Every year around this time I'm reminded of the line from Nora Ephron's film You've Got Mail, where the character played by Tom Hanks rhapsodizes about New York City in the autumn, typing to his online pen-pal how he imagines buying school supplies, and sending her "a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils." I always loved this image, not so much for the coziness of the fall setting (or nostalgia for a time in which e-mail was simply a part of our lives and not omnipresent!) but rather for its sense of possibility. Ephron captured the excitement of the future and new projects, and the satisfaction of sharing that enthusiasm with others.
One of the most satisfying points in the life of a book is, oddly enough, long before its publication. It's during the seasonal presentation of new titles, an opportunity for those closest to the manuscript to introduce their passion for writers and manuscripts, for editors to highlight exactly why a title is special, and for teams to envisage potential readers enjoying the finished books–even if that moment may not be for months or seasons to come. Like You've Got Mail's bouquet of pencils, a seasonal meeting becomes a collection of ideas and excitement just waiting to be put on paper, humming with the energy of something new.
Since the novels highlighted below—our version of a pencil bouquet—are each remarkable in their own way, we thought, who better to help introduce them than their editors? In Yonder by Jarabi Asim, a literary "quest-for-freedom novel" exploring love and resilience in the American South of 1852, Executive Editor Eamon Dolan found contemporary themes around race and language which Asim regularly explores in his nonfiction came to life on a fictional page. Carina Guiterman spent more than a year writing fan letters before Tara Isabella Burton's newest novel The World Cannot Give arrived in her inbox, and jumped on it immediately, noting, "only Tara could write a queer, feminist story about Christianity and religious zealotry!" Anna Pitoniak's Our American Friend, a Cold War-era spy thriller crossed with a fictional First Lady's biography, is another result of Guiterman's steady pursuit; having published together at a previous house, she was determined to bring Pitoniak's mastery of complex psychologies and ethical questions to Simon & Schuster. Marysue Rucci, now Publisher of Marysue Rucci Books, was also captivated by examining ethics in Jessamine Chan's debut, The School for Good Mothers, which follows the terrifying lengths a single mother must go to prove herself worthy of her daughter. "Chan mines the impossible standards to which mothers are held," writes Rucci, "and she explodes issues of class, race, power."
These novels all feature the very best fiction has to offer: complicated relationships exploring courage and love, questions of morality and motivations, new voices capturing marginalized experiences, and unforgettable characters who will break your heart as much as they fill you with hope. But right now, they also represent the start to a new season, the promise of next year and an invitation to join in a fresh pursuit.
I couldn't be more impressed with the lineup of novels Simon & Schuster will be publishing next Spring. I hope you'll read on to learn more about these authors and share in our excitement too.
Senior Vice President and Publisher of the Simon & Schuster Imprint