Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Margaret K. McElderry Books: Tender Beasts by Liselle Sambury

Scholastic Press: Heroes: A Novel of Pearl Harbor by Alan Gratz

Flatiron Books: Anita de Monte Laughs Last by Xochitl Gonzalez

Peachtree Publishers: King & Kayla and the Case of the Downstairs Ghost (King & Kayla) by Dori Hillestad Butler, illustrated by Nancy Meyers

Doubleday Books: The Husbands by Holly Gramazio


Tombolo Books Opening Next Month in St. Petersburg, Fla.

After two years of operating as a pop-up bookshop while looking for a permanent home, Tombolo Books, St. Petersburg, Fla., has found "the location of our dreams," the store announced. It's in the Grand Central District, at 2153 First Avenue South., next to Black Crow Coffee and Squeeze Juice. Tombolo Books plans to open there in December.

Owner Alsace Walentine said that through private donors and lenders she has raised most of the $200,000 she needs "to open a fully-stocked 1,500-square-foot bookstore." The store needs another $12,000 to be "on a solid foundation," so she's begun an Indiegogo campaign that as of this morning had raised $3,400 or 28% of the goal, with 44 days left.

Walentine, who was the former manager and events director at Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe, in Asheville, N.C., where she worked for 16 years, has wanted to open a bookstore in St. Petersburg since moving there in 2015. She aims for Tombolo Books to be "a creatively engaged bookshop, specifically for St. Pete's readers."

Besides standard fare like travel mugs and T-shirts, perks for Indiegogo campaign donors include the imaginative "author-curated tote bags," which are tote bags containing books selected and recommended by authors such as Ann Patchett, Lauren Groff, Jeff VanderMeer and Rob Sanders. "Some even come with a signed personalized letter from the author! (Thank you, Ann Patchett!)"

Holiday House: The Five Impossible Tasks of Eden Smith by Tom Llewellyn; The Selkie's Daughter by Linda Crotta Brennan

At Random House, Ward New Publisher; Desser Editor-in-Chief

Andy Ward

Andy Ward has been promoted to publisher of Random House, filling the role held by Susan Kamil, who died in September. In a memo to staff about the appointment, Gina Centrello, president & publisher of Random House, wrote, "On a personal note, I am particularly touched to make this announcement because over the past year, Susan Kamil expressed to me her desire that Andy might someday take on this role and build upon the foundation she had established. I know that Susan would be as happy as I am that her, and our, beloved Random House is in such committed, capable hands."

Ward has been executive editor of Random House for the past five years and joined the company in 2009. Among titles he acquired and edited are George Saunders's Booker Prize-winning Lincoln in the Bardo, Paul Kalanithi's When Breath Becomes Air, Taffy Brodesser-Akner's Fleishman Is in Trouble, Ed Catmull's Creativity, Inc., Lena Dunham's Not That Kind of Girl, Charles Duhigg's The Power of Habit, Michael Moss's Salt Sugar Fat and Liana Finck's Passing for Human. Among his forthcoming titles are books from Wesley Morris, Samin Nosrat, John Jeremiah Sullivan, George Saunders and Suleika Jaouad. He will continue to acquire and edit books.

Centrello praised him for leading the Random House editorial team "with a clear, astute sensibility and with great heart. His steady, caring stewardship, as well as his own talents as an editor, have helped advance a Random House imprint that is recognized for its quality and for its unwavering commitment to excellence.... Andy's dedication to our books and authors--not to mention his passionate advocacy for our editors--is central to who he is, and to how he will lead this group going forward."

Robin Desser

At the same time, effective January 21, Robin Desser is joining Random House as senior v-p and editor in chief. She has been v-p and editorial director of Knopf since 2013 and part of the Random House corporate family for more than 30 years, starting as an assistant editor at Pantheon Books.

In making the announcement, Ward wrote: "Over the years, Robin has established herself as one of the finest, most accomplished editors in the business, with a deep roster of bestselling, critically lauded authors that is respected across the industry. In her new role with us, Robin will lead the Random House editorial department, playing a key role in advocating for our authors and editors, shaping our list, and continuing to pursue her own acquisitions. She will be a trusted partner to me going forward, and I am confident she will help us make the Random House list as strong, as varied, and as vital as it can possibly be, while bringing out the absolute best in our editorial team. Robin will be responsible for the daily management of the Random House editorial department, whose editors will become her direct reports."

