Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Flatiron Books: The Courting of Bristol Keats: [Limited Stenciled Edge Edition] by Mary E Pearson

Forge: My Three Dogs by Bruce W Cameron

Running Press Adult: Scam Goddess: Lessons from a Life of Cons, Grifts, and Schemes by Laci Mosley

Chronicle Books: Taste in Music: Eating on Tour with Indie Musicians by Luke Pyenson and Alex Beeker

Doubleday Books: Death at the Sign of the Rook: A Jackson Brodie Book by Kate Atkinson

Groundwood Books: Who We Are in Real Life by Victoria Koops

Agate Bolden: 54 Miles by Leonard Pitts Jr.


2024 Pulitzer Prize Winners

Congratulations to the book winners of the 2024 Pulitzer Prizes:

Night Watch by Jayne Anne Phillips (Knopf). "A beautifully rendered novel set in West Virginia's Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in the aftermath of the Civil War where a severely wounded Union veteran, a 12-year-old girl and her mother, long abused by a Confederate soldier, struggle to heal."

Fiction finalists: Same Bed Different Dreams by Ed Park (Random House) and Wednesday's Child by Yiyun Li (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

No Right to an Honest Living: The Struggles of Boston's Black Workers in the Civil War Era by Jacqueline Jones (Basic Books). "A breathtakingly original reconstruction of free Black life in Boston that profoundly reshapes our understanding of the city's abolitionist legacy and the challenging reality for its Black residents."

History finalists: American Anarchy: The Epic Struggle between Immigrant Radicals and the U.S. Government at the Dawn of the Twentieth Century by Michael Willrich (Basic Books) and Continental Reckoning: The American West in the Age of Expansion by Elliott West (University of Nebraska Press)

Biography (two winners):
King: A Life by Jonathan Eig (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). "A revelatory portrait of Martin Luther King, Jr. that draws on new sources to enrich our understanding of each stage of the civil rights leader's life, exploring his strengths and weaknesses, including the self-questioning and depression that accompanied his determination."

Master Slave Husband Wife: An Epic Journey from Slavery to Freedom by Ilyon Woo (Simon & Schuster). "A rich narrative of the Crafts, an enslaved couple who escaped from Georgia in 1848, with light-skinned Ellen disguised as a disabled white gentleman and William as her manservant, exploiting assumptions about race, class and disability to hide in public on their journey to the North, where they became famous abolitionists while evading bounty hunters."

Biography finalist: Larry McMurtry: A Life by Tracy Daugherty (St. Martin's Press)

Memoir or Autobiography:
Liliana's Invincible Summer: A Sister's Search for Justice by Cristina Rivera Garza (Hogarth). "A genre-bending account of the author's 20-year-old sister, murdered by a former boyfriend, that mixes memoir, feminist investigative journalism and poetic biography stitched together with a determination born of loss."

Memoir or Autobiography finalists: The Best Minds: A Story of Friendship, Madness, and the Tragedy of Good Intentions by Jonathan Rosen (Penguin Press) and The Country of the Blind: A Memoir at the End of Sight by Andrew Leland (Penguin Press)

Tripas: Poems by Brandon Som (Georgia Review Books). "A collection that deeply engages with the complexities of the poet's dual Mexican and Chinese heritage, highlighting the dignity of his family's working lives, creating community rather than conflict."

Poetry finalists: Information Desk: An Epic by Robyn Schiff (Penguin Books) and To 2040 by Jorie Graham (Copper Canyon Press)

General Nonfiction:
A Day in the Life of Abed Salama: Anatomy of a Jerusalem Tragedy by Nathan Thrall (Metropolitan Books). "A finely reported and intimate account of life under Israeli occupation of the West Bank, told through a portrait of a Palestinian father whose five-year-old son dies in a fiery school bus crash when Israeli and Palestinian rescue teams are delayed by security regulations."

General Nonfiction finalists: Cobalt Red: How the Blood of the Congo Powers Our Lives by Siddharth Kara (St. Martin's Press) and Fire Weather: A True Story from a Hotter World by John Vaillant (Knopf)

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Simon & Schuster Buys Dutch Publisher VBK

Simon & Schuster has bought VBK (Veen Bosch & Keuning), the largest publisher of adult and children's general-interest books in the Netherlands. The move marks S&S's first ownership of a foreign-language publisher and its first time owning a continental European publisher--and its first major move to expand internationally since it was bought by KKR and became a stand-alone company two years ago. The acquisition is subject to the regulatory review process required under Dutch law.

In an announcement to staff about the purchase, S&S president and CEO Jonathan Karp called VBK "a distinguished and venerable collection of imprints, headquartered in Utrecht and with offices in Amsterdam and Antwerp, that publishes many of the most popular and acclaimed Dutch writers, including Geert Mak, Sacha Bronwasser, Lucas Rijneveld, Murat Isik and Herman Koch. In joining with VBK, we believe that together we can grow the audience for Dutch language authors in the Netherlands, Belgium, and throughout the world."

