Shelf Awareness for Friday, November 8, 2019

Simon & Schuster: Fall Cooking With Simon Element

Tor Nightfire: Devils Kill Devils by Johnny Compton

Shadow Mountain: Highcliffe House (Proper Romance Regency) by Megan Walker

Simon & Schuster: Register for the Simon & Schuster Fall Preview!

Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster: The Ministry of Time Kaliane Bradley


Eleanor's Bookshop Coming to Tulsa, Okla.

Matthew and Kelsey McAfee

Eleanor's Bookshop, an independent bookstore with a focus on children's and young adult literature, is coming to Tulsa, Okla., in 2020, the Tulsa World reported.

Eleanor's, owned by Kelsey and Matt McAfee, who are both teachers, will be one of four new tenants at a shopping complex being built at Mother Road Market, where Eleanor's did a pop-up as part of a competition to win a lease. The market recently announced that in its first year, the food hall saw more than 500,000 customers and brought $7.7 million in sales.

The store's mission is to "foster a lifelong love of reading in young people," and it's slated to open in February. Because Matt loves history, the couple named their store after Eleanor Roosevelt.

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!

Busy Bee Bookstore Debuts in Lockport, N.Y.

Busy Bee Bookstore has opened at 209 Washburn St. in Lockport, N.Y., as "a retail business that will sell children's literature, as well as a limited selection of adult nonfiction. All books will be available at 50% off their retail price. Our mission is to provide affordable literature to children, parents, and educators to help foster a love of reading in our community."

Owner Holly Edwards wants to "help ensure economically distressed children are better able to develop a love for reading," the Union-Sun & Journal reported, adding that the shop primarily sells bargain books.

"Retailers overstock books... and the publishers resell them at a reduced price," she said. "It's just really important the books are affordable for the kids in the neighborhood." A mother of three, she became interested in opening up a bookstore after coordinating literary events at Roy B. Kelley Elementary School last year.

Edwards told the Union-Sun & Journal she believes the reduced prices will help her business succeed in an age of increased digitization of books: "I'm hoping because the prices are lower that we'll still be able to make sales."

Graphic Universe (Tm): Hotelitor: Luxury-Class Defense and Hospitality Unit by Josh Hicks

S&S Offering Help to Calif. Indies Affected by Wildfires

Simon & Schuster is offering relief assistance to independent bookselling retailers that have been adversely affected by the ongoing wildfires in California. The assistance includes extensions on payments for booksellers who have had physical damage due to the wildfires or are otherwise negatively impacted.

"California's independent booksellers are a vital and important part of their communities," said Gary Urda, S&S senior v-p, sales. "These fires have caused both physical damage and loss of business to stores, and with this offer we look to assist our bookselling friends as they recover from these devastating circumstances."

S&S encourages booksellers to contact their sales representative or customer service representative for more information as to how to take advantage of this assistance.

GLOW: Workman Publishing: Atlas Obscura: Wild Life: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Living Wonders by Cara Giaimo, Joshua Foer, and Atlas Obscura

Nancy Olson Bookseller Award Launches

Nancy Olson

In honor of Nancy Olson, the founder of Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, N.C., who died in 2016, "an admirer" and the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance are creating the Nancy Olson Bookseller Award, which will honor SIBA booksellers, but not owners, annually. The program will begin with the award of two $2,000 gifts in her memory on December 18.

Writers, readers and booksellers may nominate booksellers (who may nominate themselves) via e-mail to SIBA. The nominations should explain why the person deserves to be selected, but SIBA emphasized that "there are no hard and fast rules or requirements or guidelines for the submissions--the hope is to simply honor Nancy and recognize special booksellers."

The winners will be selected by Sarah Goddin from Quail Ridge Books; SIBA's Linda-Marie Barrett; Nancy's husband, Jim; and the donor of the gifts. The deadline for e-mail nominations for this year's awards is 5 p.m. on Tuesday, December 10.

