Shelf Awareness for Thursday, May 7, 2020

William Morrow & Company: Polostan: Volume One of Bomb Light by Neal Stephenson

Shadow Mountain: The Legend of the Last Library by Frank L Cole

Atlantic Monthly Press: The Elements of Marie Curie: How the Glow of Radium Lit a Path for Women in Science by Dava Sobel

Ace Books: Dungeon Crawler Carl by Matt Dinniman

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Millicent Quibb School of Etiquette for Young Ladies of Mad Science by Kate McKinnon

Annick Press: Bog Myrtle by Sid Sharp

Minotaur Books: Betrayal at Blackthorn Park: A Mystery (Evelyne Redfern #2) by Julia Kelly

Quotation of the Day

'An Effort to Keep Indies' Beating Hearts Alive and Well'

"In the wild, certain species, like starfish or wolves, have a disproportionately nourishing effect on the communities around them. Independent bookstores are a lot like that for us. They give us a place to sit, to wander our imaginations, to commune. They are the endpoint of a stroll. The beginning point of an evening. They pump ideas and inspiration and meaning and warmth back out into the streets around them. And they are sick right now. Covid-19 is threatening their livelihoods in dire ways. I'm setting myself a goal--a fun and easy goal. Every Sunday, I am buying a book from an indie. It's an indulgence, a treat to myself in these lonely and uncertain times, that also may do a shred of good. I hope you'll join me, in some way that is right for you, in this effort to keep these beating hearts alive and well."

--Lulu Miller, author of Why Fish Don't Exist and co-founder of NPR's Invisibilia, on S&

Running Press Kids: Your Magical Life: A Young Witch's Guide to Becoming Happy, Confident, and Powerful by Amanda Lovelace


#SaveIndieBookstores Raises $1.2 Million; #SocksforBinc Raises $28K; Alone Together

Wow. The #SaveIndieBookstores campaign that began on April 2 and ended this past Tuesday, May 5, raised a total of $1,239,595 to support independent bookstores, Bookselling This Week reported. The campaign was a partnership of James Patterson (who donated $500,000), the American Booksellers Association and the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc). More than 1,800 donors contributed.

Binc executive director Pam French said, "This incredible effort was supported wholeheartedly by extremely hard-working volunteers, the ABA team, Binc staff, and countless book-lovers from all over the country and even the world. Their individual efforts came together in a campaign the scale of which we have never seen before at Binc. Everyone's collective efforts mean that hundreds of indie bookshops across the country will be getting emergency disaster assistance that they would not otherwise have received. This message of support from book lovers and from every sector of the book industry clearly demonstrates how deeply people value independent bookstores and the roles they hold in their communities. I am proud of our accomplishments and grateful to all those who made this happen. Thank you."

Besides James Patterson, major contributors included Rick and Becky Riordan, who created a $100,000 matching grant; John Grisham and Stephen King, who appeared in conversation on King's YouTube channel to talk about their new books and promote #SaveIndieBookstores; the regional booksellers associations, some of which had matching grant campaigns; Europa Editions' Our Brilliant Friend event series; SIB-YA After Dark, an hour-long Twitter Ask Me Anything (AMA); and's #SocksforBinc campaign (more on this below), among others.

Organizers emphasized at the beginning of the campaign that the fund is focused on bookstores, with funds distributed in proportion to a store's sales with the goal of helping to replace lost sales. They hoped that stores combine these funds with other funds, whether from the government, their own fundraising campaigns and other sources.

In the meantime, Binc is also aiding booksellers directly and just recently passed the $450,000 mark in funds given away since March 17 to help booksellers' households.

---'s #SocksforBinc campaign, which concluded on Sunday, raised $28,731 for Binc after 3,858 pairs of socks were sold. More than 1,300 people participated.

In connection with virtual Indie Bookstore Day, had partnered with a group of illustrators, authors and designers to create 10 designs for pairs of socks that it sold to book lovers. The minimum price for a pair of socks was $15, and buyers were encouraged to add donations to the basic price.

