Shelf Awareness for Monday, September 28, 2020


Overlook Press: Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi

Grand Central Publishing: What's Mine and Yours by Naima Coster

Columbia Global Reports: The Socialist Awakening: What's Different Now about the Left by John B Judis

Mira Books: Her Dark Lies by J T Ellison

Shadow Mountain: Ming's Christmas Wishes by Susan L Gong, illustrated by Masahiro Tateishi

News

Raven Book Store to Relocate

Raven's new home

Raven Book Store will relocate in 2021 "into a gorgeous new space" at 809 Massachusetts Street in downtown Lawrence, Kan., the bookstore tweeted, adding: "Same Raven, great new space." The bookshop is currently located at 6 E. 7th St.

In a Twitter thread announcing the move, Raven noted: "Is it scary to make big plans like this when the future is so uncertain? Yes! But we're committed to both being the best bookstore we can for our community, as well as fighting for justice, and this new space will help us do both things.... There's so much work to do in there, but we'll share updates and pictures and stories from the monster task that will be moving this creaky old bookstore into its new vintage digs."

Pat Kehde and Mary Lou Wright, who founded the Raven Book Store in 1987 and sold the business to Danny Caine in 2017, were the inspiration for banners now hanging in the front windows of the building that will be renovated. Raven tweeted that Kehde and Wright had "hung brown paper saying 'Wouldn't this be a great place for a bookstore?' at our current address 33 years ago while they built the original Raven."


Britannica Books: Britannica All New Kids' Encyclopedia: What We Know & What We Don't by Britannica Group, edited by Christopher Lloyd


NEIBA Annual Meeting and Town Hall

At Friday's annual meeting and town hall held by the New England Independent Booksellers Association, major topics included how NEIBA and its members have responded to the Covid-19 pandemic, the challenges ahead and how to promote Black Lives Matter and racial equality in myriad ways.

In her comments, NEIBA president Beth Wagner of Phoenix Books, Essex Junction, Vt., said that "resilence" defined the year for the association and its members. She noted that once the pandemic hit, NEIBA began hosting a variety of meetings via Zoom, with an emphasis on best practices and "reimagined" conferences like the spring forum and particularly last week's fall conference as virtual events. "The fall conference is always a logistical feat," she said, "and this year is no exception." She said executive director Beth Ineson and marketing coordinator Ali Schmelzle did "a phenomenal job" organizing and putting on the fall conference. (Ineson later thanked Schmelzle for dealing with "the tsunami of tech" that included events like the conference, NEIBA's new website and Zoom communications.)

NEIBA's board, staff and ABA CEO Allison Hill

Wagner said "the path ahead will not be easy." When the pandemic passes, "we will have a lot of work to do as stores begin to rebuild." Other challenges include increasing diversity and inclusion efforts "in our stores and in our organization. Black Lives Matter is more than a slogan. We must live it in both words and action."

During the town meeting, Ineson addressed the matter by saying that NEIBA takes diversity very seriously and is "walking the walk," with show programming and in other areas, but that as for the board, the advisory council and its committees, it's "a mirror" of its membership, so that the more diverse the member stores are, the more diverse the board and committees can be. "I'm completely in and we're ready for that," she commented. "As an organization, NEIBA will do everything we can to help you get there."

'A Wild Year Financially'
Wagner and Ineson emphasized that despite the pandemic, NEIBA is on solid footing financially and otherwise. Ineson called what members have done this year "nothing short of incredible, and it is from your creativity and innovation and grit that we at NEIBA have drawn strength to follow suit. We basically tried to do what you did, which is make it all work this year" by reinventing its business model, which included much more virtual contact with members, something she wants to continue permanently, creating a kind of hybrid model of in-person and virtual events and communication.

Ineson called it "a wild year financially" and said next year will similar. The association was "basically on budget" this year, forecasting and having a slight loss, but doing so in a very "circuitous fashion." The association had extra costs because of its office move and higher expenses at last year's fall conference while this year it lost event income, made a big donation to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation, lost publisher ad revenue early in the pandemic (which is "nicely rebounding"), and didn't collect membership dues. But at the same time, NEIBA's move last year reduced office expenses by half and when she recently renewed the lease, Ineson was able to negotiate a 60% rent reduction.

