Shelf Awareness for Thursday, November 19, 2020

S&S / Marysue Rucci Books: The Night We Lost Him by Laura Dave

Wednesday Books: When Haru Was Here by Dustin Thao

Tommy Nelson: Up Toward the Light by Granger Smith, Illustrated by Laura Watkins

Tor Nightfire: Devils Kill Devils by Johnny Compton

Shadow Mountain: Highcliffe House (Proper Romance Regency) by Megan Walker


National Book Award Winners

Hosted by Jason Reynolds, a two-time National Book Award finalist and current National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, the 71st annual National Book Awards ceremony was held virtually last night. The winners are:

Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu (Pantheon Books). "There're not many reasons for hope right now, but to be here, hearing about all these books, having read some of them, going on to read many more of them, is what keeps me going. And I hope that this community can sustain other people the same way. I hope in some small way my book can also do that for people."

The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X by Les Payne and Tamara Payne (Liveright/Norton). Tamara Payne: "This is such a bittersweet moment. I really wish my father was here for this... [He decided to write] a book that would bring one of the most important Americans of the 20th Century into clearer focus, to show not just his family, but the world in which he was born, to provide context, and who more than any other leader of the 1960s moved Blacks to consider who we are, from whence we come, and to plan what we could become. Since beginning the journey to finishing The Dead Are Arising, we've seen how Malcolm X has influenced people internationally. Today we see the youth all over the world continue to embrace him because his message still rings true."

DMZ Colony by Don Mee Choi (Wave Books). "Poetry and translation have changed my life. For me, they're inseparable. The international women's network against militarism has taught me to think critically about translation, and these wonderful and small and independent presses have generously published my translations of Korean feminist poets and translation-related writings.... It is more important than ever that we engage in the non-predatory idle labor of writing and reading poetry in translation and be on the side of the struggles of those sat upon here and abroad."

Translated Literature:
Tokyo Ueno Station by Yu Miri, translated by Morgan Giles (Riverhead Books). Miri: "It is a shame that [Morgan and I] can't be together on stage right now. I'd like to give her a high five and a hug... I live 16 kilometers from the nuclear plant that exploded in March 2011, and I run a bookstore and write. The main character of Tokyo Ueno Station is a man from Minamisoma and the speech is mostly written in this region's dialect, not standard Japanese. It is a very difficult work to translate. Tokyo Ueno Station is the first novel that Morgan translated. I want to thank her... Finally I would like to share this joy with the people of Minamisoma, who [have faced such] hardship after the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster. This is for you."

Giles: "Most importantly of all, I have to thank Yu Miri for trusting me, a first-time translator, with her very precious novel. Thank you to the people of Fukushima for being so gracious and helping me."

Young People's Literature:
King and the Dragon Flies by Kacen Callender (Scholastic Press). "This has been the hardest, most painful, most devastating year in many people's memories, in their lifetime. But this has also been an empowering year for many, a year when we're forced to pause and reflect, not only on ourselves but on the society we live in, to look at the wounds internal and external, and to heal and to grow. I know I'm not the only one who believes that these next generations are the ones who are meant to change everything. Young people already have changed the world in so many ways, and it's an honor and a privilege to be given a platform and the opportunity to help in their guidance through the magic of story and to be impacted by the power of young people, too. As an author for young readers, I often talk about the necessary balance between pain and hope and joy. This has been a difficult year, but I'm grateful for this moment of joy, too."


At the beginning of the program, previously announced lifetime achievement awards were presented to Carolyn Reidy, the Simon & Schuster president and CEO who died suddenly in May and was a longtime National Book Foundation board member, and to author Walter Mosley.

Reidy was remembered by authors including Walter Isaacson, Bob Woodward, Rachel Kushner, host Jason Reynolds as well as by former American Booksellers Association CEO Oren Teicher, the recipient of the same award last year.

Stephen Reidy accepted the Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community on Carolyn Reidy's behalf, saying that his wife "did not have just a passion for books but that she had an intellectual curiosity in reading itself. In her words, in the magic that comes from the interaction between the author's words and the reader's mind. That intellectual curiosity drew Carolyn to an understanding of publishing as the promoter of that author-reader magic. And the result of promoting that magic was to Carolyn the expansion of the audience for books and reading. And that audience expansion was critical to Carolyn because she believed that authors and publishers through the power of the words and the books do not just reflect our culture, but they help to create it.

