Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Margaret K. McElderry Books: Tender Beasts by Liselle Sambury

Scholastic Press: Heroes: A Novel of Pearl Harbor by Alan Gratz

Flatiron Books: Anita de Monte Laughs Last by Xochitl Gonzalez

Peachtree Publishers: King & Kayla and the Case of the Downstairs Ghost (King & Kayla) by Dori Hillestad Butler, illustrated by Nancy Meyers

Doubleday Books: The Husbands by Holly Gramazio


CALIBA Hosts First Spring Workshop

Author Viet Thanh Nguyen delivering the keynote.

On Sunday, the California Independent Booksellers Alliance held its first Spring Workshop since expanding to encompass the entire state of California. According to executive director Calvin Crosby, 76 booksellers from across the state attended the one-day workshop in San Diego. 

A "feeling of optimism and definite camaraderie" filled the day, Crosby reported, and attendees were enthusiastic. During the town hall, member booksellers discussed the journey of CALIBA thus far, as well as the controversies surrounding American Dirt and the Woody Allen autobiography that was announced and canceled by Hachette last week. The association's board was asked to offer wording to use and education around how to respond to customers in such situations.

Travel precautions related to the coronavirus outbreak did not affect author or bookseller attendance.

Author Viet Thanh Nguyen closed the show with a keynote speech, and signed copies from his forthcoming title The Committed and his recent picture book Chicken of the Sea (illustrated by Thi Bui).

CALIBA Spring Conference attendees.

Holiday House: The Five Impossible Tasks of Eden Smith by Tom Llewellyn; The Selkie's Daughter by Linda Crotta Brennan

Nancy Bass Wyden Gives Update on UWS Strand

Nancy Bass Wyden, owner of the Strand Bookstore in New York City, gave an update on plans for the Strand's new Columbus Avenue location at a community board meeting last week, the West Side Rag reported.

"We can't haul 18 miles of books up here, but we're going to have a huge selection that's curated for the West Side community," Bass Wyden told community members. "We're going to bring as much of the Strand downtown to your community."

On Twitter, Strand owner Nancy Bass Wyden offered a video preview of the new store.

The Columbus Avenue Strand will have a large children's section complete with an astronomy theme as an homage to the nearby Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History. Event plans include author signings, lectures, discussions and weekly storytime sessions.

While the Strand at Columbus Avenue has not yet set an official opening date, it is expected to open later this month. It will reside in the space that previously housed Book Cuture.

Amistad Press: The Survivors of the Clotilda: The Lost Stories of the Last Captives of the American Slave Trade by Hannah Durkin

Workman Launches Audio Imprint, Headed by Ana Maria Allessi

Ana Maria Allessi

Workman Publishing Co. has launched Workman Audio, which will publish and distribute audiobooks directly to the trade and libraries. Workman Audio is being headed by Ana Maria Allessi, former v-p, publisher of HarperAudio and current president of the Audio Publishers Association. Findaway, a global distributor of audiobook content, will handle distribution to all markets.

In her new role, Allessi will focus on audiobook production and distribution opportunities for frontlist and backlist titles from Workman Publishing, including its imprints--Workman, Algonquin Books, Algonquin Young Readers, Artisan, Storey Publishing, and Timber Press--as well as distribution clients duopress, The Experiment, Erewhon Books, Familius, and Future House Publishing. She will also seek out audio-first publishing opportunities.

"Recent consumer studies show that Americans use audiobooks to create 'new' time for reading," said Allessi, who worked in audio at Harper for 17 years. "I'm delighted to join the Workman Publishing group and look forward to supporting authors by creating first-in-class recordings for this expanding audience."

Workman Publishing CEO Dan Reynolds commented: "Audiobook publishing is one of the true bright spots in our world, and we couldn't be more excited to get in front of this dynamic growth opportunity--and to have such an experienced, energetic, and respected leader to head our new program. Not only does this allow us to be full partners with our authors in terms of creating and distributing audio editions of their work, but, given the eclectic range of books we publish, we're inspired to explore the boundaries of what an audiobook can be."

