Shelf Awareness for Monday, January 10, 2022

Mariner Books: Everyone This Christmas Has a Secret: A Festive Mystery by Benjamin Stevenson

Grove Press: Brightly Shining by Ingvild Rishøi, Translated Caroline Waight

Running Press Adult: Scam Goddess: Lessons from a Life of Cons, Grifts, and Schemes by Laci Mosley

Broadleaf Books: Trespass: Portraits of Unhoused Life, Love, and Understanding by Kim Watson

Nancy Paulsen Books: Sync by Ellen Hopkins

Running Press Adult: Cat People by Hannah Hillam

Beaming Books: Must-Have Autumn Reads for Your Shelf!

Dial Press: Like Mother, Like Mother by Susan Rieger


Banducci New Director of the University of Nevada Press

JoAnne Banducci has been named director of the University of Nevada Press. She joined the press as business manager in 2009 and had served as interim director since March 2020.

The press said that because of Banducci's "financial acumen, the Press is in a position to continue to build its ability to tell the stories that shape the American West.... Since arriving in 2009, Banducci has helped the Press weather the fallout of two major financial challenges: the Great Recession and the budgetary uncertainties that resulted from the pandemic." The press has published 21 books in each of the past two years.

Banducci commented: "The variety of what we get to work on is exciting. We bring all kinds of books out into the world to help educate people. With my background, I look forward to running the Press more like a business. My predecessors in this role have come from acquisitions or marketing, but with my background in business management, I will approach operations from a different perspective."

Peachtree Teen: Compound Fracture by Andrew Joseph White

International Update: German Book Sales Gain in 2021, More Indie Bookshops in U.K., Ireland


Book sales in Germany last year increased 3.2% compared to 2020 and 0.8% compared to 2019, according to the Börsenverein, the German book industry association. Totals include sales in the retail book trade, e-commerce including Amazon, train station bookshops, department stores, electronics stores and drugstores. 

Citing widespread store lockdowns in the early months of 2019, the Börsenverein said that sales at bricks-and-mortar stores fell 3.1% in 2021 compared to 2020, and 11.5% compared to 2019. In a positive note, while at the end of April last year, bricks-and-mortar store sales were down 30.4% compared to the same period in 2019, by the end of the year they had recovered enough to be down 11.5%.

The strongest categories in 2021 were children's and YA books (up 9.4% compared to 2019), fiction (up 4.2%) and nonfiction (up 1.6%), though, as might be expected during the pandemic, sales for travel literature fell by 26.4%

"The book proved to be crisis-proof during the pandemic," said Börsenverein chair Karin Schmidt-Friderichs. "People have a great need for good stories, for reliable information, advice, and inspiration. To be sure, the months-long store closings at the beginning of the year as well as the decline in customer traffic in city centers was a major challenge to the local book trade. But the demand for books was high.

"Because of a great commitment, closeness to customers and the creativity of the bookstores and publishers, the book market was able to work its way out of the lockdown deficit month after month. Many, including small bookstores, benefited from growing online sales. This is good news considering the increasing costs of paper and energy that have grown significantly and will continue to affect the book industry in the new year."

The Booksellers Association reported that the number of independent bookshops in the U.K. and Ireland increased for the fifth consecutive year despite challenges brought by the pandemic. The Bookseller reported that according to figures released by the BA's annual survey, there were 1,027 shops "as active members at the end of 2021, the highest number since 2013, a year which followed two decades of decline. The figure was up from 967 in 2020, 890 in 2019, 883 in 2018 and 868 in 2017. In total 54 new bookshops opened in 2021, while 31 closed, resulting in a net gain of 23, the figures show."

Among the new openings were Afrori Books in Brighton, Book in Leighton Buzzard, Bookhaus and Gloucester Road Books in Bristol, DNA in Norwich, Folde in Dorset, Outwith Books in Glasgow, Rare Birds Books in Edinburgh, Storyville Books in Rhondda Cynon Taf, Wales, the Athlone Bookshop in County Westmeath, the Ivybridge Bookshop in Devon, the Reading Tree in Northamptonshire and Upper Street Bookshop in London.