Among authors whose books she has acquired and edited are Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, A.S. Byatt, Anne Carson, Sandra Cisneros, Edwidge Danticat, Nell Freudenberger, David Guterson, Cristina Henríquez, Alan Hollinghurst, Hope Jahren, Jhumpa Lahiri, Barry Lopez, Valeria Luiselli, Daniel Mendelsohn, Claire Messud, Steven Millhauser, Julia Phillips, Arundhati Roy, Esmeralda Santiago, Jane Smiley, Patti Smith, Tracy K. Smith, Cheryl Strayed and Abraham Verghese.

In an appreciation of Desser, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group chairman and editor-in-chief Sonny Mehta wrote in part, "Editors are, of course, known for the books they acquire and authors they publish. In Robin's case, that list is long and notable. But Robin's role here has always been more significant than the list of authors she publishes. Robin is, first and foremost, a reader. And she has been reading and curating across our imprints for many, many years, offering welcome guidance and assessments to all of her colleagues. Her passionate advocacy on behalf of editors and her enthusiasm for their books has been a hallmark of her tenure....

"Robin also once said that the ultimate fate of a book--the long-term readership, as it were--gets decided after you're gone, time being the ultimate barometer of success. I have always found this a particularly refreshing assessment--and not just of books and writers. Fortunately for our imprint, as we enter our 105th year of publishing, that long tail seems intact, with many of our books still in print, and with many more, including books acquired by Robin, destined to become backlist classics."

Amistad Press: The Survivors of the Clotilda: The Lost Stories of the Last Captives of the American Slave Trade by Hannah Durkin

Cara Duckworth Joins AAP as V-P, Communications

Cara Duckworth

Cara Duckworth has joined the Association of American Publishers as v-p, communications. She was formerly senior v-p, communications, at the Recording Industry Association of America. Earlier, she was director of communications at the Motion Picture Association of America and worked in the U.S. Senate, as press secretary for the Senate Budget Committee and as deputy press secretary for the Assistant Majority Leader Don Nickles.

"Published works are the bedrock of culture, education, and scientific progress," Duckworth said. "As an avid reader, I am proud and excited to join AAP and help showcase the many innovative ways the modern publishing industry enhances our daily lives."

AAP president and CEO Maria A. Pallante commented: "Cara has a tremendous skill set in communications strategy, content policy, creative design, and special projects."

And senior v-p of communications John McKay said, "With her extensive background at two leading trade groups and on Capitol Hill, Cara brings experience, execution, and enthusiasm to the AAP. She will be a great partner as we advocate for and celebrate the U.S. publishing industry."

Mo.'s BookMarx Sidesteps Closure, to Remain Open

"The cats will read on" at BookMarx bookstore, Springfield, Mo., which has reversed its recent decision to close thanks to an outpouring of community support. The Ozarks Independent reported that owner Joshua Arnett has worked out a deal with the landlord to stay open at least through next spring, which "means that book lovers who enjoy the furry company of 'store cats' Googey, Squash, and Pushkin will be able to continue their feline enhanced readings."

Arnett had posted an announcement on Facebook last week stating that the bookstore was unable to reach an agreement with the landlord. 

In an update a few days later, Arnett posted: "Thank you for all the support and kindness and generous offers we have received over the last week. We have arranged to stay open through spring and at which point we plan to remain here until the cats reach the age of retirement sometime in the late 21st century."

Squash (l.) and Googey

He added that the bookstore would continue offering 25% off all new and used books throughout November "so no one feels cheated that we aren't closing. In addition, to improve customer experience, all of our workers have agreed to strict new procedures: Squash will never again hiss at a child no matter how much like Max from Where the Wild Things Are the child behaves, I have agreed to smile at everyone (the second someone explains what exactly a smile is and what it entails), and Googey has promised to continue to remain perfect."

Expressing gratitude "to everyone for all the support and encouragement (especially the guy that offered to just hand me a $20 bill, that guy rules)," Arnett noted: "I honestly feel terrible about accidentally doing fake news."

Obituary Note: James I. Robertson Jr.

Historian James I. Robertson Jr., "an authority on the Civil War who published several dozen deeply researched books that humanized historical figures like Stonewall Jackson," died November 2, the New York Times reported. He was 89.

