Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Atlantic Monthly Press: Those Opulent Days: A Mystery by Jacquie Pham

Feiwel & Friends: The Flicker by HE Edgmon

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Pumpkin Princess and the Forever Night by Steven Banbury

St. Martin's Griffin: Murdle: The School of Mystery: 50 Seriously Sinister Logic Puzzles by GT Karber

Carolrhoda Lab (R): Here Goes Nothing by Emma K Ohland

Allida: Safiyyah's War by Hiba Noor Khan

Ace Books: Servant of Earth (The Shards of Magic) by Sarah Hawley


Swedish Bookseller Sentenced by Chinese Court

Gui Minhai

Gui Minhai, the kidnapped Swedish bookseller and publisher whose titles offered a skeptical look at the ruling Chinese Communist Party, has been sentenced by a court in eastern China to 10 years in prison for "illegally providing intelligence overseas," the Associated Press reported.

Gui first disappeared in 2015, when he was believed to have been abducted by Chinese agents from his seaside home in Thailand. He was one of four people working for the same Hong Kong publishing company who all went missing around the same time, only to turn up months later in police custody in mainland China, the AP noted.

Announcing the sentence, the Ningbo Intermediate People's Court said Gui had admitted to his crime, agreed with the sentence and will not appeal. The court also claimed that Gui, "who was born in Ningbo, applied to reinstate his Chinese citizenship in 2018. That would mean renouncing his Swedish citizenship, as China does not officially allow dual citizenship," the AP wrote. He was initially released into house arrest in Ningbo, then police detained him again while he and two Swedish diplomats were on a train together bound for Beijing.

Amnesty International's China researcher Patrick Poon said the verdict demonstrated that "the Chinese authorities are not letting the coronavirus crisis distract them from repressing dissidents.... Despite the authorities' claim that Gui has somehow handed over 'intelligence' while in their custody, the reason for his targeting almost certainly relates to his attempted trip to Beijing with two Swedish diplomats in 2018."

The Swedish Foreign Ministry told the AP: "We have noted the reports and are now seeking official confirmation about the case. We have consistently made it clear that we demand Gui Minhai be released so that he can be reunited with his daughter and family.... We demand--once again--that we immediately be given consular access."

PM Press: P Is for Palestine: A Palestine Alphabet Book by Golbarg Bashi, Illustrated by Golrokh Nafisi

LBF Lifetime Achievement Award to Nigel Newton

Nigel Newton

Nigel Newton, founder and CEO of Bloomsbury Publishing, will receive the London Book Fair's Lifetime Achievement Award in International Publishing, which recognizes an individual who has made "a truly significant mark in the sphere of global publishing." He will be honored March 10 during the International Excellence Awards ceremony in London.

LBF director Jacks Thomas said that conferring the award on Newton "is both a pleasure and an honor. His contribution to publishing, both Bloomsbury and beyond, is immense both here and around the globe as the Bloomsbury magic has been exported worldwide. From trade to academic, a champion of entrepreneurial publishing, Nigel is behind one of the most interesting independents in U.K. publishing today. Many congratulations!"

Newton commented: "It’s a great honor to be given this award. Thank you! I'm so grateful to our wonderful authors and to all my colleagues, past and present--in particular David Reynolds, Liz Calder, Alan Wherry and Mike Mayer for their vital parts in Bloomsbury’s start in 1986 and for many years after, helping to confer the publishing values, vision, and entrepreneurial drive of Bloomsbury which remain to this day.... I am also very grateful to all Bloomsbury employees, authors and illustrators, customer, printers, freelancers, distributors at MDL and MPS, directors, shareholders and fellow publishers and members of the book trade."

Farrar, Straus and Giroux: Intermezzo by Sally Rooney

Eason Buys Irish Indie Dubray Books

Irish retailer Eason has bought Dubray Books, an independent bookstore with eight locations throughout Ireland, the Bookseller reported. Dubray Books will remain a separate brand within Eason's corporate structure, and Maria Dickenson, Dubray's managing director, will join Eason's executive team.

