Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Overlook Press: Bad Men by Julie Mae Cohen

Shadow Mountain: Highcliffe House (Proper Romance Regency) by Megan Walker

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

Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster: The Ministry of Time Kaliane Bradley

Akaschic Books, Ltd: Go the Fuck to Sleep Series by Adam Mansbach, Illustrated by Ricardo Cortés

Tommy Nelson: You'll Always Have a Friend: What to Do When the Lonelies Come by Emily Ley, Illustrated by Romina Galotta


George Saunders Wins Man Booker Prize

Last night in London, George Saunders won the £50,000 (about $66,095) Man Booker Prize for Fiction for his novel Lincoln in the Bardo (Random House), becoming the second American author to win the award in its 48-year history. U.S. authors became eligible in 2014.

In his acceptance speech, Saunders expressed his gratitude to several people, including "all the critics who wrote about the book--all of them... and also especially all of the booksellers who sold it."

Noting the disruptive period we are currently living through, he said: "If you haven't noticed, we live in a strange time. So the question at the heart of the matter is pretty simple: Do we respond to fear with exclusion and negative projection and violence? Or do we take that ancient great leap of faith and do our best to respond with love? And with faith in the idea that what seems other is actually not other at all, but just us on a different day.

"In the U.S. now we're hearing a lot about the need to protect 'culture.' Well this tonight is culture. It's international culture; it's compassionate culture; it's activist culture. It's a room full of believers, through the word, in ambiguity, in beauty and in trying to see the other person's point of view even when that's hard. Believers in working to eliminate hatred and meanness and lazy habitual thinking even when--especially when--we find these in ourselves."

Chair of judges Lola Young commented: "For us, it really stood out because of its innovation, its very different styling, the way it, almost paradoxically, brought to life these almost dead souls in this other world. There was this juxtaposition of the very personal tragedy of Abraham Lincoln and the death of his very young son next to his public life, as the person who really instigated the American civil war. You've got this individual death, very close and personal; you've got this much wider issue of the political scenario and the death of hundreds of thousands of young men; and then you've got this weird state across the cemetery, with these souls who are not quite ready to be fully dead, as it were, trying to work out some of the things that plagued them during their lives."

The Guardian noted that the judges "took five hours to come to what Young called a 'collegial,' yet unanimous choice," but that Saunders's nationality was not a factor. "Honestly it's not an issue for us," she observed. "We're solely concerned with the book, what that book is telling us."

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!

BD&L Founder J.P. Leventhal Stepping Down

J.P. Leventhal

J.P. Leventhal, founder of Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, will be leaving his role as publisher of the imprint December 31. After a long career at the Crown Publishing Group, Leventhal founded BD&L in 1992. The company was acquired by Hachette Book Group in 2014. Effective immediately, BD&L will become part of Perseus Books' Running Press imprint, reporting to Kristin Kiser, v-p and publisher of Running Press.

HBG CEO Michael Pietsch said Leventhal "has been a force in publishing, an original, and a splendid collaborator. His genius for bringing visual content into books in new ways has brought joy to millions of readers. It has been a pleasure having him and his team become part of HBG, and we look forward to his DNA living on in the imprint he created."

Leventhal added: "I am so proud of the many wonderful books we have published over the past twenty-five years, and of the smart, dynamic and dedicated team that built us to be the creative, market-responsive house that we are today. What fun we've had."

Kiser said, "I have long admired J.P. Leventhal and his beautiful publishing program at Black Dog & Leventhal. and am thrilled that we will be publishing these delightful books as a separate imprint at Running Press. J.P. is a singular creative talent in publishing, and I look forward to building on his great success with the wonderful Black Dog & Leventhal team."

GLOW: Workman Publishing: Atlas Obscura: Wild Life: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Living Wonders by Cara Giaimo, Joshua Foer, and Atlas Obscura

Brian Napack Is New Wiley President and CEO

Brian Napack

Brian A. Napack has been named president and CEO of John Wiley and Sons, effective December 4. He succeeds Matthew Kissner, who has served as interim CEO since last May. Kissner, a 14-year member of Wiley's board of directors, will remain as chairman.

