Shelf Awareness for Monday, May 10, 2021

Tordotcom: The Saint of Bright Doors by Vajra Chandrasekera

Minotaur Books: Deadlock: A Thriller (Dez Limerick Novel #2) by James Byrne

Ballantine Books: The Second Ending by Michelle Hoffman

Tor Books: One for My Enemy by Olivie Blake

Henry Holt & Company: Warrior Girl Unearthed by Angeline Boulley

Little, Brown Ink: The Princess and the Grilled Cheese Sandwich (a Graphic Novel) by Deya Muniz

Flatiron Books: Once Upon a Prime: The Wondrous Connections Between Mathematics and Literature by Sarah Hart


Raven Book Store Moving This Summer

Raven's new home

Raven Book Store in Lawrence, Kan., is moving to a new space this summer. The bookstore will close its current space at 6 E. 7th St., which has been its home for more than 30 years, in early June and will reopen at 809 Massachusetts Street in July.

In advance of the move, owner Danny Caine and his team will be honoring the Raven's original home in a variety of ways. The store's sidewalk-facing windows have been turned into the Raven History Museum, and a collection of Raven artifacts will be on display until June 7. The bookstore is also publishing a zine called Soul of a Place: An Incomplete Photographic History of the Raven Book Store, which features essays and photos celebrating the bookstore. And, finally, the weekend of June 5 and 6 will be the Long Goodbye Weekend. The team will set up a Raven pop-up at the store so that customers can visit the space one last time.

The bookstore announced the move last fall, noting that "we're committed to both being the bookstore we can for our community as well as fighting for justice, and this new space will help us do both things."

Sourcebooks Young Readers: Global: One Fragile World. an Epic Fight for Survival. by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin, illustrated by Giovanni Rigano

Union Files Grievances Over Powell's Rehiring Process

The union representing workers at Powell's Books, Portland, Ore., has filed several grievances about how the company is rehiring staff, and if an agreement can't be reached, it can lead to arbitration, Willamette Week reported.

Before the pandemic, the union represented about 400 Powell's employees. It said recently that after some rehiring, more than 150 laid-off workers are still waiting to be recalled. Powell's told the Willamette Week that in the latest round of hiring in the past month, it had filled 46 positions, and that 41 of those were filled by former Powell's employees who were laid off and had to reapply.

The union said it had received reassurances in writing in May 2020 that recall rights honoring union employees' seniority and benefits as specified in the contract between the store and union would continue indefinitely. But a month ago, Powell's CEO Patrick Bassett wrote in an open letter that the bookstore was going to begin rehiring more staff after severe cutbacks last year and would advertise the open positions, saying that rehiring procedures for laid-off former employees had expired, "including any rights under the recall process." He added that it is Powell's "goal that when former employees are hired for the same or a similar position that they held before, we will return them at their previous wage," and said that Powell's had made several proposals to address the recall process, but "the union did not accept this offer."

The union vigorously disputed Powell's. Myka Dubay, representative of the union, ILWU Local 5, told Willamette Weekly: "People are outraged that Powell's did this to them." Dubay added that Powell's has offered little communication with the union since the rehiring announcement, aside from required housekeeping.

Tor Books: One for My Enemy by Olivie Blake

International Update: Canadian Indie Bookseller Survey, Covid Lockdown for Trinidad & Tobago's Booksellers

For the second time, BookNet is conducting a State of Bookselling survey "to learn everything we can about the health and needs of independent booksellers across Canada." The 2018 survey resulted in What's in Store: The State of Independent Bookselling in Canada. BookNet is asking indies "to tell us what challenges you're facing as well as what's working in your stores."

The new survey has been refined from its 2018 version with input from the Canadian Independent Booksellers Association and graphics to help Bookmanager clients locate their data, Quill & Quire reported.

"We figured, How can we build on what they've done previously, but make it better? We tried to make it easier to complete," said Doug Minett, CIBA executive director. He suggested setting aside half an hour to complete the survey, which bookstores of all sizes are invited to participate in. "We have multimillion-dollar bookstores, but we have lots of stores that sell less than C$200,000 a year [about US$162,700]. All of them are important, all of them can do better, and the more people that share carefully considered data, the better."

Booksellers who complete the survey will have early access to the full report from BookNet when it is published this fall.

"Both BookNet and CIBA need to be evidence-based organizations," Minett added. "You can't just say you have an opinion because you feel like it. If you actually look at the document that we submitted to [the Department of Canadian] Heritage, it was based on data. This wasn't just some whiny booksellers saying, help us out, help us out. The more we know, the more we can represent booksellers when we are working with government."


