Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, March 14, 2023


Holiday House: Ros Demir Is Not the One by Leyla Brittan

HarperAlley: I Shall Never Fall In Love by Hari Conner

W. W. Norton & Company to Sell and Distribute Yale University Press and Harvard University Press

Clarion Books: The Man Who Didn't Like Animals by Deborah Underwood, Illlustrated by LeUyen Pham

Holiday House: Bye Forever, I Guess by Jodi Meadows and Team Canteen 1: Rocky Road by Amalie Jahn

Wednesday Books: Dust by Alison Stine

News

Greenlight Bookstore Closing Prospect Lefferts Gardens Store

Greenlight Bookstore will be closing its Prospect Lefferts Gardens location at 632 Flatbush Avenue on May 14. Jessica Stockton-Bagnulo, Greenlight's owner and co-founder, announced the impending closure of the store, which opened in 2015, in an e-mail to customers yesterday. She also posted a video on YouTube explaining the decision.

Citing financial challenges since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, with sales falling and costs remaining high, Stockton-Bagnulo noted: "We have done what we can in terms of short term solutions--implementing new marketing strategies, returning inventory, reducing hours, paring back buying, even getting a small business loan--but it's not enough. I've done a lot of crunching our numbers in recent months to figure out how to return to sustainability, and I've had the chance to talk to some smart bookstore colleagues and small business experts for advice. The result of all of these conversations was the same: for the sustainability of Greenlight as a company, we need to close the Flatbush store."

Greenlight opened its Fort Greene bookstore on Fulton St. in 2009, and added Yours Truly, Brooklyn, a stationery store, next door in 2018. Stockton-Bagnulo noted that "as hard as this is, it's the right thing to do for the company. We can focus our efforts on a single physical location (the Fulton bookstore and stationery store), plus the various projects that surround it (ecommerce, offsite events, BAM and other partnerships) and ultimately return to a sustainable level of profit. My goal and expectation is that Greenlight continue to survive to serve the Brooklyn community for years to come."

The closure means some staff will lose their jobs, and Stockton-Bagnulo is working with the bookstore's union on that process. She asked customers to direct questions about the closure to her rather than the staff, noting that "this is fresh news for them and everyone is still processing, and this closure is neither their decision nor their fault. I don't want to stress our staff even more by having them bear the brunt of what I'm sure will be a lot of strong feelings about this; that's my job."

In the YouTube video, Stockton-Bagnulo stressed that the decision to close the Prospect Lefferts Gardens store isn't about the union: "We had already been working on increasing wages for staff to pay folks something more like a living wage. Unionization isn't something that small businesses need to be afraid of."

She also observed: "I think maybe more than any other kind of business, the closure of a bookstore elicits a particular kind of grief. And it's okay, to sit with that grief for as long as we need to. But I hope this closure can avoid some of the typical, mostly unhelpful narratives about why bookstores and other small businesses close. Because ultimately this is a story about a bookstore finding a way to go on."


 Treasure Books, Inc.: There's Treasure Inside by Jon Collins-Black


International Update: Rise Bookselling Conference in Prague; Independent Bookshop Week U.K. Plans

Organized by the European & International Booksellers Federation, the RISE Bookselling Conference, the first European and international bookselling conference of its kind, takes place this coming Sunday and Monday, March 19 and 20, in Prague, the Czech Republic. Some 300 booksellers and others from more than 20 nations, including Europe, the U.S., Australia and Iran, will attend.

Panels address such topics as sustainability and green bookselling; inclusion and representation; innovative ideas; upgrading the backlist; social media; responding to global challenges; and more. From the U.S., Danny Caine, co-owner of the Raven Book Store, Lawrence, Kan., and a member of the board of the American Booksellers Association, is on the stocking & curating and online sales platform panels, and Asha Grant, owner of the Salt Eaters Bookshop, Inglewood, Calif., is on the representation matters panel.

Keynote speakers include Robin Ince, comedian, actor and author of Bibliomaniac, a love letter to U.K. bookshops; Shaun Bythell, author of The Diary of a Bookseller; Malin Persson Giolito, author of Quicksand; Hannah Gold, author of The Last Bear; Lawrence Schimel, author and translator of many children's and adult fiction titles with LGBTQ+ themes; and Lana Bastašić, European Union Prize for Literature laureate and author of Catch the Rabbit.

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The Booksellers Association of the U.K. & Ireland has unveiled initial plans for Independent Bookshop Week, which will take place June 17-24, with authors Maggie O'Farrell, Paterson Joseph and Reverend Richard Coles confirmed as ambassadors, the Bookseller reported. More than 700 independent bookshops will take part in the festivities, the highest number to date. The aim is to celebrate independent booksellers and their shops, highlighting the role they play in their local communities and high streets.