"Yes, you've heard Carolyn was a reader. Yes, you've heard Carolyn was a book person. But I think she was proudest of being a publisher because as she said, in publishing we are the shepherds to this gift of the book, doing everything we can to help bring the author's voice to the reader."

In accepting the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, Walter Mosley said in part, "I love writing, its slippery slopes and foolish errands and silly puns and bone-shaking metaphors, its ability to offer over the millenia of the deep well of human invention in defiance of despots, wars, poverty and ever-encroaching technobabble. Stories can be transmitted via fiber optics, but they have yet to be surpassed by that or any other medium. Stories keep their deep connection to the human heart word by word, sentence by sentence. We, my fellow writers and I, and our readers, talk about love and solitude and dreaming and reality and truths that might not ever be uttered except by the word and the book that we read, that we write, that we interpret."

Saying there is "a great weight hanging over the reception of an award" by "the first black man to receive" the award, he continued: "We the people who are darker than blue have been here on this continent, in this storm, for 400 years. As a matter of course, we have been chained, beaten, raped, murdered, robbed of our names, our history and often even our dignity. This has been an ongoing process, an unending anguish... Is [my winning this award] a dying gasp or a first breath? Is today different from any other day over the past 400 years? I prefer to believe we are on the threshold of a new day, that this evening is one of 10,000 steps being taken to recognize the potential of this nation."


This year's edition of the National Book Awards was the last to be led by Lisa Lucas, executive director of the National Book Foundation since 2016, who in January is becoming senior v-p, publisher of Pantheon and Schocken Books at Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

David Steinberger, chair of the National Book Foundation board, thanked Lucas for "five incredible years. We are so thankful to Lisa and so proud of her. We look forward to her great success as a publisher at Pantheon and Schocken." Addressing Lucas, he added that he will "miss our whirlwind weekly calls, your energy, your drive, your belief in what we could make happen, and the difference books could make in the world."

Promising not to cry, Lucas thanked and praised the Foundation staff and board. (Calling the board "the aunties and uncles of great change in this industry and my life," she said, "They didn't just give me the freedom to do my work; they gave me the tools.") She said she was so proud of the Foundation and all it has accomplished while at the same time setting out what more it can do.

Reflecting on this "challenging year," Lucas said that when the pandemic hit, the Foundation responded. "Instead of pulling back, we doubled down," placing even more books in public housing; creating more platforms for authors and readers to connect; and co-launching the Arts Emergency Literary Fund, which gave $3.5 million in relief funding to a variety of literary arts organizations.

"If we've learned one thing this year, it's that books and book people are resilient," she added. "We've all lost so much. We've lost so many luminaries. It's been a tough year. We've also seen sadly the very real limitations of the book business. We haven't been bold enough in our vision. We haven't been brave enough in our choices. We've haven't been confident enough in our values to make sure that this industry, this community, is as strong and inclusive and vibrant as it could be, as it should be, as it will be. The ways that this year has tested us proves that we are capable of imagining new solutions to unprecedented problems, and it's time to take that imagination and that fortitude and use it to address the problems that have always been with us. We can do better. We know that we can do better, and we must do better."

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!

First-Day Sales of A Promised Land Set PRH Record

At Tall Tales Books, Atlanta, Ga.

Sales of A Promised Land (Crown), the first volume of Barack Obama's presidential memoirs, totaled more than 887,000 in the U.S. and Canada in all formats on Tuesday, November 17, the book's pub date. Penguin Random House said these sales, including preorders, "represent the largest first-day sales total for any book ever published by Penguin Random House." The book has a first printing of 3.4 million.

A Promised Land was released on Tuesday in 20 languages, with translations in another six languages following soon. Penguin Random House Audio also published an unabridged audio edition of the book, read by President Obama. A Spanish-language edition, Una Tierra Prometida, is available, too.

