Shelf Awareness for Thursday, April 6, 2017

Yen Press: The God of Nishi-Yuigahama Station by Takeshi Murase, Translated by Guiseppe Di Martino

Peachtree Publishers: Erno Rubik and His Magic Cube by Kerry Aradhya, Illustrated by Kara Kramer

Beacon Press: Kindred by Octavia Butler

Inkshares: Mr. and Mrs. American Pie by Juliet McDaniel

Tundra Books: On a Mushroom Day by Chris Baker, Illustrated by Alexandria Finkeldey

Simon & Schuster: Register for the Simon & Schuster Fall Preview!

St. Martin's Press: Sacrificial Animals by Kailee Pedersen

Quotation of the Day

University Press vs. University Sports

"The Association of American University Presses denounces the decision last week by the administration of Duquesne University rejecting the efforts of the association, the university's faculty, the staff of its Press, and even some members of the administration itself to identify alternatives to the closure of Duquesne University Press. Despite a robust list of alternatives that would reduce cost while retaining quality, the university confirmed its intention to withdraw support and close its press. The decision was announced the same week as the hiring of a new men's basketball coach with a seven-figure annual salary, and shortly after the unveiling of plans to invest $40 million in the refurbishing of the basketball arena. In AAUP's view--and indeed in the view of many other observers both on- and off-campus--these consumption choices seem inconsistent with the institutional mission and aspirations of a national research university."

--Part of the AAUP's statement yesterday concerning Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, Pa., and its press.

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!


Ci5 Begins; ABA Launching E-Version of Kids' Indie Next List

The fifth annual ABC Children's Institute began last night in Portland, Ore., with a reception at Powell's City of Books, and continues through tomorrow. Keynote speakers are Ilsa Govan, author of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Strategies for Facilitating Conversations on Race; Jason Reynolds, author of Long Way Down; and Rachel Ignotofsky, author of Women in Science. There are also a range of panels and discussions on everything from connecting with middle grade and YA readers to creating effective social media campaigns to inspiring readers to enact change.

Already there's news: the American Booksellers Association and Shelf Awareness are announcing a pilot e-newsletter program for the quarterly Kids' Indie Next List. The program launches in June with the upcoming summer list and will feature the Indie Next List's bookseller recommendations and an interview with the author of the Kids' List's number-one pick.

Like the adult Indie Next List e-newsletter program, which launched in September 2016, the Kids' Indie Next List newsletter will be store-branded. Stores will retain their customer e-mail addresses; each book's "buy" button will link to the store website; and all e-mail replies will go to the store e-mail address.

More details and sign-up information will be included in next week's edition of Bookselling This Week. Booksellers with questions can e-mail ABA senior program officer Joy Dallanegra-Sanger after April 12.

GLOW: Torrey House Press: Life After Dead Pool: Lake Powell's Last Days and the Rebirth of the Colorado River by Zak Podmore

NCIBA Spring Forum: Old Friends, Backlist, Award Winners

At its Spring meeting, the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association often showcases the work of authors who call the Bay Area home--from global bestsellers like Michael Chabon and Amy Tan to many of regional renown. This year, among the more than 20 authors at the reception were a few budding literary stars from the local publishing industry, including Jerry Thompson of Books Inc., who edited Oakland Noir, an Akashic collection that opens with a short story by his coworker Nick Petrulakis; Michael Carabetta, Chronicle Books' longtime creative director, who wrote and designed Words to Ride By published by none other than Chronicle; and Dick Evans, author of The Mission, Heyday's illustrated history of the neighborhood's murals, who happens to be the dad of Christin Evans, co-owner of the Booksmith, San Francisco.

Local literary lions and friends: Jerry Thompson, Christin Evans, Dick Evans, Nick Petrulakis, Chronicle Books rep Anna-Lisa Sandstrum and Michael Carabetta.

The full-day event this past Sunday drew about 170 attendees, up from last year, noted executive director Calvin Crosby. Beyond a closed-door conversation sponsored by the American Booksellers Association and reps offering the picks of their lists, there were educational sessions that included one on the ever-important topic of buying backlist, moderated by Paul Yamazaki, head buyer at City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco, the 21,000-square-foot cultural landmark whose inventory is 80% backlist.

