Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Hampton Roads Publishing Company: Becoming Baba Yaga: Trickster, Feminist, and Witch of the Woods by Kris Spisak, Foreword by Gennarose Nethercott

Dial Press: Like Mother, Like Mother by Susan Rieger

Severn House: A Messy Murder (Main) (The Decluttering Mysteries #4) by Simon Brett

Forge: My Three Dogs by Bruce W Cameron

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

Chronicle Books: Taste in Music: Eating on Tour with Indie Musicians by Luke Pyenson and Alex Beeker


Zando and the Atlantic Partner on New Imprint, Atlantic Editions

Zando, the publisher founded by former Crown publisher Molly Stern and several partners in late 2020, and the Atlantic magazine are creating an imprint called Atlantic Editions that will publish books by Atlantic writers, each on a single topic, and will draw from contemporary articles or the magazine's extensive archive.

The first books, which will begin appearing in January 2023, are On Misdirection by staff writer Megan Garber, about fractured attention; On Womanhood by staff writer Sophie Gilbert, about feminism; On BTS by senior editor Lenika Cruz, about the cultural influence of the band; and a collection by staff writer Kaitlyn Tiffany and contributing writer Lizzie Plaugic, who together write the popular newsletter Famous People.

Stern commented: "This exciting partnership enables us to do what we all love so much: share important ideas, arguments, and stories with readers everywhere. As a new publisher on the scene, it is a privilege for us at Zando to team up with this unparalleled American literary institution to create Atlantic Editions and support the talented Atlantic writers and their work wherever books are sold."

The Atlantic is also expanding its books section, devoted to essays, criticism, reporting, original fiction, poetry and book recommendations. The books section relaunch includes the June cover story, "Chasing Joan Didion," by staff writer Caitlin Flanagan, who sought to understand Didion's writerly powers by visiting some of the houses in California in which she lived. Flanagan and deputy editor Jane Yong Kim will talk about the cover story during a virtual event this Thursday, May 19, the first in a new series of virtual book events called The Atlantic Reads. The Atlantic's Summer Reading Guide, also just published, matches readers with Atlantic writers' and editors' recommendations for what to read this summer.

Atlantic executive editor Adrienne LaFrance said that the magazine is "a writers' collective, and for 165 years we have been a magazine for anyone who loves reading and literature. Especially in a moment of tremendous global upheaval, we need books to understand ourselves and one another. We need books to help promote the free and open exchange of ideas. And we need them because they put more beauty into the world."

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International Update: Irish Bookseller Strikes Gold; South African Bookstore Chain Closing, for Sale

Irish bookseller Kennys Bookshop in Galway struck gold in the most bookish of ways, tweeting last week: "AMAZING discovery here at Kennys. We sometimes uncover gems, but today we found actual treasure ...solid gold coins, hidden in the spine of an old prayerbook!"

Archivist Sarah Gallagher was cataloguing a recently bought Diocesan library when she found two solid gold coins wrapped in paper and tucked against the book's spine. RTÉ reported that the coins "are Mexican in origin and weigh 37.5 grams each. They are dated 1821-1947 and estimated to be worth in the region of €5,000 [about $5,355]. The book is one of 25,000 in the newly acquired library and of itself is worth little in monetary value. The chance removal of the cover has led to a find like no other and created quite a stir in the bookshop."

Tomas Kenny said, "I've been buying and selling private libraries for over 20 years and we have come across lots of unusual items and letters stuck in books. We've never literally found treasure before though.... 

"The first thing we did was to contact the person we bought the library from as while we agreed to buy the entire contents we never expected anything like this. It was a really magical thing to happen and gave everyone in the shop a real lift." There has been no decision made yet about what to do with the coins, but a charity auction has not been ruled out.


In South Africa, Adams Booksellers will be closing its four branches at the end of May and has put the company up for sale. The 157-year-old business operates two main branches in Durban and Pietermaritzburg and two smaller branches based at the University of KwaZulu-Natal's Westville campus and in Johannesburg, IOL reported.

The shareholders will offer the business for sale as a going concern: "For the first time in its history, there is no member of the Adams family to take over from Peter Adams, who is retiring from active involvement in the business. As a result, the Adams family has decided to sell the business as a whole or parts of it. The skilled staff, the infrastructure and the market penetration will give the buyer a strong position entering these markets."

The company noted that the size and value of the book market has declined over the past few years, especially in South Africa, due to the poor economic climate, adding: "In the past, university book sales came from the large Unisa student market, which was funded by NSFAS bursaries. The government stopped the bursary scheme in 2019, and instead, students were given cash rather than book allowances. This resulted in a dramatic downturn in the sales of university books. The situation was worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic and the closing of university campuses and schools for the past two years."