"After a thorough and thoughtful search, the board of directors unanimously agreed on Brian as the type of proven leader that can drive our continuous evolution as the trusted, innovative partner that our customers rely on to deliver the critical content, tools and services that they need to meet their goals," Kissner said. "Brian has the deep industry experience, the passion for our business, and the leadership ability to get us there."

Napack had been a senior advisor focused on investments in education and media at Providence Equity Partners, which he joined in 2012. Before that, he was president of Macmillan, overseeing businesses in education, consumer books, digital media and magazines. Prior to Macmillan, Napack was a partner at LEK Consulting. He founded and was CEO of ThinkBox, a digital media company focused on pre K-12 education. At the Walt Disney Company, he founded and ran Disney Educational Publishing and was a co-founder of Disney Interactive. Earlier in his career, he held senior roles at Simon & Schuster and A.T. Kearney, a management consulting company.

"It is truly an honor to join Wiley at such an important moment in the company's history," said Napack. "I have long admired Wiley's foundational strength--its deep history, its culture of excellence, its world class publishing assets, and its strong financial position. I look forward to working with my new Wiley colleagues around the world to tackle the many exciting opportunities and challenges being presented by our markets and, in doing so, continue our tradition of exceeding the expectations of our customers, partners and shareholders."

Jesse Wiley, director and member of the seventh generation of the Wiley family, added: "Brian Napack brings years of proven success navigating digital change and driving innovation in publishing, media and education. In our 210th year of advancing knowledge and learning, we welcome his energy, direction, and leadership as well as his passion for our mission and the customers we serve. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our chairman, Matthew Kissner, for his stewardship, deep engagement, and strong initiative during his tenure as interim CEO. In a short time, he has made a positive impact in our organization that I know Brian will build on."

Graphic Universe (Tm): Hotelitor: Luxury-Class Defense and Hospitality Unit by Josh Hicks

Bookstores Exempt from Calif. Autographed Memorabilia Law

California state lawmakers have exempted bookstores from a requirement that "sellers of items that carry their creator's autograph include a certificate guaranteeing that the signature is authentic," the San Francisco Chronicle reported. AB228 by Assemblyman Todd Gloria, D-San Diego, passed both houses without a dissenting vote and has been signed by Governor Jerry Brown. The law takes effect immediately.

Earlier this year, Bill Petrocelli, co-owner of Book Passage--with stores in Corte Madera, Sausalito and San Francisco--filed suit against a state law that, the plaintiffs said, "will make it extremely risky, if not impossible, for stores to sell autographed books or host author events." Assembly Bill 1570 had expanded the state's autograph law, which originally applied only to sports memorabilia, to cover any signed commodity worth more than $5, including books.

AB228 "narrows that requirement to apply only to sports and entertainment collectibles, and expressly excludes books, manuscripts, correspondence, art work and decorative objects. It also raises the minimum price of items requiring autograph certification from $5 to $50," the Chronicle wrote.

"We filed the case in order to spur the Legislature not to repeal the law, but to modify it again to exempt signed books, which is what we wanted all along," Petrocelli told the Marin Independent Journal. "I'm relieved that common sense prevailed and this bureaucratic nightmare has been repealed for booksellers.... I think this case, as crazy as it was going through it, was probably worth it in terms of articulating to everyone how important it is for authors and readers to get together and bookstores are the spot where that happens."

Pacific Legal Foundation attorney Anastasia Boden commented: "The repeal of these regulations is a major victory for freedom of expression--for authors, store owners, and patrons alike,” said. “It means book sellers like Bill can once again host discussions between authors and patrons without confronting mountains of unjustified paperwork and risking ruinous fines."

Berkeley's Revolution Books Finds Support After Right-Wing Attacks

Revolution Books in Berkeley, Calif., held a celebration and fundraiser event last Saturday, October 14, in response to attacks from white supremacists and alt-right protesters last month. The celebration saw "friends and supporters" gather at the store to share food, donate money and "defy these thugs for Trump's America who have repeatedly targeted Berkeley, U.C. Berkeley and Revolution Books," reported manager Reiko Redmonde.

