Shelf Awareness for Monday, June 1, 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


Twin Cities Bookstores: Destroyed, Damaged, Spared in Protests

In the sometimes violent protests that followed the murder last week of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis, Minn., some bookstores in the Twin Cities were destroyed and damaged, while others have remained unscathed but are boarded up and not sure when and how to reopen.


The most destructive case involved Uncle Hugo's Science Fiction Bookstore and Uncle Edgar's Mystery Bookstore in Minneapolis. The building housing "the Uncles" was one of many on its section of Chicago Avenue that burned to the ground on Thursday night. On the stores' website, the Uncles' Elizabeth told fans that she had spoken with owner Don Blyly, who "appreciates the outpouring of support he has received from around the globe. He is currently considering various options, but will need some time to process this tragedy and loss before he is ready to make decisions."

She emphasized that "per the local authorities, as of this morning, virtually all of the people arrested for these crimes are from out of state. Eyewitness accounts and livestreams report fires being set by young white men."

In a message to staff, Blyly recounted being awoken at 3:30 a.m. by a call from the building's security company saying that the motion detector was showing somebody inside. "I threw on clothes and headed over there," he wrote. "When I was two blocks away I received a call that the smoke detectors were showing smoke in the store. Every single building on both sides of Chicago was blazing and dozens of people dancing around.

"As I pulled into the [nearby] lot I could see that flames were leaping out the front windows of the Uncles. It looked to me like they had broken every window on the front of the Uncles and then squirted accelerant through each broken window. It looked hopeless to me, but I went around to the back door to see if I could get to a fire extinguisher. As soon as I opened the back door a wave of very thick black smoke poured out, so I quickly closed the door again....

"I'm pretty sure the insurance policy excludes damage from a civil insurrection, so I suspect I won't get a cent for either the building or the contents."

Founded in 1974, Uncle Hugo's is one of the oldest science fiction bookstores in the U.S.


DreamHaven Books and Comics in Minneapolis was broken into, looted and damaged but an attempt to set it on fire didn't succeed. On Saturday the store posted on Facebook that the store was "a mess, with most of the glass cabinets at least partially broken. There were a few merchandise casualties and they took/destroyed the electronics they found, but mostly they ignored the books. All except the one they tried to burn, which they left to smolder and which put itself out." But the next day many people came by "to help and wish us well.... So for the moment, we're done. There are a lot of things that need to be put back into place, and it will be a little while before we can open again. But we're here and safe and once we get through this patch we will again be able to open for business."

In the meantime, the store is boarded up with plywood that features the slogan "With great power comes great responsibility."


Magers & Quinn Booksellers in Minneapolis sustained some property damage--mostly broken windows and doors. As of Thursday, the store had postponed plans to re-open in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic and suspended all business, including shipping and alley-side pickup services. On its website, the store said, "We will resume these operations as soon as we are able, and orders may still be placed on our website."

On Friday, manager Paul Mostrom told Twin Cities Business, "To be honest, I'm not reflecting a lot at the moment. This whole situation, for me, has been personally very troubling, right from the start. The property damage is frustrating and hard to deal with, but it's the least tragic thing about this situation."


Moon Palace Books with "Abolish the Police" sign in the upper window.

Moon Palace Books, located in the center of the protests in Minneapolis, served as a medical station for protesters the first few nights and had a big sign reading "Abolish the Police." The store sustained some minor damage--broken windows and graffiti--but was spared the arson and looting that ruined many nearby businesses. On Saturday on Twitter, the now-boarded-up store reported: "We're ok. This is hard. Our community is hurting and organizing. Be kind to each other and don't stop seeking justice. Abolish the police."

The nearby Hennepin County Library East Lake was damaged, with windows broken, vandalism and some books burned.


The Red Balloon Bookshop in St. Paul was safe, with windows boarded up. On Saturday, when a few staff members were on site, the store posted on Facebook in part: "We are heartbroken for Uncle Hugo's/Uncle Edgar's. We are heartbroken for Minneapolis. We are heartbroken for George Floyd's family. #JusticeForGeorge #BlackLivesMatter."


Likewise Next Chapter Booksellers in St. Paul was safe but boarded up. Yesterday, the store posted on Facebook: "It seems the store is OK, but it's going to be a while until we can restore normal operations. We don't even have a front door for curbside pickup at the moment. Bear with us as we figure this out."