Still, next year's budget will have a loss, mainly because of not collecting membership dues. She thanked former executive director Steve Fischer and former administrative coordinator Nan Sorensen for running things in a way so that NEIBA "has the resources to weather" this year and next year. The association's endowment is intact and there's a nest egg that can be drawn on.

Ineson added that she wants to "address the endowment" and figure out how to make the money more directly beneficial to the membership. As a 501 C (6) organization, the association can't give money directly to member stores but it could build a tangential nonprofit and put some of the endowment money "to work for our stores."

American Booksellers Association CEO Allison Hill discussed a variety of matters, many raised by NEIBA members. Concerning nominations to the ABA's board, she said the association is instituting changes in how it promotes the process, trying to avoid the "governance language" of the past, being more transparent, and encouraging people to self-nominate and nominate people they know. It's also trying to get more people involved in other aspects of the ABA, such as the diversity committee, and new ways of bringing booksellers to come together.

Hill asked NEIBA members to offer "feedback on how things are going with Ingram" because she meets with the company regularly, and "it's really helpful" if she has specific examples of problems. "Sometimes they don't even recognize when there's a trend that indicates a problem" since the company is so large and moving so fast.

Hill said Ingram is "doing everything I'd want them to do to best prepare for the season," including hiring and changing ways they were handling shipments. Still, there will be "delays and disruption," she continued, which is unavoidable because of the pandemic.

Ineson added that she is also in communication with Ingram and with Bookazine on a regular basis out of similar concerns.

NEIBA has two new directors, effective with the annual meeting. They are Kelsy April of the Savoy Bookshop & Café, Westerly, R.I., and Casey Gerken of the Innisfree Bookshop, Meredith, N.H. Outgoing board members were honored with thanks for jobs well done. They included past president Laura Cummings of White Birch Books, North Conway, N.H., and Stefanie Schmidt of Water Street Bookstore, Exeter, N.H. --John Mutter


GLOW: Flatiron Press: Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean


How Bookstores Are Coping: Fourth-Quarter Concerns; Neighborhood Support

In San Diego, Calif., the Book Catapult closed the store to in-person browsing in March and began offering front-door service and curbside pick-up in mid-May. Owner Seth Marko reported that he and his team have yet to reopen for browsing, as they are still not comfortable with encouraging customers to shop in-person. If in-person browsing requires wiping down all surfaces multiple times per day, wearing gloves and masks and even installing plexiglass shields, he continued, then maybe "the world is not ready for things like shopping for books in person."

He did note, however, that San Diego seems to be "nearly there," and if the county infection numbers remain low, the Book Catapult will consider reopening to reduced capacity or offering appointment shopping before the holidays.

Thanks to a loyal, consistent customer base, the pivot to becoming an online retailer was "mostly painless" for the store. The vast majority of the store's customers, Marko added, understand and appreciate why he and his team are being so cautious, though there have been occasional conversations about why the store is still closed to in-person browsing.

Because of that community support, business has actually been "pretty good" through these six months of the pandemic, Marko said, and he's been able to keep everyone on staff. It also doesn't hurt that the store is pretty small, with "not a terrible amount" of overhead and a "very reasonable" rent. Prior to the pandemic, the Book Catapult did not have an extensive events schedule, so canceling in-person events did not hugely impact the business. For every month of the pandemic except April, in fact, store sales have been up over last year.

"The fourth quarter does freak me out a bit though," Marko allowed. Despite sales growing for much of the year so far, he has no idea if that will continue during the holidays. He also doubts that the store can remain completely closed to browsing and still have a good December, so they may have to reopen in some capacity just to "get eyes on our stock." On that point, he added that as a buyer and bookseller, it's been very frustrating seeing a lot of great books sit on shelves for months simply because customers don't know they're there.

