Shelf Awareness for Thursday, September 24, 2015

Shambhala: Wait: A Love Letter to Those in Despair by Cuong Lu

Other Press: Nuestra América: My Family in the Vertigo of Translation by Claudio Lomnitz

Scholastic Press: Muted by Tami Charles

Berkley Books: The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba by Chanel Cleeton


National Book Foundation to Honor James Patterson

The National Book Foundation will give its 2015 Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community to bestselling author James Patterson in recognition of his "contributions to the vitality of American literary culture." NBF executive director Harold Augenbraum said Patterson's "dedication to the expansion of reading is closer to a crusade than an avocation. Its fervor seems to increase with each passing year."

The NBF noted that for the past decade, Patterson "has been a passionate campaigner to make books and reading a national priority. A generous supporter of universities, teachers colleges, independent bookstores, school libraries, and college students, Patterson has donated millions of dollars in grants and scholarships with the purpose of encouraging Americans of all ages to read more books. Patterson has donated over 250,000 books to children in the United States and over 650,000 books to U.S. soldiers, and created the website ReadKiddoRead--a National Book Foundation Innovations in Reading Prize Winner--to help families develop healthy reading habits."

This year's National Book Awards will be presented November 18 in New York City.

Aftershock Comics: Kill a Man by Steve Orlando and Phillip Kennedy Johnson, illustrated by Alec Morgan

Bluestockings Bookstore Launches Crowdfunding Campaign

Bluestockings Bookstore in New York City has launched an IndieGoGo campaign with the goal of raising $50,000 to remodel the storefront; update computers, software, sound and café equipment; and continue to expand its inventory and purchase new items. DNAInfo reported the owners "put off repairs because they were unsure if they could afford to stay at 172 Allen St. after their lease expired earlier this year. They decided to move forward with the work after signing a new, five-year lease in June."

"The money that we've taken in, we use to run the space day to day and it doesn't leave a lot of money lying around for these big, onetime projects," said co-owner Sarah Olle, noting that sales for 2015 have been one of the strongest in recent years so far, but the shop hasn't earned enough for these projects and a rent increase of 22% under the new lease.  

"We think that the rent increases were proportional to what is happening around us, but it's still a challenge on a small business," she said. "We want to have a building that's a comfortable space for people to hang out, have fun and to discuss literature and feminism. We just need a little help to get there."

GLOW: Beacon Press: Boyz n the Void: a mixtape to my brother by G'Ra Asim

PEN American Center: New Deputy Director, Public Programs

Clarisse Rosaz Shariyf has joined the PEN American Center as deputy director of public programs. A native of Martinique, she has more than a decade of experience in curating public arts, educational and advocacy programs at the New York Public Library's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

"Clarisse joins PEN at a pivotal time, when a fast-growing audience is tuning in to our uniquely international and distinctly political brand of public programming that spans literature, spoken word, visual arts, music, and the digital sphere," said Paul Morris, director of literary programs at PEN. "With a background that blends arts, history, technology, and activism, she is uniquely equipped to help PEN reach new audiences ready to celebrate the power of the written word to provoke, motivate, and inspire."

Berkley Books: Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q Sutanto

BA President Calls for 'Civilised Saturday' in U.K.

Tim Walker

At the Booksellers Association's annual conference, Tim Walker, owner of Walker's Bookshops and BA president, called on booksellers to create an event to mark "Civilised Saturday" on November 28, the day after Black Friday, the Bookseller reported.  

Walker said the third industry-wide Books Are My Bag promotion will take place October 8-10 this year, "but bookshops need a hook to entice customers into stores nearer Christmas too," the Bookseller wrote.  

"Undoubtedly Black Friday will create another media storm this year with pictures on all of the news channels of people fighting each other for flat screen TVs," said Walker. "It cheekily and cleverly uses the inevitable publicity and turns it into a positive and PR-friendly opportunity for bookshops.

"What you do on Civilised Saturday is up to you. It could just be serving tea and cakes in the afternoon or maybe by having an invitation-only event with Prosecco, canapes and a string quartet in the corner. But it gives you the opportunity to give out invitations on October 10th to bring people in again at the end of November."