This year's IBW children's bag will feature Cressida Cowell's How to Train Your Dragon artwork, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the popular children's book series. Another early initiative for IBW 2023 will involve local artists working with independent bookshops to create bespoke window art for Richard Osman's The Thursday Murder Club books. 

To support the campaign, Dean Atta, poet and author of The Black Flamingo, has created an IBW poem, "Thank You to the Independent Booksellers," which will be shared on social media June 21. 

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Rookery Books in Cambridge, Ont., Canada, was the focus of Quill & Quire's latest Shop Talk feature. Owner Alice Drysdale opened the bookshop in December and hosted a grand opening on January 21. Among the highlights from the q&a:

How has the community responded to the store?
The community here has been nothing short of amazing. Everyone has been so excited and welcoming of the store. My own interests and curation priorities have meshed extremely well with the sensibilities and interests of the readers here. I honestly could not ask for a better reception. I feel quite embraced by the community.

What are your goals for the bookstore? Does the store have any special focus?
My primary goal with the store is to give attention to books or authors that might not otherwise see attention at larger stores. My hope is to give space to underrepresented voices and topics in literature and to help expand my readers' experiences through strong curation and recommendation. Potential profits are not a priority. I hope to create a positive space that serves the community and its individual members.

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Ōtautahi Pride in New Zealand: Scorpio Books, Christchurch, posted on Instagram: "Ōtautahi Pride begins tomorrow! The quote on our chalkboard reads 'Books act like a developing fluid on film. That is, they bring into consciousness what you didn't know you knew.' (Clifton Fadiman) So here's to books that show us parts of ourselves, be it conscious or unconscious, and to books that introduce us to lives different from our own, too. Happy pride." --Robert Gray


Help a Bookseller, Change a Life: Give today to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation!


Gibbs Smith Certified as B Corp

Gibbs Smith has been certified by B Lab as a B Corporation (B Corp) after meeting rigorous social and environmental standards, representing the company's commitment to goals outside shareholder profit. It now boasts of being "the only 100% employee-owned, certified B Corp publisher and distributor in the U.S." There are some 6,200 B Corps in the world, including Bookshop.org.

Gibbs Smith, with headquarters in Layton, Utah, was organized as a Benefit Corporation when employees bought half of company in 2015. Employees bought the other half last year, and the company was certified as a B Corp on February 4.

CEO Brad Farmer commented: "We are 100% employee-owned and are accountable and transparent to employee-owners as we work to contribute to their financial, physical, professional, and social well-being. We give back to local communities with in-kind charitable donations and by giving our time and skills to help them thrive. We continually improve our environmental stewardship. Our physical office facilities, business travel, production/printing, and outbound shipping are all carbon neutral. Being a certified B Corp is a perfect fit for us."

Annie Agle, senior director of impact and sustainability at Cotopaxi, also a B Corp, and a member of the Gibbs Smith board of directors, said, "Certification shows that [Gibbs Smith] adhere to the highest standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. Welcome to the movement of businesses determined to create positive change in the world."

And employee-owner McKensie Shiner, web content specialist, said, "Being a certified B Corp makes me so proud of Gibbs Smith as a whole, from our transparency with one another in terms of revenue and environmental practices, to knowing that the work we put in every day will be given back to us with benefits like our unlimited time off policy and profit-sharing bonuses."


Obituary Note: Kenzaburo Oe

Kenzaburo Oe

Nobel literature laureate Kenzaburo Oe, "whose darkly poetic novels were built from his childhood memories during Japan's postwar occupation and from being the parent of a disabled son," died March 3, the Associated Press reported. He was 88. His publisher, Kodansha, confirmed his death, but did not give details.

In 1994, Oe became the second Japanese author awarded the Nobel Prize in literature (after Yasunari Kawabata in 1968). The Swedish Academy cited Oe for his works of fiction, in which "poetic force creates an imagined world where life and myth condense to form a disconcerting picture of the human predicament today."

Childhood wartime memories strongly influenced the story that marked Oe's literary debut, "The Catch," which was published in 1958 when Oe was still a university student and won Japan's prestigious Akutagawa Prize for new writers. He also wrote nonfiction books about Hiroshima's devastation and rise after the 1945 U.S. atomic bombing, as well as about Okinawa and its postwar U.S. occupation. As an activist, Oe campaigned for peace and anti-nuclear causes and often appeared at rallies. 

His "most searing works were influenced by the birth of Oe's mentally disabled son in 1963. A Personal Matter, published a year later, is the story of a father coming to terms through darkness and pain with the birth of a brain-damaged son. Several of his later works have a damaged or deformed child with symbolic significance, with the stories and characters evolving and maturing as Oe's son aged," the AP noted. 

"I was trained as a writer and as a human being by the birth of my son," he told the Guardian in 2005. His son, Hikari, went on to become a musical prodigy and an award-winning composer. Oe has said his son's music sold "better than any of my novels, and I'm proud of that."

