Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Margaret K. McElderry Books: Tender Beasts by Liselle Sambury

Scholastic Press: Heroes: A Novel of Pearl Harbor by Alan Gratz

Flatiron Books: Anita de Monte Laughs Last by Xochitl Gonzalez

Peachtree Publishers: King & Kayla and the Case of the Downstairs Ghost (King & Kayla) by Dori Hillestad Butler, illustrated by Nancy Meyers

Doubleday Books: The Husbands by Holly Gramazio

Quotation of the Day

Booksellers: 'The Superheroes of the Book Industry'

"I confess it; the biggest surprise is how little I grasped the sheer mechanics of bookselling. It's a hefty, complex business. I always knew booksellers were the superheroes of the book industry, but now, as I work to set up my own bookstore for the first time, I'm amazed that any of them find time to read and recommend books at all, much less network, draw up inventive ideas, or, I don't know, pet their cats."

--Julie Berry, writer and owner of the Author's Note bookstore, Medina N.Y., in a q&a with Cynsations

Holiday House: The Five Impossible Tasks of Eden Smith by Tom Llewellyn; The Selkie's Daughter by Linda Crotta Brennan


CALIBA Seeking New Executive Director

Following the news that California Independent Booksellers Alliance executive director Calvin Crosby is buying Betsy Burton's interest in the King's English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, Utah, CALIBA has begun looking for a new executive director.

CALIBA's board of directors will work with a hiring committee consisting of president Melinda Powers of Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz; incoming president Mary Williams of Skylight Books, Los Angeles; board member Mark O'Neal of Karel/Dutton Group; Julia Cowlishaw of Vroman's and Book Soup, Pasadena and West Hollywood; Andy Perham of Books Inc. and Compass Books in the Bay Area; Tina Ferguson of Face in a Book, El Dorado Hills; and Katie Orphan of Chevalier's Books, Los Angeles, as well as Calvin Crosby.

Calvin Crosby

The CALIBA board of directors congratulated Crosby "on this next adventure in his bookselling career and [we] thank him for the leadership, vision, and dedication he has devoted to both NCIBA and then CALIBA, newly formed in 2019 under his stewardship."

CALIBA president Melinda Powers added, "Calvin has led with passion, grace, and unending hard work, bringing CALIBA through an unprecedented pandemic and the challenges of 2020, and positioning us to innovate and thrive together as an all-California power in the years to come. We will dearly miss Calvin and the energy he has brought to the Alliance, even as we are excited to move forward with the opportunities provided by this bittersweet transition."

CALIBA noted that the new executive director "will join an existing, experienced office staff. The CALIBA hiring committee will explore alternative organizational and pay structures for the CALIBA office as a whole to best match the qualifications and skills of the applicants to the open position. We are also looking for candidates who value diversity, equity, and inclusion in our book community and will further the organization and the membership's anti-racist growth and training." The full job description can be found here. Applicants should e-mail a cover letter and resume here.

Amistad Press: The Survivors of the Clotilda: The Lost Stories of the Last Captives of the American Slave Trade by Hannah Durkin

L.A.'s Eso Won Books Named Bookstore of the Year

Congratulations to Eso Won Books, Los Angeles, Calif., which was named PW's Bookstore of the Year, and to Toi Crockett, field account manager at Simon & Schuster, primarily for accounts in the western states, who was named PW's Rep of the Year.

Owned by James Fugate and Tom Hamilton, Eso Won "has long been one of the country's preeminent Black-owned bookstores and, of course, was indispensable this past year," Ellen Adler, publisher of the New Press, wrote in her nominating letter. "But that's nothing new: it has long been indispensable--as those who are lucky enough to count it as their local bookstore or who have made the pilgrimage and had a visit well know."

Toi Crockett

In her nominating letter, Barbara Peters, owner of the Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale, Ariz., described Crockett as "highly skilled, massively competent, endlessly cheerful and creative. Our whole S&S account, which is huge, depends mostly on her. She has mastered the supply side, she catches my errors, she suggests opportunities, and she seems to work 18/7 days." 

Viva Books Opens in Baltimore, Md.