We heartily second the description of Nancy in SIBA's announcement about the award: "[Nancy was] a legendary bookseller, a first-class wit, a remarkably gentle soul, and a tireless supporter of writers, especially new writers looking for a chance in the publishing world. Simply put, she was one of the best folks to ever work in the book business, and her Quail Ridge Books was--and is--a literary institution."

Harpervia: Only Big Bumbum Matters Tomorrow by Damilare Kuku

UNC Press Launches Ferris & Ferris Books

The University of North Carolina Press has formed the Marcie Cohen Ferris and William R. Ferris imprint, which will focus on high-profile, general-interest books about the American South.

Ferris & Ferris Books will be supported by a multi-million-dollar endowment, and the press's inaugural title, Grace Elizabeth Hale's Cool Town: How Athens, Georgia, Launched Alternative Music and Changed American Culture, will be released in March 2020. The imprint plans to publish two to three books annually.

"The American South is the ideal canvas on which to create a better understanding of our nation and the world," said John Sherer, Sprangler Family Director at UNC Press. "These funds allow us to commission, acquire, and market books by the nation's leading authors who share that vision but who require the type of financial support normally out of reach for a university press."

Three additional books are also under contract: a reference history of the South edited by Pulitzer Prize finalist W. Fitzhugh Brundage; an exploration of barbecue in African-American history and culture written by Adrian Miller; and Karen L. Cox's look at the history of Confederate monuments in the South as well as the battles to remove them.

Bill Ferris and Marcie Cohen Ferris, the namesakes of the new imprint, both have longstanding connections with UNC. Marcie Cohen Ferris is professor emerita of American studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, while Bill Ferris is professor emeritus of history.

Obituary Note: Stephen Dixon

Stephen Dixon, a "prolific novelist and short-story writer whose humorous, freewheeling fiction traced the shocks and jolts of romance, aging and everyday life, in an experimental but plain-spoken style that brought readers deep inside the minds of his characters," died November 6, the Washington Post reported. He was 83. In addition to 35 novels and story collections, he published more than 500 short stories in the Paris Review, Playboy, Esquire and other magazines.

Dixon was a National Book Award finalist twice, for Frog (1991) and Interstate (1995). His other books include Phone Rings (2005), Gould: A Novel in Two Novels (1997), 30: Pieces of a Novel (1999), I (2002), End of I (2006), His Wife Leaves Him (2013), No Relief (1976) and Work (1977).

In the early 1960s, Dixon moved to New York, "where he worked as an editor at CBS News and typed fiction alone at lunch," the Post noted. Hughes Rudd, a colleague, sent two of his stories to George Plimpton, co-founder of the Paris Review, which published Dixon's first piece, "The Chess House," in 1963.

"He was the kindest man you would ever want to meet," Matthew Petti, a family friend who is writing a biography of Dixon, told the Baltimore Sun. "He was the kind of person who would spot an elderly woman from a block away, sprint to her and help her cross a street. He took care of his wife for many years and gave his father shots for his diabetes. He said, 'There was a job to do and I did it.' "

Petti added that Dixon, who had been a professor for 27 years in the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars, was a popular teacher: "He would write pages of comments on their stories. There was always a line of students at his door."

Jean McGarry, a Johns Hopkins professor and writer, described her colleague as a "force of nature," adding: "His love of writing was only exceeded by his love of family. Steve was fiery and impulsive. Widely read, he was a fierce critic.... And yet, he was generous and encouraging to young writers and seemed to believe that he could teach anyone to write well."


Image of the Day: A Lot to See Here

Books Are Magic, Brooklyn, N.Y., hosted Kevin Wilson, whose new novel is Nothing to See Here (Ecco). Wilson was in conversation with store co-owner and author Emma Straub.

Happy 10th Birthday, the Palette & the Page!

Congratulations to the Palette & the Page, Elkton, Md., the art gallery and bookstore that is celebrating its 10th birthday tomorrow, Saturday, November 9. Events begin at 10 a.m., with "the ribbon cutting that it never received when it first opened a decade ago," the Cecil Whig wrote, followed by coffee, food and live music.