"After a challenging few years for the bookselling sector, it is reassuring to see the number of independent bookshops in BA membership grow for a fifth consecutive year," said BA managing director Meryl Halls. "The fact that the number of bookshops can increase in the face of lockdowns, restrictions and supply chain issues demonstrates the passion, innovation and determination of booksellers, who continue to bring books to readers even in the most challenging circumstances."

Halls also issued a note of caution: "While we celebrate this good news as we head into the new year, it is important to recognise the context for this growth. The high street is still in a precarious position, with potential disruption to retail activity and consumer confidence on the horizon, the playing field still skewed in the favour of tech giants, and supply chains causing issues across retail. While booksellers continue to be leaders on their high streets and main streets... they need to be supported in order to keep doing their important work."

Carolynn Bain, founder of Afrori Books, the first Black-owned bookshop in Brighton, said: "I guess like many other booksellers I wonder how we will ever make this work when we are purchasing books at such a high price and trying to compete with organizations that sell at the price we buy.... There is still some opposition to the shop's existence and this is most evident in comments on local news articles. We have seen a genuine interest from the community with people coming in and moved to tears that we are here.... The Facebook group for booksellers has been a great place to chat to other bookshop owners, but it can be a very isolating industry and I am very grateful to my family and all the volunteers that are there for me to bounce ideas off and who give such invaluable input... we are excited about the year ahead."


Posted recently on the Canadian Independent Booksellers Association Facebook page: "We are always sad to hear about an independent bookstore struggling with unforeseen circumstances--like the flood that has caused Coastal Bookstore [Port Moody, B.C.] to close after only three weeks in its new home! But we are inspired by the community members who step up to support these important businesses. If you are in a position to support Danica and Coastal Books, you can find the fundraising campaign here." --Robert Gray

Inner Traditions: Expand your collection with these must-have resource books!

Obituary Note: Keri Hulme

Keri Hulme

Author Keri Hulme, an icon of New Zealand literature and the first Kiwi to win the Booker Prize, died December 27, Stuff NZ reported. She was 74. Her mother was Māori--Hulme was of Kāi Tahu and Kāti Māmoe descent--while her father was of British heritage. Matthew Salmons, her nephew, said, "She gave us as a family, the greatest gift of all which would be reconnecting us with our Whakapapa Māori and reigniting that passion for our history, our people that had been lost over a couple of generations." 

Hulme's novel The Bone People, which won the 1985 Booker, "tells the story of Kerewin Holmes, an elusive artist trying to escape her past," Stuff NZ wrote, adding that "despite going on to win widespread critical acclaim, the manuscript was turned down by many New Zealand publishers. Speaking in 2014, Hulme described how she shopped it around for 12 years before it was eventually published by Spiral in 1984. It went on to sell more than a million copies and has been translated into nine languages."

Hulme's other books include the poetry collection Lost Possessions; short story collections Te Kaihau: The Windeater and Stonefish; and a nonfiction work, Homeplaces: Three Coasts of the South Island of New Zealand. She also "began two other novels, each running to hundreds of pages, but they were never finished, despite significant advances from publishers," Stuff NZ wrote.

Historian Bruce Harding, a friend of Hulme since meeting her in 1987, described her as a "peaceful, quiet person of firm conviction" who helped "put New Zealand on the global literary map.... She was a bridge builder between Māori and Pākehā at a really important time in New Zealand history." The Bone People was a "confronting" work when it was published, he observed. "The core of the novel, which caused some people a lot of disquiet, was that it described extreme violence against a child. It was the detail and the angst and the incredible way that she could capture emotional states in the book that were probably very confronting."

Speaking on behalf of the government, environment minister David Parker said Hulme "made a huge mark on literature in Aotearoa and leaves an enduring legacy. Keri Hulme was one of the true greats of storytelling in New Zealand and one of our most celebrated authors. With themes of love, isolation and unity, The Bone People is a unique and important novel which made a significant contribution to New Zealand literature. Our condolences go to Keri's whānau and friends."

