Shelf Awareness for Thursday, October 26, 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


Scholastic Backtracks on Book Fair Policy

Following widespread criticism, Scholastic will no longer put diverse books into a separate, optional catalog for school book fairs, the New York Times reported.

The catalog, which was dubbed "Share Every Story, Celebrate Every Voice," contained 64 titles pertaining to race, gender, and LGBTQ identities. They ranged from biographies of John Lewis to picture books depicting families with same-sex parents, and book fair organizers could choose to opt out of specific titles or the entire catalog.

Scholastic said it created the separate catalog in response to the many new state laws banning or restricting similar content in schools, and when the company acknowledged the new policy earlier this month, it said it had faced an "impossible dilemma" of either backing away from such titles entirely or exposing teachers, librarians, and book fair volunteers to risk.

The backlash was immediate and, in a letter quoted in the Times, Scholastic apologized to its authors and illustrators this week, pledging "to stand with you as we redouble our efforts to combat the laws restricting children's access to books."

Jonathan Friedman, director of PEN America's free expression and education program, wrote of the reversal: "Scholastic recognized that, as difficult a bind as this pernicious legislation created, the right answer was not to become an accessory to censorship. Scholastic is an essential source of knowledge and a delight for countless children. We are glad to see them champion the freedom to read."

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

Dates Set for New Voices New Rooms 2024

The New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association and the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance have announced the dates for next year's New Voices New Rooms conference: Thursday, August 8, through Sunday, August 11, 2024.

The conference will be returning to the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, Va., with NAIBA and SIBA noting that the switch to weekend dates hopefully will allow seasonal stores to send a staffer. There will be an expanded exhibit floor, more author events, region-specific programming, and an expanded focus on genre picks. Additionally, SIBA and NAIBA will award more travel grants to bookstores and there will be options for day passes.

Applications for scholarships will open on January 16, as will reservations for exhibit space and a call for authors. Bookseller registration will open on April 2.

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

Notes from Frankfurt: 'A Trinity of Freedoms'; Mercier Press; A Slovenian Publisher/Bookseller

At the International Publishers Association's Freedom to Publish Open Meeting last week at the Frankfurt Book Fair, IPA president Karine Pansa, owner and publishing director of Girassol Brasil Edições in Brazil, said that threats from "outside our sector and within" exist against the trinity of freedoms most important to publishing: "freedom of expression, freedom to publish, and freedom to read."

Karine Pansa

The threats affect trade, education, and STM. While fewer countries use "draconian censorship laws with official state censors," more countries use "other tools" to ban and limit access to books and disrupt publishing and bookselling, including imprisoning publishers to intimidate others; protection-of-minors laws that take certain books off shelves; the abusive use of defamation laws; pressure groups that push to have books removed from school libraries; and even pressure groups from within publishing houses against potential authors with problematic views.

These forces have led to many cases of self-censorship, Pansa continued, with publishers choosing not to publish a certain book or sign a certain author and booksellers not buying certain books. "Our freedom to publish suffers when self-censorship is allowed to take hold," she commented.

In the state of São Paulo in Brazil, Pansa said, the local government attempted to bypass publishers to create its own digital material. Publishers were able to derail that plan through a lawsuit, but governments in Mexico and the Dominican Republic continue efforts to take over textbook publishing, something that has unfortunately succeeded in Hungary.


Celebrating its 80th anniversary next year, Mercier Press was shortlisted for the IPA's Prix Voltaire, for fighting for free expression in Ireland, a country where for many years the Catholic Church and the government combined to censor a variety of books dealing with social, culture, religious, and political issues. (Until 1960, the word "pregnant" did not appear in print in Ireland, for example.)

Many books published by Mercier Press have been groundbreaking, including One Day in My Life by Bobby Sands, the IRA political prisoner who died 66 days into a hunger strike in 1981. When his prison memoir was published in 1983, one of the major booksellers in Ireland refused to sell the book, and others were hesitant. Dee Collins recalled that Mercier Press's John Spillane then visited a bookseller in Northern Ireland whose response was one of the best we've ever heard concerning controversial titles. The bookseller said, "If I don't sell it, one side will be at me. If I do sell it, the other side will be at me. Give me 20."