Every 30 minutes the Palette & the Page will raffle off artworks and books donated by member artists and authors. Anyone who visits the store will receive a raffle ticket; additional raffle tickets can be obtained by presenting a receipt from a purchase made that day from any downtown Elkton store.

At 4 p.m., owners Patti Paulus, Janet Youse and Lynn Strano-Whitt will hold a grand drawing for a $100 gift certificate for the Palette & the Page. Afterward, everyone "will head a few doors down to Elk River Brewing Company where they will tap a new beer named in their honor: the Palette & the Page Pale Ale."

The Palette & the Page specializes in artwork and books created and written by local artists and authors.

Hachette's Book Club Brunch Draws a Crowd

Goldstein, Dostie, Jamison and Denzel

The Hachette Book Group hosted its eighth annual Book Club Brunch on Saturday, October 26, at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College in New York City, with more than 350 book club lovers in attendance. The event kicked off with a discussion of narrative nonfiction with (pictured at right) panelists Ryan Dostie, Leslie Jamison and Mychal Denzel, moderated by Bill Goldstein. Susannah Cahalan was featured in the Center Stage session in conversation with author and bookseller Emma Straub. The fiction panel was moderated by Grand Central Publishing v-p, editor-in-chief Karen Kosztolnyik, and included Kira Jane Buxton, Alix E. Harrow and Leni Zumas. The closing session featured Sally Field in discussion with her editor Millicent Bennett. RJ Julia in Madison, Conn., was a partner for the event: in addition to creating a pop-up bookstore at the site, the bookstore brought a bus--which left at the crack of dawn--filled with 50 patrons.

B&N's November Book Club Pick: The Family Upstairs

Barnes & Noble has chosen The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell (Atria, $27, 9781501190100) as its November national book club selection. The novel, which was published on Tuesday, will be the focus of a book club night at B&N stores around the country on Tuesday, January 7, at 7 p.m.

Liz Harwell, B&N's senior director of merchandising, trade books, said, "The Family Upstairs is a haunting new book from bestselling author Lisa Jewell, already beloved for her page-turning novels Then She Was Gone and I Found You. Jewell's latest novel is a suspenseful tale of three entangled families living in a house with dark secrets that we think readers will love, and love discussing."

For more information on the event, click here.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Andrew Delbanco on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Andrew Delbanco, author of War Before the War: Fugitive Slaves and the Struggle for America's Soul from the Revolution to the Civil War (Penguin Books, $18, 9780735224131).

Movies: The Empty Stocking

Love, Actually writer/director Richard Curtis has teamed with Locksmith Animation for The Empty Stocking, an animated feature based on Curtis's three Christmas children's books. Curtis will write the screenplay with Peter Souter (Married Single Other). Deadline reported that the three books--The Empty Stocking, Snow Day and the forthcoming That Christmas--will be interwoven to create what Locksmith describes as "Love Actually for kids."

"It's been such a pleasure writing these books--with Rebecca Cobb's wonderful drawings--that I'm thrilled about the idea of turning them into a film," said Curtis. "When I was young, Charlie Brown's Christmas was my favorite Christmas thing--and I love the idea of making something that might be a joy at Christmas. I hope we can make it funny and touching and conjure up some of the magic that Christmas movies have always done for me and my family."

Books & Authors

Awards: World Fantasy Winners; DSC South Asian Shortlist

The winners of the 2019 World Fantasy Awards were announced this weekend at the World Fantasy Convention in Los Angeles, Calif.:

Novel: Witchmark by C.L. Polk (
Novella: "The Privilege of the Happy Ending" by Kij Johnson (Clarkesworld, Aug. 2018)
Short Fiction (tie):
"Ten Deals with the Indigo Snake" by Mel Kassel (Lightspeed, October 2018)
"Like a River Loves the Sky" by Emma Törzs (Uncanny Magazine, March-April 2018)
Anthology: Worlds Seen in Passing: Ten Years of Short Fiction edited by Irene Gallo (
Collection: The Tangled Lands by Paolo Bacigalupi and Tobias S. Buckell (Saga Press/Head of Zeus UK)
Artist: Rovina Cai
Special Award--Professional: Huw Lewis-Jones for The Writer's Map: An Atlas of Imaginary Lands (University of Chicago Press)
Special Award--Non-Professional: Scott H. Andrews, for Beneath Ceaseless Skies: Literary Adventure Fantasy
Lifetime Achievement: Hayao Miyazaki and Jack Zipes


