Shelf Awareness for Monday, November 15, 2021

Union Square Kids: Julia and the Shark by Kiran Millwood Hargrave, illustrated by Tom de Freston

Tor Teen: Into the Light by Mark Oshiro

Peachtree Teen: Junkyard Dogs by Katherine Higgs-Coulthard

Blackstone Publishing: The Wisdom of Morrie: Living and Aging Creatively and Joyfully by Morrie Schwartz and Rob Schwartz

Neal Porter Books: All the Beating Hearts by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Cátia Chien


B&N Closing Old Orchard Store in Skokie, Ill.

The Barnes & Noble in the Old Orchard shopping center in Skokie, Ill., is closing permanently on December 24, reported. Mall owner Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield declined to renew the store's lease, saying it plans to redevelop the site.

On social media, B&N staff said the company aims to reopen soon nearby. B&N has another store in Skokie, at the Village Crossing Shopping Center.

B&N opened at the Skokie location in 1994 following an earlier redevelopment. Last year, B&N permanently closed its location in neighboring Evanston.

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Loyalty by Lisa Scottoline

Publishers Team Up for 2021 Shop Local FOREVER Campaign

Workman Publishing, Abrams Books, Bloomsbury Publishing, Candlewick Press, Chronicle Books and Sourcebooks have teamed up for the second Shop Local FOREVER marketing campaign, which encourages consumers to buy local during the holiday season and beyond. 

This year more than 30 authors will participate by posting on social media about what independent bookstores mean to them and why it's important to shop local. Participating authors include Jeff Kinney, John Lithgow, Kelly Barnhill and Henry Winkler; the full list of authors can be found here.

Resources are available for indie bookstores, including 11" x 15" inch signage featuring the message "Shop Local NOW So You can Shop Local FOREVER," as well as publisher swag that stores can give to customers as gifts. There is an Edelweiss collection featuring titles by participating authors, and booksellers can use the hashtag #ShopLocalFOREVER to help spread the message.

In its inaugural year, the campaign saw more than 15 Workman authors and 270 bookstores participate.

GLOW: Tordotcom: The Crane Husband by Kelly Barnhill

Sue Landers Resigning as Lambda Literary Executive Director

Sue Landers

After nearly four years in the post, Sue Landers is resigning as executive director of Lambda Literary, effective December 1. At that time, Maxwell Scales and Cleopatra Acquaye-Reynolds will join the organization as co-interim executive directors, while Lambda's board conducts a search for the organization's next leader.

In a letter to members, Landers wrote in part: "I am grateful to have led Lambda during a time of historic change. As COVID-19 touched all of our lives, it decimated far too many nonprofits. As you know, even Lambda came close to shutting our doors. Thankfully, that didn't come to pass because you--our community and allies--dug deep to ensure Lambda's solid financial footing. I am proud to say that Lambda Literary is here to stay.

"Beyond disruption, the pandemic gave Lambda the opportunity to reconsider who we are, who we serve, and what we do. With support from our wonderful board, I led a process that resulted in a new strategic roadmap for Lambda with justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion at its core.

"When I joined Lambda Literary, my vision was to advance social change through the power of queer and trans storytelling. Together, with your support, we have done more than I could have ever imagined."

Landers enumerated some of those efforts, including beginning to livestream the Lammys ceremony; now offering seven cash awards, including prizes for Black LGBTQ novelists and LGBTQ writers over 50; quadrupling the reach of LGBTQ Writers in Schools, which now serves 10,000 young people; free professional development for thousands of teachers, helping them bring LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum to students; hosting events that centered and celebrated Black LGBTQ lives, such as Lambda LitFest; expanding Lambda's workshops for queer and trans writers with Learn with Lambda; redesigning the website; building a YouTube channel; and providing ASL interpretation, captioning, and visual descriptions for events.

Soho Press: Black Dove by Colin McAdam

'A Frenzy of Book Bannings' and the First Amendment

The precarious state of free expression and of the First Amendment was highlighted in the past week by what New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg called "A Frenzy of Book Bannings." In the Friday piece, Goldberg noted "an aggressive new censoriousness tearing through America, as the campaign against critical race theory expands into a broader push to purge school libraries of books that affront conservative sensibilities regarding race and gender. As Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom, told her, "There's always been a steady hum of censorship, and the reasons have shifted over time. But I've never seen the number of challenges we've seen this year."