Joining Yamazaki on the panel were buyers from a range of stores in the region. Michael Barnard spoke about the backlist experience at Rakestraw Books, a single store in Danville that is a tenth the size of City Lights and very frontlist-driven. Nikolai Grant discussed buying for Books Inc.'s 11 locations (which include two airport stores). Sheryl Cotleur, head buyer for Copperfield's, talked about its eight locations in Sonoma, Napa and Marin counties. And Leslie Jobson considered the issues from two sides, based on her experience working for 17 years at A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books before moving to Publishers Group West, where she helps independent publishers assist stores in stocking backlist.

"Backlist is what differentiates your bookstores from Amazon," said Jobson. Also, having staff help shape backlist selection is an empowering rite of passage for many frontline booksellers, she continued. At the same time, technology is making it easier for publishers to assist in backlist buying. "With Edelweiss," she said, "it's easy for us to help you find the backlist that sells for you."

Backlist buyers panel: (l.-r.) Paul Yamazaki, Sheryl Cotleur, Nikolai Grant, Leslie Jobson and Michael Barnard.

If you want to learn about backlist, commented Cotleur, "open a new store," which is what she's done twice at Copperfield's: five years ago in San Rafael and last year in Novato. Between the two openings, Copperfield's switched its POS system from WordStock to Basil, which Cotleur said made the second store opening easier to manage, since it allows her to see inventory and sales for all eight Copperfield's locations.

Books Inc., which uses WordStock, relies on individual managers to control backlist buying, Grant said. "It used to be that Books Inc. did 80% backlist restock through Ingram and Baker & Taylor, but now it's more like 50-50 [wholesalers and direct from publishers]," which results in better margins. The closer scrutiny of backlist means that the stores buy fewer copies, which disappoints sales reps. Grant said reps used to balk at orders of single copies, with one even saying, "Why don't you just take the book out back and shoot it."

Yamazaki said that at City Lights, having so much backlist makes the shopping experience a deeper one for customers and "makes us more distinctive in the customer's mind." City Lights customers---many of whom are poetry lovers--are accustomed to looking at single copies of titles all spine-out. "None of us have enough space--even if we all were Powell's," said Yamazaki. It's important, he added, to empower the staff to manage backlist in sections throughout the store, watch things like literary awards to stock backlist, and develop new relationships with publishers.

Another way the NCIBA member stores distinguish themselves is by their support of the winners of its member-voted Books of the Year, which were announced on Sunday and included: for fiction, Homecoming by Yaa Gyasi (Knopf); nonfiction, We Gon' Be Alright by Jeff Chang (Picador); poetry, Dated Emcees by Chinaka Hodge (City Lights); food, The Forest Feast Gatherings by Erin Gleeson (Abrams); regional, The Sea Forager's Guide to the Northern California Coast by Kirk Lombard and illustrated by Leighton Kelly (Heyday); children's picture book, The Airport Book by Lisa Brown (Roaring Brook); middle grade, Cloud and Wallfish by Anne Nesbet (Candlewick); young adult, A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir (Razorbill); and a special honor for Collected Poems: 1950-2012 by Adrienne Rich (Norton). --Bridget Kinsella

Harpervia: Only Big Bumbum Matters Tomorrow by Damilare Kuku

IndieLite Platform Now Available to ABA Members

IndieLite, a basic e-commerce website with fewer feature options--and lower cost--than the IndieCommerce platform, has been launched by the American Booksellers Association. Bookselling This Week reported that both IndieCommerce users and non-users had periodically requested that ABA offer a downsized alternative. Following a survey of ABA members, feedback from current IndieCommerce users, and discussion with the ABA Digital Task Force, the ABA Board of Directors authorized the development of a new option.

IndieLite is "specifically designed for booksellers who are just getting started in e-commerce, or stores that want a website that requires very little time and effort to maintain," according to the ABA. A complete list of features can be viewed at For more information or to see samples of actual IndieLite websites, contact the IndieCommerce team at

Parragon Books Names New CEO

Mike Symons has been appointed CEO of U.K. children's book publisher Parragon Books, the Bookseller reported. He succeeds Paul Taylor, who will become CEO of gift, homeware and toy firm Wild & Wolf. In January, Symons left Penguin Random House, where he had been group sales director. 