The six shortlisted novels for the $25,000 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2019 are:

Amitabha Bagchi: Half the Night Is Gone (Juggernaut Books, India)
Jamil Jan Kochai: 99 Nights in Logar (Bloomsbury Circus, Bloomsbury, India & U.K., and Viking, Penguin Random House, U.S.)
Madhuri Vijay: The Far Field (Grove Press, Grove Atlantic, U.S.)
Manoranjan Byapari: There's Gunpowder in the Air (translated by Arunava Sinha, Eka, Amazon Westland, India)
Raj Kamal Jha: The City and the Sea (Hamish Hamilton, Penguin Random House, India)
Sadia Abbas: The Empty Room (Zubaan Publishers, India)

The winner will be announced December 16.

Reading with... Ezzedine C. Fishere

photo: Basama Youssef

Ezzedine C. Fishere is a writer and a Middle East political insider who worked as an Egyptian diplomat and for the United Nations and now teaches at Dartmouth College. Fishere is the author of seven novels in Arabic, two of which have been nominated for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction. The thriller The Egyptian Assassin (Hoopoe/AUC Press) is his second to be translated into English.

On your nightstand now:

The Blood Journey by Egyptian author Ibrahim Eissa (author of The Televangelist). It is about the genesis of violence in the name of Allah. This novel is the only literary work I have seen that humanizes--and demystifies--the prophet, his wives, his companions and the Quranic text. I'm surprised it didn't get the wrong attention often reserved for "sacrilegious" writing. It is a very long novel; this is why it is still on the nightstand--otherwise I wouldn't have put it back before finishing it. 

The other book is The Ottoman Empire, 1700-1922 by Donald Quataert, which also has a lot of killings--including fratricide. I don't know, maybe I am in a "bloody" season--maybe it is the influence of my own The Egyptian Assassin!

Favorite book when you were a child:

It was a detective series in Arabic called The Five Adventurers, where five kids from Cairo come across a crime and endeavor to solve it. The series represented a perfect world; the kids were nice to each other--a real team, with caring parents and a faithful, smart dog. They were loved by everyone, including the police commissioner, and lived in a safe environment where the crime--which they inevitably resolved--was the only aberration. These books were published each month, and I can't begin to describe the excitement of getting the new one--and the laborious effort to fundraise its price, as well as the total immersion in its world, until the last sentence brings me back to mine.

Your top five authors:

The first one is easy: Margaret Atwood, without hesitation. Selecting the next four is hard because there are so many great authors (none compete with Atwood, though). Without particular order: Paul Auster, Yusuf Idris, Amin Maalouf and A.B. Yehoshua. But for each one of these four I can add four others from classic writers like Leo Tolstoy and Anton Chekov to contemporaries like André Malraux, Naguib Mahfouz, Philip Roth and Romain Gary, but I was told not to do that so I won't. 

Book you've faked reading:

Be My Knife by David Grossman. The woman I was desperately in love with when the book was published had read it and told me it reminded her of us, so I started reading it. I loved the beginning but couldn't make it past the first 50 pages. I knew it was my fault, my lack of something, but I just couldn't finish it. And the more I tried the less I managed. So, I hope she is not reading this.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood. I don't think I need to explain why. I don't think anyone should even try and explain why this is a brilliant book. People should just read it. This is how evangelist I am about it; don't ask questions--just read the book!

Book you've bought for the cover:

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James. I still have to read it (on a pile next to the nightstand).