Walker also addressed the BA's work lobbying the U.K. and European competition authorities over Amazon's dominance of the book market, describing the effort as "the biggest lobbying process the BA has ever undertaken."

Obituary Notes: Phyllis Tickle; Dr. Leon Root

Phyllis Tickle

Phyllis Tickle, who wrote some 30 books about religion, was a poet and editor, and headed the religion department at Publishers Weekly for many years, died on Tuesday. She was 81 and had lung cancer.

"Tickle's works combine the sprawling scope of historian Karen Armstrong with the fine-grained command of sociologist Robert Bellah and the rural sensibilities of poet Wendell Berry," David Gibson wrote in Religion News Service. "Throw in a dash of Thomas Merton's sense and spirituality for good measure."

Among her works were the Divine Hours series and Re-Discovering the Sacred: Spirituality in America, God-Talk in America, The Great Emergence: How Christianity Is Changing and Why and The Age of the Spirit: How the Ghost of an Ancient Controversy Is Shaping the Church.

She was raised Presbyterian and became an Episcopalian. Typically she described herself as "the world's worst, most devout evangelical Episcopalian."

Phyllis was a delight to work with. She was gracious, smart, energetic and irreverently funny. The one time I went to a Christian Booksellers Association show, we walked the aisles together. As we came around a corner and beheld a big booth, Phyllis said, "What the hell are they up to now?" I could barely keep a straight face as she then went up to booth and began charming the crowd. --John Mutter


Dr. Leon Root, "a widely known orthopedic surgeon whose advice books on back pain and osteoporosis reached a broad public, and who created an ambitious program to screen children in Manhattan and the Bronx for disorders of the bones and joints," died Monday the New York Times reported. He was 86. His books included No More Aching Back: Dr. Root’s New 15-Minute-a-Day Program for a Healthy Back.


Image of the Day: Superpope!

As Philadelphia gears up for the visit of Pope Francis to the city, the Penn Book Center paid homage with a window display. According to store owner Ashley Montague, the window has been wildly popular. "We see people every day posing for photos in front of the window," she said. The window has really been driving sales. "People went crazy for the Pope bobbleheads, and sales of the Pope's encyclical on the environment have been great, too."

Happy 20th, Rakestraw Books!

Congratulations to Michael Barnard, who is celebrating his 20th anniversary this year as owner of Rakestraw Books, Danville, Calif. For Barnard, who purchased the store from Mary and Brian Harvey in 1995, "staying in business for 20 years hasn't been easy," the Contra Costa Times reported. "In addition to working six days a week and facing sometimes crushing competition, he's had to change locations four times, most recently to the shopping center next to San Ramon Valley High. And like owners of other surviving Bay Area independents, Barnard doesn't just sell books; he's busy behind the scenes programming events to excite customers and generate buzz."

If independent bookstores nationally are enjoying a renaissance, Barnard said the upswing is "because people still love books, and while they can buy them on Amazon, many in literature-loving regions like the Bay Area also are keen to support their local independents," the Contra Costa Times noted.

50th Anniversary Edition of Stoner Coming in November

This November, New York Review Books will release a hardcover 50th anniversary edition of John Williams's classic novel Stoner. Originally published in 1965, Stoner did not become a success until more than a decade after the author's death in 1994. It was all-but-forgotten in the United States until bookseller John Doyle, of Crawford Doyle Booksellers in New York City, recommended the novel as something of a lost masterpiece to an editor at NYRB. The NYRB Classics edition, published in 2006, went on to become a commercial hit and garnered a huge amount of critical praise. Included in this new edition will be a collection of letters between Williams and his agent Marie Rodell about the novel and his difficulties in finding a publisher. The 50th anniversary edition of Stoner is out November 3.

Personnel Changes at Crown, Penguin

Rebecca Marsh has been promoted to senior publicist, Crown Archetype, Harmony and Three Rivers Press.


At Penguin:

Kaitlin Kneafsey recently joined Penguin Young Readers as publicity assistant. She previously interned at HarperCollins Children's Books with the publicity and digital marketing departments.

Katie Quinn recently joined Penguin Young Readers as publicity assistant. She has interned in the editorial and publicity departments at HarperCollins Children's Books and Wunderkind PR.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Kunal Nayyar on E!'s the Soup

Today on Fresh Air: Jim Gaffigan, author of Food: A Love Story (Three Rivers Press, $15, 9780804140430).


