Also published on this date: Monday, March 21 Dedicated Issue: Yale University Press Spring Highlights

Shelf Awareness for Monday, March 21, 2022

Ballantine Books: Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan

John Scognamiglio Book: In the Time of Our History by Susanne Pari

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: Omega Morales and the Legend of La Lechuza by Laekan Zea Kemp

Charlesbridge Publishing: Forever Cousins by Laurel Goodluck, illustrated by Jonathan Nelson

Aladdin Paperbacks: Return of the Dragon Slayers: A Fablehaven Adventure (Dragonwatch #5) by Brandon Mull

Norton Young Readers: Children of Stardust by Edudzi Adodo

Union Square & Co.: Wait for Me by Sara Shepard


Letter: Questions for the ABA

Betsy Burton

Betsy Burton, co-founder of the King's English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, Utah, and a past president of the American Booksellers Association, poses several questions about the ABA's change in approach to free speech and the First Amendment.

Dear Booksellers,

Margaret Atwood said in a recently published interview with Carolyn Kellogg in the Los Angeles Times, "People are deeply worried about the future right now... partly because democratic norms and procedures that we took for granted and believed represented the true, the good and the beautiful, have been tossed out the window." That sentence seemed to capture exactly my ongoing feelings of betrayal and sadness in reaction to the ABA's removal of the ideal of freedom of expression from our ends policies--that they had tossed my most cherished ideal right out the window--a tenet that has seen me through a lifetime of bookselling, standing me in good stead whenever books were censored, edited or outright banned, giving me the tools (both legal and moral) to defend books against such attacks. Isn't the highest and best calling of booksellers and librarians to put books in the hands of readers? Surely not to pick and choose among the books readers should or should not read. Am I wrong?

Herein lies the question. Do we have the right to choose which books to protect and which to throw out the window? The ABA Board would argue that we do. According to them, "ABA does not favor the protection of free expression when it comes to speech that violates our commitment to equity and antiracism, i.e., racist speech, anti-Semitic speech, homophobic speech, transphobic speech, etc." In their recent FAQ on the subject, they explain their need to be in a position to condemn such books (italics mine).

Which raises further questions: Who decides which books to protect and which books not to? What standards do they employ to decide? What does the ABA intend to do with books that they have deemed unfit?

a. Ban them?
b. Burn them?

This might seem an Orwellian sort of reductio ad absurdum. And in one way it is. Because there is no rational answer, at least if one believes in the First Amendment. Either protect all books or throw the First Amendment out the window. Any halfway measure leads to a world without First Amendment protections--a dangerous world indeed, as such events as the Salem Witch Trials and Nazi book burnings (to name just two among many terrifying events throughout history) exemplify. As Atwood so succinctly responded, when asked, in the above-mentioned article, about the Martin Luther King quote stating that the arc of history bends toward justice. "Love it. It's just not true."

In summation, we urgently need answers from the board to three questions:

1. If we as an association defend banning books, on what possible grounds do we object to others banning books they don't approve of?

2. If you do intend to uphold the protection of free expression as the ABA has done historically, why not reinstate it as an ends policy?

3. If you do not intend such protection to be universal, what exactly do you plan to do with those books you deem unworthy? Who decides? Based on what criteria?

Without First Amendment protection--nationwide and within the book industry--it is not the dogs of war that will be unleashed, but rather the dogs of suppression. Sadly, we will be the first victims.

Broadleaf Books: Between the Listening and the Telling: How Stories Can Save Us by Mark Yaconelli


Volumes Bookcafe Returning to Wicker Park, Chicago

Volumes Bookcafe's old storefront

Volumes Bookcafe, Chicago, Ill., is moving back to Wicker Park this spring and will open at 1373 N. Milwaukee Ave. just a year after the store's original location in the neighborhood closed. Book Club Chicago reported that Volumes--opened by co-owners Rebecca and Kimberly George in 2016 at 1474 N. Milwaukee Ave.--was shuttered when the sisters chose not to renew their lease, citing "epic losses" during the pandemic and high rent along Wicker Park's Milwaukee Avenue business corridor. Volumes also operates a store at 900 N. Michigan Ave.