Among the shortlists in seven categories for the London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards are three nominees for Bookstore of the Year:

Avid Reader, West End, Queensland, Australia
Cărturești, Bucharest, Romania
Livraria Lello, Porto, Portugal


Trinidad & Tobago's education minister Dr. Nyan Gadsby-Dolly denied an appeal from booksellers to be allowed to operate during the latest Covid-19 lockdown, which went into effect May 3. The Guardian reported that in response to "calls from the booksellers that students will suffer without access to stationery and past papers, Gadsby-Dolly said if the Covid spike is not reduced significantly, students will suffer even more."

Last Tuesday, Kiran Singh, president of the Greater San Fernando Chamber of Industry and Commerce, added his voice to the growing calls for bookstores to remain open: "We agree with the call that all bookstores should remain open.... I believe that bookstores have to remain open for the sake of the children so they can get stationery supplies and textbooks to continue studying during this pandemic."

Nasser Khan, owner of Next Generation Bookstore in Rio Claro, said he has been getting many calls from worried parents since the shutdown was announced. Both he and the owner of Mohammed's Bookstore and Associates said booksellers should be regarded as an essential service.


Italian bookseller Mattia Garavaglia, who has been hand-delivering books on his bicycle from his shop La Libreria del Golem in Turin during the Covid-19 pandemic, found another outlet for his cycling passion recently. 

Giro d'Italia, one of professional cycling's biggest events, was in town and on Friday, Garavaglia posted: "Tomorrow, right next to the [bookstore], the first leg of the Giro d'Italia will pass! The strongest #cyclists in the world will speed up the paths that see my two wheels every day while I'll be waiting for you at the library... or who knows, I'll be there to watch."

In a Saturday update, he noted: "The @giroditalia right outside the ! If at some point you see someone racing a yellow #bicycle and the denim shorts chased by the Police it's not me. Let's repeat it together, you don't know who it is. Also because when you're chased it's easier to make the best time!" --Robert Gray

GLOW: Blackstone Publishing: The Wisdom of Morrie: Living and Aging Creatively and Joyfully by Morrie Schwartz, edited by Rob Schwartz

Alena Jones Promoted at Seminary Co-op

Alena Jones

Alena Jones has been promoted to director of buying and content at the Seminary Co-op Bookstores, Chicago, Ill., a newly created position, and will oversee buying, purchasing, section taxonomy and curation, and the Co-op's relaunched podcast, Open Stacks, for which she will serve as the host. She was formerly manager of the Seminary Co-op and has worked at the Co-op since 2015 in a variety of roles, including inventory management, assistant manager and operations manager. Before that, she was a bookseller at Spoonbill & Sugartown, Booksellers in Brooklyn, N.Y. She is also a freelance editor and last month, in a Lithub essay "Toward a Definition of Contemporary Bookselling," argued for the cultural work of bookselling.

G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Three of Us by Ore Agbaje-Williams

10th Annual Book Group Speed Dating Event

This coming Friday, May 14, from 1 to 3 p.m. Eastern, will host its 10th annual Book Group Speed Dating Event--virtually. Representatives from 19 publishers of all sizes will share selections from their publishing houses via video to give booksellers, librarians and book group leaders an inside look at new and upcoming titles that book groups will want to know about and discuss. E-galleys will be available for selected titles from Edelweiss and/or NetGalley, as well as print galleys. Advance signup is required and can be done here.

Blink: Come Home Safe by Brian G. Buckmire


Red Planet Books and Comics, 'the Native Comic Book Store'

Daily Lobo, the student newspaper of the University of New Mexico, profiled Red Planet Books and Comics, Albuquerque, N.Mex., "the only Native American owned comic shop in the world," owned by Lee Francis IV, a member of the Laguna Pueblo. Francis also founded Indigenous Comic Con in 2016, a gathering that celebrates Indigenous pop culture. The convention was formed to give a platform to Indigenous pop culture groups such as Native actors, cosplayers and artists, which inspired the idea for Red Planet Books and Comics.

"I tell the joke that I had a lot of books and I had a lot of banners and I needed some space to host all of that," Francis said. "We figured, instead of getting an office, why don't we open a bookstore so we can keep the comic con going all year long?"

He added: "I am surrounded by creativity, illustration and imagination. I am surrounded by Native creatives because that's what we specialize in. It's not just a comic book store; it is the Native comic book store. I can't think of a better way to go into work everyday--it's amazing."