Tomorrow on FOX's the Real Story with Gretchen Carlson: Father Michael Collins, author of Pope Francis: A Photographic Portrait of the People's Pope (DK, $25, 9781465439833). He will also appear on Fox 5's Good Day, New York.


Tomorrow on E!'s the Soup: Kunal Nayyar, author of Yes, My Accent Is Real: And Some Other Things I Haven't Told You (Atria, $26, 9781476761824).


Tomorrow night on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Malala Yousafzai, author of I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban (Back Bay, $16, 9780316322423).

TV: Killing Reagan

National Geographic Channel and Ridley Scott's Scott Free Productions are partnering to develop an adaptation of Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard's new book, Killing Reagan: The Violent Assault that Changed a Presidency. Variety reported that the "move seems like a no-brainer as it continues what has been a successful collaboration for the channel and the producers," who have teamed up previously for Killing Lincoln, Killing Kennedy and Killing Jesus. The new project will air globally on National Geographic Channels in 2016.

This Weekend on Book TV: Chelsea Clinton

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, September 26
7 p.m. Doug Casey, author of Right on the Money: Doug Casey on Economics, Investing, and the Ways of the Real World (Wiley, $22.95, 9781118856222). (Re-airs Sunday at 1 p.m. and Monday at 1 a.m.)

7:30 p.m. Jason Ramos, co-author of Smokejumper: A Memoir by One of America's Most Select Airborne Firefighters (Morrow, $24.99, 9780062319623). (Re-airs Sunday at 10:30 a.m.)

9 p.m. Chelsea Clinton, author of It's Your World: Get Informed, Get Inspired & Get Going! (Philomel Books, $18.99, 9780399176128). (Re-airs Sunday at 1:30 p.m.)

10 p.m. Bill O'Reilly, co-author of Killing Reagan: The Violent Assault That Changed a Presidency (Holt, $30, 9781627792417). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. Damon Tweedy, author of Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor's Reflections on Race and Medicine (Picador, $26, 9781250044631). (Re-airs Sunday at 7 p.m.)

Books & Authors

A Treat for Almond Lovers

photo: Sara Jane Palmer

This is a lucky year for fans of David Almond, British author of the award-winning Skellig (1999), the Printz-winning Kit's Wilderness (2000), the masterful The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean (2014) and many more splendid novels. In 2015, U.S. readers will get to enjoy three new YA titles by Almond.

Almond's books all share a distinctively dreamlike, atmospheric style, steeped in the land- and seascapes of his childhood in Felling-on-Tyne in northern England, and exploring themes that blur dreams and reality, past and future, the living and dead, the extraordinary and the ordinary. But as v-p and publisher of Delacorte Press Beverly Horowitz once told Shelf Awareness, each book feels fresh: "It's very much about not only David's creative energy but his own history, where he comes from, the life he led, his religious questions, his sense of the bigger picture in the world." Horowitz added, "There's no easy answer to any of the things he's exploring, and I think as he writes a new book they're still in his head. It's all part of the David Almond inner quest to understand the world."

The Tightrope Walkers (Candlewick, March 24, 2015) stars a boy named Dominic Hall, the son of a shipbuilder in a river town in northern England, who wants to be a writer but hopes that's not too snobby a dream. This poetic, powerful novel was met with a constellation of starred reviews, including one from Shelf's former editor Jennifer M. Brown, who wrote, "Almond's magnetic narrative conveys the sounds and heat of the shipyards, the smells of the circus tent where Dom and Holly see the tightrope walkers, the quality of the light at sunset after a satisfying day. And he tells of the tightrope humans walk between social divides, sanity and insanity, faith and doubt, friendship and sex, what we're born to, what we can rise above--and what traps us."

Half a Creature from the Sea: A Life in Stories (Candlewick, September 22, 2015) is a collection of eight illustrated short stories set in Almond's hometown, each prefaced with some autobiographical context. "These stories take place in a real world--the streets in which I grew, the fields and beaches over which I walked," Almond explained in the introduction. "But in fiction, real worlds merge with dreamed worlds. Real people walk with ghosts and figments. Earthly truth goes hand in hand with watery lies." In the story "May Malone," May might have a monster she keeps in her house, or it might just be local whispering. In "Slog's Dad," a boy's father might be visiting the town square... from Heaven. And he might be hungry for a big sandwich with gravy.