"History is human emotion" and it "should be the most fascinating subject in the world," he said in an interview for Dr. Bud, The People’s Historian, a documentary film scheduled to be released next year. "You take away the humanization of history, and you’ve got nothing but a bunch of boring facts, and history poorly taught is the worst, most boring subject in the world."

Robertson wrote or edited many books about the Civil War, including For Us the Living: The Civil War in Paintings and Eyewitness Accounts (2010), Robert E. Lee: Virginian Soldier, American Citizen (2005); and General A.P. Hill: The Story of a Confederate Warrior (1987). His most lauded book was Stonewall Jackson: The Man, the Soldier, the Legend (1997), which was more than 900 pages and the result of seven years of research, the Times noted.

He retired in 2011 after 44 years on the faculty at Virginia Tech and subsequently wrote and edited several more books, most recently Robert E. Lee: A Reference Guide to His Life and Works (2018). University president Tim Sands praised him as "a remarkable person who shared his life and gifts with so many. His service to the nation, the commonwealth, his profession and the Virginia Tech community is unparalleled. We are incredibly fortunate to have had the great benefit of his talents for so many years. May we carry Dr. Robertson’s passion for discovery and spirit of service forward in his honor."


Image of the Day: Steinem Speaks the Truth

Warwick's, La Jolla, Calif., and the University of San Diego's College of Arts and Sciences hosted feminist activist Gloria Steinem as she discussed her new book, The Truth Will Set You Free, but First It Will Piss You Off! (Random House), for an audience of more than 500 people. Pictured: (l.-r.) Sonia Tender-More, Amanda Qassar, Lynn Brennan, Gloria Steinem, Julie Slavinsky, Emily Vermillion, Adrian Newell, Stacey Haerr, Samantha Slavinsky and Kim Devoe.

Bookstore Video: BookTowne's Store Jingle

Peter Albertelli, owner of BookTowne, Manasquan, N.J., shared a video featuring the shop's new theme song, noting: "We had a passionate bookseller who worked with us for three years, and then went off to the U.K. to hone her writing skills. She got back this summer and her passion, still, for BookTowne is overwhelming! She has put together BookTowne's Store Jingle Video. We hope you find it as entertaining as we do here."

'What's in a Name?' Mind Chimes Bookshop

The latest subject of Bookselling This Week's "What's in a Name?" series is Mind Chimes Bookshop in Three Lakes, Wis., which opened last month. Owner Laura Lowry said that there isn't a story behind the name Mind Chimes, so much as there is a goal.

"What it represents to me is the experience of being inspired while reading. The sort of sudden inspiration you get while reading--that has always been important to me as a reader," she noted. "I wanted an unexpected name that was appealing superficially, and offered some depth to explore."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Heidi Blake on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Heidi Blake, author of From Russia with Blood: The Kremlin's Ruthless Assassination Program and Vladimir Putin's Secret War on the West (Mulholland Books, $15.99, 9780316417211).

The Talk: Garth Brooks, author of The Anthology, Part III: Live (Pearl Records, $29.95, 9781595910394). He will also appear on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Ellen: Julie Andrews, co-author of Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years (Hachette Books, $30, 9780316349253). She will also appear on the Late Late Show with James Corden.

Daily Show: Alicia Menendez, author of The Likeability Trap: How to Break Free and Succeed as You Are (HarperBusiness, $28.99, 9780062838766).

On Stage: Pippi at Cirkus

Pop House Productions and the Astrid Lindgren Company will celebrate Pippi Longstocking's 75th anniversary next summer with Pippi at Cirkus, "a fun, musical circus show in collaboration with Cirkus Cirkör," Broadway World reported. ABBA's Björn Ulvaeus is exec producing and will be responsible for the show's lyrics to accompany previously released instrumental music by Benny Andersson, among others. Tilde Björfors, Cirkus Cirkör's founder, director and artistic director, is the circus director alongside Maria Blom, who will direct the actors.

"I had the privilege of meeting Astrid several times and her calm, confident radiance with a bright glitter in her eyes always made a deep impression on me," said  Ulvaeus. "Västervik, where I grew up, is only 55 kilometers from her Vimmerby, so we are both Smålanders. I especially remember how proud I was when she said that I was 'a real Emil.' I have the deepest respect for her work and hope we can present something she would have been proud of."