GLOW: Workman Publishing: Atlas Obscura: Wild Life: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Living Wonders by Cara Giaimo, Joshua Foer, and Atlas Obscura

Atria's New Black Privilege Publishing Imprint Led by Charlamagne Tha God

Atria Books is launching an imprint called Black Privilege Publishing, led by Charlamagne Tha God, author of Black Privilege and Shook One--both published by Atria--and the host of iHeartRadio's The Breakfast Club, host of a forthcoming weekly late-night show on Comedy Central, and founder of iHeart's Black Effect podcast network. Black Privilege Publishing said it will focus on "Black and brown narratives, rethinking traditional approaches to the industry, and engaging with the audiences Charlamagne knows best: cutting-edge, connected, and culturally aware."

Noting that he is a native of South Carolina, where it was prohibited to teach slaves to read and write, Charlamagne said, "Now, thanks to Black Privilege Publishing, we don't just read and write--we read, we write, and we publish our own narratives."

The imprint's first title is State of Emergency by Tamika D. Mallory, former executive director of the National Action Network, co-creator of New York City's Crisis Management System, co-founder of the 2017 Women's March and co-founder of social justice organization Until Freedom. She also co-hosts the newly launched "Street Politicians" podcast on iHeart Radio's Black Effect Network.

To be published May 11, 2021, State of Emergency is, Black Privilege Publishing said, "a searing indictment of America's historical, deadly, and continuing assault on Black lives. [It] will also share Mallory's trusted voice and inextricable experience--drawn from a lifetime of front line culture-shifting activism, organizing and fighting for equal justice--on how best to continue the country's onward advancement and momentum toward true equality and social justice."

Charlamagne commented: "Queen Tamika Mallory is my leader. If you're a black person in America, she's your leader, too. Tamika is one of those people who's ALWAYS on the frontlines fighting for us--not for self-serving reasons, but because she cares about Black People. History is going to be very kind to her. When it's all said and done, she will go down as one of the most influential black voices in American history. It is truly a Black Privilege and an honor to work for her. State of Emergency is going to immortalize her words and give black people a study guide that will help us navigate our way to true freedom."

Black Privilege Publishing will be managed for Atria Books by editor Nicholas Ciani and senior v-p and publisher Libby McGuire.

Ciani said, "There is no one better positioned to discover, cultivate, and elevate the next generation of art and leadership in Black and brown America than Charlamagne Tha God. I am thrilled to take this journey alongside him."

McGuire added: "Atria Books has had a longstanding commitment to publishing that reflects a wide range of cultures, experiences, and origins. Black Privilege Publishing is a big, bold step in continuing and expanding that tradition. I could not be more excited to partner with Charlamagne as he builds this new imprint and help in its development."

Weldon Owen: The Gay Icon's Guide to Life by Michael Joosten, Illustrated by Peter Emerich

Grand Central Publishing Announces New GCP Balance Imprint

Nana Twumasi

Grand Central Publishing has created a nonfiction imprint called GCP Balance and appointed Nana K. Twumasi as its v-p and publisher.

GCP Balance will focus on practical nonfiction pertaining to a variety of topics, from health and wellness to business and success. There will be books on psychology, self-help, diet, inspiration, work-life balance, leadership and more. 

"Like many of my peers in the industry, my career in publishing was born from a love of books, of story and of the written word," said Twumasi, who will officially join GCP on December 1. "I am delighted to join Grand Central Publishing and can't wait to get to work building our new imprint. It is my privilege to help people achieve balance and be their best, physically and mentally, at work and at home."

GCP Balance will launch in the first quarter of 2022 and will  publish around 24 titles per year. Twumasi will take over as publisher of the bestselling Eat to Beat series by Dr. William Li and the DASH Diet franchise by Marla Heller. GCP Balance's backlist will include titles like Deep Work by Cal Newport and It's Your Ship by Captain D. Michael Abrashoff.

Prior to joining GCP, Twumasi was executive editor at Callisto Media. Before that, she held editorial positions at Jossey-Bass/Wiley and at several nonprofits in the Bay Area in California.

