Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Minotaur Books: The Grey Wolf by Louise Penny

Minotaur Books: The Grey Wolf by Louise Penny

Minotaur Books: The Grey Wolf by Louise Penny

Minotaur Books: The Grey Wolf by Louise Penny


Multicultural Children's Bookstore in Calif. Relocating

Tamara Shiloh

The Multicultural Children's Bookstore, Richmond, Calif., is reopening in October or November in a new location, a shared space with Girl's Inc. of West Contra Costa County at 260 Broadway, the Richmond Standard reported.

The store, which features books on a range of cultures--African American, Latino, Native American, Asian/South Asian, Middle Eastern and Filipino--as well as sections on LGBTQ, Disability and Biracial families, had closed its location at Hilltop Mall when the Covid-19 pandemic started.

In the meantime, the Multicultural Children's Bookstore is hosting a virtual storytime every Wednesday and is selling books online, owner Tamara Shiloh said.

Minotaur Books: The Grey Wolf by Louise Penny

How Bookstores Are Coping: Buying More Broadly in Smaller Quantities; Strong Backlist Sales

In Dallas, Tex., Deep Vellum Books reopened last month for limited browsing and appointments three days per week. Store manager Cristina Rodriguez said Deep Vellum is still doing online orders and offering curbside pickup, and this approach allows them to control customer traffic and give staff enough time to sanitize the store. For both walk-ins and appointment shopping, only three customers are allowed in store at a time.

Rodriguez reported that living in the South during a global pandemic has been a "new kind of nightmare." Every day that she's in the store, she continued, she has had to tell at least one person that they're wearing their mask incorrectly or that they can't come in without a mask. While occasional customers have told her that they think Covid is a hoax, a "good handful of Texans" seem to feel that she is infringing on their rights simply by enforcing safety guidelines.

When asked about buying for the holidays, Rodriguez noted that Deep Vellum is a very small space and has a highly curated inventory featuring mainly books from small, independent presses. Generally speaking, "stacks upon stacks" of New York Times bestsellers don't move very quickly for the store. Her approach this year will be trying to order a broad selection of titles in lesser quantities, rather than order tons of copies of a few big books. While buying habits have changed during the pandemic, she added, she wants her customers to still have that feeling of discovery when they come in for books and gifts.

On the subject of the protests against systemic racism and police brutality that began in late May, Rodriguez said there were multiple protests in the store's neighborhood and several local businesses experienced severe damage, some of them just a few doors down from the bookstore. Deep Vellum, however, was unscathed, and Rodriguez noted that they've always been a community-driven space and offer a range of resources, both monetary and action-driven, to support those who are underrepresented and marginalized.

"Community for me is being willing to show up for people in whatever form they might need," she said. "I want people to feel that Deep Vellum Books is a space where collectively we can reimagine and organize a safe community."


Jennifer Kandarian, manager of Books on the Square in Providence, R.I., reported that the store was closed to the public for two months. During that time Kandarian and the team were processing telephone and Internet orders and doing contactless pick-up. They were able to reopen in June with limited hours, and currently the store is operating at about 40% fewer hours per week, compared to pre-Covid schedules.

Kandarian said she hasn't experienced any real issues with customers refusing to wear masks or follow social distancing guidelines, but on occasion staffers do have to remind people to give other customers space or to pull their masks up over their noses. Generally speaking, "everyone realizes we are all in the same boat and trying our best for all."

Compared to a pre-Covid summer, Kandarian said the biggest surprise has been the lack of frontlist titles selling for the store. With the exception of new releases like Emily Henry's Beach Read and Brit Bennett's The Vanishing Half, almost everything the store is selling is backlist. Books like Delia Owens's Where the Crawdads Sing and Tara Westover's Educated have been among the store's bestselling titles this summer, despite so many "great new releases" coming out this spring and summer.