"I'm looking forward to the challenge of leading this business over the coming years," he said. Symons began his career with Reed Children's Books, moving to Thomas Cork and then to Penguin, where he was part of the management team that worked on the merger of Penguin and Random House, the Bookseller noted.

Parragon, part of DC Thomson, has offices in New York, Cologne, Delhi, Melbourne, Hong Kong and Singapore. The company announced last year that it planned to increase its U.S. sales over the next five years, and established a U.S. publishing team in September. 


Image of the Day: Pomegranate Helps

A group of Pomegranate employees, including publisher Katie Burke and president Thomas Burke, volunteered at the Children's Book Bank in Portland, Ore., on April 3. They spent the evening refurbishing donated books, coloring in worn spines, erasing scribbles and fixing torn pages. The Children's Book Bank provides books to children in need throughout Portland.

Award-Winning Week for California Bookstore

Last Wednesday, Judy Wheeler, owner of Towne Center Books, Pleasanton, Calif., accepted the Excellence in Business Award from the Chamber of Commerce for "making a positive impact in the community through the normal scope of business. Then, the next day, she received the Business of the Month Award from State Assemblywoman Catharine Baker (at right, with Wheeler, center). Wheeler's comment: "It was a fun week!"

Personnel Changes at Putnam

At Putnam, Alexis Welby has added the title of vice president to her existing title of director of publicity.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: David Wood on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: David Wood, author of What Have We Done: The Moral Injury of Our Longest Wars (Little, Brown, $28, 9780316264150).

Rachael Ray: Sarah Michelle Gellar, co-author of Stirring Up Fun with Food: Over 115 Simple, Delicious Ways to Be Creative in the Kitchen (Grand Central Life & Style, $28, 9781455538744). She will also appear on the Talk.

This Weekend on Book TV: The Annapolis 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, April 8
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Live coverage from the 15th annual Annapolis Book Festival at the Key School in Annapolis, Md. (Re-airs Sunday at 12 a.m.). Highlights include:

  • 10 a.m. A panel discussion on income inequality with Kathryn Edin, co-author of $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America (Mariner, $14.95, 9780544811959), and Stefanie DeLuca, co-author of Coming of Age in the Other America (Russell Sage Foundation, $35, 9780871544650).
  • 11 a.m. A panel discussion on criminal justice with Rabia Chaudry, author of Adnan's Story: The Search for Truth and Justice After Serial (St. Martin's Press, $26.99, 9781250087102), and Brian Stolarz, author of Grace and Justice on Death Row: The Race against Time and Texas to Free an Innocent Man (Skyhorse, $24.99, 9781510715103).
  • 12 p.m. Mark K. Shriver, author of Pilgrimage: My Search for the Real Pope Francis (Random House, $28, 9780812998023).
  • 1:30 p.m. Michael Hayden, author of Playing to the Edge: American Intelligence in the Age of Terror (Penguin Books, $17, 9780143109983).
  • 3 p.m. Thomas Dolby, author of The Speed of Sound: Breaking the Barriers Between Music and Technology (Flatiron, $27.99, 9781250071842).

7 p.m. P.J. O'Rourke, author of How the Hell Did This Happen?: The Election of 2016 (Atlantic Monthly Press, $25, 9780802126191). (Re-airs Sunday at 10:50 p.m.)

8:45 p.m. Camille Paglia, author of Free Women, Free Men: Sex, Gender, Feminism (Pantheon, $26.95, 9780375424779). (Re-airs Sunday at 2:30 p.m.)

10 p.m. Charles Campisi, author of Blue on Blue: An Insider’s Story of Good Cops Catching Bad Cops (Scribner, $28, 9781501127199). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. Bassem Youssef, author of Revolution for Dummies: Laughing Through the Arab Spring (Dey Street, $26.99, 9780062446893). (Re-airs Sunday at 5:45 p.m.)

Sunday, April 9
1 p.m. Chris Impey, author of Beyond: Our Future in Space (Norton, $16.95, 9780393352153). (Re-airs Monday at 1 a.m.)