Graphic Universe (Tm): Hotelitor: Luxury-Class Defense and Hospitality Unit by Josh Hicks

Politics & Prose Puts New Focus on Events, Programming

A series of staff changes and promotions at Politics & Prose, Washington, D.C., are being made in part to pursue new kinds of paid programming and content creation, aiming to forge partnerships with publishers and media companies. Liz Hottel, who has been the store's director of events and marketing, will take on the newly created position of director of content and media production.

Liz Hottel

P&P noted that during the last five years, Hottel has shown "creativity and ingenuity in expanding P&P's events programming and, in her new role, plans to devise new content models that can generate additional revenue." She also has developed and will executive produce a weekly hour-long television show for WETA, which will make its debut early next year, and will work with other staff to build a slate of podcasts and enlarge P&P's array of online classes. 

"Events will always be the cornerstone of Politics and Prose," Hottel said. "But the current revenue model is no longer sustainable. We're still producing world-class conversations every night, yet there's so much under-utilized content and so more we can do with it. Networks have subscription models. Why don't we? How can we build on our customer trust and wealth of internal talent to create new revenue streams? P&P has always led the way on bookstore programming, and now is the time for us to push forward to create a more flexible, independent content model."

Also at P&P, Brittany Kerfoot, who has been Hottel's deputy for events, will become the new director of events, and Lori Brister, who has managed P&P's website, will take over as the new director of marketing. Heidi Lewis, who has headed P&P's corporate events and sales, will expand her responsibilities to become director of communications and corporate sales. 

How Bookstores Are Coping: The 'Hot New Club in Town'; Creating an 'Oasis'

In Savannah, Ga., E. Shaver, Bookseller, reopened for browsing at the beginning of June, but with very limited hours and reduced occupation. General manager Melissa Taylor noted that she and her team felt a little forced to resume operations "earlier than we would've liked," due to Georgia's early push to reopen businesses. At this point, the store is open for normal business hours once again, but occupancy is still limited and masks are still mandatory.

The door is kept locked and the team has installed a doorbell for people to use when they arrive. No more than 12 people are allowed in at a time and booksellers keep a running count on a chalkboard behind the counter. Taylor reported that with the store's increase in online business and the resumption of in-store browsing, sales are "virtually the same right now" compared to previous years.

On the weekends, Taylor said, the store looks "like the hot new club in town" because there is usually a line around the building of people wanting to come in. She added that they're seeing far fewer customers who come in, wander around and leave without buying anything. Instead, it seems like customers are much more likely to buy something, possibly because they have to wait to shop.

Bartleby at E. Shaver

When the store initially made masks mandatory, there was some pushback from customers. The most extreme case was someone spitting on one of the store's booksellers. Now that the door is locked and there is so much signage about masks, Taylor continued, it seems to defuse situations before they start. If the mask conversation happens at all, it happens on the sidewalk. And when people cite medical reasons for not wearing a mask, the staff suggests curbside pick-up as an option or making appointments for private browsing.

Taylor said the largest bright spot amid all of this craziness has been the sudden proliferation of virtual events. The store is doing its book clubs over Zoom and will likely keep that going, even after in-person meetings resume. She also hopes that once author tours begin again, publishers will continue to make virtual author events a part of their plans. Savannah is a smaller market, she pointed out, and often they can't get big-name authors to come to the store. "It would be nice to have virtual events as an option for bookstores in smaller markets."

On the subject of holiday buying, Taylor said the store bought "pretty much like normal." In some cases she and the team ordered larger quantities than they normally would, as they don't want to get caught without the books their customers want if there are significant supply-chain issues later this year. E. Shaver has also been "definitely pushing" early shopping and trying to drive customers to its website.


Christine Mayall, owner of Bookshop Benicia in Benicia, Calif., reported that her store reopened on May 21 after being closed since March 17. Although the county had allowed businesses to reopen earlier, she explained, it took some time to reconfigure the store and to work out various procedures.

The store is operating on reduced hours and is closed one day a week. Partly, Mayall explained, that is because of a lack of staff, and partly because she does not want her staff to have to deal with problems from anti-maskers. She is always available, and she recalled that she essentially ran the store on her own for most of the shutdown, doing online sales, curbside pick-up and in-town delivery. She noted that her town was "awesome" in that it allowed her to do curbside sales even though she was technically considered a non-essential business.