Delacorte Press Founds YA Paperback Imprint Underlined

Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children's Books, is launching a young adult trade paperback imprint called Underlined. 

The imprint is a collaboration between Random House Children's Books and Underlined, an online community for YA books and creative writing created by RHCB. Wendy Loggia, senior executive director at Delacorte, will be in charge. The imprint's first title, The Wild by Owen Laukkanen, is due out in May, followed by I Think I Love You by Auriane Desombre in June; Escape Room by Maren Stoffels in July; and The Game by Linsey Miller in August.

"Watching how our streaming culture has increased the expectation for fast delivery of content, we wanted to reach teens in a similar way," said Beverly Horowitz, senior v-p and publisher of Delacorte Press. "Our new line of Underlined books will be published on a rapid, regular schedule, delivering highly commercial, portable and affordable reads under the recognizable and trusted Underlined brand."

B&N College to Operate MTSU Bookstore

Middle Tennessee State University has selected Barnes & Noble College to manage its campus bookstore. The Murfreesboro Post reported that the store will reopen April 6 as MTSU Phillips Bookstore, in the Student Union Building. B&N College operates 772 campus bookstores nationwide.

"Barnes & Noble College has the extensive experience and vision to enhance our bookstore as a campus destination, enrich the book-buying experience, expand affordable resources for MTSU students and support the university's overall mission," said MTSU business and finance v-p Alan Thomas.

Obituary Note: Barbara Neely

Barbara Neely

Mystery author Barbara Neely, who was recently named the Mystery Writers of America's 2020 Grand Master and "who created the first black female series sleuth in mainstream American publishing," died last week, the Associated Press reported. She was 78. Neely is perhaps best known for her four-book Blanche White series, which had at its center "a nomadic amateur detective and domestic worker who uses the invisibility inherent to her job as an advantage in pursuit of the truth."

The series includes Blanche on the Lam (1992), which won the Agatha Award, Anthony Award, and the Macavity Award for best first novel, as well as the Go on Girl! Award from Black Women's Reading Club; Blanche Among the Talented Tenth (1994); Blanche Cleans Up (1998); and Blanche Passes Go (2000). The novels "push past mystery into political and social commentary, like tackling violence against women, racism, class boundaries and sexism," the AP noted.

In a statement, the MWA said Neely "was an inspiration, a trailblazer, and a remarkable talent and voice whose loss is deeply felt. We are grateful we had the opportunity to let her know how much she meant to the mystery community before she left us. Her talent and memory will live on forever in her wonderful books. She will be missed."

Her publisher, Brash Books, shared an obituary from Neely's family, which said in part: "In addition to her writing, Barbara was also a Social Justice Warrior who dedicated her time and talents to causes such as Economic and Criminal Justice, Women's Rights and Equality. Her Socially Conscious work was acknowledged by receiving several awards. She incorporated her dedication to social change with her love of writing."

When Neely was announced as the 2020 Grand Master last December, MWA board president Meg Gardiner described her as "a groundbreaking author, and MWA is delighted to recognize her work, in which she tackles tough social issues with an unflinching eye and a wry sense of humor."

Neely's reaction on learning of the award: "MWA Grand Master! I hope this doesn't mean I have to relinquish my position as Empress Regnant of the Multiverse."


Image of the the Day: Versify Visits Mrs. Dalloway's

Mrs. Dalloway's Bookstore in Berkeley, Calif., hosted a book launch last week featuring two children's titles being published by Kwame Alexander's Versify imprint for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Alexander was the emcee of the SRO event, which featured author Lori Mortensen and illustrator Chloe Bristol (Nonsense! The Curious Story of Edward Gorey) and Mintie Das (the YA title Brown Girl Ghosted). Pictured (from l.): Chloe Bristol, Lori Mortensen, Kwame Alexander and Mintie Das.

Chalkboard: The Silver Unicorn Bookstore

"No matter what your circumstances are, books can help," the Silver Unicorn Bookstore, Acton, Mass., posted on Facebook, along with a photo of the store's latest sidewalk chalkboard message: "Give me books to change the things I can and books to accept those that I cannot."

