Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Flatiron Books: The Last One at the Wedding by Jason Rekulak

Ace Books: Servant of Earth (The Shards of Magic) by Sarah Hawley

Ace Books: Toto by AJ Hackwith and The Village Library Demon-Hunting Society by CM Waggoner

Webtoon Unscrolled: Age Matters Volume Two by Enjelicious

St. Martin's Press:  How to Think Like Socrates: Ancient Philosophy as a Way of Life in the Modern World  by Donald J Robertson

Hanover Square Press: The Dallergut Dream Department Store (Original) by Miye Lee, Translated by Sandy Joosun Lee

Nosy Crow: Dungeon Runners: Hero Trial by Joe Todd-Stanton and Kieran Larwood

Andrews McMeel Publishing: A Haunted Road Atlas: Next Stop: More Chilling and Gruesome Tales from and That's Why We Drink by Christine Schiefer and Em Schulz


Mitzi Angel New President of Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Mitzi Angel
(photo: Oliver Holms)

Mitzi Angel has been named president of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, only the third president in the 75-year history of the publisher, following Roger Straus and Jonathan Galassi. The move is effective January 1.

Angel is currently senior v-p and publisher and continues as publisher. Before rejoining FSG in 2018, Angel was publisher of Faber & Faber Limited for three years; earlier, at FSG, she was v-p, executive editor and publisher of Faber and Faber, Inc., FSG's former joint affiliation with Faber & Faber Limited. At FSG, she has acquired and edited work by Rachel Cusk, Garth Greenwell, Sheila Heti, Ben Lerner, Deborah Levy, Yiyun Li, Sally Rooney and Amia Srinivasan, among others.

Jon Yaged, president of Macmillan Publishers, commented: "Mitzi's position in the literary community, her exquisite taste in books, and her vision for FSG's future make her the perfect individual to hold this historic position. Mitzi's international presence and reputation in our industry are unique and I'm thrilled to have her assume this role. With Mitzi's proven leadership and editorial acumen, the FSG team is poised to build upon its extraordinary reputation to take the company to new heights."

Galassi, who will take the newly created role of chairman and executive editor of FSG, also praised Angel, saying, "From our very first meeting fifteen years ago, I have admired Mitzi's unique blend of openness, discernment, and strength of character. She has a deep understanding of both FSG's history and of today's new challenges and opportunities, and as our publisher she has been tremendously effective in reimagining our publishing strategies and bringing in a new generation of great writers, all the while winning the admiration, trust, and affection of her colleagues. I look forward to her leadership as she takes the reins and guides the company we both love."

Angel added: "I am proud to be the new president of Farrar, Straus and Giroux and to follow the distinguished years of Jonathan Galassi. I look forward to the company's ongoing success and its contribution to literature and to culture generally. We have always aimed high; my colleagues and I are eager to search out quality in new places and to promote new voices while continuing with the riches we have, both in English and in translation. Jonathan, in his new position as chairman and executive editor, will continue to work full-time with his authors and to acquire new projects. My wonderful colleagues and I will work to build on what he has achieved and will count on his invaluable guidance."

Don Weisberg, CEO of Macmillan, said, "Jonathan has led a remarkable house, publishing and editing many celebrated writers, prizewinners, and literary masters. He has been a vital member of the FSG team for thirty-five years and I am pleased he will continue supporting our authors and building FSG's great list as chairman and executive editor. I am delighted that Mitzi, an accomplished leader with superb literary taste and industry expertise, will be his successor, continuing to evolve and strengthen this publishing and cultural institution in ways she has already proven in her time as publisher. This is an exciting moment in the history of FSG and Macmillan, as we congratulate Mitzi on her appointment."

Farrar, Straus and Giroux: Intermezzo by Sally Rooney

Abalabix Books Opens in Crystal Lake, Ill. 

Abalabix Books has opened at Brink Street Market on Williams Street in downtown Crystal Lake, Ill. Owner Diane Steverson had made the decision to pursue opening a small, independent bookstore in December of 2019, when the local big box bookstore closed. After attending a Paz & Associates booksellers workshop in early 2020, she returned home to find the state on the verge of shutting down due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Putting her plans on hold, Steverson said she "was lucky enough to be able to pivot and help out another local bookstore," Read Between the Lynes in Woodstock, making home deliveries during the shutdown. When the lockdown was lifted, owner Arlene Lynes asked Stevenson to work at Read Between the Lynes. 