Looking ahead to the holidays, the store is being very cautious. There are significant questions about how the pandemic will affect browsing and holiday shopping. Kandarian and the store team are hopeful that book sales will be strong, but "sidelines and cards are definitely not getting ordered like they would have in previous years." --Alex Mutter

Minotaur Books: The Grey Wolf by Louise Penny

National Book Foundation Honoring Walter Mosley

Walter Mosley
(photo: Marcia Wilson)

The National Book Foundation will award the 2020 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters to Walter Mosley at the 71st National Book Awards Ceremony, which will be held online November 18 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Edwidge Danticat will introduce Mosley, who receives $10,000 and a medal.

Mosley has written more than 60 books across subject, genre and category. His 1990 debut novel, Devil in a Blue Dress, was the first in the mystery series featuring detective Easy Rawlins. Mosley's books have been translated into 25 languages, and he has won numerous awards, including an Edgar Award for Down the River unto the Sea, an O. Henry Award, the Mystery Writers of America's Grand Master Award, a Grammy, several NAACP Image awards and PEN America's Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2020, he received the Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement from the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.

Describing Mosley as "a master of craft and narrative," NBF board chair David Steinberger said that "through his incredibly vibrant and diverse body of work, our literary heritage has truly been enriched. From mysteries to literary fiction to nonfiction, Mosley's talent and memorable characters have captivated readers everywhere, and the Foundation is proud to honor such an illustrious voice whose work will be enjoyed for years to come."

"Mosley is undeniably prolific, but what sets his work apart is his examination of both complex issues and intimate realities through the lens of characters in his fiction, as well as his accomplished historical narrative works and essays," said Lisa Lucas, NBF executive director. "His oeuvre and his lived experience are distinctly part of the American experience. And as such, his contributions to our culture make him more than worthy of the foundation's Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters."

LaToya Rose Joins Macmillan as V-P, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

LaToya Rose has joined Macmillan Publishers in the newly created role of v-p, diversity, equity, and inclusion. She has also become a member of the trade management committee and the D&I steering committee. Before joining Macmillan, Rose led strategic project development and execution for a range of global clients. Most recently, she was senior v-p, director of operations and employee engagement at Burson-Marsteller and before that held multiple roles within the Publicis Groupe.

"LaToya is a change agent and accomplished leader known for bringing people together to develop highly effective diversity, equity, and inclusion programs aligned with business priorities and strategic initiatives," Andrew Weber, global trade COO, said. "Her warmth, her personal passion for driving social purpose, and her experience in developing employee programs for some of the most innovative, progressive communication agencies are what made her perfect for this role."

Rose said, "I believe everyone deserves to be treated fairly. My intention is to always leave something or someone better than how I found them. I want to inspire our colleagues. I want them to be hopeful and dream without feeling limited in their careers, especially those who are part of an underrepresented group. I am invested in leading the charge because it's the right thing to do and the time is now."

Obituary Note: Ronald Harwood

Ronald Harwood, the British author, playwright and screenwriter who earned three Oscar nominations and won for best adapted screenplay in 2003 for The Pianist, died September 8, the New York Times reported. He was 85. One of Britain's leading playwrights in the latter half of the 20th century, his plays included The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold, adapted from a novel by Evelyn Waugh; After the Lions and The Dresser, starring Freddie Jones and Tom Courtenay, which opened on Broadway in 1981 and received a Tony nomination for best play the next year.

Harwood's screenplay for the 1983 film version of The Dresser earned him his first Oscar nomination, with his third and final nomination coming for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, based on the memoir by Jean-Dominique Bauby.

A "prolific author who could seemingly do it all," he published numerous novels, two dozen plays and a history of the theater, All the World's a Stage (1984), the Times noted. Harwood's other books include All the Same Shadows; George Washington September Sir!; The Guilt Merchants; The Girl in Melanie Klein; Sir Donald Wolfit: His Life and Work in the Unfashionable Theatre; Articles of Faith; The Genoa Ferry; César and Augusta; One. Interior. Day. Adventures in the Film Trade; and Home.