The #SocksforBinc pitch: "Pull on your socks, put on an audiobook, and stay safe at home while supporting booksellers across the nation."

One sock designer was Maddie, the 11-year-old daughter of's creative director. He told her that if she sold more than 1,000 pairs of socks she designed, she could pick anything she wanted from DoorDash. With 1,049 pairs sold, she picked Taco del Mar.


Some 75 authors have contributed to an anthology that will be published this summer, with net profits going to Binc.

To be published by Central Avenue Publishing and distributed by Independent Publishers Group, Alone Together: Love, Grief, and Comfort During the Time of COVID-19 collects essays, poems and interviews "to serve as a lifeline into connecting and thriving during this stressful time of isolation as well as a historical perspective that will remain relevant for years to come." The anthology is being edited by journalist and author Jennifer Haupt (who also edits the Psychology Today blog One True Thing) and will be released July 28.

Jennifer Haupt

Contributors are a mix of "bestselling and up-and-coming" authors and include Kwame Alexander, Jenna Blum, Andre Dubus III, Jamie Ford, Nikki Giovanni, Jane Hirshfield, Pam Houston, Jean Kwok, Major Jackson, Caroline Leavitt, Ada Limón, Dani Shapiro, David Sheff, Grace Talusan, Steve Yarbrough and Lidia Yuknavitch.

The project began in April when Haupt wrote on Facebook: "Putting this into the universe: I've been struggling with how to do something positive during this time of hardship for many. I don't have money but I DO have a strong community of compassionate writers and readers. SO: I'm putting together a collection of interviews and essays on Love and Comfort During Covid-19. The net profits will go to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation to benefit the bookstore owners who have supported readers and writers, and now need our help. THANK YOU!"

"I was looking for some way to make a dent in the overwhelming grief and devastation, and I hoped other authors would feel the same way," Haupt said. "My publisher agreed to donate her services and a few bestselling authors came on board, then the whole thing started snowballing. Other authors sent me e-mails that they were feeling the same way, and together we could use our words to do something positive--both spiritually and financially."

Michelle Halket at Central Avenue Publishing added: "Every single one of us has a story (or several) of how independent booksellers have supported us and our books. When Jennifer came to me, I knew I had to be a part of it. Since everyone is donating their time, talent, and expertise, we expect the contribution to Binc to be significant."


Canadian comic book retailers and comic book artists and writers have created "Be Our Heroes, Canada," a national celebration of the comic arts intended to "leverage each store's individual audiences to both build and strengthen the national comic book community and generate income for all."

Organized by the Dragon stores, Guelph, Ont., and Ontario retailers Gotham Central, Heroes World and Cyber City Comix, "Be Our Heroes, Canada" will take place over two days through Facebook Live, with scheduled slots for creators and stores. Funds raised will be collected and distributed by the Comic Legends Legal Defense Fund, a Canadian organization protecting free speech in the industry, supporting retailers, schools and libraries, creators and publishers.

Jennifer Haines, owner of the Dragon, said, "What started as a conversation between four retailers on how we could cross-promote our shops turned into this idea of a national fundraiser to help preserve Canada's unique comics landscape. Now more than ever, we need to come together to support one another, and provide our respective communities with a way to stay connected, all while protecting retailers that might otherwise fall through the cracks of government funding."

Participants include Adam Gorham, Andy Belanger, Brendan Fletcher, Casey Parsons, Chip Zdarsky, Dylan Burnett, Ed Brisson, J. Torres, Jason Fabok, Jason Loo, Jay Stephens, Karl Kerschl, Ken Lashley, Michael Cho, Ray Fawkes, Richard Pace, Scott Chantler, Seth, Shawn Daly, Svetlana Chmakova and Yanick Paquette.

For more information, visit @beourheroescanada on Facebook.