The Bone People "is not a book readers feel indifferent about," Stuff NZ wrote. "Instead, its fans cherish it and re-read it," including 2019 Booker winner Bernardine Evaristo, who tweeted: "It was an outsider story told by an outsider in an outsider way. So long, Keri Hulme, you inspired me."

Hulme was a fellow of the Academy of New Zealand Literature. Speaking for the academy, Ngāti Wai and Ngāti Whatua writer Paula Morris said "professional jealousy" had been directed at Hulme, whose Māori whakapapa and point of view was questioned and sometimes derided. "The Booker win gave her international status and sales," Morris said. "In all the decades I lived in other countries, the one New Zealand novel that was cited as read (and loved) more than any other was The Bone People. Perhaps the scale of that success made it difficult for her to complete, or to release to the world, a second novel. Or perhaps it's just another example of Keri playing her own game."

Shelf Awareness Delivers Indie Pre-Order E-Blast

On December 29, Shelf Awareness sent our monthly pre-order e-blast to nearly 900,000 of the country's best book readers. The e-blast went to 888,110 customers of 188 participating independent bookstores.

The mailing features eight upcoming titles selected by Shelf Awareness editors and a sponsored title. Customers can buy these books via "pre-order" buttons that lead directly to the purchase page for the title on each sending store's website. A key feature is that bookstore partners can easily change title selections to best reflect the tastes of their customers and can customize the mailing with links, images and promotional copy of their own.

The pre-order e-blasts are sent the last Wednesday of each month; the next will go out on Wednesday, January 26. Stores interested in learning more can visit our program registration page or contact our partner program team via e-mail.

For a sample of the December pre-order e-blast, see this one from Crow & Co., Hutchinson, Kan.


B&N's January Book Club Pick: Anthem

Barnes & Noble has chosen Anthem by Noah Hawley (Grand Central) as its January national book club selection. The book will be the focus of a free live virtual event with Hawley on Tuesday, February 8, at 3 p.m. Eastern time. The roundtable discussion will include Shannon DeVito, B&N's director of books, and Miwa Messer, host of B&N's Poured Over podcast.

DeVito called Anthem "part-thriller, part fairy tale, and all instance classic. The unforgettable characters pair with a plot as fast and bright as pop cinema. Noah Hawley writes with the bravado and literary power that has made him into one of the most treasured writers in American literature. It is a multifaceted and brilliant novel that I know our Book Club readers will love."

"For any novel in our modern world to be successful, first it has to cut through the noise. Social media, online culture, entertainment on demand," said Hawley. "I'm grateful to Barnes & Noble for helping me take that first, critical step. For Anthem be singled out by this hallowed institution as a noteworthy book, a book you have to read, not just want to read, is a true honor."

Jay Cosgrove Retires from Yale University Press

Jay Cosgrove has retired as sales director at Yale University Press after 17 years with the press. He started his career at Waldenbooks and soon moved to the sales team at Random House, where he spent 14 years, ultimately as divisional sales director. He can be reached via e-mail.

Personnel Changes at Sourcebooks

Madison Nankervis has been promoted to senior marketing and publicity associate for Sourcebooks Fire.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Kal Penn on Fresh Air

Good Morning America: Ginger Zee, author of A Little Closer to Home: How I Found the Calm After the Storm (Hyperion Avenue, $26, 9781368042000). She will also be on Live with Kelly and Ryan.

Fresh Air: Kal Penn, author of You Can't Be Serious (Gallery, $28, 9781982171384).

Watch What Happens Live: James Kennedy, author of Dare to Know: A Novel (Quirk Books, $22.99, 9781683692607).

Late Night with Seth Meyers: Hanya Yanagihara, author of To Paradise: A Novel (Doubleday, $32.50, 9780385547932).

Movies: Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar

Wes Anderson will direct and write The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar, based on Roald Dahl's 1977 story, for Netflix, Deadline reported, adding that the "original book is made up of several short stories, and while it's unknown which ones would be covered in this project, sources do say it would consist of three mini-films similar to the Coen brothers' The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. Production is expected to start next week in London."