The Guardian noted that Harwood wrote two television plays for the BBC, one of which, Private Potter, starred a young Courtenay, who would also later play the lead in One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1970), Harwood's screen adaptation of Alexander Solzhenitsyn's novel. His screenwriting debut had come with an adaptation of Richard Hughes's A High Wind in Jamaica in 1965, directed by Alexander MacKendrick, who, said Harwood, taught him everything he knew about writing for the cinema.

A "compassionate writer whose ingrained decency and moral integrity also governed his public behavior," Harwood was active in English PEN and served as president of international PEN from 1993 to 1997, the Guardian wrote. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1974, appointed a CBE in 1999 and knighted in 2010.


Cool Idea: Curated Booklist from Portland Trails

Print: A Bookstore, Portland, Maine, is featuring a curated booklist from Portland Trails and Ladies Adventure Club Maine. During September, 10% of the store's profits from the listed titles is being donated to Portland Trails "as a thank you for all the work they do to make our city more accessible, walkable, and, dare we say, readable."

The bookseller noted: "In this time when social distancing and the open air are critical, we can't help but be grateful to live in Portland and have access to the over 70 miles of trails Portland Trails maintains within Greater Portland. The trails provide the much needed space and escapes that we have all relied on this year. To find a trail or discover a new reading spot, visit"

Personnel Changes at Chelsea Green

Anne Bowman has joined Chelsea Green Publishing in the newly created role of v-p of business development and global sales, based in the U.K., but splitting her time between the U.K. office at Somerset House and the U.S. office in Vermont.

Bowman was formerly head of new business (children's rights) at Penguin Random House. She began her book publishing career as a bookseller at Waterstones, worked in marketing and then found her niche in international sales--in particular, U.S. sales--at Frances Lincoln and later Faber & Faber.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Jane Fonda on Drew Barrymore

CBS This Morning: Sonia Manzano, author of A World Together (National Geographic Children's Books, $17.99, 9781426337383).

The Drew Barrymore Show: Jane Fonda, author of What Can I Do?: My Path from Climate Despair to Action (Penguin Press, $30, 9780593296226).

The View: Brian Stelter, author of Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth (Atria/One Signal, $28, 9781982142445).

Ellen repeat: Robert Iger, author of The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company (Random House, $28, 9780399592096).

Dr. Oz: D.L. Hughley, co-author of Surrender, White People!: Our Unconditional Terms for Peace (Morrow, $27.99, 9780062953704).

TV: Hemingway

Hemingway, a new three-part, six-hour documentary series based on the life and works of Ernest Hemingway, will air on PBS stations April 5-7, 2021. Directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick (The Vietnam War, Prohibition, The War), the project features the voices of Jeff Daniels as Hemingway, with Meryl Streep, Keri Russell, Mary Louise Parker and Patricia Clarkson as the author's four wives.

PBS said the documentary "paints an intimate picture of Hemingway the writer--who captured on paper the complexities of the human condition in spare and profound prose, and whose work remains deeply influential around the world--while also penetrating the myth of Hemingway the man's man to reveal a deeply troubled and ultimately tragic figure."

Books & Authors

Awards: Branford Boase Winner; Baillie Gifford Longlist

Liz Hyder won the £1,000 (about $1,340) Branford Boase Award, which is given annually to the author and editor of the outstanding debut novel for children, for Bearmouth. The award is shared with her editor, Sarah Odedina, editor-at-large, Pushkin Children's Books.

"Bearmouth is a tour de force of a page turner with an intricate and stylised plot," said Muhammad Khan, the 2019 award winner and one of the judges. "Liz Hyder has created a gritty world for her hugely likeable protagonist, Newt, and a unique language which evolves as the exciting story unfolds. Original and unforgettable."