Zala Zagoršek Golob

At the European & International Booksellers Federation conference, Zala Zagoršek Golob of VigeVageKnjige in Slovenia, the guest country at the fair this year, outlined the Slovenian book market and the scrappy, creative ways the publisher and bookseller she works for operates.

Founded in 2012, VigeVageKnjige has eight staff members, who do a range of things, and are "close knit," with no strict hierarchy or set boundaries. (Golob herself handles rights and events, among other things.) The house has published 63 titles, specializing in graphic novels and comic books translated from many languages--because "we wanted to bring something new to our country," which, with a population of two million, is a small market. The house publishes at least one original Slovene book a year and emphasizes using local businesses for printing, binding, etc.

Many of VigeVageKnjige's titles are about "taboo subjects," Golob said, targeting themes that have not been addressed in major ways in Slovenia, including a book with an intersexual character and a title about the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris in 2015. The house often publishes books that it knows won't be bestsellers because those books are important for improving literacy and opening up the Slovenian book market to new subjects and areas.

Golob called the market for graphic novels in Slovenia undeveloped. As part of its work, VigeVageKnjige has done such things as invented a Slovenian word for graphic novel, which was "a word of the year" in 2019. Because literary critics and reviewers "said they didn't know how to critique graphic novels," the house held a workshop for critics and reviewers featuring Rachel Cooke, who reviews graphic novels for the Guardian. In an effort to get Slovenian writers to write graphic novels, the house held a workshop on screenwriting.

The house also puts on major events for titles, preferring "limited spaces is always better than unlimited spaces," and aiming to build community.

VigeVageKnjige opened its first bookstore in April, deciding on a location in Maribor and not in Ljubljana, the capital, since "centralization is really strong in Slovenia." Observing that towns and cities in Slovenia are very "locale patriotic," Golob said the company wanted to connect with that sentiment. The store is only 172 square feet so the inventory is "really curated," featuring about 600 titles handpicked by several of the staff. "We know what we're selling," she said.

The store offers suppliers favorable terms so that it attracts small, independent, and micro publishers that can't handle the less favorable terms of the country's largest bookstore chain. --John Mutter

Obituary Note: Eva Kollisch

Eva Kollisch, "who escaped Nazi-occupied Austria when she was a teenager to become an American professor and memoirist who broke new ground in feminist studies and championed equal rights for lesbians," died October 10, the New York Times reported. She was 98.

The author of two memoirs, Girl in Movement (2000) and The Ground Under My Feet (2007), Kollisch taught for 30 years at Sarah Lawrence College where, with Gerda Lerner, Joan Kelly and Sherry Ortner, she helped introduce a women's studies curriculum. 

Kollisch's memoir The Ground Under My Feet documents, in part, her childhood and her time spent in Nazi-occupied Austria. Born in Vienna, she was raised in a prosperous, secular Jewish family. When she was 13 and the Nazis annexed Austria, she was sent to a boarding school in Vienna for Jewish girls. In 1939, her parents placed her and her brothers on a Kindertransport train. The family was reunited in New York in 1940. 

Kollisch's brief marriage in 1942 to Stanley Plastrik, who helped found Dissent magazine, ended in divorce. She later married Gert Berliner, an Abstract Expressionist artist and fellow refugee. They were among the founders and operators of Cafe Rienzi, "a bohemian haunt  in a former noodle factory on MacDougal Street in Greenwich Village that was frequented by Allen Ginsberg, James Baldwin, Jack Kerouac and Richard Wright in the early 1950s," the Times noted.

After her second marriage ended, Kollisch, who had graduated with a bachelor's degree in German literature from Brooklyn College in 1951, earned a master's in German from Columbia University in 1963, the same year she was hired at Sarah Lawrence. While teaching there, she worked closely with her colleague and Greenwich Village neighbor Grace Paley, the writer and social activist.

In 2009, Kollisch married her partner, Naomi Replansky, a poet and labor activist. The Times noted that Kollisch "was unusually candid for the time about gay rights, and about her own sexual orientation. In an interview for the Smith College Voices of Feminism Oral History Project in 2004, she explained that she never felt entirely comfortable revealing her private life but believed she was, in a way, obligated to herself and to the gay and lesbian rights movement."