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

Recommended Anti-Racist Reading

Jane Mount/Ideal Bookshelf

Among the bookstores offering books to help understand racism, anti-racism and the anger about the murder of George Floyd and other unarmed black people are these:

The Red Balloon Bookshop, St. Paul, Minn., created a "Black Lives Matter" list that includes books about "civil rights, racism and anti-racism."

On Twitter, Raven Book Store, Lawrence, Kan., has an "antiracist reading list."

BookPeople, Austin, Tex., also has an "anti-racist reading list."

The New York Times offered an "anti-racist reading list" from Ibram X. Kendi, author of Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, which won the 2016 National Book Award for Nonfiction, and How to Be an Antiracist.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux: Intermezzo by Sally Rooney

Bottomley New Executive Chair of BA Group

Nic Bottomley

Nic Bottomley, co-owner of Mr B's Emporium of Reading Delights, Bath, England, and former president of the Booksellers Association of the U.K. and Ireland, has been appointed executive chair of the BA Group, the Bookseller reported. Bottomley will sit on the boards of the BA Group, BA Divisional, Books Tokens and Batch, and will continue to run his bookshop.

The position of executive chair was created in early 2018 and filled by Tim Godfray, who had been CEO of the BA for 33 years. He retired last year.

Bottomley, whose two-year term as BA president ended in March, commented: "Through my time sitting on BA Council and then serving as BA vice-president and president, I have learned what an incredible organisation the BA really is and how much it is valued by its broad membership. Each of its three divisions--the Booksellers Association, Batch and National Book Tokens--all serve and support the organisation's bookselling members in many different ways. I'm looking forward to working across the various boards to further refine and develop the group's strategy, development and governance."

BA managing director Meryl Halls said: "Nic Bottomley was a fantastic BA president, and has played an integral role in a number of key initiatives that we have launched during his tenure. Nic has shown stalwart support for the BA and is passionate about the importance of bookshops. We are excited to welcome him as executive chair, never more so than at this uniquely challenging time for bookselling, where Nic has already proven himself an insightful colleague and an inspiring leader."

BookExpo Online: Adult Editors' Buzz

BookExpo Online's Adult Editors' Buzz 2020 event, held Friday morning, featured editors and their authors in conversation about six upcoming titles.

"You know that feeling you get when you read a book and start highlighting passages and underlining beautiful lines," Dawn Davis, v-p & publisher at Simon & Schuster, observed to introduce her segment with Nadia Owusu, author of Aftershocks: A Memoir (January 12, 2021). Davis noted that in the book, readers are "invited in by the characters--vulnerable Nadia, who is simmering with inner strength, her stepmother and her father--but you stay because of the beauty of the language.... Nadia's way through trauma is to make a weapon of language."

Nadia Owusu and Dawn Davis

Owusu said that "in this moment of collective grief and trauma and isolation in the world, I really have been reminded that although I started writing this book from a place of grief and sadness, I ended up writing toward love and connection."

Tim O'Connell and Tiffany McDaniel

Knopf senior editor Tim O'Connell said that he first encountered what would become Betty by Tiffany McDaniel (August 25) nearly eight years ago, and spoke with the author occasionally over the years about her book and writing life before seeing a new draft two years ago. He added: "Tiffany, the characters you created and the world you made never left me. So this book stayed with me for nearly a decade and I feel so lucky and honored to be able to publish it at Knopf."

Much like her main character, McDaniel said she "can see story in everything. Betty is someone who is artistic, creative, always using her imagination to write and create stories, but especially, for her, fiction is a compass, and that's really what it is for me, too."

Caroline Bleeke and Charlotte McConaghy

Describing Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy (Flatiron Books, August 4) as an "urgent, gorgeous novel," senior editor Caroline Bleeke said the book "has the kind of publishing fairytale story that I dream about as an editor. It's a novel from an unknown young writer from the other side of the world that, on the strength of the read alone, has captivated absolutely everyone who's encountered it."

Noting that she has not traveled as adventurously as her main character, McConaghy observed: "We live in an incredible age of information, which is probably one of the saving graces of this pandemic. There's art from all over the world that has the ability to transport us to places we can't physically go. Writing for me is such wish fulfillment.... I write the world I'd want to visit, and I hope readers are carried there with me."

emily danforth and Jessica Williams

Having channeled her "lifelong love of horror stories and horror narratives" into Plain Bad Heroines (Morrow, October 20), emily m. danforth said she's been calling the novel "sapphic gothic metafiction.... My math to understand the book is Picnic at Hanging Rock plus The Blair Witch Project times lesbians equals Plain Bad Heroines."