Rebecca George said they had remained focused on finding a property to buy in Wicker Park, and their new mortgage payment is less than half of what they were paying in rent at the old storefront, Book Club Chicago wrote. "Volumes partnered with a group of neighborhood residents and supporters to buy the building, and worked with First Women's Bank to secure financing."

The Georges expect to open by May, depending on when new bookshelves arrive. "We don't have to do an insane amount of work. We need to put in new floors, and we need to move in our stuff, but it's insane amount of stuff. It's just those shelves take eight to ten weeks," Rebecca George said. The store is still raising funds through its ongoing GoFundMe to cover renovation and reopening costs.

The bookshop's heart is, and always will be, in Wicker Park, George added. "I've lived here for the most part, most of my adult life, which is longer than people think.... I don't even think of it as us building that bookstore to begin with. The community helped build that, just in spirit and in friendship in coming out and supporting. So if I were to move it, I feel like that'd be a slap in the face... everyone's still invested in us."

On Instagram, Volumes posted: "That's right, we're officially returning... and for good. This time last year we were both celebrating our 5th birthday (March 22) and days later discovered we would have to leave 1474. A little less than a year later, and a big thanks to an incredible group of community members and to the absolute rockstars at the new (and local) @firstwomensbank, we have found our new home at 1373 N Milwaukee. We're excited to be next door neighbors to our pals @recklessrecords and @transittees, who have both been great friends to us over the years. We just need some time to make this our new home, so bear with us another month or two. We want to make this place just as special as the last one."

Soho Crime: Blown by the Same Wind (Cold Storage Novel) by John Straley

Minn.'s Avant Garden Coffee Shop Begins Selling Books

Avant Garden, the coffee shop in Anoka, Minn., has begun selling books, according to ABC Newspapers. Avant Garden was founded in 1995; Jenni Hill bought the store in 2019.

Hill was inspired to add books, she said, by an article in the New Yorker about Danny Caine, co-owner of the Raven Book Store, Lawrence, Kan., and author of How to Resist Amazon and Why. "The article really made me angry about bookstores being taken away from us," Hill said. "I know of no independent bookstores nearby."

Hill said she intends to expand her inventory by purchasing books around a theme each month. This month, for example, she has highlighted mysteries. She also plans to coordinate with the downtown Anoka theater Lyric Arts to carry books related to plays featured on the Main Street Stage.

AuthorBuzz for the Week of 08.08.22

IndiesUNITE! to Celebrate Children's Book Week

IndiesUNITE!, a group of independent bookstores, will host a virtual event to celebrate Children's Book Week that will feature diverse children's book authors and illustrators. Children's Book Week will be held May 2-8 and November 7-13.

The event will be hosted by Kevin Noble Maillard, author of Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story, winner of the Sibert Medal and an American Indian Youth Literature honor book. Featured authors include Pura Belpré Award-winning author/illustrator Raúl the Third (¡Vamos! Let's Go Eat and ¡Vamos! Let's Go to the Market), Caldecott Award winner Andrea Wang (Luli and the Language of Tea), Cheryl Chepulsova (Noodles, Please! A to Z Foods of the World) and Michael Genhart (May Your Life Be Deliciosa).

The event will include conversations about food and culture in children's books and an illustration demonstration, geared for children up to age eight. Partners are and the Children's Book Council. Participating bookstores are Boogie Down Books, Bronx, N.Y.; Blue Manatee Literacy Project, Cincinnati, Ohio; Little Shop of Stories, Decatur, Ga.; Monkey See, Monkey Do... Children's Bookstore, Buffalo, N.Y.; Politics and Prose, Washington, D.C.; River Dog Book Co., Beaver Dam, Wis.; and Second Star to the Right, Denver, Colo.

For more information and to register, click here.

Berkley Books: City Under One Roof by Iris Yamashita

International Update: Future of Irish Publishing Is 'Bright' but Challenging; Canadian Title Supports Ukraine

The future of Irish publishing is "bright," but Irish publishers have faced a "particularly difficult" situation trying to keep supply chains open with the U.K. post-Brexit while competing with U.K. publishers for shelf space, Ruth Hallinan, president of Publishing Ireland and publishing & production manager at the Lilliput Press, told the Irish Book Trade Conference in Dublin last week. 