Oe wrote about many fictional fathers with disabled sons, in books like The Silent Cry and A Quiet Life, which was adapted into a film by Oe's sister-in-law, the director Juzo Itami, with a score based on Hikari's compositions, the Guardian noted. In 1995, he wrote a bestselling essay collection, A Healing Family, in which he credited Hikari for teaching him the healing power of art. 

Henry Miller once likened Oe to Dostoevsky, in his "range of hope and despair," while Edward Said, a friend for 20 years, noted his "extraordinary power of sympathetic understanding," the Guardian reported. Fellow Nobel laureate Kazuo Ishiguro once described him as "genuinely decent, modest, surprisingly open and honest, and very unconcerned about fame," while his translator, John Nathan, credited him with "creating a language of his own, in the manner of Faulkner and few Japanese writers before him."

In the early 1990s, Oe vowed to stop writing fiction, saying Hikari had now found his own voice, and that the three books in his the Flaming Green Tree trilogy signaled his career coming full circle. But after winning the Nobel Prize, he continued to write into his late 70s, with his final book, Bannen Youshiki shū (In Reito Sutairu) (In Late Style) published in 2013. 

Novelist Fuminori Nakamura, who in 2010 received the now-discontinued Oe Kenzaburo award, told Kyodo News that his death was "truly a loss to the whole world.... He was a writer who wrote deeply on people's inner lives, and his work was hugely impressive."


G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
Private Rites
by Julia Armfield
GLOW: Flatiron Books: Private Rites by Julia Armfield

In Private Rites, Julia Armfield (Our Wives Under the Sea; salt slow) offers an atmospheric meditation on sisterhood and loss at the end of the world. Living in a bleak, water-inundated city where the rain rarely stops, Isla, Irene, and Agnes are shocked at the abrupt death of their father, who has left his house to only one of them. As they grapple with his last manipulation, they must grapple, too, with what it means to have relationships with each other beyond his reach. As Flatiron Books executive editor Caroline Bleeke notes, Armfield's novel may be about "difficult things," yet it "manages to be so funny, so loving, so brilliant, and so beautifully, singularly written." Private Rites is a testament to the light that can be found in each other, even in the darkest of times. --Alice Martin

(Flatiron, $27.99 Hardcover, 9781250344311, December 3, 2024)

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Notes

Image of the Day: Tea with the Duchess of York and Jodi Picoult

Park Books in Severna Park, Md., presented an appearance by Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York (r.), who discussed her novel A Most Intriguing Lady (Avon) with author Jodi Picoult. The sold-out event took place at Maryland Hall in Annapolis, and Park Books owner Melody Wukitch reported that more than 630 people attended and the store sold 766 signed copies of the Duchess's book, along with signed copies of several of Picoult's titles. The store also arranged for a harpist to perform and brought in a traditional English tea service, which Ferguson and Picoult enjoyed on-stage. Wukitch added, "The chemistry between the two women was really spectacular. In my introduction I focused on the strength of a network and women supporting one another. Both authors really clung to that as well."


Reading Group Choices' Most Popular February Books

The two most popular books in February at Reading Group Choices were The Confidante: The Untold Story of the Woman Who Helped Win WWII and Shape Modern America by Christoper C. Gorham (Citadel) and The Ways We Hide: A Novel by Kristina McMorris (Sourcebooks Landmark).


Chalkboard: Old Firehouse Books

"Our bookseller Sterling has started doing our signs outside and we wanted to show them off a little," Old Firehouse Books, Fort Collins, Colo., noted in sharing a photo on Facebook of the shop's sidewalk chalkboard message: "Grow your shelf."


Personnel Changes at Ecco; Hachette Audio

Cordelia Calvert has joined Ecco as director of publicity. She was formerly director of publicity at Norton's Liveright Publishing.

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Nita Basu has been promoted to associate director, social media, publicity and marketing for Hachette Audio. She is a member of Hachette Book Group's diversity advisory board and a co-lead of the company's non-majority religion ERG. Nita is also president of the Publishers Advertising & Marketing Association,


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Becky Kennedy on Live with Kelly and Ryan

Tomorrow:
CBS Mornings: Sam Acho, author of Change Starts with You: Following Your Fire to Heal a Broken World (Thomas Nelson, $28.99, 9781400237999).

Good Morning America: Ronnie Woo, author of Did You Eat Yet?: Craveable Recipes from an All-American Asian Chef (Harvest, $32.50, 9780358581697).

Live with Kelly and Ryan: Becky Kennedy, author of Good Inside: A Guide to Becoming the Parent You Want to Be (Harper Wave, $28.99, 9780063159488).

Watch What Happens Live: Danny Pellegrino, author of How Do I Un-Remember This?: Unfortunately True Stories (Sourcebooks, $25.99, 9781728247984).