This decline over the past three years led to the closure of five shops and a reduction of staff to 44 employees in 2022. The company said the business "offered a turnaround opportunity for someone who had the drive and energy to transform and modernize the family business and to take advantage of the existing platform of reputation, reliability and customer service that Adams had built up."


The Canadian Independent Booksellers Association's "Meet Our Members" series focused on Georgian Bay Books in Midland, Ont., calling it "the quintessential 'small-but-mighty' bookshop. Co-owners Sandy Dunsford and Sarah Kenney--who have a combined 30+ years of experience--have been delighting customers with pitch-perfect recos since 2016.

"Sandy and Sarah refer to their shop as a '600 square foot "to read" pile.' The store sells fiction and local interest books as well as a ton of kids' books, and the booksellers will happily help customers put in special orders which, in turn, helps them curate their collection to the customers' tastes. 

"That tailored approach has helped them build their community. 'We are very much a gathering place for book lovers. People will often overhear a conversation in the store and recommend to strangers what they love to read. We love that!" --Robert Gray

GLOW: Sourcebooks Landmark: A Forty Year Kiss by Nickolas Butler

Pamela Smith to Retire from Ingram at End of Year

Pamela Smith

Pamela Smith, v-p and general manager of Ingram Library Services, is planning to retire from Ingram Content Group at the end of 2022. 

Smith has been with the company for 12 years; currently she oversees Ingram's library business, which manages sales, collection development, strategic alliances, technical services and more for public K-12 schools and specialty libraries. During her time at Ingram she helped establish the Ingram Library Services brand with clients and helped develop services including iCurate inclusive, which evaluates the inclusiveness of a library's collection.

"Libraries have evolved so much over the years I have worked with them--they are essential parts of the community and help wherever they are needed," Smith said. "Throughout my time with Ingram Library Services, we’ve tried to give back to libraries through supporting state and national library associations, providing professional development opportunities, and expanding services to help them support their communities and their patrons."

Phil Ollila, chief commercial and content officer at Ingram Content Group, said: "Pamela's leadership, enthusiasm, and personal touch in all aspects of the business--including the development of our people and relationships with our customers--have helped the business grow. Ingram Library Services has great momentum and continues to be more relevant in the market every day. Pamela leaves ILS with a bright future ahead."

Obituary Note: Elspeth Barker 

Elspeth Barker

Journalist and author Elspeth Barker, whose "first and only novel, O Caledonia, was once described by the novelist Ali Smith as 'the best least-known novel of the 20th century,' " died April 21, the Guardian reported. She was 81. In 2021, 30 years after its first publication, O Caledonia was reissued "and found its place as a modern classic of Scottish literature. The book has achieved international success and will be published this September by Scribner in the U.S. and is set to appear in France, Spain (and also in Catalonia), Estonia and Italy."

Alexandra Pringle recalled that she was a publisher at Virago Press in the late 1980s "and one of my authors, Raffaella Barker, Elspeth's daughter, suggested to me that her mother should write a novel. On the strength of a few pages of vivid, lyrical and funny prose, I commissioned her and took the book with me to Hamish Hamilton, where it was published in 1991." O Caledonia won four literary awards, including the Winifred Holtby prize, and was shortlisted for the Whitbread first novel prize. 

The book "tells the glittering, darkly funny story of the short life of a young girl, Janet, who lives in a bleak Scottish castle, calls her cats subjunctives, keeps a jackdaw as a pet and learns poetry by heart. The only bright spot in her life is her risqué Cousin Lila, whose room rattles with empty whisky bottles and smells of Schiaparelli's Shocking and Craven A cigarettes," the Guardian noted.

Barker became a regular contributor to the Independent on Sunday, and also wrote for London Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement, the Guardian and the Observer. In 1997, she published Loss: An Anthology, with extracts ranging from Ecclesiastes, Ovid and Horace, through Ben Jonson, John Donne, Rilke, Yeats and Housman, to Dylan Thomas, Sylvia Plath and Carol Ann Duffy, and finally a short piece by her daughter Raffaella, about her father's funeral. In 2012, her selected journalism, Dog Days, appeared.

In a tribute on Facebook, British bookseller the Book Hive in Norwich posted a tribute to the "dearly beloved friend and writer," noting: "We waited until her funeral on Thursday 5th May to pay our tribute. Henry Layte (owner of The Book Hive) gave the eulogy. You can read his speech now over on our website... under the 'Elspeth Barker' button. There is also a video posted by the family on YouTube of the reading from the service.... Because we believe in the value of this book so much, we will be offering a free copy to anyone who buys one, in order that they may pass it on and spread the word of the amazing piece of work.... Here's to you, Elspeth."