Julia Eccleshare, children's director of the Hay Festival and Branford Boase Award founder, called Bearmouth "the outstanding novel on the list, a hugely brave and impressive piece of writing, testament to the skill of both author and editor in successfully creating such characters and such a narrative. It's a book that sends shivers down the spine, truly astounding."


A longlist has been released for the £50,000 (about $67,145) Baillie Gifford Prize, which "rewards excellence in nonfiction writing, bringing the best in intelligent reflection on the world to new readers." The shortlist will be announced October 15, and a winner named in a virtual celebration on November 24.

Judy Blume on Margaret Turning 50, Writing, Bookselling and Her Superpower

Judy Blume, beloved writer and now a bookseller at Books & Books at the Studios in Key West, Fla., spoke with Shelf Awareness by phone from her daughter's hometown of Cambridge, Mass., where she and her husband and co-bookseller, George Cooper, have been staying since July. We began with the 50th anniversary of Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret. (out today from Atheneum/S&S, $10.99, paperback) and her editor Dick Jackson, and also spoke of her fight against censorship, her passion for bookselling and... her superpower.

Congratulations! Does it feel like it's been 50 years since Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret. came out?

Of course not! Oh my God!

I remember vividly, even now, the feeling of relief I had when I read it. You and Margaret helped so many of us understand our bodies and our spiritual yearnings.

How old were you when you read it?


Today it's read by maybe 9- to 12-year-olds, much less on the 12-up side. I don't think the preteens who read it get that spiritual part.

There's no harm in a nine-year-old reading it. But the spiritual seeking is so much a part of adolescence, isn't it?

I wish they would go back. Moms tell me that they didn't get the spiritual quest [when they read it as kids], but they did when they read it again as adults. I'm glad they read it again.

I interviewed Dick Jackson a while back about Margaret, and he said, "Judy didn't set out to rattle cages, she set out to be truthful." Would you agree?

The truth is, I had no idea what I was doing, really. With Iggy's House [also published in 1970] I was like, okay, I figured out how to do this thing. The way you figure it out is you read. I published Iggy's House with Dick. Fifty years ago [when I was writing Margaret], I do remember thinking, "This time I'm going to write what I remember to be true of my life at 12." I had a fabulous memory then. I still have a really good memory about what happened then, just don't ask me where my keys are. I've never lost my memory of being a kid. That's my superpower.

Did I set out to do something specific when I set out to write Margaret? Yes, I set out to tell the truth. But not in a way that's "I am telling the truth." I always have been a spontaneous writer. I write from the gut.

Judy Blume and her husband, George Cooper

Sally Friedman [Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself, 1977] was my most autobiographical book. That relationship with God really started when I was younger, when I was Sally's age, when I was making bargains with God all the time. For a year in my life I was separated from my beloved father, because we had to go away someplace warm so my brother wouldn't get sick. It was right after the war, '47 and '48. I felt totally responsible for my father's well-being--what a burden for a nine-year-old child! That was how I kept him safe, through my bargains with God. I'll get 100 on my spelling test, if you make sure my father is okay. I had little prayers I invented that I had to say three times a day. If you were a shrink, you might say I became ritualistic. Once we were back together, I let up on that. Of course I never told anybody--this was my secret and my burden.

That relationship with God that I write about in Margaret, that was my relationship with God as confidant. It wasn't so much bargaining with God as talking with God. It's much freer in Margaret than it was in Sally Friedman.

Margaret was the first book of yours that was censored or banned, wasn't it?

Yes, but I'm not sure I knew what was happening then. I did sign three copies and presented them to my kids' elementary school library when it was published. I was very proud. My daughter would have been 10 and my son eight. They had a difficult school principal.

He said the book could not be in the school library, that the discussion of menstruation made it inappropriate for elementary school students. I said, never mind how many kids start their periods at 11 or 12! That was the first it ever occurred to me that someone was going to keep this book away from kids because of a discussion of menstruation.

Do you write many drafts?