Authors Waldo Martin (Black Against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party) and Sahar Delijani (Children of the Jacaranda Tree) read from their work, while authors and public figures including Joyce Carol Oates, Ayelet Waldman, Berkeley's poet laureate Rafael Jesus Gonzalez and Berkeley mayor Jesse Arreguin sent statements of support that were read at the event. Representatives from the group Refuse Fascism were also present to discuss plans for a daily protest movement scheduled to begin November 4. Redmonde added that more than $500 was raised for the store through donations and a raffle, and more events like it will be planned for the future.

On September 24 and 25, as Milo Yiannopoulos's planned "free speech week" was dissolving in Berkeley, around 40 white supremacists and Trump supporters gathered at Revolution Books, banging on windows, calling staff and customers "commie scum," threatening others and in some cases trying to storm inside the store, Redmonde recalled. On September 24, police had to come to disperse the right-wing protesters; members of the group tried to return several times, and neighbors and friends of the store formed a line to block them. Redmonde said that threats against the store and staff have continued since.

Notes from Frankfurt: Politics in the Fair

Attendance figures at the Frankfurt Book Fair reflected trends at other book fairs, including BookExpo: while attendance on the days the general public could participate rose 6.5%, attendance on the three trade days fell 0.2%. Altogether more than 286,000 people attended the fair this year; 7,300 exhibitors from 102 countries participated.

This year's fair had a striking political tone, much of it in reaction to the election of Donald Trump as president, the passage of the Brexit referendum in the U.K., the rise of extreme rightwing parties in Europe and increasingly authoritarian regimes around the world.

President Macron and Chancellor Merkel
(photo: Frankfurt Book Fair/Marc Jacquemin)

Politics infused everything from comments at the opening ceremony by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron to controversies about extreme rightwing German publishers exhibiting at the show to comments by guests and award winners.

Merkel praised books for "opening doors into lives and experiences we would never have" otherwise, for broadening horizons and helping "us to understand cultures, also our own." She added that books needed fixed prices and bookstores need to be supported--one reason the German government has an annual bookstore award.

She also referred to her own past in the former East Germany, saying, "To have once experienced not being able to read every book that you would like to read leads you to fight so that everyone can read every book that they want to read."

Macron stressed the importance of multilingualism, "which has made our culture strong." He also praised translators whom "no software can ever replace." In the political sphere, he added, "Books are the best weapons against those who try to build walls between people and foment fanaticism."

During the fair, some Americans received concerned, diplomatic queries from international friends and colleagues, who, it seemed, eventually would ask, "How are you?" or the more straightforward "How are you surviving Trump?"

Some American publishers found the rights market internationally similar to that in the U.S.: dystopian fiction and serious nonfiction about the political situation are very popular while general literary fiction lags. But for at least some Americans, there wasn't as much opportunity to sell rights as expected. As one publisher put it, "Each market abroad wants nonfiction about its own political situation, such as Brexit in the U.K. And as for dystopian fiction, many countries are going with the tried and true, like 1984 and The Handmaid's Tale."

To the consternation of many German attendees, several extreme right-wing presses had stands. Fair director Juergen Boos explained: "We decidedly object to the political views and publishing activities of the New Right, but as host of the largest international fair for books and media, we're obligated to provide the basic right of free expression." He acknowledged that there were fistfights that police had to break up, particularly when Björn Höcke of the far-right Alternative for Germany party made an appearance and when right-wing press Antaios Verlag presented the book Living with Leftists by Caroline Sommerfeld and Martin Lichtmesz.


Dan Brown

On Saturday evening, in an unusual event that the fair hopes will be repeated with other popular authors, Dan Brown spoke in front of a crowd of 2,000 fans about his new book, Origin (published here by Doubleday), his writing and other topics. He said that in the new thriller, set in Spain and once again starring Harvard professor Robert Langdon, he wanted to answer the question, "Will god survive science?" adding, "Historically gods have not survived science."