Readers will meet the poetry-obsessed 17-year-old Claire Wilkinson in A Song for Ella Grey (Delacorte, October 13, 2015), Almond's contemporary riff on the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. Claire is in love with her friend Ella Grey, but Ella Grey is seduced by Orpheus, an alluring boy who wanders around northern England in a purple coat and Doc Martens, playing the lute on beaches to smitten dolphins and humans alike. It's an ode to the mad joy of youth, mortality and love. On love: "It's stronger than anything, Claire," says Ella Grey. "It's what keeps the sea flowing, what keeps the stars shining, what keeps us all alive." --Karin Snelson, children's and YA editor, Shelf Awareness

Awards: Cundill for Historical Literature

A shortlist has been released for the $75,000 Cundill Prize in Historical Literature, which is "awarded annually to an individual who has published a book determined to have had a profound literary, social and academic impact in the area of history." The three finalists will be announced during the week of October 5, with the grand prize winner named in Toronto November 2. The shortlisted titles are:

Empire of Cotton: A Global History by Sven Beckert (Knopf)
The Guardians: The League of Nations and the Crisis of Empire by Susan Pedersen (Oxford University Press)
West of the Revolution: An Uncommon History of 1776 by Claudio Saunt (Norton)
Sea of Storms: A History of Hurricanes in the Greater Caribbean from Columbus to Katrina by Stuart B. Schwartz (Princeton University Press)
Eichmann before Jerusalem: The Unexamined Life of a Mass Murderer by Bettina Stangneth (Bodley Head)
KL: A History of the Nazi Concentration Camps by Nikolaus  Wachsmann (Little, Brown)

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:

This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance!: A Novel by Jonathan Evison (Algonquin, $25.95, 9781616202613). "With This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance!, Evison has crafted an instant classic. Recently widowed 78-year-old Harriet embarks on an Alaskan cruise that proves to be the vehicle for her own self-discovery. As one shocking truth after another is revealed about Harriet's life, readers come to love this woman who is anything but perfect, and whose life is anything but ordinary. With an inventive, addictive structure and prose that surges with life, humor, and compassion, This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! is one to move to the very top of your reading list." --Rob Dougherty, Clinton Book Shop, Clinton, N.J.

In the Dark Places: An Inspector Banks Novel by Peter Robinson (Morrow, $25.99, 9780062240545). "In the Dark Places, Robinson's 22nd Inspector Banks novel, is still rich in the landscape and culture of Yorkshire. Still populated with characters moving through their lives, reacting to events, reaching for experiences, skills, relationships--and justice for victims. Still ingeniously plotted, challenging even the astute reader to keep up through the nerve-racking suspense. Still flush with the musicality of Robinson's prose and with the love of music that is so much a part of Banks' personality. And still shaping the story with local history and landmarks so that In the Dark Places, like each Banks novel before it, is unique, yet contributing to a remarkable portrait of modern Britain in all its insularity and diversity." --Barbara Peters, the Poisoned Pen, Scottsdale, Ariz.

Fire Shut Up in My Bones: A Memoir by Charles M. Blow (Mariner, $14.95, 9780544570115).
"Mirroring so many of the memories, feelings, and imaginings from my own childhood in small-town Arkansas, Blow's moving memoir tells the pitiless Southern experience of a black man coming of age in Louisiana in a world and time when the legacy of slavery's grip is slipping away ever so slowly but still leaves its searing sting. An important book." --Chris Crawley, That Bookstore in Blytheville, Blytheville, Ark.

For Ages 4 to 8
Lizard From the Park by Mark Pett (Simon & Schuster, $17.99, 9781442483217). "In the deepest part of Central Park, Leonard finds an egg. The egg doesn't stay an egg for long, however, and when it hatches, Buster the lizard appears. Leonard and Buster are inseparable friends until Buster starts to get bigger and bigger. Pett delights us with this ode to New York City in a story reminiscent of Steven Kellogg's The Mysterious Tadpole. Fall in love with New York City all over again as you discover this charming tale of friendship." --Hannah Moushabeck, Odyssey Bookshop, South Hadley, Mass.