One thing she and her staff have found is that it is "very tiring" to have to keep an eye on everyone who enters the store to make sure they are wearing masks correctly and following rules. As booksellers, they are also used to being very hands-on with customers and working closely together as staff, which has been hard to learn to avoid.

Mayall said she was very fortunate that her town awarded small business grants during the pandemic, as did a group of large businesses working with the Chamber of Commerce. She was able to get $11,000 from those, as well as a PPP loan, an EIDL grant and assistance from Binc. Taking out the two months during which the store was closed, Bookshop Benicia's sales match last year's, despite being open for shorter hours.

The pandemic has helped make Mayall and her team more creative and it has emphasized that flexibility is vital. It "actually has been fun" coming up with new ways to do things, she said, and a big bright spot has been how grateful people seem to be that the store is open and that the team is taking such care to make sure it is a safe place. "Folks have enough on their plate and we want the store to be an oasis."

On the subject of holiday buying, Mayall admitted that she "started very late," and quantities were something of a guessing game. She's worried about popular books running out, and she has a lot invested in sidelines, though not as many children's items as usual. She is trying to play catch-up on orders, as well as returns of "dead" stock. She is planning to "really push" early shopping soon, but there are a lot of logistics about holiday shopping that still need to be worked out. --Alex Mutter


Happy 50th Birthday, The Book Loft!

Congratulations to the Book Loft, Solvang, Calif., which will celebrate its 50th anniversary this weekend with "lots of specials and fun happenings through the three days. We kick off with a special presentation to our founder and owner Kathy Mullins at 4 p.m. on Friday the 20th in our courtyard in front of the store."

Noting that the anniversary is "very good news for those who crave sanity, authenticity, and steadiness," the Santa Barbara Independent reported that Book Loft was founded by Kathy Mullins and her late husband, Gary, in 1970, and is the oldest independent bookstore in Santa Barbara County under continuous ownership. "Kathy is still very much involved, and the rest of the all-women team--Elaine, Echo, Dawn, Paige, Heidi, Ali, and Heather--are knowledgeable and helpful, the kind of folks who are sincerely happy to assist you or leave you to your browsing, all in a safe masked way that adheres to Covid protocols. It's a veritable house for the human spirit, where thoughts both great and frivolous line the shelves, a sacred space in our beautiful Valley, well-known by locals and appreciated by tourists, still going strong after 50 years. It even smells like a bookstore, that elusive fusion of paper, print, and wood."

Store manager Echo Molina said, "We are fortunate to have a wonderfully loyal customer base. We have our locals of course, but also those who live elsewhere, who have made a point to still buy books from us even if they are unable to get here in person. We have filled more e-mail and phone orders than ever before. We have also partnered with and"

The Independent noted: "Much has changed across the decades, but the Book Loft has never lost its soul or sense of purpose. It has been here for our community for 50 years, and it is an institution worth celebrating, protecting, and supporting."

IPG Adds Tokyopop for Trade Distribution

Effective January 1, Tokyopop will expand its English-language trade distribution through IPG, including retail book and mass merchant accounts. Tokyopop will continue to partner with Diamond Comics to work directly with comic book retailers and expand its offerings within the direct market comic books channel.

Tokyopop is the publishing arm of POP Media Holdings and the company that established the market for manga in North America, credited with introducing the term to the English language. It has published thousands of books, distributed anime and Asian films on home video and TV, licensed merchandise to consumer goods companies, created graphic novels of major brands, and led the way digitally in social media, e-commerce, and user-generated content.

Tokyopop CEO Stu Levy said, "We expect to expand not only our retail network, but also direct-to-consumer initiatives, digital publishing, and print-on-demand services.  Coming out of 2020 and the repercussions of the global Covid pandemic, we believe 2021 is going to be an exciting year."

IPG's v-p, business development, Alex Kampmann said, "Through this exciting new partnership we expect to significantly increase Tokyopop's reach in the global marketplace and that more Tokyopop books will find their way into the hands of more readers."