Asked by interviewer Alf Mentzer of hr2-kulturabout why he, an American, has set so many of his books in Europe, Brown paused a moment, then said, "Have you been to Europe? It's amazing." After the laughter and applause subsided, he explained that he studied and loves renaissance art, and "You have a lot more of it." The United States, he continued, is "a young country. We made a few mistakes recently, but this, too, shall pass."


Margaret Atwood

In another event that was particularly political, the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade was given to Margaret Atwood, who was cited by organizers this way: "By closely observing human contradictions, she shows how easily supposed normality can turn into inhumanity. Humanity, justice and tolerance shape Margaret Atwood's approach to the world."

At the prize ceremony on Sunday, Atwood expressed dismay over the political situation in the United States, which she said once was a symbol of freedom and democracy--but "no longer." Things have gotten so bad, she continued, that her 30-year-old novel The Handmaid's Tale suddenly is topical. "Parliaments controlled by men want to set the clock back--preferably into the 19th century."

She said the world is in "strange historical times.... We don't know exactly where we are. We also don't know exactly who we are."

Frankfurt mayor Peter Feldmann said the choice of Atwood was a reminder of the political dimension of art, adding, "The world needs less division, less Trump, less hate--and more tolerance and solidarity."

The other major book prize given at the fair was the German Book Prize, won by Robert Menasse for Die Haupstadt (The Capital), published by Suhrkamp, set in Brussels, the unofficial European Union capital. The prize is sponsored by the Börsenverein, the German book industry association, and honors the best German-language novel of the year. --John Mutter


Image of the Day: Read-Singing 'Old MacDonald Had a Farm'

Sharing tales of his upbringing on a Nebraska farm, Gris Grimly led a "read-sing" of his new illustrated version of Old MacDonald Had a Farm (Scholastic) for 50 fans at Once Upon a Time in Montrose, Calif. Pictured are Once Upon a Time staffers with the author: Jessica Palacios, Isabel Lawler, Maureen Palacios, Gris Grimly, Sara Alcott (bottom), Robin McGlynn and Jack Festen. 

Bookshop Chalkboard of the Day: Golden Notebook Bookstore

From James Conrad of the Golden Notebook Bookstore, Woodstock, N.Y.: "The Woodstock Film Festival celebrated its 18th year this weekend. For all the film buffs, actors, actresses, directors that fill our town for the weekend, the Golden Notebook Bookstore decided this chalk board was a good reminder of how important books are in the film process--for better or for worse!"

Media and Movies

TV: The Alienist; Nancy Drew

A release date and new trailer have been unveiled for TNT's series The Alienist, based on the novel by Caleb Carr, Deadline reported. The project, which stars Daniel Brühl, Luke Evans and Dakota Fanning, will premiere at 9 p.m. on Monday, January 22.


NBC has put in development Nancy Drew, a series inspired by the famous children's books, from Doubt creators Tony Phelan and Joan Rater, producer Dan Jinks and CBS TV Studios. Deadline reported that "this is the same creative team that was behind the 2016 CBS pilot of the same name. But beyond the title and the underlying source material, there is very little in common between the projects as NBC's is based on a brand-new idea by Phelan and Rater."

"We did a pilot and we tried to forget about it but we couldn't; we loved the characters so much," Rater said. "But we knew that we had to come up with a different way to go about it."

The alternative version "was to envision Nancy, who wrote the books based on her childhood explorations with her two childhood girlfriends but took some liberties, always casting herself as the heroine, relegating the characters based on her friends as the sidekicks," Deadline noted.

"She found fame but in the process lost her best friends," Phelan said. The new series is about Nancy getting back together with them years later, when, as Rater explains, their age is what "we think is their superpower; no one notices them when they walk in. It's a way for them to fly under the radar. They talk about how they feel unseen."

Media Heat: Jane Mayer on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Jane Mayer, author of Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right (Anchor, $17, 9780307947901).

Watch What Happens Live: Valerie Bertinelli, author of Valerie's Home Cooking (Oxmoor House/Time Inc. Books, $30, 9780848752286).

Fox Sports 1: Michael Rapaport, author of This Book Has Balls: Sports Rants from the MVP of Talking Trash (Touchstone, $26.99, 9781501160318).