Pennie Picks: Lost Boy Found

Pennie Clark Ianniciello, Costco's book buyer, has chosen Lost Boy Found by Kirsten Alexander (Grand Central, $16.99, 9781538700563) as her pick of the month for March. In Costco Connection, which goes to many of the warehouse club's members, she wrote:

"For years I've been haunted by the story of Bobby Dunbar, a missing child who was found and reunited with his family. So imagine my delight when I came across a fictionalized account of that case: this month's book buyer's pick, Lost Boy Found by Kirsten Alexander.

"Sonny Davenport wanders away from his family's vacation home, only to be found years later in the company of a peddler. Newspapers report on the reunion, but another woman says he's her child. The result is a search for the truth and an exploration of the word 'family.' "

Personnel Changes at Abrams

In the Abrams Children's Books publicity department:

Hallie Patterson is promoted to director of publicity. She was previously associate director of publicity.

Brooke Shearouse is promoted to publicity manager. She was previously senior publicist.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Brian Greene on Good Morning America

Good Morning America: Brian Greene, author of Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe (Knopf, $30, 9781524731670).

The View: Katherine Schwarzenegger Pratt, author of The Gift of Forgiveness: Inspiring Stories from Those Who Have Overcome the Unforgivable (Pamela Dorman Books, $20, 9781984878250). She will also appear on the Kelly Clarkson Show.

TV: The Undoing

HBO has released a trailer for The Undoing, based on Jean Hanff Korelitz's book You Should Have Known, Deadline reported. Created by David. E. Kelley and directed by Emmy, Oscar and Golden Globe winner Susanne Bier, the six-part limited series stars Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant. It will premiere May 10.

The cast also includes Noah Jupe, Donald Sutherland, Edgar Ramirez, Ismael Cruz Cordova, Matilda De Angelis, Lily Rabe, Noma Dumezweni and Sofie Gråbøl. Kelley and Bier will serve as exec producers alongside Kidman and Per Saari through Blossom Films, Bruna Papandrea through Made Up Stories, Stephen Garrett and Celia Costas.

Books & Authors

Audiobooks: The Audies

Our friends at AudioFile Magazine check out the Audie Award winners:

Last week the Audio Publishers Association presented the 25th annual Audie Awards at a glittery New York City gala hosted by Mo Rocca, CBS Sunday Morning correspondent, author and host of the Mobituaries podcast. The panel of celebrity judges--including Adam Silvera, former bookseller and author of They Both Die at the End and Infinity Son; Emma Straub, co-owner of Books Are Magic, Brooklyn, N.Y., and author of The Vacationers and Modern Lovers; and R. Eric Thomas, senior staff writer at Elle, playwright and host of The Moth StorySLAMS--gave the evening's top prize, Audiobook of the Year, to The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11, published by Simon & Schuster Audio.

Author Garrett Graff's minute-by-minute account of the September 11 attacks is narrated by a cast of 45 actors, led by Holter Graham. The stories and voices of people who experienced the day--from emergency dispatchers and airline personnel to office workers and families--are brilliantly realized as an aural history. The judges praised it as "an extraordinary achievement that takes a gut-wrenching and almost unimaginable text and re-injects its humanness."

Audiobooks with multiple narrators were winners across numerous categories. Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes, performed by the cast of the National Theatre's 2018 Broadway Revival that included Nathan Lane and Andrew Garfield (Penguin Random House Audio), was the Audio Drama Audie winner, as well as a contender for the Audiobook of the Year. Other finalists The Testaments, Margaret Atwood's Sequel to The Handmaid's Tale (Penguin Random House Audio) boasted a cast of six, and Charlotte's Web (Penguin Random House Audio) had a cast of 23, led by Meryl Streep.

Short story collections are often cast with multiple voices. Winners in the Short Stories category--Full Throttle by Joe Hill (HarperAudio)--and in Humor--More Bedtime Stories for Cynics (Audible Originals)--showcased the talents of both celebrity and career narrators. The preference for multiple voices continued to younger listener awards: Hey, Kiddo, Jarrett Krosoczka's graphic memoir adapted to audio (Scholastic Audio), took the Young Adult Audie Award, and Charlotte's Web (Penguin Random House Audio) took home the Middle Grade Audie.