She also noted that "operational strains have not been easy on anyone" and a rise in administrative costs and the length of time imports take have had a significant financial impact "particularly on small presses, which suffered from the lack of in-person book launches" during lockdown, the Bookseller reported. In addition, the worldwide "critical" shortage of paper, which Hallinan predicted will remain a problem until at least the end of the year, is proving a huge hindrance and is also particularly affecting smaller publishers. 

Despite the challenges, however, she insisted "the future is bright" for Irish presses: "It's on a bit of a dimmer switch at the moment, but I'm hopeful in a few years we can turn it up."

Last year the Irish market "achieved its highest-ever revenue since records began, when sales hit €165.9 million [about $181.1 million] through Nielsen BookScan's Irish Consumer Market, €400,000 [about $436,585] better than the previous record in 2008 and a rise of 3% on 2020's total," the Bookseller wrote.

Meryl Halls, managing director of the the Booksellers Association, said that although sales had been "incredibly strong," the Irish high street is still "in jeopardy," with the closure of branches of Eason in Northern Ireland representing a loss for the bookselling community, and others still struggling to recuperate sales post-pandemic. The Bookseller noted that "of the bookshops in Ireland, 61% are independent. According to Bookselling Ireland's annual economic reports, the bookselling sector contributed €9.6 million [about $10.5 million] to the Exchequer in 2021, a 45% increase on 2017."


Booknet Canada's 5 Questions series spoke with indie publisher Lorene Shyba of Durvile Publications, which will be releasing a special humanitarian edition of Mykola Matwijchuik's The Little Book: Story Reader for a Free Ukraine, a traditional Ukrainian children's title, originally published in 1940, that was used in Canadian prairie schools. All of the publisher's proceeds are going to the Canada Ukraine Foundation. Highlights from the q&a:

How did you and Durvile Publications first discover The Little Book?
My babka grandmother read to me from this book when I was a child. My mother taught in a one-room schoolhouse near Vegreville, Alberta and used the book as Ukrainian language curriculum for students who were from Ukrainian immigrant families. I have had this little book my entire life, tucked away in a trunk along with other books from my childhood and books I read to my own children. Books are a very special way to remember and relive the past. 

I have been working closely with Dene Elder Raymond Yakeleya over the past years on Indigenous language books and we have celebrated Dene, Metis Michif, Anishinaabe, and most recently Blackfoot languages. Language is a potent expression of culture and some of these languages are facing extinction. When Ukraine was invaded by Russian forces, I had in mind that it was time to celebrate my own culture and language as a sign of solidarity to my homeland and to soothe my soul.

What does the support from your supply chain partners, downstream customers, and readers mean to you?
OMG it means the world to me! We have been mobilized as a Ukrainian diaspora to do what we can, and besides the fundraising, upholding our traditions is huge. The themes in the books include duty and responsibility to the homeland of Ukraine, the value and love of family, and living the farm life.

Other traditions that I have celebrated my entire life are the foods and the wedding rituals (including the beautiful Ukrainian choirs). As a diaspora, we need to stick together. We are going to be welcoming thousands of Ukrainian refugees in the next months and it will be wonderful to greet them by saying Як справи (Yak spravy, how are you) and thanking them by saying Дуже дякую (Duzhe dyakuyu, thank you very much). Not to mention Слава Україні (Slava Ukraini, Glory be to Ukraine). Members of my family have already requested asylum with us in Canada."


Bookshop marriage proposal: British bookseller the Book Hive in Norwich recently posted on Facebook: "We would like to say massive congratulations to Jack and Issy who got engaged today, here in the Book Hive! Early this morning, in an operation of as-close-to-military precision as we can manage, we stalled Issy downstairs while Jack prepped the book that he had made--the book containing the ring! 