"This acquisition will be positive for the Irish book trade, ensuring that Irish publishing can continue to flourish with the support of local Irish-owned booksellers with wide customer appeal like Eason and the specialist credentials of Dubray," Dickenson said. "Our new common ownership will strengthen our ability to continue supporting and promoting local talent while continuing to meet the needs of our existing loyal customers."

Dubray Books employs 90 people across its eight locations and has annual sales of more than €9 million (about $9.8 million). Looking ahead, Eason may open more Dubray Books locations in places where there is a greater demand for a specialty bookshop.

"As a specialist book retailer, Dubray reaches a different customer audience to Eason and the brand will therefore complement the wider Eason offering," said Eason CEO Liam Hanly. "We are very excited by the potential to grow the Dubray business in conjunction with the continued development of the existing Eason retail offering in the coming years."

At Mountaineers Books, New Publisher, Executive Shifts

In its 60th year, Mountaineers Books, the nonprofit publisher of outdoor recreation, sustainable lifestyle, and conservation books, is undergoing major changes in its executive ranks.

Helen Cherullo, who has been publisher for the past 20 years, will step away from that role to focus on the company's conservation imprint, Braided River, where she has been acting as executive director. Her new title will be executive director of conservation and advancement. She says she's "honored to continue to play a role at Mountaineers Books focusing on conservation and philanthropy."

At the same time, Tom Helleberg, who has been director of finance and operations for Mountaineers Books since 2018, will become publisher. He has more than 20 years of experience at nonprofit and scholarly houses, having been CFO of the University of Washington Press and finance manager of New York University Press. He has an MFA in fiction writing from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and an MBA in corporate finance and strategy from the Stern School of Business at NYU.

And longtime sales director Darryl Booker has been named director of sales and marketing. He has been with Mountaineers Books for 15 years.

Obituary Note: Lisel Mueller

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Lisel Mueller, whose writing "expressed the losses of the immigrant and history, and the beauty of the natural world, domestic life, love and grief," died February 21, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. She was 96. Mueller fled Germany at 15 and came to the U.S., where she wrote in her poem "Curriculum Vitae":

In the new language everyone spoke too fast.
I caught up with them.

"She caught up and more, using her 'new language' to craft ravishing poems in English that would win her the Pulitzer Prize and many other literary awards," the Sun-Times noted.

"She's a classic American immigrant success story, and also the classic story not just of immigrant success but also of refugee contribution to this country's culture," said her daughter Jenny.

"I think it is the poet's job to find the unconscious spring that unites all people," Mueller once told the Sun-Times.

Author of six books of poetry, she earned the 1997 Pulitzer for Alive Together: New and Selected Poems when she was 73. In 2002, she was awarded the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. She won the 1981 National Book Award for her collection, The Need to Hold Still. In 1975, she was recognized with the Lamont Poetry Selection Award from the Academy of American Poets for The Private Life.

Mueller wrote literary criticism for the Chicago Daily News and Poetry magazine; taught at Elmhurst College, Goddard College, the University of Chicago and Warren Wilson College; and helped found the Chicago Poetry Center. During the Carter administration, she was invited to the White House for a night to honor poetry. Last year, she was awarded a federal Order of Merit from Germany.

From her poem "Immortality":

My attention was on the fly:
that this slight body
with its transparent wings
and lifespan of one human day
still craved its particular share
of sweetness, a century later.


Image of the Day: Booksellers Association Ex-CEO Reunions

Former American Booksellers Association CEO Oren Teicher is not milling around the house right now: earlier this week, while visiting Melbourne, Australia, he had dinner with former Australian Booksellers Association CEO Joel Becker, current Australian Booksellers Association CEO Robbie Eagan, and Mark Rubbo, owner of Readings bookshops, in Melbourne. By amazing coincidence, Tim Godfray, former longtime head of the Booksellers Association of the U.K. and Ireland, is also in Australia--and he and Teicher are meeting this weekend. In several weeks, Teicher will do an event for Booksellers New Zealand and will see Lincoln Gould, who retired last year as CEO of Booksellers NZ. So, as Teicher put it: "In the course of a few weeks, I will have seen all three of my ELBA (English-language Booksellers Association) friends who I worked with all these years!" Pictured: (from l.): Teicher, Becker, Rubbo and Eagan.