And this month, there's a new twist: two members of a Virginia school board that voted unanimously to remove books with "sexually explicit" material in them from system's libraries also called for the removed books to be burned, which brings to mind images of book burnings in Nazi Germany in the 1930s.

Among the many titles at issue in recent months: Beloved and The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, All Boys Aren't Blue by George M. Johnson, Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe, Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Pérez, The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron and Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides.

Goldberg noted that "With the rush to ban critical race theory, conservatives already gave up posturing as defenders of free speech. Still, this sudden mania for book banning is striking. It's part of a broader attack on public schools, one that draws on anger over critical race theory, mask mandates and sometimes even QAnon-inflected fears about pedophile conspiracies."

Goldberg emphasized, "This spreading moral panic demonstrates, yet again, why the left needs the First Amendment, even if the veneration of free speech has fallen out fashion among some progressives. Absent a societal commitment to free expression, the question of who can speak becomes purely a question of power, and in much of this country, power belongs to the right."

She again quoted the ALA's Caldwell-Stone: "What we're seeing is really this idea that marginalized communities, marginalized groups, don't have a place in public school libraries, or public libraries, and that libraries should be institutions that only serve the needs of a certain group of people in the community."

Weiser Books: Mexican Sorcery: A Practical Guide to Brujeria de Rancho by Laura Davila

Obituary Note: Wilbur Smith

Wilbur Smith

Adventure writer Wilbur Smith, whose 49 novels, including the long-running Courtney series, have sold more than 140 million copies worldwide in more than 30 languages, died November 13. He was 88. Smith's "instinctive grasp of narrative, the rich material of his upbringing and the boundless story opportunities of his African homeland produced a string of novels that thrilled an ever-growing readership," the Wilbur Smith Books site noted. "His obsessive dedication to the craft of authorship enabled him to write almost a novel a year, allowing his publishers to build a bestselling brand name."

Kate Parkin, managing director of adult trade publishing for Bonnier Books UK, commented: "It is with deep sadness that we mourn the death of our beloved author Wilbur Smith whose seemingly inexhaustible creative energy and passion for storytelling will long live on in the hearts and minds of readers everywhere. Wilbur never lost his appetite for writing and remained working every day of his life. He leaves behind him a treasure-trove of novels, as well as completed and yet to be published co-authored books and outlines for future stories. It has been a privilege and an honor to work closely with him on this remarkable publishing legacy and we look forward to sharing them with his millions of fans worldwide in years to come."

A passionate advocate of adventure fiction, Smith shared his love for the genre through the Wilbur and Niso Smith Foundation, founded by Smith and his wife in 2015. Dedicated to building the readership for adventure fiction and the promotion of reading and writing for younger generations across the world, the foundation's work will continue, led by Niso Smith. The Smiths also recently started a media company, Leopard Rock Studios Ltd, to produce film/TV projects. 

Kevin Conroy Scott, literary agent for Smith for the past 11 years, described him as "an icon, larger than life, beloved by his fans who collected his books in hardbacks and passed his work down through generations, fathers to sons and mothers to daughters. His knowledge of Africa, and his imagination knew no limitations. His work ethic and his powerful, elegant writing style made him known to millions. I cherish the role of working side by side with his wife Niso and the Wilbur and Niso Smith Foundation to keep the flame of his fictional universe alive for many years to come."

Smith's first novel, When the Lion Feeds (1964), was a bestseller and each of his subsequent novels has achieved comparable success. The Bookseller noted that after publishing 34 books with Pan Macmillan, Smith had moved to HarperCollins "in 2012 in a six-book deal said to be worth £15 million [about US$20 million).... More than 50 years after his debut, he signed an eight-figure deal with Bonnier Zaffre in 2017, described by then Bonnier Publishing group chief executive Richard Johnson as 'one of the biggest in publishing history.' " 

In 2018, Smith was one of the writers Bonnier Zaffre chose while making a foray into the U.S. market by focusing on publishing brand authors whose books were blockbusters around the world, particularly in the U.K. and the Commonwealth, but less well known in the U.S.