"We were (almost) as nervous as Jack, waiting silently for the news--but then, from the fiction section came a sob, and a yes! She said yes! Corks will be popping this evening all over the city, no doubt, and nowhere more so than the Book Hive. We're delighted for the both of them, and that we could put the wonderful sunny room to such a good purpose, and on such a glorious day. A marvellous first for us, and heartfelt best wishes to the happy couple! (Every book upstairs is now imbued with a warm, sort of loved-up energy. They're positively glowing! Even the Sylvia Plaths!)" --Robert Gray


Image of the Day: Gino Goes Back to School

Last week, Avid Bookshop, Athens, Ga., was the on-site bookseller at Clarke Middle School and Clarke Central High School in Athens for author Alex Gino's first in-person school visits since the pandemic began. It was also Avid's first in-person author visit since mid-March 2020. Pictured: Rachel Watkins, Avid's operations & events director (l.), with Alex Gino.

Bookseller Dog: Teddy at Subterranean Books

"Meet Teddy the bookstore dog!!!" Subterranean Books, St. Louis, Mo., posted on Instagram as the shop's favorite bookseller delivered a message: "Subterranean is now on TikTok! Follow us @subterraneanbooks and meet our booksellers, get great BookTok recommendations, and observe general bookish shenanigans. Teddy is super excited!"

Personnel Changes at Scholastic

Seale Ballenger has joined Scholastic Trade Publishing as v-p, publicity. With a 30-year career in publishing, he was formerly publicity director for Disney Publishing Worldwide and earlier worked at HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Random House and Outside magazine.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Jeremy Denk on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Jeremy Denk, author of Every Good Boy Does Fine: A Love Story, in Music Lessons (Random House, $28, 9780812995985).

The View: Craig Conover, author of Pillow Talk: What's Wrong with My Sewing? (Gallery Books, $28.99, 9781982187484).

Rachael Ray Show: Brad Meltzer, author of The Lightning Rod: A Zig & Nola Novel (Morrow, $28.99, 9780062892409).

Good Morning America: Matt Damon and Gary White, authors of The Worth of Water: Our Story of Chasing Solutions to the World's Greatest Challenge (Portfolio, $27, 9780593189979).

Today Show: Daniel Holzman, co-author of Food IQ: 100 Questions, Answers, and Recipes to Raise Your Cooking Smarts (Harper Wave, $35, 9780063062818).

Also on Today: Camila Alves McConaughey, co-author of Just Try One Bite (Dial Books, $17.99, 9780593324141).

Tamron Hall: Matthew Fray, author of This Is How Your Marriage Ends: A Hopeful Approach to Saving Relationships (HarperOne, $27.99, 9780063072251).

The View: John Cho, author of Troublemaker (Little, Brown, $16.99, 9780759554474).

Late Night with Seth Meyers repeat: Harvey Fierstein, author of I Was Better Last Night: A Memoir (Knopf, $30, 9780593320525).

Amazon Closes Deal to Acquire MGM for $8.5 Billion

Amazon closed its acquisition of Hollywood studio MGM, two days after European regulators said the deal "would not significantly reduce competition" in European markets. The Associated Press reported that the company had announced the deal in May 2021, noting that Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month that Amazon "certified to the Federal Trade Commission it provided information sought by antitrust investigators regarding the deal, adding it could be free to close the purchase if the commission doesn't file a legal challenge before a mid-March deadline."

MGM has been through bankruptcy and new sets of owners during the past decade while its new releases dwindled, but Amazon said the studio "has more than 4,000 film titles, 17,000 TV episodes and awards that 'will complement Prime Video and Amazon Studios' work in delivering a diverse offering of entertainment choices to customers,' " the AP wrote. 

"We are excited for MGM and its bounty of iconic brands, legendary films and television series, and our incredible team and creative partners to join the Prime Video family," MGM COO Chris Brearton said.

"For now, the expectation is that the bulk of MGM's roughly 800 staffers will move to Amazon, where the company will operate, at least initially, as an independent label," Variety reported. That includes the studio's motion picture group chairman Michael De Luca and motion picture group president Pamela Abdy. Amazon has not revealed a reporting structure, but the senior team of MGM will part of the organization that's led by Mike Hopkins, head of Prime Video and Amazon Studios.