Image of the Day: John Waters at Atomic Books for Liarmouth

Atomic Books, Baltimore, Md., shared photos ("Thanks everyone for an amazing day! Tired but had a great time.") from its "Meet John Waters" event Sunday, showcasing the inimitable hometown hero for his new novel, Liarmouth: A Feel-Bad Romance (Farrar, Straus & Giroux). Even the line waiting outside before the event was "fun as hell!

Bookstore Wedding: Byrd's Books

Byrd's Books, Bethel, Conn., hosted its first wedding in the bookshop recently, and owner Alice Hutchinson (r.), who is a Justice of the Peace, officiated at the ceremony.

Personnel Changes at Harlequin

In the marketing department at Harlequin Trade Publishing:

Randy Chan is promoted to director, channel marketing.

Pamela Osti has moved to marketing manager, channel marketing.

Diane Lavoie is promoted to senior marketing manager.

Rachel Haller is promoted to senior marketing manager.

Eden Church is promoted to marketing manager.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Frank Bruni on Fresh Air

NPR's Here & Now: Simu Liu, author of We Were Dreamers: An Immigrant Superhero Origin Story (Morrow, $27.99, 9780063046498).

Fresh Air: Frank Bruni, author of The Beauty of Dusk: On Vision Lost and Found (Avid Reader Press/S&S, $28, 9781982108571).

CBS Mornings: Amanda Kloots, co-author of Live Your Life: My Story of Loving and Losing Nick Cordero (Harper Paperbacks, $16.99, 9780063078260).

Live with Kelly and Ryan: Quinta Brunson, author of She Memes Well: Essays (Dey Street, $16.99, 9780358697473).

Drew Barrymore Show: Ali Wentworth, author of Ali's Well That Ends Well: Tales of Desperation and a Little Inspiration (Harper, $26.99, 9780062980861).

Watch What Happens Live: Christine Quinn, author of How to Be a Boss B*tch (Abrams Image, $27, 9781419760945).

TV: The Panopticon, Luckenbooth

Scottish novelist, poet, screenwriter and artist Jenni Fagan has signed a two-project development deal with U.K. drama indie Buccaneer Scotland, which is also producing Fagan's adaptation of Irvine Welsh's The Blade Artist, Deadline reported. A division of ITV's Marcella producer Buccaneer Media, Buccaneer Scotland has taken options on Fagan's The Panopticon and Luckenbooth, which she will adapt for TV.

"Jenni's writing takes me to places I'd never expect," said Buccaneer Scotland co-founder Tony Wood. "It's so completely the right time for a woman to take on the Trainspotting world and Jenni is precisely the right person for the job."

Fagan said it is an "honor and a joy" to be adapting The Blade Artist, which will "continue to push boundaries and create the kind of work that shakes everything up."

Books & Authors

Awards: PEN/Malamud, Helen & Kurt Wolff Translator Winners

Yiyun Li won the 2022 PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story, which recognizes writers "who have demonstrated exceptional achievement in the short story form." She will be honored at the annual PEN/Malamud Award Ceremony, held in partnership with American University, on December 2.  

Speaking on behalf of the PEN/Faulkner Malamud committee, board member Louis Bayard said: "It would be accomplishment enough for a writer coming so late in life to the English language to master it in all its expressive possibilities. But Yiyun Li's body of short fiction is an even greater accomplishment: a series of exquisitely crafted windows into hidden lives that, taken together, form an indelible artistic bridge between her native and adopted lands. She has the gift of making every story feel like a discovery, freshly unearthed."

Yiyun Li is the author of seven books of fiction and two books of nonfiction, including her newest novel, The Book of Goose, to be published this September by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. She has received many awards and grants, including a Whiting Award, a MacArthur Foundation fellowship, a Windham-Campbell Prize, a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship, the PEN/Jean Stein Award and the PEN/Hemingway Award. Her work has appeared in the New Yorker, A Public Space, Best American Short Stories, Best American Essays, and elsewhere. She is a professor of creative writing at Princeton University.

"I consider myself a dedicated practitioner of short stories, and I am thrilled by this recognition," said Li. "I have taught Bernard Malamud's stories for nearly twenty years, so this award also feels deeply personal."


For his translation of The Strudlhof Steps by Heimito von Doderer (New York Review Books), Vincent Kling has won the $10,000 2022 Helen & Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize, sponsored by the Goethe-Institut New York and honoring "an outstanding literary translation from German into English published in the U.S. or Canada."