Executive editor Jessica Williams added that Plain Bad Heroines is "a hard book to describe because it is this unique and complex combination of traits--it's gothic horror, it's a haunted house story, you're incorporating slasher films. It's also a satire of these things and it's laugh-out-loud funny and it's filled with sapphic romance."

Robert Jones, Jr., and Sally Kim

For Robert Jones, Jr., the genesis of his novel The Prophets (Putnam, January 5, 2021) was a question: "What would it have been like to be black and queer during antebellum slavery, because through all my readings and all my research I could not find any evidence of their existence."

In an emotional moment, Putnam v-p, editor-in-chief Sally Kim surprised Jones with a cover reveal, noting: "It's just such a statement of everything we've been talking about today. It's a hopeful cover and beautiful and has all these different layers." Regarding his novel, she noted "you have shown us that you can not only be part of the conversation, but you're helping to lead it."

Sara Seager and Gillian Blake

Sara Seager, author of The Smallest Lights in the Universe: A Memoir (Crown, August 18), described her book as being about "the journey of outer space in the search for planets, and it's about astronomy and the journey of exploration, but it's also about the journey of inner space and the search that we all have to make our lives meaningful, especially after some kind of major trauma."

Gillian Blake, senior v-p, editor-in-chief, observed: "This is a book about getting your life thrown totally upside down, and I think a lot of us are experiencing that right now. It's also about hope, and how pursuing science is a real form of hope, of optimism." --Robert Gray

Book Expo Online: Graphic Novels, Kids/YA

The highlight of Friday's Book Expo Online programming was the final event of the day's (and week's) lineups: a conversation with five creators of "New Graphic Novels" (roughly 2:55 into the video).

"This panel allows us a chance to show off what this category can do so well," began moderator Calvin Reid of Publishers Weekly. The line-up ranged from Mike Curato--a picture book author-artist making his graphic novel debut with Flamer (Holt, September 1), set in 1995 and inspired by his own experience the summer before high school--through Aiden Navarro, who's caught between the teachings of the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts ("Am I gay, so I'm bad? Or I'm not gay, because I'm good?") to James Romberger, who's been working in comics for decades and marks his first solo effort with Post York (Dark Horse, March 2021), which imagines Manhattan after climate change causes the entire island to submerge.

Graphic novel panelists (clockwise from top l.): Mike Curato, Calvin Reid, Kiki Hughs, Bishakh Som, Trung Le Nguyen, James Romberger

Bishakh Som is an architect who took a year off to work on a graphic novel--actually, two; the first was Apsara Engine, published last month by Feminist Press). Spellbound (Street Noise, August 18) began as what Som called "a diary comic." Reid said, "We learn about Benghali culture, there's quite a bit of cooking that goes on, and drinking in the best sense, as a social lubricant." Som used her heroine Anjali to think about "my childhood, my memories, my growing up; she was a portal or gateway for me to realize my own trans-ness."

Trung Le Nguyen also explores transition in The Magic Fish (Random House Graphic, October 13) in multiple ways through his hero, Tiến: as an immigrant and as someone finding the language--through fairytale--to come out to his Vietnamese parents. The author-artist also spoke with senior editor Whitney Leopard at the YA Editors' Buzz Panel (roughly 2 hours into the video).

Kiku Hughes--who, like Nguyen, participated in both the graphic novels discussion and the YA panel--talked with editorial director Calista Brill about the importance of representing herself visually as "white passing" in Displacement (First Second, August 18). Hughes pointed out that "anyone with more than 1/22 of Japanese blood was sent to the camps during WWII," and she described her book as "a semi-real, semi-fictional story of the teenage version of myself in an incarceration camp alongside my grandmother," who died before Hughes was born. She wanted to underscore the "lasting impact of community trauma, passed down in ways we don't understand immediately, until we learn more of our history."

Also on the YA panel were debut author Hayley Krischer and Razorbill senior editor Julie Rosenberg, discussing Something Happened to Ali Greenleaf (Razorbill/Penguin, October 6), about sexual assault, female empowerment and the blossoming of an unlikely friendship; and Sarah Goodman, who spoke with senior editor Susan Chang about her debut fantasy thriller Eventide (Tor, October 6) set in 1907 rural Arkansas, and infused with Appalachian folklore.