Viva Books, a used and new bookstore with an arts focus, has opened for business in Baltimore, Md. For now the shop is open Thursday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., but owner Viva Stowell hopes to add hours and staff as the city continues to reopen.

Stowell, who described the bookstore as her "life's dream," opened the store to the public on March 28. She noted that Viva Books is located on North Charles Street in Baltimore's Mount Vernon neighborhood, an area that "was once littered with bookstores." Hers is now the only bookstore in the area, and area businesses and residents have been "extremely receptive" and "so supportive." Eventually Stowell hopes to start hosting events with local authors and artists.

Stowell's career in books began in 1991, when she was hired at Tower Books in Seattle, Wash. She went on to work at Tower Books in Portland, Ore., and she managed the Tower Books in New York City. She was hired as the Mid-Atlantic sales rep by Phaidon Press and later became sales manager of Mitchell Beazley/Millers distributed lines.

After moving to Moscow, Idaho, Stowell and her late husband, Edward Bell (previously a remainders buyer at Powell's Books in Portland), opened a bookstore of their own. After Bell died, Stowell continued to operate Palouse Books while saving money to open her dream store. Once the pandemic began last year, Stowell decided to head back east. She closed Palouse Books on June 30 and moved to Baltimore.

"I was that kid reading while walking home," Stowell said. "Books have always been my love, my escape and, for much of my life, my vocation."

International Update: LBF Lifetime Achievement Award Winner, Amazon POD Facility in Australia

Margaret Busby

Margaret Busby, co-founder of publishing company Allison & Busby, will receive the London Book Fair's Lifetime Achievement Award in International Publishing, which recognizes an individual who has made "a truly significant mark in the sphere of global publishing." Zadie Smith and Bernardine Evaristo will present the award to Busby during LBF's first in-person event since the Covid-19 pandemic began.

LBF director Andy Ventris praised Busby as "a savvy publisher, a truly inspiring cultural figure, and an incredibly important champion for diversity. As Britain's youngest and first Black woman publisher she laid the ground for generations to come, and is still one of the most respected voices in publishing today. Margaret is such a worthy recipient and I am so pleased that we will be able to honor her achievements.... This is truly a cause for celebration, and I look forward to welcoming our guests to the presentation ceremony."

Busby commented: "Thank you to all my colleagues and friends, and those who have walked with me over the decades on paths less trodden, helping to forge exciting international links and collaborations between authors, editors and booksellers. Throughout my career, I have published and worked with many incredibly fine writers, and I have been fortunate to be part of their ongoing success. My life in publishing was conceived while I was at university, not yet of age, and since that predates the venerable London Book Fair I can bear witness to how far that has come. Thank you, LBF, for all that you do, and thank you again for this amazing award."


Amazon has opened a print on demand facility in Australia, the first for the company in the Southern Hemisphere. The POD service allows writers and publishers to print paperback books at its Western Sydney Fulfilment Centre. 

Matt Benham, category lead for media and books, Amazon Australia, said the new POD facility "means that we will be able to get millions of paperback titles to customers faster than ever before. We are also excited about the benefits print on demand brings to the thousands of Australian self-published authors who have been keenly waiting for the launch of an Australian facility."

Writer Christopher Cartwright, who is self-publishing via Kindle Direct Publishing, added: "The arrival of Amazon's paperback printing facility in Australia is a huge milestone for Aussie self-published authors like me.... I look forward to seeing what this will do for my sales."


Independent booksellers and publishers in the U.K. are supporting a crowdfunding appeal to rebuild Samir Mansour's Bookshop in Gaza City, which attracted international attention when it was destroyed by an Israeli air strike recently. The Bookseller reported that Little Toller Books, the publisher and bookshop in Dorset, is among the indies that have pledged support, along with Bluemoose Books and Indie Bookshops UK. More than 3,000 people have donated thus far, raising over $140,000 toward the $250,000 goal.