In his 2018 memoir On Leopard Rock, Smith wrote: "I've had tough times, bad marriages, people I loved dearly dying in my arms, burnt the midnight oil getting nowhere, but it has, all in the end, added up to a phenomenally fulfilled and wonderful life. I want to be remembered as somebody who gave pleasure to millions."


The King's English Bookshop's 'Amazing Incredible Book Recommendation Machine!'

"You may notice a new addition to the bookstore, at the base of the steps leading to the mystery room," the King's English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, Utah, posted on Facebook. "This is the amazing incredible book recommendation machine! Our booksellers have handpicked some of their favorite books for holiday gifting this season, and for only a quarter, this astonishing piece of manual technology will deliver to you one of those titles at random--and if you buy it that day, you get 10% off! BUT THAT'S NOT ALL! There are also special discounts and one $50 gift card in there! There are book picks from every section of the store, so you're sure to find something for even the pickiest readers on your list. Stop by and get your recommendation today--and a chance to win big!"

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Dawn Turner on Fresh Air

Live with Kelly and Ryan: Kelsey Ballerini, author of Feel Your Way Through: A Book of Poetry (Ballantine, $25, 9780593497081). She will also appear on CBS This Morning.

Good Morning America: Nikole Hannah-Jones, co-author of The 1619 Project: Born on the Water (Kokila, $18.99, 9780593307359).

Also on GMA: Dwyane Wade, author of Dwyane (Morrow, $35, 9780062968357). He will also appear tomorrow on Live with Kelly and Ryan and the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Fresh Air: Dawn Turner, author of Three Girls from Bronzeville: A Uniquely American Memoir of Race, Fate, and Sisterhood (Simon & Schuster, $26.99, 9781982107703).

NPR's Here & Now: Bryant Terry, editor of Black Food: Stories, Art, and Recipes from Across the African Diaspora (4 Color Books, $40, 9781984859723).

NPR's 1A: Emily Ratajkowski, author of My Body (Metropolitan, $26, 9781250817860).

Daily Show: Chris Christie, author of Republican Rescue: Saving the Party from Truth Deniers, Conspiracy Theorists, and the Dangerous Policies of Joe Biden (Threshold Editions, $28, 9781982187514). He will also appear on Good Morning America.

CBS This Morning: Al Franken, author of Al Franken, Giant of the Senate (Twelve, $16.99, 9781455540426).

Good Morning America: Glennon Doyle, author of Get Untamed: The Journal (Clarkson Potter, $19.99, 9780593235652).

Daily Show: Ai Weiwei, author of 1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows: A Memoir (Crown, $32, 9780553419467).

Late Night with Seth Meyers: Aubrey Plaza, co-author of The Legend of the Christmas Witch (Viking Books for Young Readers, $18.99, 9780593350805).

Also on Late Night: Amor Towles, author of The Lincoln Highway: A Novel (Viking, $30, 9780735222359).

Movie: Marlowe

Additional casting has been announced for Marlowe, the film adaptation of John Banville's (writing as Benjamin Black) novel The Black-Eyed Blonde, starring Liam Neeson, Deadline reported. Directed by Neil Jordan (The Crying Game) from a script by William Monahan (The Departed), the project is now filming in Ireland and Spain. Joining the Marlowe cast are Diane Kruger, Jessica Lange, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Alan Cumming, Danny Huston, Ian Hart and Colm Meaney. 

Books & Authors

Awards: Richell Emerging Writers Winner

Australian journalist, writer, host and media consultant Simone Jordan won the 2021 Richell Prize for Emerging Writers, which aims "to unearth, support and nurture new Australian writing talent," for her memoir manuscript Tell Her She's Dreamin'. Founded in honor of the late Hachette Australia CEO Matt Richell, the award is sponsored by Hachette Australia and the Richell family, in partnership with the Emerging Writers' Festival.

Jordan receives A$10,000 (about US$7,320), along with a 12-month mentorship with one of Hachette Australia's publishers. Hachette Australia will work with the winning writer to develop their manuscript with first option to consider the finished work, and the shortlisted entries, for publication.