"It was the best education I could have ever hoped to receive," said Steverson. "Following Arlene's example in Woodstock, my goal is to work hard at creating a 'go to' place for the people of Crystal Lake to rely on for all things literary. And fun--we have fun stuff, too."

Abalabix Books stocks almost 5,000 titles covering all genres, as well as 2,000 titles in the children's section. Steverson said she is especially proud of her bestsellers wall and of George, her five-year-old Maltipoo, who comes to work with her every day. "He's been amazing and, so far, everyone loves him. And yes, people do come to the store just to see George." 

Regarding the origin of the store's unusual name, there is an entertaining and detailed explanation on the website for Abalabix Books.

PM Press: P Is for Palestine: A Palestine Alphabet Book by Golbarg Bashi, Illustrated by Golrokh Nafisi

La Unique Books, Camden, N.J., Launches Fundraiser

Larry Miles, owner of La Unique Books and Cultural Center in Camden, N.J., has launched a GoFundMe campaign to help revamp the bookstore, the Courier Post reported. Miles is hoping to raise $20,000, which will go toward building repairs and renovations, new inventory, marketing expenses and other business operations.

The store, which Miles opened in 1991, carries books by Black authors and about Black history and culture, along with children's books, educational videos and African-inspired jewelry. The space also features a 70-seat theater in the back and a downstairs reading room complete with kitchenette. Before Covid-19 he hosted book club meetings, film screenings, poetry readings, open mics and other in-person events.

A major part of Miles's plan is renovating and restoring La Unique's courtyard, which currently is "filled with weeds" and unusable. When the work is done, it will provide an outdoor space for reading, relaxing and socializing, as well as events. Other funds will go toward putting in new floors, new shelves and new lighting, and curtains for the theater.

"I've always felt what I do is for the community," Miles told the Courier Post. "Camden needs to have not only places to learn about African American history--it needs a place to learn Camden's history. There is a lot of history, American history, here in Camden but it's not talked about."

Going forward, Miles also hopes to make inroads with local school districts and institutions of higher education; he noted that in the past, they've tended to supply books from retailers like Barnes & Noble rather than independent bookstores. He would also like to host guest speakers and visiting authors at his store.

Scribner's Marysue Rucci Books Imprint Makes Debut in May

Scribner has unveiled the inaugural list and colophon for Marysue Rucci Books, the new imprint led by v-p, publisher and editor-in-chief MarySue Rucci. The imprint aims to publish "a range of literary and commercial fiction and narrative nonfiction titles, consistent with the tastes and standards that have made books edited by Marysue Rucci some of the industry's most successful." Sasha Kobylinski recently joined the imprint as publishing and marketing coordinator.

First titles will begin appearing next May and will include Fellowship Point by Alice Elliott Dark, The Last to Vanish by Megan Miranda, Mother Noise: A Memoir by Cindy House, and The Foundling by Ann Leary. Future titles will include The Queen from Another Country by Alice Hoffman, Rouge by Mona Awad and two new novels by Laura Dave.

Marysue Rucci

Nan Graham, senior v-p and publisher of Scribner, called Rucci "among the most respected and successful editors in publishing and a singularly effective advocate for her authors. How auspicious and apt it is for Scribner to be the home for the Marysue Rucci Books imprint."

Rucci said, "It's a thrill and honor to launch my imprint at Scribner, with its illustrious history, extraordinary team, and commitment to publishing enduring works. As evidenced by these first authors and titles, my list will complement and build in areas where Scribner has thrived--literary, book club, suspense fiction, and groundbreaking memoirs. I look forward to publishing new voices and trusted favorites alike under the Scribner/Marysue Rucci Books imprimatur."

Ed Ochester Retires from Pitt Poetry Series of the U. of Pittsburgh Press

Poet, teacher and editor Ed Ochester, the series editor and creative force behind the Pitt Poetry Series of the University of Pittsburgh Press, has retired. Ochester took over the Pitt Poetry Series in 1978 and has published hundreds of collections by established and rising poets. The University of Pittsburgh Press is seeking his successor. 

When he inherited the series, Ochester sought to broaden the scope of what American poetry looked like, publishing women poets, queer poets, and poets of color at a time when there was little diversity to be found in the poetry publishing realm. Under his leadership, books in the series have been recognized as winners or finalists for the National Book Award, the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the William Carlos Williams Award, the PEN America Jean Stein Book Award and many others. 

In 1981, Ochester established the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize, one of the premier prizes for a first full-length book of poems. He was also the editor for the Drue Heinz Literature Prize for many years. 