Olle Nyman, CEO of the Astrid Lindgren Company, added: "Imagine being in the audience when Pippi goes to the circus; it's totally irresistible! Pippi wants to play and not just sit in her place, so this will be great fun. We are extremely excited about this opportunity to share the strong, independent, fun and brave Pippi with this amazing company."

Pippi at Cirkus will premiere at Cirkus June 26, 2020 and will run throughout the summer.

Books & Authors

Awards: SCBWI Sue Alexander, Narrative Art Winners

Roots and Rosemary, a middle grade novel by Shaleen Wood, won the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators' Sue Alexander Award, which was chosen from manuscripts submitted for individual critiques by editors and agents at the SCBWI Annual Conference in Los Angeles. The prize is given to "the manuscript deemed most promising for publication." She will have her synopsis presented to a group of editors and agents.

SCBWI's 2019 Narrative Art Award went to Mirka Hokkanen. Judged by a rotating panel of experts, the prize "honors illustrators who show excellence incorporating narrative sequence and storytelling in their work. In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, this year's assignment was to submit a 'narrative sequence involving a groundbreaking journey.' "

The judges said they chose Hokkanen's "surprising and unexpected journey for its unique interpretation of the assignment." She receives an all-expenses paid trip to the New York Winter conference, and her winning illustrations will be displayed during the Portfolio Showcase.

Book Review

Review: The Story of a Goat

The Story of a Goat by Perumal Murugan, trans. by N. Kalyan Raman (Black Cat/Grove Press, $16 trade paper, 192p., 9780802147516, December 10, 2019)

In 2015, Indian author Perumal Murugan left his writing career after right-wing Hindu groups decried his novel One Part Woman as insulting to Hindu women. After the Madras High Court defended his right to freedom of expression, Murugan once again took up the figurative pen to produce this fable. "I am fearful of writing about humans," Murugan confesses in the preface to the original Tamil edition. Although the admission sounds like a loss of confidence after the attempts to censor his writing, he proceeds to deliver a wholly human story wrapped up in the person of an orphaned black goat.

So tiny that strangers mistake her for a kitten, the goat kid Poonachi comes into an old couple's lives when a mysterious giant of a man presses her on them. Later, the old man will claim the demon Bakasuran gave her to him, but at first, he and his wife focus their energy on keeping the kid alive. Their nanny goat refuses to nurse her, and Poonachi is attacked one night by an unseen predator. However, the kid survives and becomes the old woman's companion.

As the story progresses, its sophistication and maturity more closely evoke Animal Farm. Poonachi's owners live under an inept bureaucracy, adding satirical humor for readers but hardship for the characters. In her femaleness, Poonachi grows up and falls into the same traps laid for human women in many parts of the world. Her future as a breeder is preordained, the buck she loves out of bounds to her. Forced to mate with a male she does not choose, she bears offspring against her will and has no more control over their futures than her own. The old couple calls her a miracle when she pleases them with numerous offspring, but a curse when she cannot feed them all. Because the action is largely told from Poonachi's point of view, readers know her heart, but her owners never imagine she has her own mind. Though dappled with moments of beauty and joy, Poonachi's days are rife with tragedy and exploitation. 

Translated by N. Kalyan Raman, this earthy tale is as emotionally affecting as any human-centered drama. Readers will have to decide for themselves whether Poonachi's few moments of happiness outweigh the drudgery of her life. Ripe for discussion by book clubs who love eclectic titles, The Story of a Goat is a frank exploration of oppression, greed, love and what good can be made of even the most meager life. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Shelf Talker: After attempts to censor his work failed in India, Perumal Murugan returns with this fable about a goat whose life and struggles closely parallel human experiences.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. Tacker by Sawyer Bennett
2. Beard Necessities by Penny Reid
3. Special Delivery by Lauren Blakely
4. The Deception by Nikki Sloane
5. Soul Modes by Carlie Maree
6. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki and Sharon L. Lechter
7. Spellbound by Dannika Dark
8. Never Goodbye (The Barrington Billionaires Book 7) by Ruth Cardello
9. Three Dog Night by Roxanne St. Claire
10. Crazy for Loving You by Pippa Grant

[Many thanks to!]

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