TV: The Changeling

Emmy nominee Adina Porter (Underground) and Clark Backo (Letterkenny) have been cast as leads opposite LaKeith Stanfield in The Changeling, Apple TV+'s upcoming drama series based on Victor LaValle's book. Deadline called the project, from Annapurna and Apple Studios, "a fairytale for grown-ups. A horror story, a parenthood fable and a perilous odyssey through a New York City you didn't know existed."

Kelly Marcel (Cruella, Venom) wrote the adaptation and serves as showrunner. Queen & Slim helmer and Insecure alum Melina Matsoukas will direct. Megan Ellison, Sue Naegle, Patrick Chu, and Ali Krug executive produce on behalf of Annapurna; Matsoukas executive produces through her De La Revolución Films. Stanfield and Marcel also executive produce with Khaliah Neal co-executive producing. LaValle also serves as co-executive producer.

Books & Authors

Awards: BMO Winterset Winner

Carmella Gray-Cosgrove won the C$12,500 (about US$9,810) BMO Winterset Award, which is presented for excellence in writing by a Newfoundland and Labrador author, for her debut story collection, Nowadays and Lonelier, Quill & Quire reported.

Gray-Cosgrove was named a finalist alongside Aimee Wall for We, Jane and Claire Wilkshire for The Love Olympics, each of whom receives C$3,000 (about US$2,355). For the second consecutive year all three finalists were female--a first for the award.

Book Review

Review: Rouge Street: Three Novellas

Rouge Street: Three Novellas by Shuang Xuetao, trans. by Jeremy Tiang (Metropolitan, $26.99 hardcover, 240p., 9781250835871, April 19, 2022)

The three novellas in Rouge Street, Shuang Xuetao's prodigious English-language debut, feature multilayered voices revealing intricate perspectives that result in gloriously gratifying rewards. Booker Prize finalist Madeleine Thien introduces Shuang's enigmatic work, contextualizing his fiction, which "teeter[s] on a fulcrum between past and future," between Mao's China and the country's global rise. Award-winning writer/translator Jeremy Tiang follows with a detailed explication of the title's origin--a reference to Yanfen Street, Shuang's childhood neighborhood in the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang. Shuang recalls his early home "as a run-down place of dirt roads and dingy houses," populated with neighbors who were "thieves, swindlers, con artists, drunkards, and gamblers."

That milieu is exactly the setting of all three stories--remotely interconnected--beginning with "The Aeronaut." The Gao Likuan and Li Zhengdao families are linked in 1967 when the latter becomes the apprentice to the former. In 1979, Zhengdao is dead, but his son Li Mingqi--the titular aeronaut--marries, rather unenthusiastically, into the Gao family. Decades later, Gao Likuan has also passed away when his grandson is called back from Beijing to find his missing Uncle Mingqi and cousin Li Gang.

The disappeared also haunt "Bright Hall," another multi-pronged narrative, about a sculptor robbed of his middle fingers to prevent him from creating another "reactionary clay statue"; a boy sent to live with an aunt and cousin he's never met; and a bully being raised by his grandmother, who never gives up hope of finding the mother who abandoned him. All three threads intertwine at the bottom of a frozen lake.

Seven voices relay the events of the final tale, "Moses on the Plain" (which was adapted into the 2021 film Fire on the Plain). The murders of five taxi drivers in a single month in 1995 binds the disparate characters; solving the crime dovetails with the chronicle of two childhood playmates and their elaborately orchestrated reunion many years later.

Since Shuang was born in 1983, Yanfen Street has transformed into "a bustling suburb," no longer "the disreputable, rough neighborhood" of his youth. In preserving that "wild spirit" through his writing, Shuang has won multiple significant awards, making him one of China's most celebrated young writers. His crisp, unadorned sentences might seem to contrast his fantastical twists and turns, but that irresistible combination is waiting to be discovered by lucky new audiences. --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon

Shelf Talker: Shuang Xuetao's remarkable English-language debut features the diverse residents of Yanfen Street, caught between the end of Mao's China and the country's emergence as a modern superpower.

AuthorBuzz: St. Martin's Press: Other Birds by Sarah Addison Allen
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