Rounding out the YA Buzz panel were Darcie Little Badger, author of Elatsoe, with chapter illustrations by Rovina Cai, in conversation with Nick Thomas, senior editor at the newly launched company Levine Querido. The author spoke of the importance of oral storytelling in her Apache community and her frustration that most Native stories stop in the 1800s: "I wanted to write a book about Native youth in the 20th century." Elatsoe (August 25) introduces a daughter for Coyote as well as a protagonist who's asexual and aromantic.

The Middle-Grade Buzz presentations kicked off with the well-decorated picture book creator Uri Shulevitz making his middle-grade debut with Chance: Escape from the Holocaust (FSG, August 25). He spoke with executive editor Wesley Adams about this memoir chronicling his family's eight-year odyssey to escape the Nazis by fleeing Warsaw for the Soviet Union.

Kelly J. Baptist spoke with Phoebe Yeh, v-p and publisher, about how her book Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero (Crown Books for Young Readers, August 18) grew out of the short story she'd written for the We Need Diverse Books anthology Flying Lessons (also Crown). Baptist talked about how "homelessness does not happen overnight. I also wanted to show Isaiah as a well-rounded kid. He's not just homeless."

Jamie Sumner also touched on her heroine's experience of homelessness in discussion with editorial director Reka Simonsen about Tune It Out (Atheneum/S&S, September 1), which stars a girl with a sensory processing disorder and an extraordinary singing voice: "I thought, what if you had the talent, and the situations you'd be put in to become a star would be the hardest for you?" Thirteens (Viking, August 18), the first middle-grade book by YA author Kate Alice Marshall, takes place in a small town where three 13-year-olds disappear every 13 years, as she described it to her editor Maggie Rosenthal.

Aida Salazar's Land of Cranes (Scholastic, September 15) mixes the reality of detention centers with the magical realism associated with Salazar's work. In conversation with executive editor and v-p Andrea Davis Pinkney, Salazar spoke of her heroine Betita, a Latinx girl who finds a way to literally and figuratively rise above her situation: "Black and brown bodies have been disregarded and dehumanized, in the way we're being killed on the streets and the ways we are being caged in detention. I wanted to represent them in a way that was dignified."

A lively conversation took place among all of the creators for the New Picture Book Showcase (at the two-hour mark). Debut author Jorma Taccone (of SNL's The Lonely Island) and Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat, collaborators for Little Fox and the Wild Imagination (Roaring Brook, September 8) set the tone. Santat introduced himself as Taccone, joking, What was my inspiration? "I dialed down the cynicism 80% and it was a children's book!" Taccone, a good sport, then described his five-year-old's threat to "put you [Dad] in a mail truck" (and the subsequent consequences) and the whole book being written around that statement.

Top (l. to r.): T.L. McBeth, moderator Sarah Enni, Arthur A. Levine; (middle) Jessica Love, Dan Santat, Jorma Taccone; (bottom) Matt Phelan, Nina Mata.

T.L. McBeth, author and illustrator of Randy, the Badly Drawn Horse (Holt, August 5), says he was inspired by the meme "how to draw a horse" to draw one; he posted it on Instagram and it caught the attention of his agent. "It's nice that your agent checks your Instagram," interjected Taccone.

Nina Mata had the early support of her mother, a classroom teacher who invited her to draw all the Sesame Street characters as a mural on her classroom wall. She said that with LeBron James's text for I Promise (HarperCollins, August 11), inspired by the values of his foundation's I PROMISE campaign in Akron, Ohio, she had "a blank canvas" to represent a wide range of characters and activities.

Arthur Levine confessed, "I was a writer before I was an editor. I was a poet. At least I thought I was a poet." He's hoping that "as we all celebrate diversity, and not everyone is white and Christian, that the world is ready for Nate Gadol," the star of his picture book The Hanukkah Magic of Nate Gadol, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes (Candlewick, September 8).

Jessica Love's new picture book Julián at the Wedding (Candlewick, October 6), like her first book, Julián Is a Mermaid, similarly upends gender stereotypes. She describes it as "like a Bergman film, but for children. You're seeing adults in a different space." It was inspired by her experience of being a flower girl in New York--she fell into the Hudson River and ruined her dress.