Kirk Tom, a local Navajo cosplayer, found an outlet to display his artistry and work through the Indigenous Comic Con, Daily Lobo wrote. Tom attended almost every Indigenous Comic Con and won the costume contest for the event twice.

"I was bringing something new to the table, being a Mandolorian character but added my traditional, Native designs to it," Tom said. "As soon as I walked in, everybody freaked out in a way and they were like, 'You can do that?' Overall, everyone was excited that somebody actually did something this cool."

Pennie Picks: When the Apricots Bloom

Pennie Clark Ianniciello, Costco's book buyer, has selected When the Apricots Bloom by Gina Wilkinson (Kensington, $16.99, 9781496729354) as her pick for May. This was her last pick--she has retired after 32 years at Costco, 27 of them as book buyer. In Costco Connection, which goes to many of the warehouse club's members, she writes:

"Huda, a secretary at the Australian embassy, lives in fear of the secret police who have ordered her to befriend the deputy ambassador's wife, Ally. Huda doesn't want to be an informant, but she will do what she must to protect her son. Huda's former friend, Rania, is also fighting to keep her child safe and protected.

"This is the story of three women willing to risk everything to protect their families."

Personnel Changes at Holiday House/Peachtree/Pixel+Ink

At the newly merged marketing/publicity department for Holiday House, Peachtree Publishing, and Pixel+Ink:

Aleah Gornbein has been named associate publicist.

Mary Wolford has been named marketing/publicity assistant.

Alison Tarnofsky has been named associate marketing manager, trade.

Annie Rosenbladt has been named marketing assistant, school and library.
Alex Howard has been promoted to digital marketing coordinator.

Consortium Adds Four New Publishers

Ingram's Consortium Book Sales & Distribution has added four publishers for the fall 2021 season, effective May 29:

Berbay Publishing, Melbourne, Australia, which publishes children's books for readers up through age 12. Forthcoming books include Nobody Owns the Moon by Tohby Riddle and When the Sakura Bloom by Narisa Togo.

Salamander Street, a new British publisher of a range of books about the arts, music, photography, and (counter) culture, with a particular focus on contemporary drama. Key forthcoming titles include Full Bleed: New York City Skateboard Photography, edited by Ivory Serra, Alex Corporan, and Andre Razo, and Breaking into Song: Why You Shouldn't Hate Musicals by Adam Lenson.

Two Silences, Vilnius, Lithuania, which publishes books on a range of subjects, from children's literature and parenting guides to fiction, poetry, and photobooks, emphasizing "things that are at the core of a fulfilling life: balanced nutrition, responsible consumption, a return to nature, a deeper understanding of oneself and others, and all the things that help urban dwellers in finding a deeper connection with themselves and the environment while forming new, healthy habits." Forthcoming titles include Tea Stories: Japan by Ausra Burg, Not the Last Fashion Show by Giedre Dukauskaite, and The Curious Vera by Goda Raibyte.

Vanishing Pictures Press, with offices in London, Santa Barbara, Calif., and Sydney, Australia, publishes the stories of women who have changed the course of history but whose contributions and legacies remain largely untold. Fall titles include 1001 Days: Memoirs of an Empress by Empress Farah Pahlavi and Spies Like Us: Her License to Kill by Miranda Darling and Viola Raikhel.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Eddie Jaku on the Today Show

Good Morning America: Jennifer Weiner, author of That Summer (Atria, $28, 9781501133541).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Jake Tapper, author of The Devil May Dance: A Novel (Little, Brown, $28, 9780316530231).

Also on the Late Show: Billie Eilish, author of Billie Eilish (Grand Central, $35, 9781538720479).

Good Morning America: Seth Rogen, author of Yearbook (Crown, $28, 9781984825407).

Today Show: Eddie Jaku, author of The Happiest Man on Earth: The Beautiful Life of an Auschwitz Survivor (Harper, $24.99, 9780063097681).

Drew Barrymore Show: DeVon Franklin, author of Live Free: Exceed Your Highest Expectations (Morrow, $27.99, 9780063031173).

Live with Kelly and Ryan: Dr. Jennifer Ashton, author of The New Normal: A Roadmap to Resilience in the Pandemic Era (Morrow, $26.99, 9780063083233).

Late Night with Seth Meyers: Stacey Abrams, author of While Justice Sleeps: A Novel (Doubleday, $28, 9780385546577).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Michelle Obama, author of Becoming: Adapted for Young Readers (Delacorte, $18.99, 9780593303740).