Movies: HappyHead

Range Media Partners and actor-producer Taron Egerton (Black Bird) have acquired screen rights to Josh Silver's upcoming novel HappyHead in "a highly competitive landscape with multiple offers," with plans to adapt it into a film, Deadline reported. Set to be published in the U.K. this week, HappyHead is the first in a planned series. 

"I am beyond thrilled that Range Media Partners and Taron will be developing HappyHead for the screen. Their passion and creative vision is inspiring, and I can't wait to be a part of this journey with them. They are the perfect home for it," Silver said.

Egerton and Range will be equal partners on the project involving all creative and business aspects, but Egerton has no plans to star, noting: "I read Josh's book in one sitting. It was immediately clear to me that it is something special. I could not be more excited to be a part of the team bringing this story to the screen."



Books & Authors

Awards: Wingate Literary Winner

Simon Parkin won the £4,000 (about $4,870) Wingate Literary Prize, which honors "the best book, fiction or nonfiction, to translate the idea of Jewishness to the general reader," for The Island of Extraordinary Captives.

Aviva Dautch, chair of the judges, said: "All seven of the shortlisted books were exceptionally strong. The range of subjects and genres made choosing the winner very difficult, but we judges felt that The Island of Extraordinary Captives particularly fitted the criteria of the Wingate Prize to communicate lived Jewish experience to the general reader.

"Simon Parkin's well-researched and beautifully written book is a testament to how the Jewish refugees interned by the British as 'enemy aliens' on the Isle of Man during the Second World War, 'turned a prison into a university, a camp into a cultural center.' "


Book Review

Review: Enter Ghost

Enter Ghost by Isabella Hammad (Grove Press, $28 hardcover, 336p., 9780802162380, April 4, 2023)

An actress visiting her sister in Haifa, Israel, agrees to play Queen Gertrude in an Arabic-language production of Hamlet in Enter Ghost, a provocative international drama by award-winning author Isabella Hammad. Narrated by Sonia Nasir, a Dutch-Palestinian with ingénue looks and a moderately successful career on the London stage, Hammad's enthralling second novel expertly navigates tensions in present-day Arab-Israeli relations with rare literary grace and insight.

Sonia and her sister, Haneen, were raised in England and spent childhood summers at their grandparents' sprawling home in Haifa, the Nasir family one of the fortunate ones not forcibly ousted during the '48 war. Sonia remained in England while Haneen moved to Israel. Haneen leads a quiet life commuting to her teaching job at the University of Tel Aviv, in contrast to Sonia, a fixture on the theater party scene and the ex-mistress of a prominent, and married, director.

Despairing over the end of the affair, Sonia yearns for connection with Haneen, an opening in which to bare her soul, but the sisters fall into predictable patterns of defensiveness and hurt, the "complicated sediment" of which goes deep into their shared past. When Haneen's charismatic friend Mariam invites Sonia to join the cast of the Hamlet production she is directing in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Sonia accepts as a favor to Mariam. Ultimately, though, the decision is a fortuitous one, leading to an uplifting personal transformation and a reconciliation with Haneen neither of them could have anticipated.

For Mariam, the play is an act of artistic resistance and a show of Palestinian cultural unity, with actors from Bethlehem, Ramallah, Nablus and Haifa. The production is imperiled when Israeli soldiers confiscate the elaborate set and detain Mariam's politician brother, Salim, a member of the Israeli parliament, suspicious of his motives and involvement with the production. As suspense builds over the play's future, cast members find themselves unifying around their common goal of bringing Hamlet to the West Bank.

Exquisitely illuminated by the author's tender writing, Sonia's experience of the daily tectonic strain between occupier and occupied, a "throwback to the intifada summers of [her] adolescence," leads to a new, deeper appreciation of her ancient heritage and her natural place in it. Hammad's first novel, the sweeping historical masterpiece The Parisian, made an impressive debut on the global literary stage. Enter Ghost is destined for a similarly exuberant and well-deserved reception. --Shahina Piyarali, reviewer

Shelf Talker: A London actress joins the cast of an Arabic-language production of Hamlet in the West Bank in this provocative international drama about the power of political resistance through art.


The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by IndieReader.com:

1. Trust Your Increments by Laura Casselman
2. Toe the Line by Penelope Ward
3. Done: A Simple and Proven System to Earn More While Managing Less by Brad Callen
4. Chasing Sunsets (South Carolina Sunsets Book 10) by Rachel Hanna
5. A Game of Malice and Greed by Caroline Peckham and Susanne Valenti
6. Clue Krewe (Miss Fortune Mysteries Book 24) by Jana DeLeon
7. Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves
8. Things We Hide from the Light by Lucy Score
9. Right Man, Right Time by Meghan Quinn
10. Things We Never Got Over by Lucy Score

[Many thanks to IndieReader.com!]


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