"You know, I'm one of these people for whom the emotional, sexual, private life is a very private thing," she said. "It was a real burden to me to have to discuss it and to make it public, because it doesn't feel quite natural to tell people who don't know you whom you love, or why you love them."

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)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported


Image of the Day: Wimpy Kid Halloween

Abrams staffers gathered for a Halloween/pub date party to celebrate No Brainer: Diary of Wimpy Kid, the 18th book in Jeff Kinney's series.  

PRH Grupo Editorial to Distribute Grupo Nivel Uno

Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial will handle sales and distribution worldwide of both the Editorial Nivel Uno and the Casa Creación imprints of Grupo Nivel Uno, effective February 1, 2024. Under the agreement, Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial will take on the exclusive distribution of the catalog of titles of Grupo Nivel Uno, Miami, Fla., which was founded in 2001.

Grupo Nivel Uno's main imprint, Casa Creación, is best known for its commitment to the Spanish-speaking Charismatic Church. Casa Creación publishes such popular authors as Joyce Meyer, John Eckhardt, Jonathan Cahn, Benny Hinn, and Robert Morris as well as Hispanic authors like Lis Milland, Edwin Castro, and Rey Matos. The new distribution agreement should help these authors reach more readers in both the Christian channel as well as the general trade.

Sergio Daldi, president and owner of Grupo Nivel Uno, said, "First of all, I would like to thank God and express how thrilled I am for this strategic alliance with Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial. I am also pleased that this agreement will project the distribution of our editorial lines, Nivel Uno and Casa Creación, on a global scale, while at the same time enriching the Hispanic market with world-class authors."

Silvia Matute, president, Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial USA, said, "We are excited to partner with Sergio Daldi to help grow Grupo Nivel Uno as we expand the company's distribution in both the U.S. and internationally."

Personnel Changes at Audere Media

Brian Ulicky is joining Audere Media as v-p, executive director. He was most recently associate publisher at the New Press. A 20-year veteran of the publishing industry, Ulicky has also held senior publicity positions at Simon & Schuster and Blue Rider Press.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Cedric the Entertainer on the Talk

Good Morning America: David Platt, author of Don't Hold Back: Leaving Behind the American Gospel to Follow Jesus Fully (Multnomah, $25, 9780735291447).

The View: Keegan-Michael Key and Elle Key, authors of The History of Sketch Comedy: A Journey through the Art and Craft of Humor (Chronicle, $29.95, 9781797216836).

The Talk: Cedric the Entertainer, author of Flipping Boxcars: A Novel (Amistad, $30, 9780063258990).

This Weekend on Book TV: The Brooklyn Book Festival

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this weekend from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, October 28
3:50 p.m. Peter Cozzens, author of A Brutal Reckoning: Andrew Jackson, the Creek Indians, and the Epic War for the American South (Knopf, $35, 9780525659457).

4:55 p.m. Benjamin Carp, author of The Great New York Fire of 1776: A Lost Story of the American Revolution (Yale University Press, $30, 9780300246957).

6:05 p.m. Robert P. Watson, author of When Washington Burned: The British Invasion of the Capital and a Nation's Rise from the Ashes (Georgetown University Press, $29.95, 9781647123505).

7:10 p.m. Douglas Brunt, author of The Mysterious Case of Rudolf Diesel: Genius, Power, and Deception on the Eve of World War I (Atria, $28.99, 9781982169909).

Sunday, October 29
8 a.m. Cenk Uygur, author of Justice Is Coming: How Progressives Are Going to Take Over the Country and America Is Going to Love It (‎St. Martin's Press, $30, 9781250272799). (Re-airs Sunday at 8 p.m.)

10 a.m. Martin Baron, author of Collision of Power: Trump, Bezos, and the Washington Post (Flatiron, $34.99, 9781250844200). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

2 to 6:25 p.m. Coverage of the 2023 Brooklyn Book Festival in New York City. Highlights include:

  • 2 p.m. A discussion on artificial intelligence with David Auerbach, Calvin Lawrence, and Jacob Ward.
  • 2:54 p.m. A discussion on the history and legacy of American slavery with Rachel Swarns, Nick Tabor, and Kidada Williams.
  • 3:45 p.m. A discussion on drag, dancing and cultural consciousness with Charles Busch, Elyssa Goodman, and Ricky Tucker.
  • 4:35 p.m. A discussion on white supremacy and racist violence with Wesley Lowery, Robert Samuels, and Toluse Olorunnipa.
  • 5:29 p.m. A discussion on racial justice with Miriam Baer, Chrisopher Harris, and Jocelyn Simonson.