CNBC's Squawk Box: Walter Isaacson, author of Leonardo da Vinci (Simon & Schuster, $35, 9781501139154).

Comedy Central's the Opposition with Jordan Klepper: Carol Anderson, author of White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide (Bloomsbury, $17, 9781632864130).

Books & Authors

Awards: Polari First Book Winner

Saleem Haddad has won the Polari First Book Prize for his novel, Guapa (Europa Editions), the Bookseller reported. The prize is awarded to "a writer whose first book explores the LGBT experience, whether in poetry, prose, fiction or nonfiction."

Chair of judges Paul Burston said: "Guapa offers an intimate, complex portrait of gay life in the Arab world--a subject rarely explored in fiction. It's poetic, politically daring, beautifully written and marks the arrival of an exciting new voice."

Reading with... Tochi Onyebuchi

photo: Ashok Chandran

Tochi Onyebuchi is the author of Beasts Made of Night (Razorbill, October 31, 2017), a Nigerian-inspired YA fantasy that tackles themes of guilt and justice. After graduating from Columbia Law School, Onyebuchi served as a Civil Rights Fellow for the Office of the New York State Attorney General, working to enforce local, state and federal civil rights laws. His writing has appeared in the Oxford University Press blog, the Harvard Journal of African American Policy, Nowhere magazine and Asimov's Science Fiction, among other places. He lives in Connecticut and works in tech.

On your nightstand now:

Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi and Shadow and Act by Ralph Ellison.

The only times I'll allow myself to double-fist are when I have, in one hand, a long(-ish) project and, in the other, something to be eaten in bites. Sometimes, the latter is a short story collection whose pieces I can pick at throughout the larger repast that is the novel; sometimes, the latter is an essay collection.

Mr. Fox is part of a yearlong effort to read authors of the postcolonial world. (Our Postcolonial Book Club even has a syllabus!)

As far as the Ellison, I have the complete-ist itch in me, and when I found out that the writer of Invisible Man had also scribbled out thoughts and opinions on jazz, blues, religion, black America and all sorts of other things, I was sold.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan. This was the book that concretized my ambition to become a writer. I closed the book after the final page and could actually see the characters before me still, wisps of red and brown and white marching through the desert chanting the main character's name. The moment I experienced that afterimage has stayed with me, and if I can give that feeling to another person, I will have considered this life mission accomplished.

Your top five authors:

Nnedi Okorafor, Jesmyn Ward, Alexandre Dumas, Elizabeth Bear, James Baldwin.

Book you've faked reading:

Up until a few years ago, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao but now Middlemarch ::awkward face emoji::

Book you're an evangelist for:

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James.

Just about everybody who has asked me for book recommendations since the summer of 2015 has had to listen to me gush about this extraordinary tome. The audacity of it--of a book that takes Faulkner's As I Lay Dying and replaces Addie Bundren's funeral with an assassination attempt on Bob Marley?! And is told 85% in Jamaican patois?! Few books have burst open my conception of the novel like this one.

Book you've bought for the cover:

The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney. The way those raised edges felt against my fingertips....

Book you hid from your parents:

Goosebumps. When I was little, Mom was always forcing me to read historical biographies. Big books about the Founding Fathers and about Cicero. And I still don't know how she chose these books. The Goosebumps books were small enough to fit into my bag and then pull out when I was at school or at the library or the YMCA during the summers before Mom would come pick me up. The Goosebumps books now have their own row in the family library, but I make sure they're right next to a few historical biographies as well.

Book that changed your life:

Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo. I read this in high school during a manga binge, and blazed through all six volumes in maybe a week. Elizabeth Bear once spoke on "sensawunda," and that was precisely what I got tearing my way through those pages. It did what the best speculative fiction does, which is to operate as metaphor and reality all at once. There isn't a single unnecessary panel in the entire story. And, I mean, my word, if you want to see what a city looks like while falling out of the sky, start at page 1 and don't look back.

Favorite line from a book:

"I had been hijacked by strangeness." --The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression by Andrew Solomon.