"I think any bookshop or publisher that has been reduced to rubble needs our help," said Kevin Duffy, publisher and co-founder of Bluemoose Books. "As we have seen throughout the pandemic, readers want stories and books to get them through some dark and difficult times. Bookshops should be oasis of calm where creativity and imagination are set free. We have seen in the past 12 months the publishing and bookselling community working together and helping each other and that generosity should be extended to the book readers of Gaza too."

Little Toller tweeted: "Help the bookshop and publisher in Gaza who have lost everything. We'll certainly be supporting this. Such a tragic loss and so depressing on so many levels."


Irish bookseller's chalkboard art: "Dean making us all very happy this morning--how cool is this drawing he just did of Tintin and Asterix at our kids section!" Kennys Bookshop in Galway, posted on Facebook. --Robert Gray

Obituary Note: Dan Frank

Dan Frank, longtime editorial director at Pantheon Books, died on May 24. He was 67.

Frank joined Pantheon in 1991 as v-p and senior editor and was named editorial director in 1996. During his 30 years with Pantheon, he established it as a leading publisher of narrative science, world literature, contemporary fiction, and graphic novels. Authors published under him were awarded two Pulitzer Prizes, several National Book Awards, numerous NBCC awards and multiple Eisners.

His authors included Charles Baxter, Madison Smartt Bell, Alain de Botton, David Eagleman, Gretel Ehrlich, Joseph J. Ellis, James Fallows, James Gleick, Jonathan Haidt, Richard Holmes, Susan Jacoby, Ben Katchor, Daniel Kehlmann, Jill Lepore, Alan Lightman, Tom Mallon, Joseph Mitchell, Maria Popova, Oliver Sacks, Art Spiegelman and many, many others.

Reagan Arthur, executive v-p and publisher of Knopf Pantheon Schocken, commented: "For decades, Dan has been the public face of Pantheon, setting the tone for the house and overseeing the list. He had an insatiable curiosity about life and, indeed, that curiosity informed many of his acquisitions. As important as the books he published and the authors he edited, Dan served as a mentor to younger colleagues, endlessly generous with his time and expertise. Famously soft-spoken, a 'writer's editor,' and in possession of a heartfelt laugh that would echo around the thirteenth floor, he was so identified with the imprint that some of his writers took to calling the place Dantheon."


Toadstool Bookshop's Air Force

A recent visitor to Toadstool Bookshop, Peterborough, N.H., wrote in Air & Space magazine that he "was surprised by the galaxy of model airplanes suspended from the ceiling. After my initial surprise (and delight) at the size of the collection--there must have been 300 airplanes dangling over the store's used-book section--my sense of wonderment increased when I noticed that it contained not only famous airplane types that almost anyone would recognize but also rare and fairly obscure aircraft that I, as a former naval aviator, was drawn to."

The models were a gift from Bill Johnson, who had been building them since he was a kid and, upon retirement, needed a place to display the vast collection. His friend Jeff Osgood, who manages the Toadstool's used-book section, thought the models would draw customers, and suggested the display. 

"It worked," Osgood said. "Many people recall making models as kids and comment on how a father, brother or son would love to see them.... Visitors always ask how many people did the models, and are astonished that one person did so many."

Galaxy Bookshop's 'New Window Décor'

"Unveiling our new window decor!" the Galaxy Bookshop, Hardwick, Vt., posted on Facebook. "Many thanks to @greatbiggraphics  for their excellent design and installation work. And Happy Anniversary to us--we are celebrating 7 years at the helm of The Galaxy Bookshop this week."

Personnel Changes at Convergent

Alisse Goldsmith-Wissman has joined the Convergent publicity team as senior publicist. She previously worked at Independent Publishers Group and before that was at InterVarsity Press.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Yusef Salaam on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Yusef Salaam, author of Better, Not Bitter: Living on Purpose in the Pursuit of Racial Justice (Grand Central, $28, 9781538705001).

The Real: Tiffany Aliche, author of Get Good with Money: Ten Simple Steps to Becoming Financially Whole (Rodale Books, $24, 9780593232743).

The Talk: Yvonne Orji, author of Bamboozled by Jesus: How God Tricked Me into the Life of My Dreams (Worthy Books, $26, 9781546012672).