On the subject of the protests that have spread throughout the country after the murder of George Floyd in late May, Marko said the Book Catapult has had a rotating display of titles related to social justice, the Black Lives Matter movement and racial equality in the store's windows since May, which will "likely become permanent in some way." Like many stores, the Book Catapult saw an unprecedented surge in orders for antiracist titles earlier in the summer. The team is trying to encourage customers to continue their education beyond the books they purchased in May and June, so they often feature relevant titles in the store's e-newsletter.

---

Stephanie Valdez, co-owner of Community Bookstore and Terrace Books in Brooklyn, N.Y., reported that both stores are open only for curbside pick-up. Given the stores' small footprint and volume of sales, she explained, remaining closed to browsing is the best option to keep everyone safe and allow the staff to work efficienitly.

Staff members wear masks at all times while in the store, except during breaks in the Community Bookstore's back garden. The doors stay propped open and they've brought in extra fans to help with circulation. Depending on the rates of infection this fall, Valdez and co-owner Ezra Goldstein will consider reopening for browsing. Valdez added that in particular she's waiting to see if there is a significant change after schools resume in-person learning.

Noting that summer is usually the slowest time of the year for both stores, Valdez said sales were down, but thanks to "tremendous" neighborhood support, new revenue streams from merchandise and events, as well as a significant rent reduction by their landlords, they were able to keep staff fully employed.

The plan for the holiday season is to order extra stock on priority titles. Some of those are small press titles that the store has plans to promote but might "slip further down the print queue" if they go out of stock. For other key titles, the stores are stocking up now. Valdez added that, unfortunately, some of the staff's favorite sections aren't turning over as well as they normally do, since customers cannot browse. This has led to the team trimming frontlist orders and bringing in single copies of books they'd usually order in multiples.

When asked about the protests that began this summer, Valdez responded: "Our store stands in full solidarity behind the Black Lives Matter movement, the fight against white supremacy and police brutality. We hope the momentum gained by the movement this summer changes our industry and American society." --Alex Mutter


BINC: Help a Bookseller, Save a Bookstore - Give to BINC


New Voices, New Rooms: 'America Never Was America to Me'

At Thursday night's New Voices, New Rooms session "America Never Was America to Me," four strong women writers took on white power structures that marginalize Black people and people of color.

Paul Coates, moderator and founder of Black Classic Press, introduced the three authors. Kim Johnson spoke of how her work as an activist looking into police brutality in the 1990s informed her debut YA novel, This Is My America (Random House). In the story, 17-year-old Tracy Beaumont writes weekly letters to Innocence X (modeled on Bryan Stevenson's Equal Justice Initiative), asking them to help free her father, an innocent man on death row. Johnson talked about the "generational impact of incarceration on a family, on a community, on a town." In her novel, Tracy's scholar-athlete brother is suspected of killing a white girl, and the cycle of injustice continues. "A lot of characters in my story were either impacted or had an opportunity to ensure justice occurred and didn't," Johnson said.

Clockwise from top left: Kim Johnson, Paul Coates, Ijeoma Oluo, Kaitlyn Greenidge, Margaret Kimberley

Kaitlyn Greenidge built her novel Libertie (Algonquin, March 31, 2021) around an actual person, the daughter of Dr. Susan Smith McKinney Steward, the first Black female doctor in New York State. Steward was born in Weeksville (now Crown Heights, in Brooklyn), founded in 1938 by free African Americans; Greenidge got to know Steward's story while working at the Weeksville Heritage Center. The author spoke of how Steward's daughter, Libertie, followed her husband, the Episcopal Archbishop of Haiti, to his homeland." Steward told her daughter to stick with the marriage, but when she traveled to Haiti to deliver her grandchild, she saw how terrible the marriage was and helped her daughter move back to America.

"I was writing into the moment of Reconstruction, which feels so similar to what's happening today--intense conflict but also intense movement forward," Greenidge observed. "Blacks founded towns, cemeteries, mutual aid societies. At the same time, there was white backlash against Black people." Rather than write into "the historical irony of 'these people should have known better,' I wanted to write into the hope," Greenidge said. "What would freedom have meant to a girl like Libertie, never having known slavery? She would see it in the freedom of her mother, dedicating a hospital, healing people recovering from the trauma of slavery."