"Turtle Walk (Greenwillow, October 6) is like a picture-book version of slow cooking," said Matt Phelan. When his daughter was small, "we'd go for a walk around our Philadelphia block but it took an hour. She'd say hi to every bug." The idea of slowing down and savoring this time was one of the closing ideas these creators shared for getting through this time of sheltering at home. Oh, and Dan Santat made a ukulele. --Jennifer M. Brown

How Bookstores Are Coping: Appointment Shopping, 'Natural Social Distancing'

Main Street Books in St. Charles, Mo., reopened on Monday, May 4, in accordance with the state's guidelines. From March 21 to May 3, the store was closed to in-person browsing, and owner Emily Hall Schroen and her team were fulfilling curbside orders and shipping online orders.

Since reopening, Main Street Books has been allowing walk-in customers, as well as private browsing by appointment during the week. On Saturdays and Sundays, Schroen allows no more than 10 people in the store at a time, and masks are required. Hand sanitizer is available at the counter, and Schroen's father and husband built a custom sneeze guard for the register.

Schroen reported that she is the bookstore's only full-time staff member, and for the past few months it's felt as if she's working three times as hard for every dollar she earns. She has several part-timers, three of whom are working in the store while others work from home. Those working at the store are comfortable with the store's precautions, and everyone is safe and healthy.

St. Charles is about two and a half hours from Lake of the Ozarks, where there was a massive pool party over Memorial Day weekened. Despite that, Schroen said, she has not had anyone be "outright unreasonable" about the store's regulations. There have been some heavy sighs and some eye-rolling, but no aggression or hostility.

The bookstore is in an historic district very popular with tourists, and there have been lots of visitors over the past few weekends. Only about a third of people walking around the downtown area are wearing masks, and those who are wearing masks tend to take social distancing more seriously. While it's been "really a mixed bag" generally, Schroen said, her customers have been very supportive and good at maintaining social distancing.

In terms of what's selling, puzzles are "on fire," particularly 1,000-piece puzzles from Cavallini Papers. Schroen has also managed to get a few puzzles in at a time from Ingram, and the Charley Harper puzzles from Pomegranate are "super popular." Popular books meanwhile, include Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld, The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel and The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins, which sold 33 copies in its first week out.


In Grand Rapids, Mich., Schuler Books reopened for in-person shopping on May 27. Operations manager Tim Smith reported that at present, the store is open by appointment only and limiting customers to 10 at a time. 

Smith and his team have changed the store's checkout process and made some changes to displays to make it easier to browse without picking books up. There are signs throughout the store encouraging social distancing, and booksellers will be keeping an eye out for situations where multiple customers want to browse the same section at once. They also placed display tables in front of the store's information counters to create a "natural social distancing situation" when customers are asking for help.

When asked about his staff, Smith said it has been a challenge. Some are still on temporary leave, but Schuler Books has been able to start bringing some staff back to work. He hopes to add more as business continues to pick up. He added that staff members who have not yet returned to work are receiving assistance from various sources, and Schuler Books is extending its health insurance at this point as well.

According to Smith, the Grand Rapids community is "quite divided" about things like wearing masks and following social distancing protocols. The customers he and his staff have spoken with, however, have thanked the Schuler Books team for taking so many efforts to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

Like many bookstores, Schuler Books has been selling a lot of puzzles lately. Smith said he wondered how warmer weather and the start of summer will affect that trend, and noted that many of the spring's new book releases have done very well, including those by John Grisham, Michael Connelly and Sue Monk Kidd. The store has done several storytimes with its own staff as well as community members, and authors have also participated. The store is also hosting a weekly book talk on Facebook Live, scheduled for Tuesday afternoons.

One silver lining to all this, Smith continued, has been the way the pandemic has forced Schuler Books to adapt. "We think some of these adaptations will have a life even after we are past this. Our ability to be creative will help us even when some of these new approaches are not the only things we can do. That part is exciting to think about."

Obituary Note: Larry Kramer

Larry Kramer

Author, essayist and playwright Larry Kramer, "whose raucous, antagonistic campaign for an all-out response to the AIDS crisis helped shift national health policy in the 1980s and '90s," died May 27, the New York Times reported. He was 84. Kramer, who "had feet in both the world of letters and the public sphere," was the co-founder the Gay Men's Health Crisis in 1981, and later founded Act Up (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), "whose street actions demanding a speedup in AIDS drugs research and an end to discrimination against gay men and lesbians severely disrupted the operations of government offices, Wall Street and the Roman Catholic hierarchy," the Times wrote.