Daily Show repeat: Michelle Zauner, author of Crying in H Mart: A Memoir (Knopf, $26.95, 9780525657743).

TV: Freedom's Shore; Miss Eliza's English Kitchen

Malcolm-Jamal Warner (The Resident) has acquired the film and television rights to Russell Duncan's novel Freedom's Shore: Tunis Campbell and the Georgia Freedmen, Deadline reported, adding that Warner would produce and star in the project. A writer is not yet attached.

"Tunis Campbell was a staunch defender of Human Rights and was one of the earliest activists in the fight against voter suppression in Georgia during the Reconstruction Era." said Warner. "He was a movement unto himself. Civil Rights, Black Power, and Black Lives Matter a hundred plus years before those movements were labeled as such. Excited can only begin to describe how I feel about bringing this unsung hero's life to the screen."


Annabel Abbs's novel Miss Eliza's English Kitchen is set for a television adaptation. Deadline reported that CBS Studios and Stampede Ventures "struck a deal for the screen rights to the book, which is being published by William Morrow and Simon & Schuster U.K. It is the latest project to emerge out of Stampede Ventures' first-look deal that the companies signed last September."

"When I inherited a collection of antiquarian cookery books, I suspected a story might be lurking in one of them," Abbs said. "Researching and writing the story of Britain's first domestic goddess has been a wonderful culinary adventure which I'm looking forward to sharing."

Books & Authors

Awards: Arabic Fiction Winner; CWA Dagger Shortlists

Notebooks of the Bookseller by Jalal Barjas (The Arabic Institute for Research and Publishing) has won the International Prize for Arabic Fiction. Barjas, a Jordanian poet and novelist, will receive $50,000 and funding will be provided for the English translation of Notebooks of the Bookseller, which "tells the story of a book lover's experience with schizophrenia and a crime spree he commits using the names of characters from fiction."

Chair of the judging panel Chawki Bazih said: "Apart from its rich, refined language and tight, thrilling plot, this bold winning novel is distinguished by Jalal Barjas' impressive ability to strip the masks from the face of tragic reality. The author presents us with the darkest portraits of homelessness and poverty, where meaning has been lost and hope torn up by the roots, turning life into a realm of nightmares. Despite this, the novel does not call for despair. Rather, through it, the author is saying that reaching the depths of pain is a necessary condition for finding new dreams and standing up once more with hope on firmer ground."


The Crime Writers Association has unveiled shortlists in 10 categories for the 2021 Dagger Awards, which honor the best books in the crime writing genre. The winners will be named at Daggers Live!, the online CWA Dagger awards ceremony on July 1. Check out the complete CWA Dagger shortlisted titles here

Reading with... Nikita Lalwani

photo: Vik Sharma

Nikita Lalwani is the author of You People (McSweeney's, May 25, 2021), a novel set in a London pizzeria staffed by undocumented migrants. Her first novel, Gifted--the story of a child prodigy of Indian origin growing up in Wales--was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award and won the inaugural Desmond Elliott Prize for Fiction. Her second, The Village, was modeled on a real-life "prison village" in northern India, and won a Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize. Lalwani contributed to Resist: Stories of Uprising and wrote the opening essay for AIDS Sutra, an anthology exploring the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS in India. She lives in London and is a trustee of the U.K. human rights organization LIBERTY.

On your nightstand now:

The Wild Laughter by Caoilinn Hughes. It's hilarious and acrobatic, delighting in its own very razored sentences, super sharp when it comes to the politics.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Borrowers by Mary Norton--the idea of autonomy was delicious to me in the whole of this series, which is full of uncertainty, magical thinking and the self-preservation requirements of wartime. I'll never forget the Ratcatcher coming to smoke the Borrowers out of their hard-won abodes, the fierce conviction they had under those floorboards.

Your top five authors:

Mavis Gallant
Don DeLillo
Salman Rushdie
Doris Lessing
James Baldwin

Book you've faked reading:

Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman. It's always there, staring at me righteously from the shelf, not really caring that I exist. One day...