Iljeoma Oluo started her book Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America (Seal Press, December 1) by "looking at 200 years of the formation of white male supremacy, trying to answer the question of how we got here," she said. "I kept seeing patterns in how we define power, manhood and race over the years. We want to preserve the idea that white men don't need to do much more than be white men."

The book starts in the mid-1800s with the American cowboy, then moves to white feminists, the Great Depression--in particular "the way Black and Latinx people had their lives destroyed by the scapegoating of financial hardship." Oluo looked at not just what was done but where choices were made. "I want people to understand that the fear of trying something new, of upsetting the white supremacist power structure sets us back, causes a backlash. I want readers to see themselves, their families and their values, that they are part of a system that's been designed for hundreds of years. Areas that encourage active diversity and openness and creativity are powerhouses. I want that for all of us."

Margaret Kimberley underscored Oluo's point about hundreds of years of white power structures as she discussed her book about the U.S. presidency, Prejudential: Black America and the Presidents (Truth to Power/Steerforth). "Chattel slavery ended, only to be followed by 50 years of Jim Crow," she said. Kimberly noted that George Washington, as a slaveholder when the capital was moved to Philadelphia, "had a problem": after six months, a slave could sue for freedom. So he rotated them every six months between Philadelphia and his plantation in Virginia. "American history is full of the ideology of American exceptionalism," she said. "Millard Fillmore, who's made fun of as not having accomplished much, signed into law in 1851 the Fugitive Slave Act. When we know our history we can discern more easily what's going on now."

All four authors underscored Kimberley's point about the importance of knowing history. "Knowing our history allows us different ways of being," Greenidge added. "Our communities have always found ways of imagining how to combat racism; we don't have to be wed to what the larger culture tells us has always been the way. It's imperative of us to have a bigger imagination." --Jennifer M. Brown, senior editor


University of California Press: Beethoven, a Life (1st ed.) by Jan Caeyers, translated by Brent Annable


Rio Cortez Joins HarperCollins, Focusing on BIPOC Books & Authors

Rio Cortez

Rio Cortez has joined HarperCollins in the newly created role of sales and retail marketing manager. She will work with the sales and publishing teams to continue to expand the overall sales of books by BIPOC authors across all channels, develop and execute a business plan for that, and work to increase sales to the BIPOC-owned bookstore community. In addition, she will be responsible for developing a bookseller network that will help identify marketplace priorities for BIPOC-owned bookstores and using that to provide feedback on acquisition proposals and identify opportunities in the marketplace.

Most recently, Cortez was the buyer and creative coordinator at the New York Public Library's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and was responsible for buying books and sidelines related to the global Black experience for the Schomburg Shop, the independent bookstore arm of the organization. Earlier she held sales rep and executive roles at Abrams, Simon & Schuster and Penguin.


University of California Press: The Mwindo Epic from the Banyanga (1st ed.) edited by Daniel Biebuyck and Kahombo C Mateene


Obituary Note: Anne Stevenson

Anne Stevenson, the poet and biographer of Sylvia Plath, died September 14. She was 87. The Guardian reported that "from the appearance of her first book of poems, Living in America, in 1965, her voice was distinct and clear. There was a wry tone in those poems, one of detachment and bemusement, with a tinge of social critique, as in The Dear Ladies of Cincinnati (1969), which summons these middle-class women who found husbands 'who, liking their women gay,/ preserve them in an air-tight empire made of soap/ and mattresses.' "

In 1989, Stevenson published Bitter Fame, a controversial account of the life of Sylvia Plath. "Many readers at the time complained that Stevenson had less reverence for Plath than was usually required, with perhaps too much sympathy for her husband, Ted Hughes," the Guardian wrote. 

As a poet, Stevenson published 16 books, including various selected volumes and two collected editions, The Collected Poems of Anne Stevenson, 1955-1995 (1996) and Poems 1955-2005 (2005).