Everything was different when I used a typewriter. I sat down and did some kind of first draft, and then I did a second draft. I think it was the third draft I'd send in. Then, with Dick's wonderful help, I would go home and do a fourth draft that was a total rewrite. And then I'd do a fifth draft that would be a polish. With the computer, I've lost track. I could do 20 drafts. My first drafts are for me.

I like the detail, the richness that comes with the later drafts. I'm creating a puzzle and the later drafts put that puzzle together. Dick's genius, apparently, was to figure out the best way to work with each of his writers. Later I'd talk with other people that Dick had worked with--each of us felt he worked only with us. With me, he'd say, "You know so much more than you're telling me in the first drafts I see of your books."

I'd go into Bradbury Press and I'd spend a day talking with him. He did the talking; I did the note taking. Dick always knew the right questions and he didn't make me answer on the spot. Even later, when I worked with other editors, I always heard his questions in my head, and I have to answer them.

How did you become a warrior against censorship, and have you had any challenges in your bookstore?

Margaret was published in 1970. The real push against children's books started in 1980, right after the presidential election. I just watched the series Mrs. America. Cate Blanchett is such a wonderful actor and she made Phyllis Schlafly very likable. Of course, in my mind she's always been the villain. Phyllis Schlafly really went after my books. She once put out a pamphlet called "How to rid your school of Judy Blume books"!

That's when I found the NCAC [National Coalition Against Censorship]--not for my own books but because so many books were being challenged and sometimes banned in school libraries. It was the '80s when the censors were at their worst. There was no such thing as a "safe book." Writers would say, "I'm okay, I write safe books." And I would say, "You never know." Anyway, that's a terrible way to write books.

I don't think anyone has ever asked us to remove a book from our shelves. If they did, we'd explain that what's not right for one customer may be exactly right for another. Joyce Meskis, former owner of the Tattered Cover in Denver, is my First Amendment role model. I once testified in court on behalf of Joyce and her store when a group wanted to prevent children from seeing certain books on display. Joyce won her case. Not long ago, some writers of children's and YA books were accused of sexual abuse--not abuse of children but of bad behavior toward women or men. Accused, not convicted. We did not take their books off our shelves. And even if a writer's personal life comes under fire, even if he/she admits to having had affairs or one-night stands, does that mean their books should no longer be read? I leave that decision up to the reader. Right now, we're gearing up for Banned Books Week. We will display books that have been banned or challenged. We'll celebrate them.

Do you miss being at the bookstore?

That's the saddest part for me, aside from all the really terrible things that are happening. I can't get up every day and go to the store. We have a wonderful staff! We're working, but I'm not doing displays and all the things we love to do. We don't feel too old and vulnerable, but our children tell us we are. If Margaret is 50, then it must be true!

Until I had to start talking about writing again, because of Margaret, I only wanted to talk about my bookstore and how exciting it is to get up every day. People would say, "You look so happy." Writing is so hard; I'm not saying bookselling is easy, but it's so pleasurable. I'm not saying writing is not pleasurable, but it's so hard.

Did you always want to open a bookstore?

I was not one of those people who wished for a bookstore. It just had to happen because [Key West] had to have one. I'm writing a little piece now called "Be Careful What You Wish For." There's a guy in Key West who's putting together little essays from Key West writers. There are many of us. That's why it's weird we were down to one used bookstore. We wanted Mitchell Kaplan to come down and open a Books & Books! He said, "It's only going to happen if you and George figure out how to do it, how to find a place and pay the rent."

We're nonprofit, and my husband was on the board of the Studios of Key West, a wonderful organization. They bought and renovated a big building. There was a storefront that came with that building. I said to George, "This is it!" It's just become a very beloved place, our bookstore, I'm happy to say. But be careful what you wish for, it's a huge amount of work. It's very hard but it's so rewarding.

You've said that In the Unlikely Event (published in 2015) would be your last book.