Book you hid from your parents:

The Summoner by Yusuf Idris. I read it by mistake--I wasn't supposed to see the book, and the opening scene was so graphic I knew immediately I should continue reading it in hiding. It is amazing how kids know these things--and get attracted to them.

Book that changed your life:

Bertrand Russell's A History of Western Philosophy. I think literature saved my soul, and this book saved my mind. I read it at an early age--14, I think--and it spared me dogmatic thought and fanaticism of all kinds. It didn't recruit me to any philosophy--not even the version Russell advocated. Instead, it instilled in me a sense of intellectual skepticism that helped me develop my intellect while avoiding ideologies and their consequences.

Favorite line from a book:

Believe it or not, this was the hardest question in the list. I have none. I felt so bad about not having a favorite line that I contemplated going back to one of my favorite novels and picking some decent line (something witty, smart and deep). But the truth is I have none. I am not sure I even like the idea of a favorite line. I sometimes see people quoting "lines" from my own novels (usually in Arabic--haven't made it thus far in English yet). And it alienates me; these were not meant to be "lines"! They were just sentences. Probably I have deeper issues to deal with.

Five books you'll never part with:

The Blind Assassin (no explanation needed--see above). Mr. Mani by A.B. Yehoshua, which I think is the best novel about Jerusalem. Children of the Alley by Naguib Mahfouz--a phenomenal novel. Leo Africanus by Amin Maalouf, which is probably the best novel written about identity struggles and trappings. And "The Human Condition" (aka Man's Fate) by André Malraux.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

The Glass Bead Game by Hermann Hesse (while listening to J. Sebastian Bach for the first time).

Your most desired achievement in life:

Get hosted on Fresh Air by Terry Gross or on The Author's Voice by Deborah Treisman.

Book Review

Review: Now You See Them

Now You See Them by Elly Griffiths (Mariner Books, $15.99 paperback, 368p., 9781328971593, December 3, 2019)

Two decades after their adventures combining magic tricks with military operations during World War II, former colleagues Max Mephisto and Edgar Stephens have settled down to family life. Now You See Them, the fifth entry in Elly Griffiths's (The Vanishing Box) Magic Men mystery series, finds Edgar serving as the superintendent of Brighton's police force, while his wife, former detective sergeant Emma Holmes, looks after their three children and wishes she could join Edgar in his work.

Their magician friend Max is mostly enjoying his semi-retirement in California, but all three of them are drawn into a mysterious kidnapping case that reminds Max irresistibly of their old stage illusions. As the tensions between two battling youth subcultures, the mods and rockers, run high in Brighton, Edgar is preoccupied with arranging security for the upcoming bank holiday weekend while searching for three young women who have disappeared. When Max's daughter Ruby, a TV star, also goes missing, Max and the press (including Emma's journalist friend Sam) get involved.

Griffiths's plotting skills, well known from her Ruth Galloway mystery series, are on full display here, as is her talent for sharp thumbnail sketches of even minor characters. She draws parallels between Emma, highly respected in the police department, and Meg Connolly, the new, young female constable who is trying to hold her own against both her male colleagues and Emma's legacy. Max is uneasy in the presence of old memories, and not quite certain where he fits into his grown daughter's life. Meanwhile, Edgar, a classic decent-but-harried policeman, tries to fulfill all his responsibilities to his constituents and colleagues, but worries about his wife's happiness.

Griffiths provides enough context to satisfy readers new to the series, though returning readers will better appreciate the nuances of character and multiple references to past adventures. The seemingly unrelated kidnappings eventually coalesce into a proper case, complete with red herrings and mysterious notes. The author builds the tension slowly, then swiftly ramps up the intensity of the case and its implications. Emma's frustrations with her homemaker life, while repetitive, provide an important subplot and commentary on the choice between career and family faced by women in Britain (then and now). With glimpses into the colorful youth culture of the 1960s and flashes of Griffiths's dry wit, Now You See Them is an enjoyable addition to an entertaining series. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Shelf Talker: Elly Griffiths's fifth Magic Men case investigates the disappearance of several young women in 1960s Brighton.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: 'You Can Add to the Conversation & Hope It Helps'

On a Sunday afternoon near the end of October, author Holly Robinson and her book club in Newburyport, Mass., hosted bestselling author Anita Diamant (The Red Tent, The Boston Girl). That in itself may not be extraordinary; writers speak with book clubs all the time.