G.P. Putnam's Sons: William by Mason Coile

NEIBA Fall Conference to Be Held Online

The New England Independent Booksellers Association has decided to hold its 2020 Fall Conference online after learning that its venue, the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence, R.I., will be used as a state field hospital through November 1. It's the first regional booksellers association to cancel an in-person fall show.

NEIBA wrote to members: "While we will miss having the chance to physically gather with you in Providence, we welcome the opportunity to mix things up--to expand and diversify our offerings with a virtual venue. Now more than ever, booksellers are turning to their community: to collaborate, inspire, and empower one another. This year's Fall Conference will continue in that spirit, with two days of education, social gatherings, and author events."

The virtual conference will take place Wednesday, September 23, and Thursday, September 24.

Decision Time: Indie Bookstore Reopening Strategies Vary

As many states begin to alter or lift restrictions on retailers shuttered by the Covid-19 crisis, indie booksellers are facing complicated decisions regarding when to reopen safely and how to do business in a substantially altered environment.

At Main Street Bookends, Warner, N.H.

New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu announced that retail stores can reopen next week with restrictions, including a 50% occupancy limit and encouraging customers to wear cloth masks. But Katherine Nevins, owner of Main Street Bookends in Warner, told NH Business Review she is not opening yet: "How do we determine who is safe to come in and who's not safe? And after they leave, the environment is potentially not safe for the next customer. It's just absurd.... As a business owner and someone who cares immensely about my community, I would not risk anyone.... We've figured it out, and it's going very well. I don't see us adjusting dramatically for a while."

Retail stores in many parts of Florida were allowed to operate at 25% of their indoor occupancy beginning Monday, under Governor Ron DeSantis's plan. Lauren Zimmerman, owner of Writer's Block Bookstore in Winter Park, told WMFE last Thursday that the future is impossible to predict: "It's like you're just adapting to whatever is happening to you right now. So, when I've been asked what I envision or what I see when we open the doors, I actually cannot see it. I have no idea. It's really a fascinating time that we live in, especially today [when] the idea of reopening the store--reopening the community--is happening within the next several days. We don't know what Monday's going to look like."

Beginning Tuesday, Well Read Books, Fulton, Mo., opened for regular in-store hours, noting: "We cannot stress this enough--please call ahead of time to schedule a time to come in the bookstore. This will help us keep our in-store numbers low and keep everyone safe. We can allow no more than 5 people in the bookstore at a time. For the love of dog wear a facemask in the bookstore. Please. Only our front entrance will be open, so please don't go storming our back gate.... We love you and we want to see you--but we also want you to be safe and healthy."

Rivendell Bookstore, Abilene, Kan., reopened May 5 "on a rather limited basis." The bookshop is open by appointment only for 30-minute increments and "will not require customers to wear masks, but they would be appreciated.... I am one person, trying to figure out how to best proceed to serve the community, and keep us all safe. Everything that is put into place is subject to change at any time. We are all winging it, and trying to do our best in a difficult situation. So please be patient as I begin to navigate this new road."

Although Monday was the start of a "Back to Business" plan, Burke's Book Store, Memphis, Tenn., chose not to reopen yet, anticipating that May 18 is the "earliest date we will reopen (and this is subject to change depending on information from local government and health officials).... We have much to do and much to discuss to ensure that when we do reopen YOU are safe, WE are safe, ALL are safe, to the best of our abilities. We will keep you updated on all of this as it evolves."

Second Flight Books, Lafayette, Ind., which has opted for being "as cautious as possible," reopened May 6 by 30-minute appointment only. "Appointments are meant for just you and other members of your household, and we'll attempt to disinfect as much as possible between appointments. We also recommend the use of a mask, which our staff members will be wearing."

Inner Geek, Huntington, W.Va., has reopened after being "thoroughly cleaned and restocked and we are ready for business!... We are asking that you limit your shopping time to around 30 minutes and that you make every attempt to socially distance yourself from other folks in the store. We have a pretty good size store that is seldom crowded by any measure so this shouldn't be a problem. That said, we have closed the seating areas and removed most of the chairs in the building to ensure that not too many folks congregate all at once!"