Media and Movies

Mazur Kaplan Co. Inks 'Significant' First-Look Deal with SK Global

The Mazur Kaplan Company and SK Global have a new significant first-look development pact, with an initial five books set for adaptation. The Mazur Kaplan principals are Paula Mazur and Mitchell Kaplan (owner of Books & Books in southern Florida and the Cayman Islands). The first five books set for television or feature adaptation under the terms of the new deal include:

The Hierarchies by Ros Anderson, which SK Global and Mazur Kaplan will co-produce with Margot Robbie and Tom Ackerley's LuckyChap Entertainment.

The Lincoln Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill America's 16th President--and Why It Failed by Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch. Nia DaCosta (Little Woods, Candyman, Captain Marvel 2) will direct and co-produce along with Gabrielle Nadig.

The Year of Dangerous Days: Riots, Refugees, and Cocaine in Miami 1980 by Nicholas Griffin, with producer and screenwriter Tom Fontana (Oz, City on a Hill) set as showrunner.

Tananarive Due's upcoming novel The Reformatory, which she will adapt in partnership with Steven Barnes (CBS's The Twilight Zone series).

The Current by Tim Johnston, to be adapted by screenwriter Miki Johnson (Ozark, Ray Donovan).

Marcy Ross, SK Global's president of television, expressed gratitude to the company's co-CEO's John Penotti and Charlie Corwin "for making my dream to work with Mitch and Paula a reality. They're an incredible addition to the SK Global team."

Mazur commented: "We are thrilled to have this opportunity to bring in projects that complement the ambitions and global scope of SK Global, and produce alongside John, Charlie and Marcy, whose artistic sensibility is so in line with ours."

Mazur Kaplan's recent projects include Let Him Go; All the Bright Places; The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society; and The Man Who Invented Christmas.

Media Heat: Barack Obama on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Barack Obama, author of A Promised Land (Crown, $45, 9781524763169).

HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher: Michael Eric Dyson, author of Long Time Coming: Reckoning with Race in America (St. Martin's Press, $25.99, 9781250276759).

This Weekend on Book TV: The Brooklyn Book Festival

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, November 21
1:50 p.m. Brian Purnell, author of Fighting Jim Crow in the County of Kings: The Congress of Racial Equality in Brooklyn (University Press of Kentucky, $28, 9780813165585), and Clarence Taylor, author of Fight the Power: African Americans and the Long History of Police Brutality in New York City (NYU Press, $24, 9781479811083), at the 2020 Brooklyn Book Festival.

2:40 p.m. Joe Sacco, author of Paying the Land (Metropolitan Books, $29.99, 9781627799034), Dave Chisholm, author of Chasin' The Bird (Z2 Comics, $24.99, 9781940878386), and Emei Burell, author of We Served the People: My Mother's Stories (Archaia, $24.99, 9781684155040), at the Brooklyn Book Festival.

6:45 p.m. Coverage of the seventh annual Kirkus Prize, given by Kirkus Reviews to authors of nonfiction, fiction and young readers' books. (Re-airs Sunday at 8:15 p.m.)

7:25 p.m. Adam Higginbotham, author of Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World's Greatest Nuclear Disaster (Simon & Schuster, $19, 9781501134630). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

8:25 p.m. Jon Lindsay, author of Information Technology and Military Power (Cornell University Press, $42.95, 9781501749568).

10 p.m. Deborah Stone, author of Counting: How We Use Numbers to Decide What Matters (Liveright, $26.95, 9781631495922). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. Andrew Whitby, author of The Sum of the People: How the Census Has Shaped Nations, from the Ancient World to the Modern Age (Basic Books, $30, 9781541619340). (Re-airs Sunday at 5:15 p.m.)

11:40 p.m. Joel Bakan, author of The New Corporation: How "Good" Corporations Are Bad for Democracy (Vintage, $15.95, 9781984899729).

Sunday, November 22
1 p.m. Charlton McIlwain, author of Black Software: The Internet & Racial Justice, from the AfroNet to Black Lives Matter (Oxford University Press, $24.95, 9780190863845), Joanne McNeil, author of Lurking: How a Person Became a User (MCD, $28, 9780374194338), and Frank Pasquale, author of New Laws of Robotics: Defending Human Expertise in the Age of AI (Belknap Press, $29.95, 9780674975224), at the Brooklyn Book Festival.