His breakthrough as a writer came with the award-winning film adaptation of D.H. Lawrence's Women in Love (1969), which he produced after obtaining it for $4,200 of his own money. Kramer's first novel, Faggots (1978), was a "scathing look at promiscuous sex, drug use, predation and sadomasochism among gay men, it was a lightning rod from the day of its publication," the Times observed.

Kramer's play The Normal Heart, which opened at the Public Theater in New York in April 1985 and ran for nine months, was "a passionate account of the early years of AIDS and his campaign to get somebody to do something about it," the Times noted.

Other plays include The Destiny of Me and Just Say No, A Play about a Farce. Kramer's books include "a mammoth project," the historical novels The American People Volume 1, Search for My Heart (2015) and The American People: Volume 2, The Brutality of Fact (2020), as well as nonfiction works Reports from the Holocaust: The Making of an AIDS Activist (1989, revised 1994) and The Tragedy of Today's Gays (2005).

In a statement, author and fellow GMHC founder Edmund White said, "Larry Kramer was like an Old Testament prophet--angry and righteous. He could be a foul-weather friend, who helped even enemies when they had health problems. He could be scathing and antagonistic or wonderfully compassionate."

In a Times op-ed tribute, playwright Tony Kushner wrote: "For many years Larry Kramer and I were good friends. And then we weren't--that was Larry's decision. It was also Larry's decision that the time had come to reconcile, a few years after a rift that was and remains heartbreaking for me. I hadn't spoken to Larry in five years; I was standing in the Greenwich Village bookstore Three Lives, reading something, when I heard a soft, sad whispered 'Anthony,' and I turned to see him, looking older and frailer than he had the last time we were together, staring up at me through thick lenses. He said, 'I miss you.' I said, 'I miss you too, Larry....'

"He was relentless but not revolutionary. And yet, announcing failure and defeat and impending apocalypse, he fed a rage that formed the words that helped fuel a revolution. He was sometimes a misery and often an unmatchable mensch. He was a blisteringly magnificent solar flare of a human being. And I'll miss him forever."


Chalkboard: Old Firehouse Books

"Thank you, readers." Old Firehouse Books, Fort Collins, Colo., shared a photo of its sidewalk chalkboard, featuring messages of support from customers:

"I love this independent, service-oriented bookstore that adds so much to the character & diversity of Fort Collins Old Town."
"You are such an important part of the Fort Collins community. We love you all!"

"All of our patrons have been showing us a lot of support," Old Firehouse Books posted on Facebook. "But we've also been getting support from authors, both local and not!... Authors need your support as much as we do."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Keltie Knight on Good Morning America

Kelly Clarkson Show: Terry Dubrow, co-author of The Dubrow Keto Fusion Diet: The Ultimate Plan for Interval Eating and Sustainable Fat Burning (Morrow, $27.99, 9780062984326).

Good Morning America: Keltie Knight, co-author of Act Like a Lady: Questionable Advice, Ridiculous Opinions, and Humiliating Tales from Three Undignified Women (Rodale, $22, 9780593136447).

Movies: Apeirogon

Steven Spielberg's Amblin Partners has hired Luke Davies to write a script for the film version of Apeirogon, based on Colum McCann's novel. The Hollywood Reporter noted that Davies earned an Oscar nomination for adapting the book A Long Way Home into the 2016 film Lion.

He also adapted his 1997 book Candy into the 2006 film starring Heath Ledger and Abbie Cornish. His other screen credits include Beautiful Boy, the Hulu series Catch-22 and the upcoming Tom Hanks Western News of the World.

Amblin's president of production Holly Bario will oversee the project, along with Andrew Calof, v-p creative affairs.