Anita Diamant (photo: Anne Easter Smith)

This gathering, however, was a little different. As Diamant observed in a q&a on Robinson's blog: "You can't change the world by writing, but you can add to the conversation and hope it helps."

Her appearance was connected to a fundraising initiative launched last summer by Jessica Keener, author most recently of Strangers in Budapest. Under the social media hashtag #AuthorsAgainstBorderAbuse, she had posted a call for fellow writers to donate consultation time in exchange for their clients contributing to organizations fighting immigrant detention at the border. More than 40 authors initially agreed to volunteer their time, a number that has increased dramatically since then. As of October 1, $17,000 has been raised.

In a recent Facebook post highlighting the Diamant event, Keener noted: "With the holiday season upon us, consider hosting an author as a gift--in exchange for $100 or $200 or more to the American Civil Liberties Union; the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, the International Rescue Committee or Team Brownsville. It's a wonderful way to give back."

Jessica Keener (photo: Roger Gordy)

Recalling the genesis of #AuthorsAgainstBorderAbuse, Keener said, "On July 1, with Independence Day looming, I reached a bursting point about the kids in cages and border abuses. Freedom for all? I couldn't take it anymore. I had to do something--and why not something that used my skills to benefit others as a community. I am a writing consultant at GrubStreet here in Boston. What if published authors offered their writing or editing services or a book club visit in exchange for a donation to one of the organizations working to fight border abuse?"

Another inspiration for launching the project was the fact that "my father was a Jewish Army man in WW2, who helped liberate Dachau concentration camp," she observed. "As his daughter (he is no longer alive), I feel a responsibility to speak up and take action against injustice. #AuthorsAgainstBorderAbuse is one way to speak up and act against what I believe are egregious border abuses--tearing families apart, isolating and depriving young, innocent children of their basic rights."

Keener initially contacted about 30 author friends and everyone said yes. "Early supporters Randy Susan Meyers and Jenna Blum gave me confidence to really go for it," Keener noted. "In two days, #AuthorsAgainstBorderAbuse was about 40 strong. Then the Boston Globe put a mention in the Sunday paper on July 3. I have no idea how that happened but that inspired another 100 authors to enlist. We have mega New York Times bestsellers, debut novelists, memoirists, essayists, and all genres on the list."

Participating authors have included Gina Frangello ("Thrilled to be a participating author, but/and this thing will only make a true and larger difference once we all collectively have clients whose fees we are able to donate en masse. Let's make it happen!"), Maryanne O'Hara ("I am part of #authorsagainstborderabuse. We are donating our consultation time in exchange for donations to groups fighting the horror of children in cages and other border abuse (ACLU, RAICES, PenAmerica + others.") and Jenna Blum ("I just finished my 2nd consult for #AuthorsAgainstBorderAbuse.... We intend to keep this plate spinning until the camps are CLOSED.... Erica freaking Jong is doing this! DON'T BE DESPONDENT ABOUT THE CAMPS. Protest = saying you won't abide inhumanity. Resistance = disrupting inhumanity. Let's LEVEL UP.")

Lara Wilson's Be Well Here and its authors collectively raised $2,000 (as a result of a matching gift by IRC); and Linda Schreyer's Slipper Camp raised $1,125 for the ACLU.

"It was incredible," Keener said. "With the holiday season upon us, I'm hoping people will think about enlisting an author or inviting an author to their book club in exchange for a donation to ACLU, RAICES, IRC, Team Brownsville and others. What a perfect holiday gift. It's been a wholly positive experience for everyone involved. I wish I could raise $17 million, but we all have to start somewhere. For now, I'd like to cross the $20,000 mark before the end of the year. "

--Robert Gray, contributing editor

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