Book you're an evangelist for:

The World According to Garp by John Irving. It's such a somersault of feeling and newness. The plot keeps disturbing itself in ridiculous ways. There's a huge mischievous optimism hidden in its seeming endlessness, even though it hugs the tragedy at its center.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Maybe Third Class Superhero by Charles Yu. Spectacular cover which is actually quite distinct in look and feel from the ingenious, wise short stories inside.

Book you hid from your parents:

Probably the double whammy of Henry Miller and Anaïs Nin going full frontal in their various novels and diaries.

Book that changed your life:

Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie. I discovered it in the local library when I was around 14 and it was a gestalt moment--I could suddenly see out of the window of my life, thus far in Cardiff, and into the large, chuckling universe beyond. It offered hope, solace, an intimation of supernatural forces.  

Favorite line from a book:

"Why, oh why must one grow up, why must one inherit this heavy, numbing responsibility of living an undiscovered life?" --from The Rainbow, D.H. Lawrence

Five books you'll never part with:

Collected Stories, Maeve Brennan
In Other Rooms, Other Wonders, Daniyal Mueenuddin
Dusk, James Salter
Late in the Day, Tessa Hadley
Tell Me a Riddle, Tillie Olsen

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

I wonder if it might be A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. It had such a huge impact on me at the time, the compassion in it, distilled with such verisimilitude--the cautious respect, the elegance of the prose. I've been fearful of returning, but am about to do so after many years away, will finally read it again in preparation for writing my next book.

Book Review

Children's Review: Not Little

Not Little by Maya Myers, illus. by Hyewon Yum (Neal Porter/Holiday House, $18.99 hardcover, 40p., ages 3-7, 9780823446193, July 6, 2021)

Small and little do not mean the same thing. Ask the spunky protagonist of debut author Maya Myers's Not Little. Sure, she'll admit, "I am the smallest person in my family." And add, "Even my name is small: Dot." But whether at rest or play, in the kitchen or outside, Dot is mighty capable. Author/illustrator Hyewon Yum (Saturday Is Swimming Day) makes delightfully, whimsically certain that Dot takes up plenty of energetic space with her vibrant personality and independent tenacity.

Dot is "the smallest person in [her] class." At the door of her classroom, as all the other kids look on, she must insist to their elementary teacher that she's actually not in preschool, demonstrating her knowledge of square roots, world capitals and space travel. Wherever she goes, however, she finds she must prove again and again, "I may be small, but I'm not little." At the library, her check-out pile is taller than she is. She orders from the grown-up menu at restaurants. She eschews grocery store stickers because, as she repeats yet again, she's not little.

And then a new boy appears at school. What Dot instantly notices is that Sam "might even be smaller" than she is. She attempts to sidle up to him to compare heights but doesn't want to frighten him. In the lunchroom, however, she proves plenty scary when a lunchroom bully tries his "mean boy" tactics on innocent Sam. Suddenly, she just might be "the biggest kid [Sam's] ever met," especially when it comes to standing tall against adversity.

Myers clearly channels her elementary school teaching experience in empathetically creating Dot and Sam's recognizable exchanges about unfamiliar classrooms and playgrounds, tiptoeing through social dynamics and navigating new relationships. Yum's enchanting color-pencil illustrations elevate Myers's text with ingenious visual enhancements. On every page, Yum includes diverse faces, starting with Dot's own family: the opening spread suggests parents and grandparents of ethnically different backgrounds, the four children presented in various hues. She also imbues all characters with energy and motion--their expressions include winking, smirking and knowing smiles; her ample use of white space allows for the colorful characters to take center stage. Dot is especially charmingly memorable, literally wearing her name with her white polka-dotted orange shirt, her purple-dotted pink leggings and even her green-dotted yellow lunchbox. Most significantly, Yum also adds to Dot's essential wardrobe a bright red neckerchief that just might resemble a superhero cape. By book's end, Dot proves her whole small body has a mighty big voice that will be heard. --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon

Shelf Talker: Hyewon Yum's ingenious artistry amplifies Maya Myers's delightful Dot, who might be small, but certainly not little as she takes on doubters and even a bully to get her big voice heard.

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