Poet, memoirist and Cave Canem Foundation co-founder Toi Derricotte said Ochester "had a vision of 21st century American poetry in 1978 and, award-winning book by award-winning book, went about making it happen. Almost never visible in front, but leading the way from behind, [he was] certainly the most important [poetry] editor of the 20th century." 

Ochester is professor emeritus of English at the University of Pittsburgh and is on the faculty of the Bennington College MFA Writing Seminars. He is the author of numerous poetry collections, including Sugar Run Road, Unreconstructed: Poems Selected and New, and The Republic of Lies, and was editor of American Poetry Now


Image of the Day: Edgar Allan Poe in St. Charles, Mo.

photo: Emily Schroen

Edgar Allan Poe (played by Howie Hirshfield) stopped by Main Street Books in St. Charles, Mo., as part of the town's annual Legends & Lanterns Festival. Every year in October, characters and historical figures like Lizzie Borden, Stingy Jack and Guy Fawkes roam the street and "terrorize" the citizenry. Some of the more popular folks, said Main Street Books owner Emily Schroen, are the authors who hang out in the Writer's Block, including the Brothers Grimm and Mary Shelley. This year, Poe "deigned" to "pose with a collection of his work."

'How a Die-Hard Patriots Fan Became a Local Bookshop Owner'

Paul Swydan

"We try to get to know everyone, like Cheers without the booze," Paul Swydan, owner of the Silver Unicorn Bookstore, Acton, Mass., told in a piece headlined "How a 'die-hard Patriots fan' became a local bookshop owner."

Swydan, who is also an editor and writer primarily focused on sports, opened his bookshop in 2018 after the closure of the town's beloved Willow Books. "Entrepreneurship is in my blood," he said. "Both my parents and multiple other members of my family have owned their own businesses. So at some point in the summer of 2017, the idea of opening the store stuck in my head and stayed there. I ended up taking a boot camp on how to own a store that August, and I was on my way."

Swydan "believes bookstores--even more than other small businesses--are centering places for the community," wrote, adding: "People can connect with one another during events or strike up a conversation while reaching for the spine of the same new novel. Swydan enjoys getting to know his customers over time, learning enough about them to recommend the perfect book."

"If I put a good book in someone's hands, and they get excited about it, there's no better feeling," he said. 

Personnel Changes at Graywolf Press

Claudia Acevedo-Quiñones has joined Graywolf Press as publicist.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Katie Couric on Fresh Air

Good Morning America: Amy Robach and Andrew Shue, authors of Better Together! (Flamingo Books, $17.99, 9780593205693).

Fresh Air: Katie Couric, author of Going There (Little, Brown, $30, 9780316535861).

CBS This Morning: Michael Lewis, author of The Premonition: A Pandemic Story (Norton, $30, 9780393881554).

Live with Kelly and Ryan: Rachael Ray, author of This Must Be the Place: Dispatches & Food from the Home Front (Ballantine, $32, 9780593357217).

Also on Live with Kelly and Ryan: Alan Cumming, author of Baggage: Tales from a Fully Packed Life (Dey Street, $27.99, 9780062435781).

Drew Barrymore Show: Alyssa Milano, author of Sorry Not Sorry (‎Dutton, $28, 9780593183298).

The View: Drew Barrymore, co-author of Rebel Homemaker: Food, Family, Life (Dutton, $30, 9780593184103).

Jimmy Kimmel Live: Dan Levy, co-author of Best Wishes, Warmest Regards: The Story of Schitt's Creek (‎Black Dog & Leventhal, $40, 9780762499502).

TV: Luster

Gaumont has partnered with Viva Maude to develop Luster, based on the debut novel by Raven Leilani, for HBO, Deadline reported. Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Jackie Sibblies Drury (Fairview) and Lileana Blain-Cruz, recipient of the Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Award, are writing the script. They are joint winners of the Obie Award for Marys Seacole, and are among the founders of the exploratory theatre collaboration, Afrofemononomy.

Nicolas Atlan, president of Gaumont U.S., said the company is "beyond thrilled to be developing Luster with HBO and Viva Maude's Tessa Thompson and Kishori Rajan. We were riveted by this groundbreaking book, written by the incredibly talented Raven Leilani, and are blown away at how quickly the series creative team which includes our writers, Lileana Blain-Cruz and Jackie Sibblies Drury, has come together. We can't wait to get started."

Deadline noted that it "isn't clear at this point if Thompson will star. She has a strong relationship with HBO from Westworld." 