Books & Authors

Awards: Nebula Winners

The winners of the 2020 SFWA Nebula Awards, sponsored by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, are:

Novel: A Song for a New Day by Sarah Pinsker (Berkley)
Novella: This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone (Saga; Jo Fletcher)
Novelette: "Carpe Glitter" by Cat Rambo (Meerkat)
Short Story: "Give the Family My Love" by A.T. Greenblatt (Clarkesworld magazine, 2/19)
Ray Bradbury Nebula Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation: Good Omens: "Hard Times" by Neil Gaiman (Amazon Studios/BBC Studios)
Andre Norton Nebula Award for Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction: Riverland by Fran Wilde (Amulet)
Best Game Writing: The Outer Worlds by Leonard Boyarsky, Kate Dollarhyde, Paul Kirsch, Chris L'Etoile, Daniel McPhee, Carrie Patel, Nitai Poddar, Marc Soskin, Megan Starks (Obsidian Entertainment)

SFWA Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award: Lois McMaster Bujold
Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award: John Picacio and David Gaughran
Kevin J. O'Donnell, Jr., Service to SFWA Award: Julia Rios

Book Review

Review: Outside the Lines

Outside the Lines by Ameera Patel (Catalyst Press, $15.95 paperback, 208p., 9781946395351, June 9, 2020)

"We know what you did," an ominous warning, proves pivotal in Ameera Patel's electrifying debut novel, Outside the Lines. In a predominantly white middle-class neighborhood of Johannesburg, South Africa, the threatening phrase inextricably links five disparate characters.

"You took the money from the vase," the drug-addicted, university dropout Cathleen Joseph accuses an innocent man, deflecting her own culpability. Her father, Frank, who has devolved into a pathetic, aimless alcoholic since his wife's recent death, chooses to believe Cathleen as she condemns Runyararo, a recently arrived Zimbabwean hired to paint the Joseph house; his muteness renders him incapable of self-defense. Flora, the Josephs' longtime live-in housekeeper and nanny, silently bears witness to the accusation from a distance. "There are too many lies flying through the room," but no one is ready to face the truth. The deceits don't end there--across the city, accounting student Farhana prepares to break the Ramsaan [Ramadan] fast with her extended Indian Muslim family, even as she plans to sneak out to meet her drug-dealer boyfriend, with whom she has a relationship based mostly on dual-sided deceptions.

Lonely and detached, Cathleen and Frank both self-medicate into oblivion; Cathleen ignores her own safety while Frank sacrifices his self-respect. Flora has raised her son, Zilindile, alongside Cathleen and her younger brother, James, but Flora's lost control of all three children, soothing her failures with obsessive video gaming while ignoring her job. After Runyararo disappears from the Joseph home, Flora reluctantly admits to a growing emotional attachment as she initiates opportunities for reunion. Amidst the chaos, no one even notices when Cathleen is kidnapped--not her family, not her paid caregiver, not her regular high-supplier. The only person to catch a glimpse of her prone, damaged body will be the person she casually denounced, who should have been rewarded for his risky heroism--but isn't. As the situation spins further out of control, Farhana announces the addition of a new life.

Originally published in 2016 in her native South Africa by actor and playwright Ameera Patel, this dysfunctional family drama has unexpected moments of dark comedy to disrupt the unfolding, inevitable tragedy. While exposing the multilayered inequities of the haves vs. have-nots, Patel slyly ridicules white privilege, religious hypocrisy, clueless parenting, casual racism, ineffective rules and breakable laws. In clipped, often unadorned sentences, Patel skillfully presents a raw narrative of careless disconnections and scathing verity. --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon

Shelf Talker: A single lie sets in motion a collision that will forever alter the lives of a middle-class South African family and the servants and strangers overrun in their destructive wake.

The Bestsellers Bestsellers in May

The bestselling audiobooks at independent bookstores during May:

1. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett (HarperAudio)
2. The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd (Penguin Random House Audio)
3. All Adults Here by Emma Straub (Penguin Random House Audio)
4. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic Audio)
5. The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel (Penguin Random House Audio)
6. Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo (Quill Tree Books)
7. Circe by Madeline Miller (Hachette Audio)
8. The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin (Hachette Audio)
9. Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson (HarperAudio)
10. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (Penguin Random House Audio)

1. Untamed by Glennon Doyle (Penguin Random House Audio)
2. The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson (Penguin Random House Audio)
3. Becoming by Michelle Obama (Penguin Random House Audio)
4. Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell (Hachette Audio)
5. Wow, No Thank You. by Samantha Irby (Penguin Random House Audio)
6. Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker (Penguin Random House Audio)
7. Educated by Tara Westover (Penguin Random House Audio)
8. The Great Influenza by John M. Barry (Penguin Random House Audio)
9. Open Book by Jessica Simpson (HarperAudio)
10. Fierce, Free, and Full of Fire by Jen Hatmaker (Thomas Nelson)

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