International Update: Italian Booksellers Coping; NZ Publishers Struggling

NPR's The Indicator from Planet Money spoke with two Italian booksellers who are coping with the gradual reopening of their country this week after about a two-month lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Diego Bressan, owner of Ubik Bookshop in Gorizia, said he probably could have gone another eight weeks with no income, but no more. His shop is open, but with new rules. "They must wear a mask," he said. "They must clean their hands. A maximum of three people is allowed in the shop at the same time.... We had quite a few customers, almost like nothing happened. And they are so happy we are open. The first day was like a silent party for us.... Here, the virus has not been so bad. We are lucky. We are far from the red zone."

Mattia Garavaglia packing books for bike delivery at La Libreria del Golem.

Mattia Garavaglia, owner of Golem Bookshop in the red zone Piedmont region, owns "a small, small, small, small shop in Turin" near Lombardia, the epicenter. "When I opened my bookshop, I slept on the ground in the bookshop for six months because I couldn't afford a home.... I don't want to close my life because my bookshop is my life. So it's not time to say, oh, my God. I'm closing. I'm closing. I'm closing. But it's time to... What is called the part of the shirt that covers your arms? [to roll up your shirt sleeves]."

Garavaglia has been making about 40 deliveries a day in his car or on his bike, riding through the empty streets of his city. "It was very strange because there was nobody--nobody, nobody, nobody at all.... And I have to say just me--my bike and nobody else. To me, it's like the paradise. I could sing. I know I sound like somebody who doesn't care what is happening, but I try to find something to appeal on the positive side.... I listen to death metal.... We've got to find some source of light in these dark times. I love it, too.... Nobody understands what will be the life after this. But you can only hope."


The Publishers Association of New Zealand/Te Rau o Tākupu said the country's book publishers "are struggling to regroup after seeing sales obliterated in April." Books + Publishing reported that under the month-long Level 4 lockdown, booksellers were required to close stores and were not able to trade online.

"Unlike in most countries, in New Zealand books were not classed as essential items during Level 4,'" said PANZ, adding that its members were "reporting zero or minimal sales for the month of the Level 4 lockdown" and the risk to the book industry was "at its greatest since the Global Financial Crisis."

PANZ president Julia Marshall said, "While New Zealand publishers have remained at work remotely, preparing books for 2020 and 2021, they couldn't sell print books until Level 3 permitted online and click & collect sales," while "online sales of books made a massive difference to sustaining publishers in many markets, including Australia." She encouraged New Zealanders to support local booksellers and authors: "This is the year to buy New Zealand books, if you want to be sure our books are still around in the future."


Posted on Facebook Tuesday by U.K. bookseller Harris & Harris Books, Sudbury: "A MONUMENTAL DAY. First delivery of books to the bookshop in 7 weeks and I am in absolute heaven. A bookseller without new books is not a happy bookseller. Thank you to everyone who has been continuing to support Harris & Harris during this very testing time. We've limped along with safe distant collection, home deliveries to doorsteps and books posted to everywhere. I've seen lots of friendly locals through doors and windows and virtually met lots of new book readers on the telephone. We're not done yet, there's a pile of home deliveries to sort and more to go to the post office later on. Stay home. Stay safe. Keep reading."

Obituary Note: Michael McClure

Michael McClure, "the young poet recruited to put together the famed Six Gallery readings in 1955 that launched the San Francisco Renaissance and the legend of the Beats," died May 4, the Chronicle reported. He was 87. His first public reading, at 22, "was overshadowed by the introduction of Howl by Allen Ginsberg," but McClure's career ultimately spanned more than 60 years, during which he published over 30 books of poetry, plays and anthologies, most recently Persian Pony and Mephistos and other Poems.