VBK also publishes many international authors in translation, including Nicci French, Colleen Hoover, Stephen King, Sally Rooney, Tatiana de Rosnay, Jeff Kinney, Rachel Renée Russell, Haruki Murakami, Colson Whitehead, Jamie Oliver, and Glennon Doyle. In addition, VBK also operates direct-to-consumer and other publishing-related businesses, including Bookchoice, a subscription-based platform for e-books and audiobooks; Thinium, the largest audiobook producer in the Netherlands, which produces audiobooks for VBK and other companies; Van Dale, the largest publisher of Dutch dictionaries; AudioLab, its podcast production unit; and Boekenwereld, an e-commerce channel.

VBK CEO Geneviève Waldmann will join the S&S leadership team and report to Karp, who called her "a dynamic and innovative leader." VBK will operate as an autonomous division within S&S. He added that he and Waldmann "first began talking about a potential partnership last year at the Frankfurt Book Fair. Our conversation continued at the London Book Fair. During our talks together, we were struck by how similar our values and practices are as publishers. Our shared goal is to expand the audience for our authors and their books.... As the publishing industry becomes more international, we are grateful to be associated with such an outstanding company."

Beach House Books and More Opens in Sebring, Fla.

Beach House Books and More, which sells new and used books, hosted its grand opening on April 27, Independent Bookstore Day, at 3210 Physicians Way in Sebring, Fla.

In a recent Facebook post, the bookseller noted: "Thank you to all that came out for our Grand Opening on Saturday, April 27th to help celebrate National Independent Bookstore Day with us! Stop in this week, purchase your raffle tickets for Saturday's drawing at Noon for a chance to win a great gift basket or gift card and shop for your next great read. See you soon!"

After owner Georgeann McNatt Gosch retired as a library manager, she decided to act on her lifelong dream of opening a bookstore. The Highland News-Sun reported that the result is "a unique layout being refashioned from a former medical practice with a lobby that's been converted into a lounge and study area. The reception office is now an elaborate collection of classics, signed copies, rare books and collectibles." The store also features DVDs, CDs, vinyl records, and gift items. 

"So my husband and I together... have our own home library and we've always wanted to own our own bookstore," Gosch said. "So we started looking for property and found a couple of workable pieces of property. But this seemed to be the ideal location because it's situated on a corner."

She described the space as being perfect for a bookstore due to its location in the center of the county and in a position close to various schools for students to come by to do homework or receive tutoring. The property was purchased in December and prepared within the next month. 

Gosch's plans for Beach House include a book club along with other events to attract newcomers to the venue. Local authors will be invited in the future to give them more exposure.

Celebration of St. Mark's Bookshop and Bob Contant

Fans & friends of the late St. Mark's Bookshop in New York City are organizing a gathering in the back room of Kettle of Fish, 59 Christopher St., in the West Village, on Wednesday, June 5, 5:30-7:30 p.m., to celebrate the golden years of the store and raise a glass to one of its founders, bookseller Bob Contant, who died in November. Note: pizza while the supply lasts; guests responsible for their own drinks; Kettle of Fish is cash-only; no RSVP required.

Obituary Note: Jerome Rothenberg

Jerome Rothenberg, a poet, translator, and anthologist "whose efforts to bring English-language readers into contact with creative traditions far outside the Western establishment--a field he called ethnopoetics--had an enormous impact on world literature and made him a hero to rock musicians like Nick Cave, Jim Morrison and Warren Zevon," died April 21, the New York Times reported. He was 92.

Rothenberg presented his ethnopoetics concept in 1967 with the book Technicians of the Sacred: A Range of Poetries From Africa, America, Asia, Europe, and Oceania, a wide-ranging anthology that introduced readers to ancient Egyptian coronation events, Comanche peyote songs, and Gabonese death rites. 

He contended that such work "was just as complex and vibrant as the Western canon, if not more so," the Times wrote, noting that Rothenberg went on to deepen his argument in subsequent books, many of them anthologies in which he wove together different traditions--Jewish mysticism, American Indian, Dada--and then connected and contextualized them with extensive commentary.

Technicians of the Sacred found a place on college literature reading lists and has been reissued, with new material, in two later editions. It became a core text for poets and musicians looking to explore ritual and meaning beyond the conventions of their genres. The Doors lead singer Morrison loved the book so much that he was reportedly buried with a copy. When Zevon moved in with his future wife, Technicians of the Sacred was the only book he brought with him.

"For someone always looking for inspiration, they were an incredible resource," Cave said. "I could look and find ideas that worked beautifully in rock 'n' roll."

Rothenberg published several books of his own poetry, including Poland/1931 (1970), Khurbn (1989), and The Burning Babe (2005). He considered translation and anthologizing as creative acts in themselves, believing his anthologies were not an attempt to create a new canon, but were selections meant to highlight hidden connections among seemingly disparate works. He also insisted on performance as a frequent part of what he called "total translation," and late into his 80s he could be found onstage reading, often in venues far removed from the standard poetry recital. 

At his death, Rothenberg had more titles on the way. In June, Tzadik Records will release In the Shadow of a Mad King, a recording of his poems about Donald Trump. And in October, the University of California Press is publishing The Serpent and the Fire: Poetries of the Americas From Origins to Present, co-written with Javier Taboada.