Benedict Cumberbatch will play the title role, with Ralph Fiennes, Dev Patel, and Ben Kingsley joining the cast, sources told Deadline. Anderson's previous adaptation of the author's work, Fantastic Mr. Fox, was an Oscar-winning animated film. Netflix acquired the Roald Dahl catalogue last September.

Books & Authors

Awards: Sarrett Poetry Winner

Anuradha Bhowmik has won the 2021 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize for her collection Brown Girl Chromatography. The prize has a cash award of $5,000 and publication by the University of Pittsburgh Press as part of the Pitt Poetry Series. Brown Girl Chromatography will be published this coming September.

Organizers said that Brown Girl Chromatography is "shaped by Bhowmik's life as a Bangladeshi-born American girl and woman growing up as a first-generation immigrant in the United States. The collection interrogates issues of race, class, gender, and sexuality in post-9/11 America while navigating Bhowmik's millennial childhood, adolescence, and adulthood."

Bhowmik is a 2022 Kundiman Fellow and a 2018 AWP Intro Journals Project Winner in Poetry, and earned an MFA from Virginia Tech. She has received awards from the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, the Community of Writers, the New York State Summer Writers Institute, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Frost Place, the Indiana University Writers' Conference, the Eckerd College Writers' Conference, the Juniper Summer Writing Institute, among others. Her poetry and prose have appeared in POETRY, Hayden's Ferry Review, diode poetry journal, the Sun, DIAGRAM, Indiana Review, New South, Quarterly West, Salt Hill, Nashville Review, Crab Orchard Review, Slice Magazine, Zone 3, the Normal School, Copper Nickel, and elsewhere.

Book Review

Review: Tell Me an Ending

Tell Me an Ending by Jo Harkin (Scribner, $27.99 hardcover, 448p., 9781982164324, March 1, 2022)

Set in the town of Crowshill outside London, Tell Me an Ending by Jo Harkin boldly imagines an eerily plausible present where people with unwanted memories can have them deleted by a secretive British tech company named Nepenthe. Harkin's intriguing debut features multiple interconnected narratives nestled within the larger whole, as well as characters whose memory deletions send them traveling across the globe in search of answers to missing pieces of their lives.

Central to the story is the enigmatic Noor, a socially awkward Nepenthe psychologist with a tea addiction. Noor falls in love with her client, Elena, precipitating a personal and professional crisis that deepens when she discovers her boss and mentor, Louise, is committing an even more serious violation of company policy involving Elena and other clients. As Noor investigates Louise's actions, she is drawn into a horrifying cover-up at Nepenthe that threatens to destroy her faith in its mission.

Nepenthe's premise is deceptively simple: a PTSD sufferer or someone struggling with a distressing experience can have that traumatic memory erased in a safe and highly effective manner, deleting only the targeted memory and leaving everything else intact. The technology, it turns out, is not foolproof--some former clients start experiencing "traces" of removed memories. Nepenthe is sued and must offer all clients the opportunity to restore deleted memories, including those who had requested to erase the act of memory deletion itself.

For college drop-out Mei and former police officer William, there is initially some relief in discovering that the traces they experience are not signs of madness but actual memories that were removed. Meanwhile, for Irish architect Finn, the revelation that his wife secretly deleted a memory sends shockwaves through their marriage. Oscar, a young man with no memory at all but a full bank account, worries that he must have done something terrible in his past. He travels from Budapest to Marrakech, leading a life on the run until the truth of his life story catches up to him.

Harkin masterfully probes her characters, questioning whether deleted memories translate into altered narratives that fundamentally transform who a person is and their relationships with loved ones, echoing a question Noor asks herself: "Does wiping a note change the rest of the symphony?" As Noor uncovers the extent of Louise's deception and its impact on William, Mei and others, she finally confronts the true cost of the technology she has devoted her career to promoting. --Shahina Piyarali, reviewer

Shelf Talker: This dense and thrilling speculative novel features a psychologist-turned-whistleblower working at a secretive British tech company that specializes in memory removal.

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