4:30 p.m. Peter Schuck, author of One Nation Undecided: Clear Thinking about Five Hard Issues That Divide Us (Princeton University Press, $29.95, 9780691167435). (Re-airs Monday at 6:40 a.m.)

8 p.m. Phoebe Bovy, author of The Perils of "Privilege": Why Injustice Can't Be Solved by Accusing Others of Advantage (St. Martin's Press, $26.99, 9781250091208), at Book Culture Bookstore in New York City.

10 p.m. Sharon Weinberger, author of The Imagineers of War: The Untold Story of DARPA, the Pentagon Agency That Changed the World (Knopf, $32.50, 9780385351799), at Politics & Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C.

Books & Authors

Awards: Indies Choice/E.B. White; Waterstones Kids; Wolfson

Members of the American Booksellers Association have begun voting to determine winners in eight categories of the 2017 Indies Choice Book Awards and the E.B. White Read-Aloud Awards. (Finalists can be seen here.) Voting concludes April 30. Winners will be announced May 3 and will be feted May 31, along with the honor book recipients, at ABA's Celebration of Bookselling and Author Awards Lunch during BookExpo in New York City.


Kiran Millwood Hargrave won the overall £3,000 (about $3,746) Waterstones Children's Book Prize for The Girl of Ink and Stars, as well as the £2,000 (about $2,498) younger fiction category. Judge Florentyna Martin, children's book buyer for Waterstones, called the book "an absolute joy to read. It is always exciting when we see this level of outstanding talent in a new writer and Kiran has crafted a mesmerizing world full of myths, magic and adventure.... Our booksellers have assuredly chosen a writer who delivers the whole package: a beautifully written and hugely imaginative story with a strong and loveable protagonist and a page-turning plot."

Other category winners were writer and illustrator Lizzy Stewart's There's a Tiger in the Garden (illustrated books) and Patrice Lawrence's Orangeboy (older fiction)


A shortlist has been unveiled for the first time in the 45-year history of the £40,000 (about $49,900) Wolfson History Prize, designed to "promote and encourage standards of excellence in the writing of readable and scholarly history suitable for a general audience," the Bookseller reported. Organizers said they hoped the shortlist would "encourage debate about what makes brilliant, accessible history." Each shortlisted author will receive £4,000 (about $4,995). The winner will be announced May 15. This year's finalists are:

Henry IV by Chris Given-Wilson
Sleep in Early Modern England by Sasha Handley
Henry the Young King, 1155-1183 by Matthew Strickland
Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts by Christopher de Hamel
The House of the Dead: Siberian Exile under the Tsar by Daniel Beer
Luther: Renegade and Prophet by Lyndal Roper 

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, April 11:

One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline (St. Martin's Press, $27.99, 9781250099563) is a thriller about a cast of troubled suburban characters.

The Shadow Land: A Novel by Elizabeth Kostova (Text Publishing, $28, 9780345527868) follows an American woman in Bulgaria who accidentally comes into possession of an urn filled with human ashes.

The Perfect Stranger: A Novel by Megan Miranda (Simon & Schuster, $25, 9781501107993) is a suspense story about a woman's missing friend who may not exist at all.

Music of the Ghosts: A Novel by Vaddey Ratner (Touchstone, $26, 9781476795782) follows a child refugee returning to Cambodia as an adult.

Alex and Eliza: A Love Story by Melissa de la Cruz (Putnam, $17.99, 9781524739621) is a YA novel about the young love between Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler.

Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer (HarperTeen, $17.99, 9780062440877), the first in a duology, is a YA reimagining of Sleeping Beauty, complete with diabolical faerie queen.

Drain the Swamp: How Washington Corruption Is Worse than You Think by Ken Buck (Regnery, $28.99, 9781621576389) is a congressman's account of government corruption.

The Whole Foods Diet: The Lifesaving Plan for Health and Longevity by John Mackey, Alona Pulde and Matthew Lederman (Grand Central, $28, 9781478944911) is a diet book co-written by the CEO of Whole Foods.

The Lost City of Z, based on the book by David Grann, opens April 14. Charlie Hunnam stars as British explorer Percival Fawcett, who disappeared during an Amazon expedition in the 1920s.