"The Richell Prize is building a reputation for discovering brilliant emerging writers and Simone Jordan's talent is only going to add to this reputation," said Fiona Hazard, Hachette Australia Group publishing director, adding that the winner "has a powerful story to tell--one of growing up 'other,' of fighting for recognition and representation, of challenging systemic hierarchies and rising to the top of a fiercely competitive and often overtly sexist industry. Already a skilled journalist, the judges felt Simone's work was immediately engaging and quick to evoke emotion. Family love and humor were vibrantly portrayed on the page and left all the judges wanting to read more. We are delighted that we can now mentor Simone and help her along the path to finishing Tell Her She's Dreamin' so she can connect with a wider readership. Nurturing emerging writers like Simone is what the Richell Prize is all about. I am sure that former Hachette CEO Matt Richell would be pleased that his name is helping do this."

Ann Patchett: The Wonders and Rewards of Taking a Chance

Ann Patchett is the author of seven novels--her most recent, The Dutch House, was a 2020 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize--and three nonfiction works, including her forthcoming collection These Precious Days (Harper, November 23, 2021). The title takes its name from the essay about Patchett's friendship with Sooki Raphael, who stayed with the author while undergoing treatment for a recurrence of pancreatic cancer. Patchett lives with her husband, Karl VanDevender, and their dog, Sparky, in Nashville, Tenn., where Parnassus, the bookstore she cofounded, is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

At a recent bookseller conference, you said you were finding essays easier to write during the pandemic than fiction. Could you expand a bit on that?

Part of it was size, and part of it was content. My fiction seemed frivolous. How could I say, "I'm going to make something up" with all this going on?

Do essays come to you in a flash, or do they evolve slowly? Or does it vary, depending on the subject?

Up until the pandemic--it might be true--I had never written an essay that hadn't been commissioned. It always came from an external place. My piece "Tavia" is different in the book from the essay that appeared in Real Simple. The editors said you can write anything you want, and I said I wanted to write a celebrity profile of my childhood best friend.

During the pandemic, I wrote long pieces completely for myself. I learned that from Liz Gilbert: every now and then write something just for yourself. When you're all finished, then you decide where to place it. I wrote "Three Fathers" because Kate [DiCamillo] had just lost her father and was going to write about it. I'd been wanting to write about my father for a long time, so we did it together.

For the title essay ["These Precious Days"], I told Sooki I wanted to write about our time together, just for myself. I told her, "When I'm done, you can read it. It will belong to the two of us." It turned out to be 60 pages long. It wasn't a book, and it wasn't an essay. It was some massive thing in between.

How do you decide the sequence of the essays?

I print everything out, put it in piles, then move them around. I suppose I could have just printed out the first page, but I printed out the whole essay. I'd see one and think "this doesn't fit," then I'd take it out. I hadn't written them to have those obvious connections, but why wouldn't they? I have one set of eyes, one set of ears. As I gave the book to different people, I asked them to say which is the weak sister. There were essays I wrote to fill the gap left by removing another essay.

Do you think becoming a bookseller has changed your writing in any way?

Becoming a bookseller changed me as a reader, and I'm sure it's changed me as a writer.

Now I only read galleys, five months ahead of pub date. I miss my old reading life. Parnassus has its 10th anniversary coming up. I am hounded by what I need to read. Yesterday, I read The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating, an old book [by Elisabeth Tova Bailey], published by Algonquin. It's a book of snail observations, and it's pandemically perfect. The author is sick, and her friend gives her a plant and a wild snail. By the end of the book, there are 118 snails. They're hermaphrodites.

Did you start your novel The Dutch House with the image of the house? With one particular character, Maeve? Danny?

It started with Maeve and Danny's mother. It started with the idea of not wanting to be rich. I grew up being raised by nuns; if you were a good person, you'd be poor. In every religion, holiness requires poverty. All the "stuff" impeded your spirituality. I thought of this after the 2016 election. These poor kids who grew up in this fabulous house.

These Precious Days predominantly explores mortality and the fragility of life. Yet each essay is infused with a pervading sense of humor and gratitude. How do you do that?

Michael, the oncologist [from "These Precious Days"], lives across the street from us. People always asked [about Sooki], "How's she doing?" Michael was incredibly helpful to me. I sent him the Harper's piece [where "These Precious Days" first published]. He asked me, "How can you do that? Be that open, that forthcoming?" I answered, "That's not how I write, that's who I am." In a novel, it's so much more about how I write. In an essay, it's who I am. If there are points weaving in and out, it's because I'm looking at the world through my eyes, noting them over and over.