Books & Books' Kaplan a Hall of Famer

"Congratulations to our incredible leader Mitchell Kaplan on his induction into the Miami-Dade County Public Schools Alumni Hall of Fame!" Books & Books, with stores in in southern Florida and the Cayman Islands, posted on Facebook. "He was honored alongside MOONLIGHT creators Tarell Alvin McCraney and Barry Jenkins as well as Sam Moore and Stephen Ross."

Personnel Changes at Little Bee Books

Josie Dallam has joined Little Bee Books as a sales assistant. Previously she was the sales and foreign rights intern for Barefoot Books.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Abi Daré on Today

Today Show: Abi Daré, author of The Girl with the Louding Voice: A Novel (Dutton, $26, 9781524746025).

Tamron Hall: Blair Underwood, co-author of Olympic Pride, American Prejudice: The Untold Story of 18 African Americans Who Defied Jim Crow and Adolf Hitler to Compete in the 1936 Berlin Olympics (Atria, $28, 9781501162152).

TV: Summer Sisters

Liz Tigelaar, who adapted Celeste Ng's Little Fires Everywhere into a Hulu limited series, "is giving the same treatment to another bestselling novel with two female protagonists, also for Hulu," Deadline reported, noting that in "a competitive situation involving multiple bidders, the Disney-controlled streamer has landed for development Summer Sisters, a limited drama series from Tigelaar based on Judy Blume's bestseller."

The project, from ABC Signature, is the first for Tigelaar and her Best Day Ever production company under the overall deal with ABC Studios. She and Stacey Silverman executive produce via Best Day Ever, along with Blume.

Summer Sisters is a longtime passion project for Tigelaar, who is a fan of Blume. Deadline wrote that "she read Summer Sisters when it was first published in 1998 and a couple of years later wrote Blume a letter asking to adapt the novel."

Books & Authors

Awards: Kingsley & Kate Tufts Poetry Winners; Lukas Prizes Shortlists

Ariana Reines won the $100,000 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, presented by Claremont Graduate University for a single book of poetry by a mid-career poet, for A Sand Book (Tin House). The award includes a weeklong residency at CGU in the fall.

In addition, Tiana Clark is the recipient of the $10,000 Kate Tufts Discovery Award, which recognizes a first volume by a poet of promise, for I Can't Talk About the Trees Without the Blood (University of Pittsburgh Press).

"Both of this year's winners are big, bold, and audacious books. They contain enormities; they're rich in detail," said finalist judging chair Timothy Donnelly.

Reines and Clark will receive their awards during a private ceremony April 15. There will be a public reading the following day at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanic Gardens in San Marino.


The shortlists for the Lukas Prizes--the J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Awards, the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize and the Mark Lynton History Prize--honoring the best in American nonfiction writing and sponsored by the Columbia Journalism School and the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, are:
J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Awards:

Seed Money by Bartow J. Elmore (Norton)
American Caliph by Shahan Mufti by (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Beloved Beasts by Michelle Nijhuis (Norton)
Let the Record Show by Sarah Schulman (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Foxconned by Lawrence Tabak (University of Chicago Press)

J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize:

Charged by Emily Bazelon (Random House)
Grace Will Lead Us Home by Jennifer Berry Hawes (St. Martin's Press)
Broke by Jodie Adams Kirshner (St. Martin's Press)
An American Summer by Alex Kotlowitz (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday)
The Code by Margaret O'Mara (Penguin Press)

Mark Lynton History Prize:

El Norte by Carrie Gibson (Atlantic Monthly Press)
Black Radical by Kerri K. Greenidge (Liveright)
Lakota America by Pekka Hämäläinen (Yale University Press)
How to Hide an Empire by Daniel Immerwahr (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Hitler by Brendan Simms (Basic Books)

Reading with... Kelly Braffet

photo: Missy McLamb

Kelly Braffet is the author of the novels Save Yourself, Last Seen Leaving and Josie & Jack. Her writing has been published in the Fairy Tale Review, Post Road and several anthologies. She attended Sarah Lawrence College and received her MFA in Creative Writing at Columbia University. She lives in upstate New York with her husband, the author Owen King. She is a lifelong reader of speculative fiction, and the idea for The Unwilling (Mira, February 11, 2020) originally came to her in college. Twenty years later, it's her first fantasy novel.

On your nightstand now:

Erin Morgenstern's The Starless Sea, which I'm rereading because I'm doing an event with her at the New York Public Library. Last weekend I re-read The Night Circus. Basically, I would like to move into Erin's imagination and live there forever, despite the bees. I'm also dipping into Ann Patchett's Commonwealth, because Ann Patchett brings me joy and never disappoints me.

Favorite book when you were a child:

It's a toss-up between Robin McKinley's The Hero and the Crown and Cynthia Voigt's Homecoming--or maybe Dicey's Song? I can never decide. Either way, I grew up in the '80s, and looking back there was a serious paucity of strong, three-dimensional female protagonists in my life, so it makes perfect sense to me that I was drawn to those stories.

Your top five authors:

What an impossible question! I'm going to limit myself to authors who are still actively publishing. I will read everything Kate Atkinson writes, always, forever; same goes for Ivy Pochoda. Both of them often leave me wondering why I even bother. China Miéville is always surprising and wonderfully bizarre, and I am a huge fan of Tana French. I was lucky enough to blurb Tana's very first book, back in the day, and now she's better than ever.

Can I say my husband? I'm going to say my husband: Owen King.

Book you've faked reading:

I'm sure I've faked reading something, at some point through the years, but I don't remember anything specific. Honestly, just the thought makes me a little stressed out: What if the person I'm lying to has follow-up questions? How long do I have to remember that I've lied about this book? I'm way too old for that nonsense. There are so many books out there; nobody's read everything, and anyone who judges you for not having read something is being a gatekeeper and a jerk.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Ivy Pochoda's Visitation Street and Wonder Valley. Has everybody read Ivy Pochoda already? Everybody should read Ivy Pochoda, because she hits all the notes: depth of setting, depth of character, beautiful writing, compelling stories.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Natasha Pulley's The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, which has a gorgeous cover and which most certainly did not disappoint. I'm very excited for the sequel, The Lost Future of Pepperharrow, which will probably just be inching its way to the top of my TBR pile when this is published. Also, can we discuss her brilliant titles?

Book you hid from your parents:

When I was 13 or so, I took my copy of Stephen King's Different Seasons on vacation with us, and my dad started reading it in the hotel room. I let him read "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption," but when he told me he'd started "Apt Pupil," I snuck it back into my suitcase. He never asked about it and I never brought it up.

Book that changed your life:

First, here's a disclaimer: I have not actually read this book in 20 years, and I've found that the last few decades have really changed my perspective on certain books that I loved as a young person (I'm looking at you, Catch-22). But reading John Steinbeck's East of Eden as a teenager really opened my eyes to what massive, multilayered creatures novels could be, and I've never forgotten it.

Favorite line from a book:

"As I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home." Which, of course, is the first line of S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders, and which I can still recite from memory. That book lived in my head for literal years. Or maybe my head lived in that book? Hard to say. But it's a classic.

Five books you'll never part with:

1) The copy of Cynthia Voigt's Homecoming that I literally read to tatters in my school years will never, ever leave me; my husband tried to get it signed for my last birthday, but told me afterward that there wasn't really enough book left to sign, so he had to buy me a new copy.