For Ages 9 to 12
The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands (Aladdin Books, $17.99, 9781481446518). "Christopher Rowe is an apothecary's apprentice. Master Apothecary Benedict Blackthorn is kind, caring, and a more generous master than Christopher ever dared dream for. When Benedict becomes another casualty in what appears to be a series of murders of apothecaries, Christopher sets out to unravel the clues his master left behind. Filled with the perfect blend of adventure, humor, puzzles and ciphers, the occasional alchemical explosion, and an enormous amount of heart, The Blackthorn Key is the best kind of middle-grade read and a truly special book." --Hana Boxberger, Village Books, Bellingham, Wash.

For Teen Readers
Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith (Poppy, $18, 9780316334426). "With her smart and realistic dialogue, Smith paints an emotionally charged and convincing portrait of the last day before departing for college. The joy of anticipation and the heartache of leaving behind friends and memories make for a touching backdrop to the story of Clare and Aidan. They take a roller coaster ride of an evening to figure out once and for all if they should try for a long-distance relationship or break up to fully experience everything college has to offer. Witty, tender, and often hilarious." --Ashley Despain, Green Apple Books, San Francisco, Calif.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: City on Fire

City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg (Knopf, $30 hardcover, 9780385353779, October 13, 2015)

New York City in the mid-1970s was on the skids. Its municipal bonds were under water--inspiring the iconic Daily News headline after it was denied a federal bailout: "Ford to City: Drop Dead." Graffiti was splashed over subway cars and stations. Times Square was a porno sleaze-pot. Brooklyn was still affordable. Smokers were welcome, and the High Line was a dangerous, rusty eyesore. Even all the lights went out, in the blackout of 1977. Those times, that city and its citizens are the stars of Garth Risk Hallberg's galactic first novel.

With more than 900 pages, City on Fire is an ambitious, omnivorous story of dozens of characters whose lives increasingly intersect despite their economic, social and ethnic differences. At its center is the Central Park shooting of Samantha "Sam" Cicciaro, a young fanzine publisher and groupie of the storied punk band Ex Post Facto. Sam is the longed-for girlfriend of 17-year-old punk wannabe Charlie Weisbarger, who sneaks into East Village clubs wearing his pajama bottoms under his jeans to make them look tighter, "like he was a fifth Ramone." She is also the lover of financier Keith Lamplighter, son-in-law of the old-money Hamilton-Sweeney real estate scion, as well as main squeeze of the band's soundman Solomon Grungy. Daughter of the stubborn Italian owner of the oldest, most successful fireworks company in the city, Sam tries to break away from her strict Long Island family to make herself "a kind of Minerva of suburbia: fierce, cosmopolitan, dependent on no one." Everybody seems to love Sam, but nobody knows who tried to kill her. On this New Year's Eve shooting, Hallberg builds a complicated story, as much a crime thriller as a social commentary on a time when New York wasn't the expensive playground of the hip and rich that it seems today.

A contributing editor of the online magazine the Millions and author of the 2007 novella A Field Guide to the North-American Family, Hallberg thinks big and writes small. Whether describing a steamy summer with its "dog-slaying, hydrant-bursting, power-sucking July days" or the poverty of a Vietnamese gallerist trying to sustain "another few months of loosies and ramen and rent," Hallberg takes on the whole city, top to bottom, while breaking up his long novel with brief interludes of facsimile manuscripts and doodles, such as an early draft magazine article (complete with coffee cup stains) about Sam's father, or a copy of Sam's mimeographed zine Land of a Thousand Dances ("reading it was like subletting a small apartment in someone else's head"). If there is a little of Richard Price, Lawrence Block and Tom Wolfe hovering behind City on Fire, the novel is nonetheless all Hallberg all the time. He culminates his powerful saga in the July blackout, when the strings of his story tie satisfyingly together. Despite its somewhat seedy ambience, New York City in the '70s may also have been the city at its most lively. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Shelf Talker: Hallberg's ambitious first novel overflows with the creative, financial and destructive energy of New York City in the mid-1970s.

Powered by: Xtenit