The jury said that The Strudlhof Steps, "one of Austria's most renowned literary works, yet never previously translated into English, moves between two time periods--1908 to 1911 and 1923 to 1925--and introduces an intriguing array of characters from many walks of life... We congratulate Vincent Kling on this monumental linguistic and literary achievement, the masterful quality of which is maintained on each of the novel's more than eight hundred pages. Perhaps it is no coincidence that the very last word of this resplendent translation is 'perfection.' "

Kling is Professor of German at La Salle University in Philadelphia. His dissertation was on the early works of Hugo von Hofmannsthal. He has translated Doderer, Veteranyi, Fritsch, Bahr, Jonke, Heimrad Bäcker, Hofmannsthal, Andreas Pittler, Engelbert Pfeiffer, and Werner Kofler. He was awarded the Schlegel-Tieck Prize in 2013 for his translation of Veteranyi's novel Why the Child Is Cooking in the Polenta.

In addition, Hayden Toftner has won the Gutekunst Prize of the Friends of Goethe New York for his translation of an excerpt from Asal Dardan's book Betrachtungen einer Barbarin.

Toftner is a recent graduate of Kenyon College, where he studied German and Political Science and worked as a teaching assistant for introductory German classes. This fall, he will serve as a U.S. Teaching Assistant (USTA) in Austria, helping to teach English and promote cross-cultural understanding in two Austrian high schools.

Both prizes will be given at a ceremony at the Goethe-Institut New York on June 16.

Book Review

Review: The Earthspinner

The Earthspinner by Anuradha Roy (HarperVia, $25.99 hardcover, 224p., 9780063220683, July 5, 2022)

In The Earthspinner, award-winning novelist Anuradha Roy (All the Lives We Never Lived; The Folded Earth) offers an intricate look at creative passion, fanaticism and the precarity of living on the brink of change. While at university in England, Sara, a pottery student, looks back on her childhood teacher, Elango, and the events that changed both of their lives.

For a year and a half, while teaching her to throw her first pieces, Elango was also consumed with crafting the terracotta horse that haunted his dreams. As Elango works tirelessly on his horse, his life in his small town in southern India is changing. He finds comfort in a mysterious and loving dog called Chinna as he falls desperately in love with Zohra, a Muslim girl forbidden from marrying a Hindu like him. As Elango's masterpiece nears completion, tensions rise in the community, and Elango and Sara are both left to wonder if love, truth and art can ever possibly be enough.

Like Roy's other novels, The Earthspinner uses dreamlike lyricism alongside even-handed description, giving its gradual accumulation of tension a mesmerizing cadence. Just as the hands of Zohra's grandfather, a blind calligrapher, "moved without hesitation over the surface of the horse, stroking and carving lines that followed its curves and hollows," Roy traces the invisible threads and fault lines that connect her main and secondary characters. Roy's interest in the artist who demonstrates "such gentleness, such control" is mirrored in her own writing, as she weaves together the pain, joy, triumphs and dis-ease of all those in her novel's world who teeter on either the edge of collapse or transcendent transformation.

While the novel's main plot takes place during Sara's childhood and during the fateful summer and fall when Elango completes his horse, the story's frame narrative of Sara at university and the occasional epistolary interjections from the woman whose lost dog becomes a permanent fixture in Elango's and Sara's lives gives the piece a larger scope and greater texture. Years later in England, Sara can tell the story of her past with both the benefit of distance and the emotional resonance of intimacy, and the epistolary dispatches from Chinna's original owner invoke the turbulent violence of the modernizing world that threatens to break forth at any moment.

With these various perspectives framing Elango's dreamlike tale, The Earthspinner is a kaleidoscopic glimpse into the fragile web of connections and ruptures, divine convergences and missed opportunities that make up life's unpredictable and breathtaking pattern. --Alice Martin, freelance writer and editor

Shelf Talker: Tried-and-true storyteller Anuradha Roy delivers a poetic and ambitious novel about the pursuit of art, love and beauty in the midst of turbulent times in The Earthspinner.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. Seabreeze Shores by Jan Moran
2. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki with Sharon L. Lechter
3. The DiNuzzo Middle-Market Family Office Breakthrough by P.J. DiNuzzo
4. Song of the Fae by Tricia O'Malley
5. Kiss Hard by Nalini Singh
6. The Locked Door by Freida McFadden
7. Things We Never Got Over by Lucy Score
8. Ruthless Rival by L.J. Shen
9. Shattered Altar by Nicole Fox
10. Owned by a Sinner by Michelle Heard

[Many thanks to!]

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