"Michael was incredibly gracious, erudite, and totally dedicated to the poet's calling," said Elaine Katzenberger, publisher and CEO of City Lights Booksellers & Publishers, which published some of McClure's works, beginning in 1963 with Meat Science Essays. "He was a sometimes-trickster, most definitely a provocateur, and yet, quite solicitous and patient, a sage who was beautiful inside and out."

McClure read at the Human Be-In at Golden Gate Park that launched the Summer of Love in 1967 and at the Band's "Last Waltz" at Winterland in 1976. He also wrote songs, most famously "Mercedes-Benz," which he co-wrote for Janis Joplin. Actor Dennis Hopper once said: "Without the roar of McClure, there would have been no '60s."

Garrett Caples, a close friend and editor at City Lights, observed: "Michael was one of the most significant American poets of the latter half of the 20th century. He had a place in popular culture in addition to literary culture that not many poets have been able to occupy."

For 43 years, McClure was a professor of poetry at California College of the Arts, where in 2005 he was bestowed an honorary doctorate degree as the longest-tenured faculty member at the art college. Juvenal Acosta, dean of Humanities and Sciences and professor of writing and literature at CCA, told the Chronicle in 2018: "There is no way that you can read a poem by Michael McClure without experiencing some kind of connection with something primal and cosmic. He has changed the way we speak and read American poetry."

His other books include Mysteriosos and Other Poems; Rain Mirror; Simple Eyes & Other Poems; Rebel Lions; Ghost Tantras; Of Indigo and Saffron: New and Selected Poems; Passage; and the nonfiction work, Scratching the Surface of the Beats.

"Michael was the youngest of the poets that became known as the Beats," Ferlinghetti told the Chronicle three years ago. "He was not only the youngest, he was completely different than anyone else. He spoke in beast language."


Image of the Day: Royal Reading

Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, read Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld (Chronicle Books) to her son, Archie, on his first birthday. Markle and her husband, Harry, filmed and released the video on Save the Children's Instagram account. The U.K.'s Save the Children and its #SaveWithStories campaign aim to bring food and resources to children around the world affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

'Great Fashion Reads Recommended by Indie Booksellers'

"Feel like adding a little bit of stylish escapism to that pile of books on your bedside table?" asked W magazine, which "reached out to independent booksellers from New York City to Portland, Ore., for their recommendations in the realms of fashion history, photography, and personal style. Here, they share some of their favorites--from illustrated memoirs to niche streetwear tell-alls to shopping guides--all of which you can buy directly from them, or the authors' websites."

Featured booksellers were Troy Chatterton of Three Lives & Company, New York City; Emily Rankin of BookPeople, Austin, Tex.; Bryanne Hoeg of Powell's Books, Portland, Ore.; Stacey Lewis of City Lights Booksellers & Publishers, San Francisco, Calif.; and Bryce Lucas of 57th Street Books, Chicago, Ill.

Cool Idea of the Day: 'Virtual Chocolate Tasting'

"Want the moms in your life to celebrate Mother's Day in socially-distanced style?" asked Boulder Book Store, Boulder, Colo., offering a tasty option: "We're hosting a virtual chocolate tasting on Sunday, May 10th at 2 p.m. with local legendary foodie John Lehndorff (Radio Nibbles), where he will taste and talk about 12 bars of hand crafted, bean to bar chocolate. Purchase at least 4 of the bars he'll be talking about (go here to see the bars...) to attend this special virtual event on Zoom. You can pick up the bars through our Curbside pickup (open noon to 4:30 daily) so you can taste along with John! The Zoom link will be e-mailed to you after you make your chocolate purchase."

Consortium Adds Three Publishers

Ingram's Consortium Book Sales & Distribution is adding three publishers, effective May 30 for fall 2020 lists:

Agnes & Aubrey in London features "fun, interactive, and beautifully designed books for adventurous children." The press launched last year with the Take Me series of guided journals that encourage children to engage with the world around them. Agnes & Aubrey will make its U.S. debut with Take Me to Museums, Take Me on Vacation, and Take Me Home.