2) When I was 10 years old, my family moved from Arizona to Pennsylvania, and I spent the five-day trip reading and re-reading Elizabeth Boyer's The Troll and the Grindstone. I still really like that book, but now the cover is falling off.

3) The copy of The Hero and the Crown that my parents bought me for Christmas the first year we were in Pennsylvania--which is actually not falling apart, so that's good. My dad wrote a note on the endpapers, because my family used to do that. I didn't much enjoy that move, and so many of the books I read during that first year really became totemic for me--Peter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn is another one.

4) The maybe-almost-Very-Good-quality first edition of East of Eden that I bought in a used bookstore in Susquehanna, Pa., on a high school field trip. It was my first official Nice Book purchase; it cost $20, and was worth every penny. I hope that bookstore is still there. It was wonderful and the man behind the register all but gave me a hug, he was so delighted by my combat-booted self clutching my new treasure.

5) The copy of John D. MacDonald's A Purple Place for Dying that I was reading when I met my husband in a grad school committee meeting. We gave away newer copies as favors at our wedding. I think it's a good book, although it's been kind of overshadowed by the amazing thing that happened to me when I was reading it.

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

Kate Atkinson's Life After Life. Stayed up until the wee hours with that one, weeping all the while.

Book Review

Children's Review: Nonsense!

Nonsense!: The Curious Story of Edward Gorey by Lori Mortensen, illus. by Chloe Bristol (Versify/HMH, $17.99 hardcover, 40p., ages 4-8, 9780358033684, March 24, 2020)

Echoing a style used by the subject himself, Lori Mortensen (Away with Words) and Chloe Bristol use "words and pictures. And pictures and words" to capture the essence of that well-known, eccentric creator Edward Gorey (1925-2000).

Gorey was born in Chicago, a brilliant, self-taught child who "gobbled up adventures and mysteries. Comics and poetry." When he happened to enjoy "the whimsical Alice in Wonderland and the frighteningly gruesome Dracula, one after the other," that strange combination captured his imagination "like a penguin sipping tea on a runaway train." Young Edward skipped grades in school and moved many times with his family, but the boy "scribbled and sketched, sketched and scribbled, wherever he went." When he turned 18, he was drafted and served as company clerk in "an army full of rules." After his service, Gorey arrived at Harvard, "skinny, furry-coated, ring-fingered, sneaker-footed" and ready to live by his own rules. He wrote poetry, prose and plays, but had yet to find his calling.

In 1953, he took a job in the art department of a New York publishing company. One day, Gorey began jotting down "stories that mingled sweetness and innocence, danger and darkness, all mixed up with his own brand of silliness," which he then illustrated. Publishers weren't interested in his work so Gorey published it himself. The "strange stories with curious titles" which featured "odd and unfortunate endings" made some parents angry. But Gorey refused to explain himself, insisting his books should not be taken seriously. They were just "Edward being Edward, with a hatful of nonsense thrown in."

Throughout Nonsense!, Mortensen's stylishly poetic prose calls attention to the element of fun in Gorey's work. Illustrator Bristol's (the Winterhouse Mysteries series) pencil and digital art evokes the sketchy black lines used by Gorey himself. Text and illustration together paint a satisfying picture of an eccentric who developed an endearing (and unusual) way of expressing himself--and garnered an enduring following in the process. As Mortensen's end notes point out, Gorey published more than 100 of his own books and illustrated more than 60 works by others, including Lewis Carroll, one of the authors who so influenced his life. She further states that Gorey's work and influence lives on in other creators: Lemony Snicket, Tim Burton and Neil Gaiman "must all tip their hats to Edward Gorey." As should anyone else lucky enough to happen upon this biography about Gorey's darkly "curious" work! --Lynn Becker, blogger and host of Book Talk, a monthly online discussion of children's books for SCBWI

Shelf Talker: Throughout his life, Edward Gorey "scribbled and sketched" his way toward creating the brand of sweet-yet-dark books which have become synonymous with his name and beloved by generations.

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