6:25 p.m. Martha Hodes, author of My Hijacking: A Personal History of Forgetting and Remembering (Harper, $32, 9780062699794).

Books & Authors

Awards: Berman Literature Winner

In Memory of Memory by Russian author Maria Stepanova is the 2023 recipient of the 750,000 Swedish kronor (about $67,485) Berman Literature Prize, which recognizes an author whose works embody the statutes of the prize "in the spirit of the Jewish tradition and literary works aiming to explore the rich Jewish culture and at the same time 'exceed times and cultures' thereby striving for the universally human."

The prize jury commented: "Maria Stepanova is being awarded the 2023 Berman Literature Prize for her genre transcending family saga In Memory of Memory. With winding, finely honed prose she breathes life into pictures, objects, places and documents, in a portrayal of the transformative power of memory, both for individuals and for forgotten collectives."

Jury chairman Daniel Pedersen called In Memory of Memory "a wonderful book in which poetic reflections, theoretical reasoning and family saga are united and truly capture both individual and collective destiny in a remarkable literary construction."

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, October 31:

Absolution: A Novel by Alice McDermott (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $28, 9780374610487) follows the wives of American soldiers looking back at their time living in Saigon.

Dirty Thirty by Janet Evanovich (Atria, $29.99, 9781668003091) is the 30th mystery with bounty hunter Stephanie Plum.

From a Far and Lovely Country by Alexander McCall Smith (Pantheon, $28, 9780593316993) is the 24th No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency mystery.

Being Henry: The Fonz... and Beyond by Henry Winkler (Celadon, $30, 9781250888099) is the memoir of the actor and author.

Energy Follows Thought: The Stories Behind My Songs by Willie Nelson, David Ritz and Mickey Raphael (Morrow, $50, 9780063272200) explores the lyrics of Nelson's favorite 160 songs.

Stranger Things: Flight of Icarus by Caitlin Schneiderhan (Random House Worlds, $28.99, 9780593723241) ties in to Neflix's Stranger Things series.

Noblesse Volume One by Jeho Son, illus. by Kwangsu Lee (WEBTOON Unscrolled, $18.99, 9781990778940) features a young man starting high school after waking up from an 820-year sleep.

Juniper's Christmas by Eoin Colfer (Roaring Brook, $22.99, 9781250321947) is a middle-grade novel about a girl determined to save Santa's magic.

Septology by Jon Fosse, trans. by Damion Searls (Transit Books, $22.95, 9781945492754).

A Shining by Jon Fosse, trans. by Damion Searls (Transit Books, $16.95, 9781945492778).

The Destructionists: The Twenty-Five Year Crack-Up of the Republican Party by Dana Milbank (Anchor, $19, 9780593466391).

The Wizard of the Kremlin: A Novel by Giuliano da Empoli, trans. by Willard Wood (Other Press, $16.99, 9781635423952).

Nestlings by Nat Cassidy (Tor Nightfire, $18.99, 9781250265258).

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

Death Valley: A Novel by Melissa Broder (Scribner, $27, 9781668024843). "A hike becomes a metaphysical journey straight into the center of grief, featuring literature's most memorable cactus. Broder delivers us directly to the site of the wound and somehow makes us want to linger. Beautiful, exciting, and profound." --Kristen Iskandrian, Thank You Books, Birmingham, Ala.

Family Meal: A Novel by Bryan Washington (Riverhead, $28, 9780593421093). "Family Meal is a heartbreaking story of love, loss, and grief. Cam returns to Houston after the love of his life, Kai, dies. He and his estranged best friend, TJ, try to work through their grief and past hurts. A painful, gorgeous read." --Kristen Beverly, Half Price Books, Dallas, Tex.