Author Stephen King was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Audio Publishers Association. Celebrating King's longstanding advocacy for audiobooks, his son Joe Hill told the sold-out crowd of publishers, authors, and narrators of his early narrating gig--recording books onto cassettes for his father. King's early insistence that his books be recorded unabridged was a game-changer for audiobook publishers. King also published several stories first-to-audio, and has always promoted his audiobooks alongside his print books. He led the creation of the Haven Foundation, originally the Wavedancer Foundation, established for the benefit of actors and freelance performing artists whose catastrophic accidents or illnesses have left them uninsured and unable to work.

Individual authors and narrators were celebrated throughout the evening, too. Authors Michelle Obama (Becoming, Penguin Random House) and Elizabeth Acevedo (With the Fire on High, HarperAudio) received Audie Awards for their author-narrations. Elizabeth Gilbert's City of Girls narrated by Blair Brown (Penguin Random House Audio), and Ta-Nehisi Coates's The Water Dancer, read by Joe Morton (Penguin Random House Audio), took the top Fiction awards. Nonfiction accolades went to American Moonshot by Douglas Brinkley, read by Stephen Graybill (HarperAudio), and Grace Will Lead Us Home by Jennifer Berry Hawes, narrated by Karen Chilton and the author (Macmillan Audio).

Accolades in the genre categories went to Fantasy: The Ten Thousand Doors of January (Hachette Audio); Mystery: The Chestnut Man (HarperAudio); Romance: Devil's Daughter (HarperAudio); Science Fiction: Emergency Skin (Brilliance Audio). Stephen King fittingly took the Thriller/Suspense category with The Institute (Simon & Schuster Audio). Best Male Narrator Audie went to Robert Bathurst, narrator of Louise Penny's Kingdom of the Blind (Macmillan Audio), and Best Female Narrator was Marin Ireland, narrator of Kevin Wilson's Nothing to See Here (HarperAudio).

The Audie Awards celebrate the audiobook form in its many styles and configurations. Lifetime Achievement honoree King summed it up, "This is the most honorable form of storytelling there is."

Awards: Jane Grigson Shortlist; Jhalak Longlist; Walter Scott Longlist

A shortlist has been unveiled for the £2,000 (about $2,590) for Jane Grigson New Food and Drink Writers Award, created in memory of the British food writer to recognize "a first-time writer of a non-fiction book about food or drink which has been commissioned but not yet published," the Bookseller reported. The winner will be announced March 24 in London. Runners-up will receive £100 (about $130) book tokens and all shortlisted authors will receive copies of The Best of Jane Grigson. This year's shortlisted titles are:

The Rangoon Sisters Cookbook by Amy Chung & Emily Chung
Seafood Shack by Kirsty Scobie & Fenella Renwick
The Food Almanac by Miranda York


A longlist was released for the Jhalak Prize for Book of the Year by a Writer of Color, featuring "12 books cutting across fiction, nonfiction, children's, YA and poetry and cover[ing] topics including the hostile environment, Black diaspora in Europe and the power of drag," the Bookseller reported. The shortlist will be revealed April 14 and a winner, who receives £1,000 (about $1,295) and a specially created work of art by U.K. artist of color, will be named March 26 in London. This year's longlisted titles are:

Queenie by Carty-Williams
Afropean: Notes from Black Europe by Johny Pitts
Surge by Jay Bernard
The Black Flamingo by Atta
Asha and the Spirit Bird by Jasbinder Bilan
This Brutal House by Niven Govinden
Remembered by Yvonne Battle-Felton
Nudibranch by Irenosen Okojie
Golden Child by Claire Adam
Flèche by Mary Jean Chan
The Hostile Environment: How Immigrants Became Scapegoats by Maya Goodfellow
Suncatcher by Romesh Gunesekera


The longlist for the £25,000 (about $32,375) 2020 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction has been announced:

The Narrow Land by Christine Dwyer Hickey
The Parisian by Isabella Hammad
How We Disappeared by Jing-Jing Lee
To Calais, in Ordinary Time by James Meek
The Offing by Benjamin Myers
The Warlow Experiment by Alix Nathan
Shadowplay by Joseph O'Connor
The Redeemed by Tim Pears
A Sin of Omission by Marguerite Poland
Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield
This Is Happiness by Niall Williams
The Hiding Game by Naomi Wood

Book Review

Review: I Want You to Know We're Still Here: A Post-Holocaust Memoir

I Want You to Know We're Still Here: A Post-Holocaust Memoir by Esther Safran Foer (Tim Duggan Books, $27 hardcover, 240p., 9780525575986, March 31, 2020)

On her mantel, Esther Safran Foer keeps a collection of glass jars filled with dirt and pieces of rubble. These artifacts serve as a tangible reminder of her ancestors' lives in their remote Ukrainian shtetls of Kolki and Trochenbrod, before they were all killed during the Holocaust. Esther's parents, Ethel and Louis Safran, were the only survivors from their large extended families.  

Safran Foer's poignant memoir I Want You to Know We're Still Here chronicles her quest to collect the fragments of her personal history and learn the reasons for her parents' silences about their past: "I had grown up surrounded by ghosts--haunted by relatives that were rarely talked about and by the stories that no one would share."

When the Germans invaded Kolki in July 1941, 21-year old Ethel Bronstein grabbed her winter coat, some clothing and a pair of scissors. Without saying goodbye to her mother--a split-second, regrettable decision that she would carry throughout her life--Ethel fled Kolki. She and an acquaintance "spent the war as virtual sisters," always moving east into Russia and Asia to elude the Germans and depending on the kindness of strangers. For three years, the "sisters" traveled nearly 2,600 miles on foot.

Esther was named for her two murdered grandmothers, and her earliest memories are of being in a displaced persons camp in Germany with her parents. The family emigrated to Washington, D.C., in 1949. But how her father survived the war would always remain a mystery, and was a contributing factor to his lifelong depression and eventual suicide. Esther's mother reveals that a Trochenbrod family had hidden him, and that he once had another wife and daughter.

Safran Foer laments: "Of the person closest to me killed in the Holocaust, my half sibling, I had not one detail, not a name, not a picture--not one piece of memory.... How do you remember someone who has left no trace?"

Safran Foer's tireless search to learn the names and stories of her deceased relatives--and to discover the family who saved her father's life--would become a decades-long journey, consuming her as she lived and worked in Washington, D.C., married her husband and had three sons, all writers. (Her son Jonathan Safran Foer's bestselling novel Everything Is Illuminated is based on his family's history.)

Through Safran Foer's photographs, scant recollections, connections with experts from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and her travels to Kolki and Trochenbrod, I Want You to Know We're Still Here explores how to remember loved ones when all that is known is a name--and sometimes not even that. --Melissa Firman, writer at

Shelf Talker: In this heartfelt and compelling post-Holocaust memoir, a woman dedicates herself to learning the truth of the stories that framed her family's lifelong silences and traumas.

The Bestsellers Bestsellers in February

The bestselling audiobooks at independent bookstores during February:

1. Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid (Penguin Random House Audio)
2. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett (HarperAudio)
3. American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins (Macmillan Audio)
4. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (Penguin Random House Audio)
5. Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Penguin Random House Audio)
6. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern (Penguin Random House Audio)
7. Long Bright River by Liz Moore (Penguin Random House Audio)
8. Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson (HarperAudio)
9. Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano (Penguin Random House Audio)
10. The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Penguin Random House Audio)

1. Open Book by Jessica Simpson (HarperAudio)
2. Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell (Hachette Audio)
3. Becoming by Michelle Obama (Penguin Random House Audio)
4. Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow (Hachette Audio)
5. Educated by Tara Westover (Penguin Random House Audio)
6. Know My Name by Chanel Miller (Penguin Random House Audio)
7. Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe (Penguin Random House Audio)
8. She Came to Slay by Erica Armstrong Dunbar (Simon & Schuster Audio)
9. Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson (Penguin Random House Audio)
10. Uncanny Valley by Anna Wiener (Macmillan Audio)

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