1:50 p.m. Mark Honigsbaum, author of The Pandemic Century: One Hundred Years of Panic, Hysteria, and Hubris (Norton, $29.95, 9780393254754), and Sonia Shah, author of Pandemic: Tracking Contagions, from Cholera to Ebola and Beyond (Picador, $18, 9781250118004), at the Brooklyn Book Festival.

7 p.m. Charles Kupchan, author of Isolationism: A History of America's Efforts to Shield Itself from the World (Oxford University Press, $29.95, 9780199393022).

11 p.m. Judith Butler, author of The Force of Nonviolence: An Ethico-Political Bind (Verso, $24.95, 9781788732765).

Books & Authors

Awards: Ernest J. Gaines Winner

Everywhere You Don't Belong by Gabriel Bump (Algonquin) has won the $15,000 2020 Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. Sponsored by the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, the award recognizes "outstanding work from promising African-American fiction writers" and honors Ernest J. Gaines, the acclaimed writer who died a year ago. The award is in its 14th year.

The organization said Everywhere You Don't Belong, Bump's debut book, is "the both dark and humorous coming-of-age story of Claude McKay Love, a young man living with his grandmother on the South Side of Chicago during the 1990s. Claude is relatable as an average kid in the contemporary world who deals with a cast of colorful characters and with issues of love, neighborhood violence and peer pressure, as he tries to figure out his life's path and a place to safely 'belong.' "

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, November 24:

The Greatest Secret by Rhonda Byrne (HarperOne, $26.99, 9780063078482) is by the author of The Secret.

Deadly Cross by James Patterson (Little, Brown, $29, 9780316420259) is the 28th thriller with Alex Cross. (November 23.)

Operation Moonglow: A Political History of Project Apollo by Teasel Muir-Harmony (Basic Books, $32, 9781541699878) looks at political forces behind the Apollo program.

Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline (Ballantine, $28.99, 9781524761332) is the sequel to Ready Player One, the author's debut title that was made into a feature film by Steven Spielberg.

War Lord: A Novel by Bernard Cornwell (Harper, $28.99, 9780062563293) is book 14 in the Last Kingdom series.

The Thirty Names of Night: A Novel by Zeyn Joukhadar (Atria, $27, 9781982121495) follows three generations of Syrian Americans linked by a mysterious bird.

Ghostways: Two Journeys in Unquiet Places by Robert Macfarlane, Stanley Donwood and Dan Richards (Norton, $15.95, 9781324015826) contains poems inspired by travels around England.

How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories by Holly Black, illus. by Rovina Cai (Little, Brown, $17.99, 9780316540889) is an illustrated novel addition to the Folk of the Air trilogy.

Ruinsong by Julia Ember (FSG, $18.99, 9780374313357) is a standalone LGBTQIAP+ YA fantasy debut that takes place in a world where magic is sung.

Archangel's Sun by Nalini Singh (Berkley, $7.99, 9780593198124).

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:

Plain Bad Heroines: A Novel by Emily M. Danforth, illus. by Sara Lautman (Morrow, $27.99, 9780062942852) "I have never read a book that was this much fun. This was a roller coaster of a read, hitting all the notes from beginning to end. Gothic elements intermingled with the current time period will keep the reader so engrossed that they won't realize they've stayed up all night reading this book, one that's the kind of book you don't want to read in the dark but you just can't put down. The ride through history that meets the present will keep you entertained, on your toes, and peeking between your fingers as you cover your eyes." --Sandra Cararo, The Book Dragon, Staunton, Va.

Invisible Girl: A Novel by Lisa Jewell (Atria, $28, 9781982137335). "Lisa Jewell has become one of my absolute favorite thriller authors. She's an automatic must-read for me and should be for everyone who loves dark, twisty thrillers. This latest is no exception. In fact, she just keeps getting better and better! If you haven't read her yet, start with Invisible Girl--I guarantee you won't be able to put it down!" --Becky LeJeune, BookBar, Denver, Colo.