Your essay "What the American Academy of Arts and Letters Taught Me About Death" perhaps best synthesizes the theme of this book: "The math in this room was inescapable--two hundred fifty seats at the table, and no one gets to stay."

I wrote that essay a year before the pandemic started. It didn't work. Maile [Meloy], a genius in all matters, figured it out. There was a lot more about John Updike--the kissing and not kissing commentary--and she said, "It seems like he's taking away from your happy moment. He comes across as creepy." He wasn't, but I took that part out. Now there's one sentence about Updike.

Originally, "These Precious Days" was the last essay. On a Friday night, I started it from a plural "we" present tense. I sent it to Patty, Sooki's best friend--and now my friend, too--and I said, "Read this and tell me if I can send it to Sooki." Patty read it aloud to Sooki without having read it first. Sooki died two hours later.

Do you believe in a larger unseen plan? If you hadn't picked up the galley for Tom Hanks's Uncommon Type and provided a quote, you would never have met Sooki, who was his assistant.

I don't believe in predestination. It has to apply to everything. I don't think you can take happy things and not bad things. There are moments when I show up and I'm brave and I trust my instincts. There are moments when I don't and I'm not brave and I don't trust.

Probably in so many of these galleys, I could make a connection and reap rewards. No one has time and energy all the time. With Sooki, I knew she was going to die; she didn't. I said, "Hey, I'll help. Come here." I knew I was up for it. That doesn't mean I'm always up for it. It's about the wonders and rewards of taking a chance. --Jennifer M. Brown, senior editor

Book Review

Review: The Fifties: An Underground History

The Fifties: An Underground History by James R. Gaines (Simon & Schuster, $28 hardcover, 288p., 9781439101636, January 11, 2022)

Whenever it's time to toast pioneering American social and environmental justice warriors of the modern era, big names from the 1960s and '70s get most of the glory--and unfairly, according to James R. Gaines, former managing editor of Time magazine. He has taken valiant steps to redress this wrong in The Fifties: An Underground History, in which he painstakingly and persuasively shows how the 10 individuals he profiles fought "through the thicket of postwar repressions" to help build what would later come to be known as the gay rights, feminist, civil rights and environmental movements.

The phrase "ahead of their time" gets thrown around awfully casually, but it does apply to the people that Gaines spotlights in each of his book's four themed sections. Before there was Greenpeace, Rachel Carson and Norbert Wiener were writing about the health and environmental costs of unchecked industrial and technical innovations. Before there was gay rights activist Harvey Milk, the cause had Harry Hay and Frank Kameny, who worked tirelessly to combat their day's "disease" attitude toward homosexuality. Before the 1963 publication of Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique launched the second wave of feminism, Pauli Murray, Gerda Lerner and Fannie Lou Hamer presaged intersectionality by recognizing how the fight against sexism shared a spirit with the fight against racism. And before Americans learned of Martin Luther King's dream, the Black GIs Isaac Woodard, Medgar Evers and Robert F. Williams battled white supremacy with an approach somewhat less pacifist than the NAACP would have liked: "To the Black veterans of World War II and in the longer history of the Black Freedom Movement," writes Gaines, "nonviolence without the support of armed resistance to racist violence amounted to surrender."

The Fifties will likely enlighten many a historian and would be a superb entry point for young adults trying to get their heads around, as Gaines puts it, "how the 1950s--a time when all telephones were black, all bathtubs were white, and very little was gray--could have led to the polychromatic riot of the 1960s." Gaines (Wit's End: Days and Nights of the Algonquin Round Table), a child of the '50s who came of age in the '60s, admits that "my generation had our moments, but looking back, I cannot help feeling that the people like those in this book were the more authentic rebels, in part because they did not think of themselves that way." Readers of The Fifties will. --Nell Beram, author and freelance writer

Shelf Talker: In this intrepid corrective, James R. Gaines shines a light on the activists, some unsung, who spent the 1950s seeding the future gay rights, feminist, civil rights and environmental movements.

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