My last novel. I have this little thing--I've had this idea for a long time. I don't know who it's for, maybe it's just for me and my family. I want to do a memoir of my early years, from the point of view of the child I was. All those family members, all those aunts and uncles, all those siblings of my father's. Just growing up, little secrets my mother would say to me: "Don't tell anybody I know the words to that song 'Silent Night' "--we were Jews, after all. The scene is so clear in my mind, she's making the bed and singing the song. I never told anybody. Not even my father.

What advice would you offer to authors just starting out today?

You don't write unless you have to. And then if you have to, you will do it. And you will do it whether there's a pandemic or not. It could be that this is a very good time to write. Don't let anybody discourage you. I used to write through the worst times in my personal life. My writing saved me. --Jennifer M. Brown, senior editor, Shelf Awareness

Book Review

Review: Missionaries

Missionaries by Phil Klay (Penguin Press, $28 hardcover, 416p., 9781984880659, October 6, 2020)

When Iraq War veteran Phil Klay's debut short story collection, Redeployment, won the National Book Award in 2014, it was clear that a talented new writer had appeared on the literary scene. The promise revealed in that work now is fulfilled in his first novel, Missionaries, a dark and complex story of the U.S. involvement in foreign conflicts most of America's citizens know, and often care, little about.

Missionaries focuses on the lives of four central characters--Abel, a young Colombian who enters the shadowy world of a paramilitary group after his village is destroyed by guerrilla forces; Mason Baumer, a Special Forces medic serving in Afghanistan; Juan Pablo Pulido, a lieutenant colonel in the Colombian army; and Lisette Marigny, an American journalist based in Kabul.

After a series of sections that range in time and territory from Colombia in the mid-1980s to Afghanistan in 2015--narrated by each member of this quartet in the first person--the novel shifts to a third-person point of view for its second half, as the lives of these characters intersect in the war-ravaged South American nation. That impoverished country is on the eve of a 2016 plebiscite to ratify a peace agreement between the FARC guerrilla group and the Colombian government, intended to end more than half a century of conflict. Mason serves as a Special Forces liaison to the government, where he supports the efforts of Colombians like Juan Pablo to subdue the violence among groups of guerrillas, paramilitaries and drug traffickers. Lisette, weary of the Afghan conflict, finds her way to the country in search of a new story, while Abel is torn between his fear of breaking with his paramilitary past and his desire to start a new life, free of his violent heritage.

Even as he delivers a tightly controlled, propulsive story of shifting loyalties and outright betrayal, one that at times features graphically described violence, Klay digs deeply into the minds and motivations of these characters. He reveals how, though their paths to engagement in a world of never-ending conflict may have differed, they all find themselves unable to escape its pull. Readers looking for moral clarity in the experience of characters enmeshed in what Lisette thinks of as the "systems applying violence across the globe" won't find it here, as Klay scrupulously avoids assigning praise or blame to anyone residing in this ethically ambiguous universe.

In its mood and subject matter, Missionaries bears a kinship to novels from the '70s and '80s like Robert Stone's A Flag for Sunrise and Joan Didion's A Book of Common Prayer. Phil Klay impressively updates the themes of those classic novels for our time, where "clean wars with clear boundaries" no longer exist. --Harvey Freedenberg, freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: Phil Klay's highly anticipated debut novel explores the world of four characters embroiled in two of the world's contemporary shadow conflicts.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. The Harbinger II: The Return by Jonathan Cahn
2. A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire by Jennifer L. Armentrout
3. Liberal Privilege by Donald Trump Jr.
4. The Anti-Boyfriend by Penelope Ward
5. Penthouse Prince by Kendall Ryan
6. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki and Sharon L. Lechter
7. The Leader Launchpad by Howard Shore
8. Darwins Cipher by M.A. Rothman
9. Rules for Dating Your Ex (The Baileys Book 9) by Piper Rayne
10. The Kidnapper's Accomplice (Glass and Steele Book 10) by C.J. Archer

[Many thanks to!]

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