Centrala, founded in Poland in 2007 and now operating in the U.K. and the Czech Republic, too, specializes in graphic novels and comics for children and adults. The list has three areas of focus: "Love," for children and young adults; "Life," "exciting and fresh graphic novels and comics"; and "Death," a collection of illustrated art books. Fall titles include The Empty Space by Marianna Sztyma, Old Farts: Short Stories About Aging from Romania by Sorina Vazelina, and Blood, an anthology of Polish women's comics, edited by Beata Sosnowska.

Common Notions, Brooklyn, N.Y., focuses on social justice, publishing nonfiction books that provide "timely reflections, clear critiques, and inspiring strategies for struggles past, present, and future." Key titles this fall include The Weapon of Organization, an introduction to the work of Mario Tronti, edited and translated by Andrew Anastasi; Take Care of Your Self: The Art and Politics of Care and Liberation by Sundus Abdul Hadi; and Making Abolitionist Worlds: Proposals for a World on Fire, edited by Abolition Collective.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Gene Sperling on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Gene Sperling, author of Economic Dignity (Penguin Press, $28, 9781984879875).

Live with Kelly and Ryan: Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue, authors of What Makes a Marriage Last: 40 Celebrated Couples Share with Us the Secrets to a Happy Life (HarperOne, $29.99, 9780062982582).

Rachael Ray: Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, author of Hustle Harder, Hustle Smarter (Amistad, $27.99, 9780062953803).

This Weekend on Book TV: Judith Heumann

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, May 9
3:20 p.m. Lauren Sandler, author of This Is All I Got: A New Mother's Search for Home (Random House, $27, 9780399589959). (Re-airs Sunday at 11:10 p.m.)

5:45 p.m. Judith Heumann, co-author of Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist (Beacon Press, $25.95, 9780807019290). (Re-airs Monday at 1 a.m.)

7 p.m. Rana el Kaliouby, co-author of Girl Decoded: A Scientist's Quest to Reclaim Our Humanity by Bringing Emotional Intelligence to Technology (Currency, $28, 9781984824769). (Re-airs Sunday at 12 p.m.)

8 p.m. Richard Hasen, author of Election Meltdown: Dirty Tricks, Distrust, and the Threat to American Democracy (Yale University Press, $27.50, 9780300248197), and Edward Foley, author of Presidential Elections and Majority Rule: The Rise, Demise, and Potential Restoration of the Jeffersonian Electoral College (Oxford University Press, $29.95, 9780190060152). (Re-airs Sunday at 3 a.m.)

9 p.m. Coverage of the 2020 J. Anthony Lukas Prize, awarded to books with "literary grace, a commitment to serious research and social concern." (Re-airs Sunday at 1 p.m.)

11 p.m. Book TV explores books about race in America. (Re-airs Sunday at 7:30 p.m.)

Sunday, May 10
1:20 a.m. Vivek Murthy, author of Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World (Harper Wave, $29.99, 9780062913296). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

2 p.m. Jon Mooallem, author of This Is Chance!: The Shaking of an All-American City, A Voice That Held It Together (Random House, $28, 9780525509912), at Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn, N.Y.

5:45 p.m. R. Eric Thomas, author of Here for It: Or, How to Save Your Soul in America (Ballantine, $26, 9780525621034).

Books & Authors

Awards: RSL Ondaatje; Stephen Leacock Medal for Humor

A Portable Paradise by Roger Robinson has won the £10,000 (about $12,340) Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize, honoring "a book of the highest literary merit--fiction, nonfiction or poetry--which best evokes the spirit of a place."

Pascale Petit, one of the judges, commented: "The spirit of place in this outstanding collection is the portable paradise of Trinidad in London. Roger Robinson's profoundly moving book manages to balance anger and love, rage and craft. Every poem surprises with its imagery, emotional intensity and lyric power, whether dealing with Grenfell, Windrush, or a son's difficult birth, which is also a tribute to a Jamaican nurse. This is a healing book, enabling us to conjure our own portable paradises."