I could have also answered with "every single line out of John Crowley's Little, Big." But, as someone with bipolar disorder, I can't remember a single sentence that better captured the pain and mystery of mental illness the way Andrew Solomon did with that above-quoted line from his memoir.

Five books you'll never part with:

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie: This was the first book I remember reading that shocked me. I keep this book around not just because it's so good but also because having it around reminds me of what it feels like to have preconceived notions blown away.

The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James: This book was a beacon of light during a dark night of the soul. A gentle and intelligent grappling with faith and religion and religiosity as copious in its curiosity as it is in its compassion.

Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang: Because sometimes I need my heart broken and sometimes I need my brain busted and sometimes I need both of those things to happen at the same time.

Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter by Tom Bissell: I love video games, but I also love thinking about video games and their peculiar marriage of narrative and mechanics. It's a blessing of the highest order that Tom Bissell loves thinking about these things, too.

Dear Martin by Nic Stone: A recent acquisition but already one of my most treasured possessions. Over the course of a few days, I feel like Stone described so much of my teenage years.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner, mostly to see if I'd still stick around after the first 72 pages.

Book Review

Children's Review: The Magic Misfits

The Magic Misfits by Neil Patrick Harris, illus. by Lissy Marlin and Kyle Hilton (Little, Brown, $16.99 hardcover, 272p., ages 8-12, 9780316391825, November 21, 2017)

In addition to being an acclaimed actor, director and producer, Neil Patrick Harris is making a name for himself as an author, as evidenced initially by his highly entertaining 2015 memoir, Choose Your Own Autobiography, and now by his debut middle-grade novel, The Magic Misfits, the first in a four-part series. Harris's connection to Lemony Snicket (through their Series of Unfortunate Events Netflix show) is obvious in The Magic Misfits, with nods to Snicket's evil villains and plucky but seemingly doomed orphans.

"Carter never had a home. He'd never had friends or his own bedroom. He'd never gone to school or had a place that made him feel safe. He and his uncle slept in shelters on good days and in dark alleys on bad ones, constantly moving from town to town to town. After all, when you're in the habit of making other people's things vanish, it's best that you know how to vanish too."

Although he is a street magician, young Carter has not believed in magic for a long time, ever since his beloved parents, in "their final vanishing act," mysteriously "failed to come home" one day. Carter was sent to live with an unscrupulous uncle named "Sly," who, like Carter's dad, did magic tricks. But unlike his dad, Sly performed with the end goal of cheating his audience out of their money and valuables. Carter picks up his uncle's skills, but steers away from his moral compass point: Uncle Sly would like nothing better than to use Carter as his assistant con artist; Carter would like nothing better than to find a real home.

Carter runs away, hopping a train that stops in a small town called Mineral Wells. There he meets the two Mr. Vernons (a magic shop owner and his chef partner) and their daughter Leila, who is an escape artist. Leila introduces him to her friends Theo, a levitator, and Ridley, a grumpy girl ("Yes, I'm in a wheelchair. Don't ask me about it or you'll get a bloody nose.") who practices transformation. The four kids form a ragtag crew of magic "misfits" who are mocked for their strangeness: their clothes (Theo always wears a tuxedo), their intelligence and, in Carter's case, homelessness. Together, they conspire to prevent a dastardly carnival owner named B.B. Bosso from stealing the largest diamond in the world. In the process, they find they are in fact a perfect fit--for each other.

The chapters are whimsically named--Chapter Eight, for example, "rhymes with fate" and Chapter Seventeen is "six more than nine, multiplied by ten, plus three, then divided by nine"--and there are mini-chapters interspersed throughout with magic trick how-to's (such as "How to Make a Color Prediction," and "How to Move Objects with Your Mind"). Lissy Marlin's marvelous black-and-white cartoonish illustrations capture the "magic" of Carter's adventures in Mineral Wells. Fans of the A Series of Unfortunate Events books will undoubtedly enjoy the lively adventures and intrigue in Harris's debut children's novel. --Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor

Shelf Talker: Neil Patrick Harris's middle-grade series debut features four nonconformist practitioners of magic tricks--"magic misfits"--who band together to take down an evil carnival boss.

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