Thompson said: "Luster marks the daring debut by Raven Leilani, a seminal voice for her generation. In her work, which defies categorization, there is an astonishingly singular quality that speaks to spirit of the types of narratives Viva Maude aims to showcase--bold, beautifully crafted, unapologetically human, imaginative and unconventional--it is thrilling to be teamed with Gaumont and the stunning talents of Jackie Sibblies Drury and Lileana Blain-Cruz to develop this story at HBO, the perfect home."

Books & Authors

Awards: Columbia Distinguished Book Winner

I Am the People: Reflections on Popular Sovereignty Today by Partha Chatterjee is the winner of the seventh annual Columbia University Press Distinguished Book Award, which is given to the Columbia University faculty member or members whose book published by the Press in the two years prior brings "the highest distinction to Columbia University and Columbia University Press for its outstanding contribution to academic and public discourse." The winner receives $10,000.

Chatterjee is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies at Columbia University and the author of more than 20 books, including The Politics of the Governed: Reflections on Popular Politics in Most of the World (Columbia, 2004) and The Black Hole of Empire: History of a Global Practice of Power (2012).

Professor Adam Reich, chair of the award jury, commented, "Chatterjee's genealogy of populist politics, in India and around the world, is at once a significant intervention into political theory and a trenchant diagnosis of our contemporary condition.  Chatterjee brings critical theory to life, using it not only to deconstruct the modern nation-state but also to excavate the more hopeful possibilities embedded in the present."

Book Review

Review: Authority and Freedom: A Defense of the Arts

Authority and Freedom: A Defense of the Arts by Jed Perl (Knopf, $20 hardcover, 176p., 9780593320051, January 11, 2022)

Jed Perl is too diplomatic to put it so bluntly, but he's had it up to here with the idea that the success of a work of art--a painting, a song, a play, a poem--should hinge on its messaging. Authority and Freedom: A Defense of the Arts is Perl's measured but emphatic case for art for art's sake and a dissection of the long battle between the two abstract nouns that give his book its title.

Across six modest chapters, the author outlines the tension between an artist's hunger for total freedom and the pressure exerted on the artist to demonstrate an allegiance to authority, which Perl defines, paraphrasing philosopher Hannah Arendt, as "a hierarchy of values about which a group of people agree." Perl is generous with examples showing how this conflict has played out--with critics, with art lovers--across the generations. Of Picasso's 1937 masterwork, Perl writes, "Guernica is almost universally accepted as an indictment of humanity's inhumanity," and yet "for those who admired the mural, the key to its greatness was precisely Picasso's rejection of a journalistic or propagandistic approach."

A seasoned art critic and a biographer of Alexander Calder, Perl isn't remotely a dry or humorless writer, but Authority and Freedom will likely speak most clearly to those who have some grounding in art history or appreciation. The book's last chapter, however, takes a surprising autobiographical detour, with Perl conceding that it was only relatively recently that he considered serious engagement with the question of why art matters: "The answer seemed self-evident. The arts mattered because they held me and moved me." But Perl isn't unsympathetic to the impulse to turn to art for a mollifying message, especially in the new millennium; he allows that "the profound political, social, economic, and environmental challenges that we face--challenges as grave if not graver than those of the 1930s--have pushed people to ask what the arts can do to help."

Regardless, Perl is adamant that art has no obligation other than to dazzle us. He uses the thorny example of Irish poet William Butler Yeats, who late in his life supported Mussolini, to bolster a well-considered point that some readers will probably flag as a controversial position: "The words, if beautifully made, can survive even a person's follies." Authority and Freedom is itself beautifully made, its ideas both authoritative and, intellectually speaking, freeing. --Nell Beram, author and freelance writer

Shelf Talker: A seasoned art critic takes a penetrating look at the long-simmering tension between the yen for artistic freedom and the pressure to create a work of social value.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. Verity by Colleen Hoover
2. Temptation After Dark by Marie Force
3. Swamp Sweets (Miss Fortune Mysteries Book 21) by Jana DeLeon
4. Just One Chance (The Kingston Family Book 3) by Carly Phillips
5. Boyfriend by Sarina Bowen
6. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki with Sharon L. Lechter
7. The Money Will Follow by Michael Emoff and Adam Emoff
8. 60 Days to LinkedIn Mastery by Various
9. Hearts Unleashed by Various
10. Breaking the Rules by Kendall Ryan

[Many thanks to!]

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