"In all, she made a deep impression on the landscape of postwar British and American poetry (although her work was less well-known in the U.S.)," the Guardian wrote. "An important poet by any measure, she nevertheless had less attention than she deserved."

In the introduction to a 2010 book of essays on her poetry, Angela Leighton noted that Stevenson had, "like many poets writing in the last 40 or 50 years... been in and out of critical fashion," and yet she remained true "to her own voice and her own sense of what constitutes poetry."

From Stevenson's poem "Elegy: In Coherent Light":

But now you're out of the picture, no one can keep
Coherent sightings of you, except in language.
All the warm rhetoric is wrong. Death isn't sleep.
Faith in eternal love is love's indulgence.
I prize what you wrote and meet you in what I write.
We still keep house in a living tenement of words.
Pull down their walls of ivy, and you kill the birds.


Notes

Indies Mark #BannedBooksWeek on Social Media

Banned Books Week is being celebrated through October 3, with the theme "Censorship Is a Dead End." On social media, indie booksellers are highlighting their efforts to bring attention to the cause. 

Ballyhoo Books, Alma, Mich.: "Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores, and libraries. Stop by the store to see the display we've created (thank you Joshua Zeitler!) for this observance."

Hearthside Books & Toys, Juneau, Alaska: "We are kicking off Banned Books Week today! What is your favorite banned book? Stop in this week and see our display of many of the classics, and popular titles that have made past and present censorship lists."

Main Street Reads, Summerville, S.C.: "Banned Books week! Come grab a banned book and get 10% off your entire purchase!"

Bluestocking Social, Evansville, Ind.: "So which one is your favorite? Starting tomorrow, we'll have a round of voting for the best banned book. Keep an eye on our story for your chance to vote, voting ends at 8 p.m. every night. And visit the store to see some of the special new items we have in stock."

Strand Book Store, New York, N.Y.: "Here we go! This week is Banned Books Week. Can you think of a banned title that changed your perspective? Mural artwork: Steve Powers."

Books to Be Red, Ocracoke, N.C.: "Banned Books Week 2020 starts today across the country. Libraries, bookstores, and schools will have displays up of books that have been challenged and/or banned in areas of the country. Please stop in Books to be Red and let's talk about the books I have up. You just may see some of your all time favorite reads."

Roundabout Books, Bend, Ore.: "Check out the window display.... are you surprised by any of these titles? This week highlights current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools. Thank you to community members, librarians, educators, and students for speaking out for the freedom to read!"

The Bookstore at Fitger's, Duluth, Minn.: "Have you heard of books being banned or challenged before? This week we're going to be featuring just a few of many titles that have been banned or challenged across the country. We're going to 'Find the Freedom to Read' with #bannedbooksweek bringing awareness to the issue of book censorship."

Buxton Books, Charleston, S.C.: "Happy Banned Books Week! 'What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn't happen much, though.' --J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye."


Inc. Profiles Changing Hands, 'Part Bookstore, Part Retail Theater'

As part of a Small Business Week series about "local merchants beloved by customers whose devotion goes beyond loyalty and well into passion," Inc. magazine profiles Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe and Phoenix, Ariz., in a story called "Part Bookstore, Part Retail Theater, This Tempe Business Became a Local Mainstay: How Changing Hands built a near-symbiotic relationship with its community through cultural, political, and civic involvement."

The story outlines Changing Hands' history and its wealth of programs, events and its involvement in the community, going back to its founding in 1974 as as a place where people could trade used books. "We called it Changing Hands because we liked to think of books going from one person to the next, and the ideas going with them," co-owner Gayle Shanks told Inc.

Congratulations to Gayle and co-owners Bob Sommer and Cindy Dach and their great staff!


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Fred Kaplan on Fresh Air

Today:
Good Morning America: Lili Reinhart, author of Swimming Lessons: Poems (St. Martin's Griffin, $17.99, 9781250261755). She will also appear tomorrow on the Today Show and Late Night with Seth Meyers.