Movies: Finding the Mother Tree

Amy Adams's Bond Group Entertainment and Jake Gyllenhaal's Nine Stories have acquired the rights to Suzanne Simard's memoir Finding the Mother Tree "in a competitive situation," Variety reported. The project is being developed by both companies with Adams set to star.

Adams and Bond Group co-founder Stacy O'Neil said the book "excited us with a narrative about the awe-invoking power of nature and the compelling parallels in Suzanne's personal life. It forever transformed our views of the world and the interconnectivity of our environment. Finding the Mother Tree is not only a deeply beautiful memoir about one woman's impactful life, it's also a call to action to protect, understand and connect with the natural world."

Gyllenhaal and his Nine Stories partner Riva Marker called the project "part charming memoir, part crash course in forest ecology. And yet, it manages to be about the things that matter most: the ways we care for each other, fail each other and listen to each other. After the last year and a half, its lessons about motherhood, connection and the natural world are more timely than ever."

Books & Authors

Awards: Christian Book Winners; Maine Literary Finalists

The 14 winners of the 2021 Christian Book Awards, sponsored by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, have been announced and can be seen here. The Christian Book of the Year is Be the Bridge: Pursuing God's Heart for Racial Reconciliation by Latasha Morrison (WaterBrook), which also won in the Faith & Culture category. In addition, author and pastor Max Lucado was awarded the association's Pinnacle Award for "the outstanding contribution of his writing, both to the publishing industry and to society at large."


Finalists have been named in 19 categories of the 2021 Maine Literary Awards, sponsored by the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance, and can be seen here. Winners will be announced at a virtual ceremony on May 27.

Book Review

Review: The Chosen and the Beautiful

The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo (Tor, $26.99 hardcover, 272p., 9781250784780, June 1, 2021)

Everyone and every place remain assuredly familiar here: Nick, Gatsby, Daisy, Tom, Jordan, Myrtle and George drink, dance, manipulate and die throughout East Egg, West Egg, Nick's cottage, Gatsby's mansion, the Plaza suite and the green-lit dock. But Nghi Vo's first novel (after novellas The Empress of Salt and Fortune and When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain) alchemizes F. Scott Fitzgerald's venerable classic The Great Gatsby into the sensational The Chosen and the Beautiful, in which supporting character Jordan Baker assumes narrative control.

Yes, she's still Daisy's friend since childhood; yes, she plays golf competitively; yes, she gets involved with Nick Carraway. Vo's Jordan, however, is also a northern Vietnamese (called Tonkin back in the early 1900s) adoptee with a Manhattan Park Avenue address; her adoptive family's wealth allows her societal access--up to a point--despite her obvious, worn-on-the-face foreign origins. She moves through exclusive venues, tony establishments, posh parties, privileged homes, but society's entitled gatekeepers aren't quite willing to welcome fully the rescued orphan as one of their own.

Fitzgerald's obsession with class and status looms throughout, further amplified by Vo's complicating additions of ethnicity and sexual orientation: not only is Jordan clearly other, she's also queer. As if to counterbalance the intensity, Vo's ingenious embellishments and supernatural diversions are many: paper cut-out doppelgängers, dragons that come to life, "demoniacs"--better than Prohibition-banned alcohol--that turn the imagined real.

Classic literature remade is hardly new. Vo's resuscitation of Gatsby suggests comparisons with Jean Rhys's celebrated Wide Sargasso Sea, which gave voice to the first Mrs. Rochester, the proverbial "madwoman in the attic" from Jane Eyre; rather than adapted homage, both The Chosen and the Beautiful and Wide Sargasso Sea brilliantly elevate less-central characters, adding depth and gravitas to women underdeveloped, overlooked.

Of course, to transform a canonical text for any writer is a daring feat. Vo confidently succeeds in emulating Fitzgerald's effortless, distanced style: "Nick and I were possessed of a basic incompatibility that we both gamely ignored in order to spend time with one another." Where she diverges narratively from the source, her prose turns gorgeously sensual--"It was land magic, earth magic of a kind you never saw in the city, and with a demoniac whispering in my belly and my blood, I lost all of my city reserve and educated pretension to stare in awe and pleasure and wonder at the sight of it." In maintaining that striking balance between adaptation and enhancement, Vo creates an extraordinary multi-layered literary experience that both enriches and eclipses the overexposed original. --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon

Shelf Talker: Novelist Nghi Vo resuscitates The Great Gatsby, brilliantly replacing the Midwest narrator with a wealthy transracial Vietnamese adoptee who's also queer.  

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