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:

Abandon Me by Melissa Febos (Bloomsbury, $26, 9781632866578). "Melissa Febos has one of those minds that's as good at describing scenes as it is at clearly breaking down a complicated idea or articulating ambivalence. Abandon Me is a powerhouse collection--each essay can be enjoyed on its own, but taken together, they form a striking autobiographical portrait of a talented young writer and thinker. You won't want to abandon a voice this powerful, and you won't forget it either." --John Francisconi, Bank Square Books, Mystic, Conn.

The Wanderers by Meg Howrey (Putnam, $27, 9780399574634). "In The Wanderers, Meg Howrey brilliantly weaves together the vastness of outer space with the intimacy of human nature. Howrey's characters are artfully drawn--full of strengths and failings and each yearning for something in their relationships with others. The Mars simulation at the center of the story represents an exciting new frontier for human beings, but Howrey's astronauts demonstrate that even those driving the larger quest for human greatness are flawed individuals leading complicated lives. This is a wonderfully introspective novel on the meaning of space exploration and what we learn about ourselves when facing the unknown." --Kelsey O'Rourke, Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, Mich.

Most Wanted by Lisa Scottoline (St. Martin's Griffin, $15.99, 9781250010148). "An infertile couple decides to use a sperm donor to create the perfect family they have always wanted. When the wife sees a picture of a man who looks very similar to their donor on the evening news, the story is set in motion.  Could their donor be a serial killer? Christine will stop at nothing to find out who the biological father is, even if it means the end of her marriage. This latest novel of suspense from the bestselling Scottoline is fast-paced and will keep readers guessing until the end!" --Sarah Harmuth Letke, Redbery Books, Cable, Wis.

For Ages 4 to 8
A Cat Named Swan by Holly Hobbie (Random House, $17.99, 9780553537444). "Holly Hobbie captures kitty cat Swan and his world perfectly. Even better, she shows us what home looks like! A Cat Named Swan is the perfect book for cat lovers." --Margaret Neville, The King's English, Salt Lake City, Utah

For Ages 9 to 12
Olga and the Smelly Thing From Nowhere by Elise Gravel (HarperCollins, $12.99, 9780062351265). "Olga and the Smelly Thing From Nowhere is funny and weird, with some scatological humor to appeal to kids without being excessive. Gravel's art is amusing and expressive, and I like the fact that this is a book about a young girl who's obsessed with science!" --Anna Kaufman, DIESEL, A Bookstore, Santa Monica, Calif.

For Teen Readers
Piper Perish by Kayla Cagan (Chronicle, $17.99, 9781452155838). "In a diary-plus-art format, Piper takes us from an awful New Year's Eve her senior year of high school until it's time to embark on a new adventure in August. This book is full of the ups and downs of friendships and relationships, the creative struggles of a young artist, and the unfortunate realities families face when trying to afford college. It's also inspiring at times, and each character's flaws are refreshingly clear as they all muddle their way through their own hangups. The best part is watching Piper evolve from a dramatic girl who wants to be Andy Warhol into someone who works toward a future that is entirely her own." --Danielle Borsch, Vroman's Bookstore, Pasadena, Calif.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: My Soul Looks Back

My Soul Looks Back: A Memoir by Jessica B. Harris (Scribner, $25 hardcover, 272p., 9781501125904, May 9, 2017)

Jessica B. Harris (High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America) is a noted culinary historian and author. She is a member of the James Beard Who's Who of Food & Beverage in America and helped develop the concepts behind the critically admired Sweet Home Café at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture. But once, she was a young woman starting her career and in a confusing relationship with a charming, sophisticated, bad-tempered older man. That man was Sam Floyd, her teaching colleague at Queens College, one-time lover of Maya Angelou and close friend of James Baldwin.

Harris emphasizes that she is a secondary player in this memoir, but she was an interesting young woman in her own right, raised in Queens by bohemian black parents who gave her piano lessons, dance recitals, etiquette lessons and a good education. After graduating from Bryn Mawr, Harris started teaching, writing and studying for her Ph.D. at New York University. She moved to Greenwich Village and began dating Floyd.