Also on GMA: Misty Copeland, author of Bunheads (Putnam, $17.99, 9780399547645).

Today Show: Andrew Weissmann, author of Where Law Ends: Inside the Mueller Investigation (Random House, $30, 9780593138571).

Fresh Air: Fred Kaplan, author of The Bomb: Presidents, Generals, and the Secret History of Nuclear War (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781982107291).

The Kelly Clarkson Show: Ayesha Curry, author of The Full Plate: Flavor-Filled, Easy Recipes for Families with No Time and a Lot to Do (Voracious, $30, 9780316496179).

Tomorrow:
Good Morning America: Nicholas Sparks, author of The Return (Grand Central, $28, 9781538728574).

Today Show: Kate Biberdorf, author of Kate the Chemist: The Big Book of Experiments (Philomel, $17.99, 9780593116166).

Tonight Show: John Cena, author of Elbow Grease: Fast Friends (Random House, $18.99, 9780593179345).


Multimedia Project: PBS KIDS Talk About: Race and Racism

PBS KIDS has set October 9 as the premiere date for a new special, PBS KIDS Talk About: Race and Racism. Hosted by Amanda Gorman, the writer, activist and first-ever Youth Poet Laureate of the U.S., the half-hour project will feature "candid and authentic conversations" between kids and their parents about race and racial justice-related topics in an age-appropriate way and offer viewers ideas to build on as they continue these important conversations at home."

Making its debut as part of PBS KIDS Family Night on the PBS KIDS 24/7 channel, the special will also be available on PBS stations nationwide, and streaming on pbskids.org, the PBS KIDS Video app and on PBS KIDS' Facebook, YouTube and Instagram

"PBS KIDS believes kids are capable of understanding and talking through tough, but important issues with the adults in their lives--something that has been core to our mission for the last 50 years," said Lesli Rotenberg, chief programming executive and general manager, children's media and education, PBS. "Through the PBS KIDS Talk About: Race and Racism special, our goal is to support parents in talking with their children about race, anti-Black racism in our country, and how to be actively anti-racist. Parents have increasingly asked us for these resources, and we hope that this special will provide a helpful starting point in whatever way they choose to have these conversations with their children."

PBS KIDS provides a resource hub on PBS KIDS for Parents includes articles, a webinar, booklists, links to programming, and more tips and resources to help parents have meaningful conversations with young children about race, racism, and being anti-racist.



Books & Authors

Awards: George Washington, Academy of American Poets Winners

The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777 by Rick Atkinson (Holt), the first volume of a trilogy, has won the $50,000 2020 George Washington Prize, recognizing the year's best book on early American history and sponsored by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, George Washington's Mount Vernon, and Washington College.

Mount Vernon president and CEO Douglas Bradburn called Atkinson "America's greatest living writer about war, and now he has turned his considerable skills to the American Revolution. He makes the common soldiers come alive, but also deals with grand strategy like a master storyteller. His war is not simple, or easy, but complex and inspiring, like the nation it helped to create."

---

The Academy of American Poets announced the 2020 winners of its annual poetry prizes. This year's recipients are:

Nikky Finney won the $100,000 Wallace Stevens Award, which recognizes "outstanding and proven mastery in the art of poetry." AAP chancellor Kwame Dawes said: "Very few American poets have, over the years, come to embody the role of 'chronicler of our time' as has Nikky Finney. And by 'our time' I refer to an epoch that has shaped a culture--one that stretches over at least three centuries, and one that continues to unfold in unsettling and meaningful ways. Finney has tackled the hard things in our society and world, and in so doing she reminds us that political consciousness, fierce moral conviction and urgent and timely relevance in the hands of a gifted and visionary poet, do not preclude a capacity to produce great work of lasting beauty and aesthetic invention."

Hanif Abdurraqib's A Fortune for Your Disaster (Tin House) won the $25,000 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, awarded to "the most outstanding book of poetry published in the United States in the previous year."

