This delightful Halloween-themed counting book introduces Mr. Pumpkin's monstrous guests one by one as they arrive with their delectable contributions to his tea party. Soft and humorous illustrations with just the right amount of spookiness will surely make this a seasonal favorite." --Betsy Covert, The Toadstool Bookshop, Keene, N.H.

For Ages 9 to 12
Survivors of the Holocaust: True Stories of Six Extraordinary Children, edited by Kath Shackleton, illustrated by Zane Whittingham (Sourcebooks Explore, $19.99, 9781492688921). "Survivors of the Holocaust is an amazing written and graphic presentation of six children who survived and went on to tell their stories. Each storyteller has a different tale and a different way of explaining their experiences, but the beauty of survival is present throughout every narrative. This book will make you think and make you cry while explaining harrowing events through both a child's eyes and an adult's reflection." --Kira Wizner, Merritt Bookstore & Toystore, Millbrook, N.Y.

For Teen Readers
The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis (Tor Teen, $17.99, 9781250299703). "Aster, Violet, Clementine, Mallow, and Tansy journey across the rough country of Arketta searching for evidence of a legend that will hopefully free them. As they travel, the reader watches them grow as individuals and as friends, as they learn that working together is sometimes the best means for survival. In a bleak landscape and a world that controls women, the five girls are rays of hope for a better tomorrow." --Terri LeBlanc, M and M Bookstore, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: The Hidden History of Burma

The Hidden History of Burma: Race, Capitalism, and the Crisis of Democracy in the 21st Century by Thant Myint-U (Norton, $27.95 hardcover, 304p., 9781324003298, November 12, 2019)

The Hidden History of Burma is a work of history and contemporary political analysis, an explanation of how the promise of Burmese political reform was eclipsed by ethnic violence and uncertainty. Thant Myint-U refers to the country as Burma throughout, despite the ruling junta's 1989 decision to change the country name in English to Myanmar, for linguistic reasons as well as "the nativist underpinnings of the name change." This introduces a common theme of the book: Burma as a country in flux, unsure about its identity. Former UN diplomat Thant Myint-U shows how matters of identity are tied to some of the country's challenges today.

Thant Myint-U has written on Burmese history before in books like The Making of Modern Burma. The Hidden History of Burma introduces readers to the basics of Burmese history, focusing particularly on the way colonialism and migration contributed to a country riven by countless ethnic groups with separatist ambitions. Media attention has focused on the plight of the largely Muslim Rohingya people, but Thant Myint-U shows how Burma's unstable mix of ethnicities, ideologies and religions made the country "a sea of rebels and bandits" after the nation's independence from Britain in 1948. When the prospect of reform prompted many well-meaning nations and international organizations to engage with the long-isolated country, they often stumbled into a situation they didn't fully understand.

Thant Myint-U's grandfather U Thant was Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1961 to 1971, seen by many as "a symbol of a different, more liberal Burma." When Burmese military rule started to give way to something closer to democracy, Thant Myint-U worked with the ex-generals. The book frequently serves as a frontline account of events, featuring personal insight into many of the key figures in the transition, and insider accounts of the painstaking, frustrating work of diplomacy as well as agonizing examples of missed opportunities. By immersing the reader in the difficulties of, for example, organizing disaster relief with a sclerotic government, Thant Myint-U hints at how even a mythologized figure like Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi could not produce the miraculous change international observers hoped for.

The book contains many strong opinions about how Burmese reforms came to stall and give way to the violence that created hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees. His critiques are levelled at Burmese political leaders and the international community, who Thant Myint-U depicts as overly credulous of Burma's reforms. He also criticizes the harshness and futility of international sanctions, which did not bring political change but did contribute to Burma's desperate poverty. The Hidden History of Burma shows that reforms often fixed the easiest of Burma's problems, doing nothing to address the country's more fundamental challenges.

For Western observers who may have seen the crackdown on the Rohingya as a shocking reversal of recent trends, this book is a sobering corrective, an account of how the nation arrived at a crisis point and how the international community embraced a hopeful, misleading narrative. --Hank Stephenson, manuscript reader, the Sun magazine

Shelf Talker: The Hidden History of Burma explains how a country hailed for seemingly miraculous political reforms gave way to ethnic nationalism and created one of the largest refugee crises in the world.

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