Cleat Cute: A Novel by Meryl Wilsner (St. Martin's Griffin, $18, 9781250873309). "Meryl Wilsner is a must-read author! Grace and Phoebe's sexy sapphic love story centers around their training as members of the U.S. Women's National soccer team. Spicy and sweet, you'll fall in love so fast and be sad when the book is over." --Andrea Richardson, Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, Va.

For Ages 0 to 8
How to Eat a Book by Mrs. & Mr. MacLeod (Union Square Kids, $17.99, 9781454945444). "How to Eat a Book brings out the whimsy in all curious children. Filled with beautiful and creative illustrations made from art dioramas, the story explains to children just how my adult soul feels when lost in a book." --Dusty Baker, Austy's, Salem, Ind.

For Ages 10+ (Indies Introduce)
Children of Stardust by Edudzi Adodo (Norton Young Readers, $18.95, 9781324030775). "A middle grade space opera infused with African culture and mythologies. Zero is on a quest to be a legendary Saba--to find lost treasures and hunt down criminals. There were twists and turns on every page; I cannot recommend this enough!" --Joseline Diaz, Kepler's Books, Menlo Park, Calif.

For Teen Readers
After Dark with Roxie Clark by Brooke Lauren Davis (Bloomsbury YA, $18.99, 9781547606146). "After Dark with Roxie Clark's small-town October ghost tour setting is spot on, and Roxie herself is just weird enough to put you firmly in her corner. Throw in a brutal murder and a family curse, and you're in for a wild ride--hang tight." --Maggie Henriksen, Carmichael's Bookstore, Louisville, Ky.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: Familia

Familia by Lauren E. Rico (Kensington, $17.95 paperback, 368p., 9781496744647, December 26, 2023)

Family haunts the novel Familia by self-described "longtime radio host and short-time writer" Lauren E. Rico--family splintered, reconciled, and reinvented. Rico quickly establishes her story in the first chapter: Gabby DiMarco takes a genealogy test as research for her magazine job and finds not only "the wrong ethnic breakdown," but that she has "a full sister," Isabella Ruíz. Three hundred fast-paced pages follow, jumping back and forth between Gabby's and Isabella's narratives, from Today and That Day, to nimbly reveal the multilayered repercussions of what happened 25 years ago.

Gabby always thought she was the "only child of only children." She grew up happy, adored, privileged. She owns her Brooklyn apartment. She's a fact-checker at a popular magazine and hopes to grow into a journalist. She agreed to send in her DNA sample for an office assignment only because both her parents have died, leaving her without any relatives, and she "hoped I'd find a long-lost cousin somewhere." She never expected to find Isabella and an enormous extended family in Puerto Rico--especially when she always believed she was of Italian descent. Her loving parents never even hinted she was adopted. If Isabella is right, then Gabby's whole life has been a tragic lie. She heads to San Juan, expecting to confirm the testing company has made a grave mistake.

For Gabby to believe Isabella is actually her sister is to admit that her parents were kidnappers who stole a seven-month-old baby from her widowed father and sister. Because that's what happened in the unresolved Marianna Ruíz cold case that still haunts the public's imagination. Isabella, just five years old when Marianna disappeared, has spent her entire life searching for her. The first thing Gabby demands of Isabella when they meet is another DNA test; while awaiting the conclusive results, the strangers-maybe-sisters channel their inner Nancy Drews, chasing down interviews, unearthing new evidence to determine what really happened on that tragic day Marianna disappeared.

Rico's novel is a love letter to her heritage, who proudly claims "sixty-nine genera­tions of ancestors on the island dating back to the year 245 AD!" Her descriptions of the island's neighborhoods (especially street art), traditions (fairy-tale quinceañeras), and iconic dishes enable an immersive experience as the would-be sisters follow elusive leads and bypass previous dead ends. Rico cleverly balances a diverse supporting cast, both unreliable and persuasive. Even as Rico highlights connections by blood, she repeatedly reminds readers, "It's not about who we share our DNA with so much as who we share our heart with." --Terry Hong, BookDragon

Shelf Talker: Lauren E. Rico dexterously dissects a 25-year-old cold case involving a missing seven-month-old who, as an adult, may have returned to Puerto Rico to explore potential familial connections.

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