Chet'la Sebree's Field Study (FSG Originals) won the $5,000 James Laughlin Award, given to recognize and support a second book of poetry forthcoming in the next calendar year.

Mara Pastor's Deuda Natal / Natal Debt, co-translated by María José Giménez and Anna Rosenwong, won the Ambroggio Prize, a $1,000 publication prize given for a book-length poetry manuscript originally written in Spanish and with an English translation. The winning manuscript is published by the University of Arizona Press,.

Rajiv Mohabir's translation of I Even Regret Night: Holi Songs of Demerara by Lalbihari Sharma (Kaya Press), written about by Gaiutra Bahadur in her monograph Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture (University of Chicago Press), won the $1,000 Harold Morton Landon Translation Award, which recognizes a published translation of poetry from any language into English that demonstrates literary excellence.

Geoffrey Brock's translation of Last Dream by Giovanni Pascoli (World Poetry Books) won the $10,000 Raiziss/de Palchi Book Prize, given to "the outstanding translation into English of a significant work of modern Italian poetry."

Ira Goga has won the $1,000 Aliki Perroti and Seth Frank Most Promising Young Poet Award, which recognizes a student poet.


Top Library Recommended Titles for October

LibraryReads, the nationwide library staff-picks list, offers the top 10 October titles public library staff across the country love:

Favorite
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab (Tor, $26.99, 9780765387561). "Addie is an adventurer and not ready to settle for village life, so she makes a deal with the devil. Instead of relinquishing her soul, however, she becomes immortal, and also completely forgotten by anyone who meets her. Then, after a lonely 300 years, she meets Henry. For fans of the Shades of Magic series, The Time Traveler's Wife, and Life after Life." --Patti Lang, Pima County Public Library, Tucson, Ariz.

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse (Gallery/Saga Press, $27.99, 9781534437678). "Fans of epic fantasy looking for something new will surely love the amazing world-building and strong characters in this pre-Columbian Americas story about prophecy, destiny, politics, and revenge, all with a healthy dose of magic. For fans of Gods of Jade and Shadow and the Broken Earth series." --Dan Brooks, Wake County Public Libraries, Raleigh, N.C.

Confessions on the 7:45: A Novel by Lisa Unger (Park Row, $27.99, 9780778310150). "Serena finds out that her husband is sleeping with the nanny, and then confides in a mysterious woman she meets on the train. The woman continues to contact Serena as her world implodes. Who is this strange woman, and is she responsible for the mess Serena finds herself in? Full of twists, turns, and many POVs, this page turner is perfect for those who like Gillian Flynn and Paula Hawkins." --Shari Suarez, Genesee District Library, Goodrich, Mich.

Goodnight Beautiful: A Novel by Aimee Molloy (Harper, $27.99, 9780062881922). "Dr. Statler, a psychologist, reformed womanizer, and new husband, is staring down his demons and trying to be a better man. Sam and Annie relocate to upstate New York to try their hand at a simpler life and to care for his dementia-ridden mother. One night Sam leaves his office and never makes it home. For fans of The Last Mrs. Parrish and The Silent Patient." --Vanessa Phillips, Pelion Branch Library, Pelion, S.C.

Leave the World Behind: A Novel by Rumaan Alam (Ecco, $27.99, 9780062667632). "What appears on the surface to be a simple story of a family on vacation morphs into a narrative about humanity, shared fear, misconceptions of people, and more. Amanda, Clay, and their two children rent an AirBnB. Then homeowners Ruth and G.H. appear on the doorstep in a panic, and suddenly nothing is normal. For readers who enjoyed Station Eleven and The Children's Bible." --Marika Zemke, Commerce Township Library, Commerce Township, Mich.

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow (Redhook, $28, 9780316422048). "In a world where women and magic have been burned and bound, three sisters set about to bring power and rights back to women and in doing so, find their way back to each other. For fans of Uprooted and Circe." --Melanie Liechty, Logan Library, Logan, Utah

Plain Bad Heroines: A Novel by Emily M. Danforth (Morrow, $27.99, 9780062942852). "A horror-comedy centered around a New England boarding school, follows characters across four different time periods exploring themes of sexuality, female agency, authenticity, and self-worth. For readers who enjoyed Bunny." --Alicea Porterfield-Block, New York Public Library, New York, N.Y.

Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark (Tor, $19.99, 9781250767028). "Set in 1920s Georgia, this fantastical horror story follows Maryse Boudreaux, a bootlegger seeking revenge for the killing of her family who joins a motley group of soldiers in a battle against the Ku Klux Klan. For fans of Friday Black." --Anna Mickelsen, Springfield City Library, Springfield, Mass.

Spoiler Alert: A Novel by Olivia Dade (Avon, $15.99, 9780063005549). "Marcus, the star of a fantasy TV series, secretly writes fan fiction and becomes online friends with April, who he asks out on a date after a post of her cosplay costume goes viral. This delicious romance deals with topics like fatphobia, dyslexia and toxic families in a way that feels real and grounded, but which does not damper the triumphant happiness of the ending. For fans of Dangerous Curves Ahead." --Christi Hawn, Naperville Public Library, Naperville, Ill.

The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop: A Novel by Fannie Flagg (Random House, $28, 9780593133842). "Revisits the small town of Whistle Stop, Alabama. Dot, the postmistress, sends out a yearly Christmas letter and brings the former residents up to speed with one another. Each chapter focuses on a different year, from the '30s through the present day, tied together with Dot's annual letter. For readers who enjoyed Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe." --Sharon Hutchinson, Keytesville Library, Keytesville, Mo.


Book Review

Review: The Lost Love Song

The Lost Love Song by Minnie Darke (Ballantine Books, $17 paperback, 384p., 9780593160336, October 13, 2020)

In her 2019 debut, Star Crossed, Minnie Darke wove a sparkling story of love and relationships, highlighting the connections among people whose lives initially seemed not to overlap at all. With her second novel, The Lost Love Song, Darke composes a similarly complex and entertaining story of lives that interweave in surprising ways. This time, instead of astrology, Darke's unifying device is a song, whose journey--and that of its listeners--winds across the world, from Australia to Singapore to London to Vancouver. Begun by concert pianist Diana Clare as a tribute to the man she loves, the song takes a number of unexpected turns before eventually finding its way home.

Back in Melbourne to teach master classes after a world tour, Diana--famous for her virtuosic performances and her signature red dresses--surprises Arie, the tech support guy, by asking him to lunch. From there, things proceed "allegro at the very least, and possibly even presto." Seven years later, the couple is firmly ensconced in the house of Diana's dreams, with a bay window for her Steinway grand. There's just one problem: Arie proposed--four and a half years ago--and Diana still isn't sure she wants to be married.

On the eve of another world tour, Diana jots down most of the love song, though it's missing an ending. When tragedy strikes one of her flights, Arie is left feeling that their story, and his life, also lacks resolution. But the song, though unfinished and unknown, is only beginning its journey. Darke crafts an inventive tale of vivid, varied characters who connect with the song: the widower who picks up Diana's notebook in a Singapore hotel, the lovestruck teenagers who end up performing the song as a duet in an Edinburgh train station, a Canadian banjo player in search of inspiration. Among these is Evie, an exiled aspiring poet whose wanderings lead her to Scotland and eventually back home to Melbourne. When she moves in next door to Arie, they connect over the song, but both their story and the song's musical evolution have some surprises in store. Darke renders her characters' stories with sensitivity and grace, exploring the complexities of romantic commitment, grief, family dynamics and long-distance relationships with a light touch. Like a musical composition, the book contains "interludes" that introduce new characters and motifs, which Darke eventually picks up and weaves into the harmonious whole.

Clever, warm-hearted and a touch bittersweet, with an ending as satisfying as the plagal cadence Diana loves, The Lost Love Song will have readers hoping for all of Darke's characters to find true happiness--musical and otherwise. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Shelf Talker: Minnie Darke's inventive second novel follows the international journey of a love song and the people connected to it.


Powered by: Xtenit