Finalists have been named for the C$15,000 (about US$10,720) Stephen Leacock Medal for Humor, which honors the best book of humor written by a Canadian. The winner will be announced June 5. This year's shortlisted titles are:

Molly of the Mall: Literary Lass and Purveyor of Fine Footwear by Heidi L.M. Jacobs
CROW by Amy Spurway
Cottagers and Indians by Drew Hayden Taylor 

Reading Group Choices' Most Popular April Books

The two most popular books in April at Reading Group Choices were The Second Home: A Novel by Christina Clancy (St. Martin's Press) and Hannah's War by Jan Eliasberg (Back Bay Books).

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, May 12:

The Goodbye Man by Jeffery Deaver (Putnam, $28, 9780525535973) is the second thriller with expert tracker Colter Shaw.

Funny Weather: Art in an Emergency by Olivia Laing (Norton, $26.95, 9781324005704) collects essays about art and culture.

War Is Over by David Almond, illus. by David Litchfield (Candlewick, $16.99, 9781536209860), is a middle-grade novel that endeavors to show the effects of war on children.

Superman Smashes the Klan by Gene Luen Yang, illus. by Gurihiru (DC Comics, $16.99 trade paper, 9781779504210), features two teenagers who have moved with their parents from Chinatown to Metropolis.

Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom: Creating Physical and Emotional Health and Healing (Newly Updated and Revised 5th Edition) by Dr. Christiane Northrup (Bantam, $26, 9780525486114).

Empire of Grass by Tad Williams (DAW, $20, 9780756416102).

Unveiling the Past: A Novel by Kim Vogel Sawyer (WaterBrook, $15.99, 9780525653660).

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:

Hardcover: An Indies Introduce Title
How Much of These Hills Is Gold: A Novel by C Pam Zhang (Riverhead, $26, 9780525537205). "In the most inventive and fresh language I've seen in a long time, C Pam Zhang's How Much of These Hills Is Gold, set during the American gold rush, tells the story of siblings Lucy and Sam as they wander the western expanse to give their father a proper burial. Zhang transforms the mythology of the American West and reclaims it through the eyes of first-generation Asian-Americans, tackling themes of race, immigration, and gender and creating a new narrative of a voice and people often left out of this pivotal historical period. Strange and surreal, this is a novel to read with care and gratitude." --Chris Alonso, Books & Books, Coral Gables, Fla.

Three Hours in Paris: A Novel by Cara Black (Soho Crime, 9781641290418, $27.95) "I couldn't put down this well-written and fast-paced thriller. This is the story of Kate Rees, an American female spy, and her tragedies and triumphs during World War II. Cara creates a captivating story around Hitler's three-hour visit to Paris, to which he never returned again, and takes you on a wild ride through the city that day. Each piece of the timeline is expertly stitched together, and I found myself completely involved! Cara Black, you have a new fan!" --Lisa Valentino, Ink Fish Books, Warren, R.I.

The Unseen: A Novel by Roy Jacobsen and Don Shaw, translated by Don Bartlett (Biblioasis, $16.95, 9781771963190). "Never has a novel so utterly simple left me with such deep contemplation. I know Ingrid will linger in the back of my mind for a long while, continuing to grow, discover, and dig into her island with unique grit. Jacobsen has left me tossing in a boat at sea, filled with the determination of the Barrøys to make their tiny Norwegian island more than is possible and, at the same time, torn by nagging questions of what else life might offer." --Carrie Koepke, Skylark Bookshop, Columbia, Mo.

For Ages 4 to 8
Little Monster Trucks GO! by Doug Cenko (blue manatee press, $17.99, 9781936669837). "Little Monster Trucks GO! teaches even the youngest of readers the importance of teamwork. Little people can do big things, especially if they work together, and each of the book's little trucks has special skills. This book is a bright, colorful, fun race where everyone is a winner." --Sally Sue Lavigne, The Storybook Shoppe, Bluffton, S.C.