The couple bonded over shared loves of cooking, language and literature. He introduced her into Baldwin's literary circle, and between his connections and her work as a literary and theater critic, she landed on the front line of 1970s New York culture, where she met authors, activists, actors, musicians and chefs. Her French fluency paid off on trips to Dakar and Haiti, as well as when Baldwin hosted her and Floyd for a week in the South of France. She built a friendship with Maya Angelou and got to know Toni Morrison and Nina Simone, who "aligned herself with the growing number of folks who felt I was de trop. I was an interloper and certainly too young and naïve to run with the crowd, but I had been brought by the man who was a pivot of that circle of friends and so claws were sheathed... somewhat."

Harris's culinary expertise winds through her stories, and each chapter ends with a recipe, including her mother's Sunday roast chicken and Goujonnettes de Sole with Ersatz Sauce Gribiche, inspired by her favorite after-opera meal. No doubt a few of Harris's friends have been saying for years that she had to write this memoir, and if so, they were right. --Sara Catterall

Shelf Talker: The electric intellectual and artistic world of African Americans in 1970s New York City takes center stage in this memoir of culinary historian Jessica B. Harris's youth.

Deeper Understanding

Handicapping the BTBA

The Best Translated Book Award jury recently revealed its 25-title longlist of 2016 literature in translation. The awards announcement and celebration will be on May 4, the day before the Kentucky Derby, so we respectfully offer the following:

Last Wolf & Herman 50:1
Laszlo Krasznahorkai, arguably our greatest contemporary writer, has won on this track before--Satantango in 2013 and Seibo There Below in 2014. He'll win again, but it will be for a book with larger stakes, perhaps The World Goes On, releasing later this year.

Thus Bad Begins 25:1
Based on mixed critical reception, this bobbled at the gate. Javier Marias is off the pace but he goes all out, never eases.

Wicked Weeds / Doomi Golo 15:1
Mandel Vilar Press and Michigan State University Press are break maidens; need just a few more outings. The gentleman zombie premise of Wicked Weeds does make it a curiosity.

Umami 10:1
Touted by heavyweights Valeria Luiselli and Alvaro Enrigue, Jufresa has the Look of Eagles. INQUIRY: quite disappointed that Enrigue's excellent Sudden Death didn't get out of the gate. Perhaps someday there will be a Luiselli/Enrigue exacta.

Angel of Oblivion 10:1
Sometimes you bet on the owner/trainer, not on the horse. Jill Schoolman, winner of the 2017 Ottaway Award for the Promotion of International Literature, guides Archipelago Books with a steady hand.

Eve Out of Her Ruins 8:1
Ananda Devi could be a long shot in this race. However, women authors might have a hard time advancing to the shortlist. Looking forward, 2017 appears most promising with Pola Oloixarac's Savage Theories, Samantha Schweblin's Fever Dream, Aura Xilonen's The Gringo Champion and Can Xue's Frontier.

Moonstone 6:1
This is much different than Sjon's previous books--more straightforward, less saga. Like Icelandic horses, short and sure-footed.

War and Turpentine 5:1
Morning line odds favored this, but the race has filled out considerably since then.

The Queue 5:1
Americans, with the exception of Marcia Lynx Qualey, pretty much know squat about Arabic literature. Fortunately that's changing as we see more publishers with Arab lists. This is the dark horse of the race.

Night Prayers 4:1
There are nine books on the list translated from Spanish, which makes it a crowded house. Gamboa's book may be forced to the outside on the far turn.

Among Strange Victims 4:1
This is a fan favorite but race-goers aren't the stewards of the outing.

The rules at tracks differ, but horses owned by a single owner usually run as a single betting proposition. Translator Margaret Jull Costa has four entries. Let's focus on the two best. The downside is that both authors have joined the Choir Triumphant and it would be a first in BTBA history to award the prize under that scenario.

On the Edge 5:2
Parts of this book are fairly dark and it's possible that it won't get support across the board with the BTBA jury. It has muscle and pace and wears the New Directions colors. To quote Fugue for Tinhorns, "can do, can do."

Chronicle of the Murdered House 2:1
It's not really inside dope, but individual judges keep mentioning this book on social media. Has stormed down the stretch. Odds-on favorite. Not a lock, but this is a closer.

--George Carroll, Redsides Publishing Services

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