Crazy Stupid Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams (Berkley, $16, 9781984806130). "Alexis' life has been a bit crazy lately. In addition to uncovering a family secret, she owns a cat café, which has become a meeting ground for women who have experienced sexual harassment, and is in love with her best friend, Noah. Noah is also in love with Alexis and reluctantly receives help from the Bromance Book Club. Adams delivers a funny, romantic novel that touches on major issues, including the aftermath of speaking out about sexual harassment, forgiveness, compassion, and trust." --Anastasia Wiley, Rakestraw Books, Danville, Calif.

For Ages 4 to 8
Fern and Otto: A Story About Two Best Friends by Stephanie Graegin (Schwartz & Wade, $17.99, 9780593121306). "Fern and Otto is a beautiful celebration of discovery, adventure, and friendship. It is a charming reminder that all of life's experiences are more exciting when shared with friends! A sweet story that will resonate with kids of all ages." --Anderson McKean, Page and Palette, Fairhope, Ala.

For Ages 9 to 12
Measuring Up by Lily LaMotte, illus. by Ann Xu (HarperAlley, 22.99, 9780062973870). "A really cute graphic novel about a girl who moves from Taiwan to Seattle. Cici has a close relationship with her grandmother back home, who taught her how to cook some of her favorite dishes. Cici makes friends but is often subjected to microaggressions from these friends as well as adults. She desperately wants to bring her grandmother for a visit and enters a cooking contest to win the money. What comes out of this contest is both surprising and heartwarming." --Audrey Huang, Belmont Books, Belmont, Mass.

For Teen Readers
Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles (Wednesday Books, $18.99, 9781250204356). "Moulin Rouge meets Phantom of the Opera in this stunning debut by Janella Angeles. Filled with wonder, sultry performances, and dark mysteries, this book had me on the edge of my seat. I cannot stress enough how fun and dark this one was! This book, with its show-stopping magic, secrets galore, and an unsolved mystery, is not one to miss!" --Haley Calvin, Neighborhood Reads, Washington, Mo.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: Before the Ruins

Before the Ruins by Victoria Gosling (Holt, $26.99 hardcover, 288p., 9781250759153, January 12, 2021)

Ah, the English country house: the archetypal setting for a murder mystery. Before the Ruins, Victoria Gosling's whip-smart debut, delivers not only the dead body at the weekend gathering but also the howlingly bad weather, the haunting account of long-ago villainy and--what's this? Shield your eyes, Miss Marple: there's an act of copulation over by the mantelpiece!

Before the Ruins is narrated by 38-year-old Andrea, a compliance officer at a London investment fund. She made something of her life despite a hardscrabble upbringing--"no dad, jumble-sale clothes, mum off her hinges"--but her past is still a foregrounded presence in her life. As the novel opens, Andrea gets a call from the mother of her lifelong best friend, Peter: it's been four weeks since the woman has been able to reach her son by telephone. "My instinct was to cover for him," Andrea confides to readers, "only I didn't know what I was covering for." Her own attempt to find Peter proves likewise a failure, so she hires a private detective but keeps up her own search.

In addition to their decades of friendship, what bonds Andrea and Peter is an incident that took place nearly 20 years earlier at the abandoned manor where Andrea, Peter, two close mates and sometimes others would hang out. Naturally, the house's lurid history only enhanced its appeal: in 1936, a man died on the premises and a diamond necklace was stolen from one of the houseguests. Andrea and her friends made a game of it, taking turns hiding a paste version of the necklace and searching the manor's grounds and Clue-board rooms for it. This stopped the night their blithesome contest ended grievously.

Public sex, drug taking and a sexual abuse subplot are just some of the ways that Before the Ruins departs from the classic country-house mystery, and Gosling doesn't signal so much as semaphore her awareness that she's playing around with a familiar fictional genre. After Andrea watches a detective drama on TV, she thinks about "how different the program was from life. How life was full of mysteries that would not be solved, not ever, while we lived." This isn't to suggest that the book's multiple mysteries go unsolved. The one concerning Peter's disappearance is so engaging that readers may occasionally wish that Andrea didn't tarry so long in the past. If only she had a choice. --Nell Beram, author and freelance writer

Shelf Talker: This debut novel--a mystery harboring a friendship saga--takes the ingredients of the English-country-house caper and spikes the recipe with details that would make Miss Marple blush.

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