For Ages 9 to 12
The Lonely Heart of Maybelle Lane by Kate O'Shaughnessy (Knopf, $16.99, 9781984893833). "The Lonely Heart of Maybelle Lane by Kate O'Shaughnessy is a sweet, tender story for those of us who have not yet found our voice and those of us who have lost it. Eleven-year-old Maybelle Lane is looking for her perfect happy ending, but oftentimes the one you are looking for and the one you find are completely different, and that's okay." --Jenny Siegel, Anderson's Book Shop, Larchmont, N.Y.

For Teen Readers
Ruthless Gods by Emily A. Duncan (Wednesday Books, $18.99, 9781250195692). "Wicked Saints was a tour de force, and Ruthless Gods takes up its mantle with no trace of second book syndrome or lagging energy. Emily Duncan's carefully crafted sequel takes both familiar favorite characters and new faces from the Tranavian court to thrilling new locales--to mines and monasteries, into Kalyazi forests, and far away to the holy seat of the gods. This brilliant, brutal fever dream peopled with gods and eldritch things, limned with magic and horror, will leave readers breathless for the trilogy's third installment." --Anna Bright, One More Page Books, Arlington, Va.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: People of the City

People of the City by Cyprian Ekwensi (New York Review Books, $15.95 paperback, 176p., 9781681374291, June 9, 2020)

Although Chinua Achebe's pivotal Things Fall Apart is a staple on most Western students' reading lists as representative of modern African literature, Cyprian Ekwensi predates Achebe by four years as one of Nigeria's first writers publishing in English. Introduced in the U.K. in 1954, Ekwensi's debut novel, People of the City, arrives on U.S. shelves in a handsome new edition. Despite the book's age, the perennial everyman narrative proves equally affecting for contemporary audiences: Ekwensi's (anti-)hero distances himself from his provincial background ambitiously to pursue the rewards of a quickly changing urban life.

Amusa Sango is "a most colourful and eligible young bachelor" who lives, works, plays--and too easily loves--in a "famous West African city (which shall be nameless)" not unlike Lagos. Although he diligently works two jobs, as a crime reporter for a city paper and a dance-band leader at a club, he is rarely solvent. As an only son, what little he earns must also be shared with his widowed mother, who constantly reminds him of her "anxiety that Sango had to work so far away from home... in a city to which she had never been." While chasing stories of violent deaths and seeking opportunities to make music, Sango's careless choices in companionship do not serve him well. One friend's dangerous shenanigans first get Sango evicted from his modest lodgings, and later cause a detrimental impact to his journalism career. He's long been engaged to a naïve fiancée sequestered in a rural convent, who remains unaware of his reckless affairs. True love eventually catches him off-guard, but a happy ending is hardly guaranteed.

In an introduction both personally revealing and contextually enlightening, Nigerian author, editor and art critic Emmanuel Iduma (A Stranger's Pose), who teaches writing at New York's School of Visual Arts, restores Ekwensi's historical literary prominence. Iduma opens with his own chuckle-inducing (mis)adventures of "filching a worn copy of People of the City," then "lifting entire paragraphs" as a new writer at age 15, and highlights Ekwensi's peripatetic, prolific career. A writer who produced more than 40 titles before his death in 2007, Ekwensi was also a pharmacist, radio broadcaster, professor and diplomat. Most thoughtfully, Iduma underscores Ekwensi's crucial legacy as a progenitor to "any Nigerian writer who has tried to write about Lagos as a city with feeling," including Sefi Atta, Teju Cole and Chris Abani. Iduma helps renew Ekwensi's People of the City, still inspirationally relevant, for an overdue global closeup. --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon

Shelf Talker: Prolific, historically significant Nigerian author Cyprian Ekwensi's debut novel, part of the African canon, appears in a handsome, new U.S. edition.

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