Rachel Berchten, former UCP poetry editor and principal production editor, said, "Jerry gave us poetry from all over the world--the originals in diverse languages, over millennia--showing us continuities and disjunctions, traditions and experiments in a rich weaving together of thought, belief, culture, song, ritual, language itself."


Image of the Day: Hubbard Debuts at Parnassus

At Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tenn., Matthew Hubbard was in conversation with fellow Delacorte Press author Jennifer Lynn Alvarez for the launch of his debut novel, The Last Boyfriends Rules for Revenge.

Reese's May Book Club Pick: How to End a Love Story

How to End a Love Story by Yulin Kuang (Avon) is the May pick of Reese's Book Club. Reese Witherspoon called How to End a Love Story "a pitch-perfect combination of so many things we love: steamy romance, a growth journey, and characters clever enough to make us giggle out loud. We don't want to spoil anything, but we're dying to talk about Grant and Helen...."

Personnel Changes at Abrams

At Abrams:

Kyle Daileda has joined the company as senior publicist, Abrams ComicArts

Maddie Brock has joined the company as marketing assistant.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Tom Selleck on the Today Show

Tonight Show: Luis A. Miranda Jr., author of Relentless: My Story of the Latino Spirit That Is Transforming America (Hachette Books, $30, 9780306833229).

Daily Show: Lexi Freiman, author of The Book of Ayn (Catapult, $27, 9781646221929).

Today Show: Tom Selleck, co-author of You Never Know: A Memoir (Dey Street, $29.99, 9780062945761).

Tamron Hall: Tomi Adeyemi, author of Children of Anguish and Anarchy (Holt, $24.99, 9781250171016).

Also on Tamron Hall: Luke Russert, author of Look for Me There: Grieving My Father, Finding Myself (Harper Horizon, $19.99, 9780785291879).

The View: Bakari Sellers, author of The Moment: Thoughts on the Race Reckoning That Wasn't and How We All Can Move Forward Now (Amistad, $29.99, 9780063085022).

Sherri Shepherd Show: Tiffany Haddish, author of I Curse You with Joy (Diversion Books, $28.99, 9781635769531).

Tonight Show: Whoopi Goldberg, author of Bits and Pieces: My Mother, My Brother, and Me (Blackstone, $28.99, 9798200920235).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Jen Psaki, author of Say More: Lessons from Work, the White House, and the World (Scribner, $28.99, 9781668019856).

Movies: Sky's End

Antoine Fuqua (Michael) and his Hill District Media will develop and produce Sky's End, a film adaptation of Marc J. Gregson's bestselling debut YA dystopian novel, Deadline reported. The first book in a planned trilogy, Sky's End will be followed up by Among Serpents in early 2025. 

Kat Samick is producing the movie for Hill District Media, alongside Justin Bursch and Sam Levine. Bob Higgins will exec produce on behalf of Trustbridge Entertainment, which acquired all dramatic rights to the book from Peachtree Teen, an imprint of Peachtree Publishing Company.

Trustbridge's president Higgins said, "Hill District was at the top of our partner wish list. Antoine Fuqua has an unparalleled track record for telling stories with fascinating but flawed heroes, complex relationships, high stakes and, often, big action. It's a perfect match."

"The teams at Hill District Media and Trustbridge Entertainment are author focused, and I'm heartened that Marc will be involved in developing the book for the screen," said Farah Géhy, Peachtree's subsidiary rights director. "This collaboration will make for an amazing film."

Gregson added: "I genuinely cannot wait for readers to see the world of the Skylands--with its horrifying monsters, epic battles, and memorable characters--come to life on the big screen."

Books & Authors

Awards: Commonwealth Short Story Shortlist

Commonwealth Foundation Creatives has released a shortlist for the 2024 Commonwealth Short Story Prize. This year's shortlist of 23 writers, representing 13 Commonwealth countries, was chosen by the international judging panel from a record-breaking 7,359 submissions. Writers from Mauritius, Rwanda, and St. Kitts and Nevis feature for the first time.  

Regional winners, who each receive £2,500 (about $3,140), will be revealed May 29, with the overall £5,000 (about $6,280) winner named June 26. See the complete list of finalists here.

Chair of judges Ugandan-British author Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi commented: "This is a dream list for lovers of the short story form. You'll be amazed and thrilled, startled and shocked, and heartbroken and humbled in equal measure by the skill and talent, imagination and creativity."

Book Review

Review: A Thousand Times Before

A Thousand Times Before by Asha Thanki (Viking, $29 hardcover, 368p., 9780593654644, July 9, 2024)

Asha Thanki's powerful debut novel, A Thousand Times Before, weaves together a complex family saga with the 20th-century history of India and Pakistan. As the novel begins, Ayukta sits down with her wife, Nadya, to address the question of whether to have a child. She confesses she has avoided the conversation, and shares the reason why: the women in her family pass down a tapestry that gives each chosen recipient access to their ancestors' memories. Ayukta unspools the story of her grandmother Amla's life, then her mother Arni's, before she recounts her own story. In doing so, she connects their hardships, their heartbreaking losses, and their enduring courage to her present-day experiences.

The narrative delves into Amla's peaceful early life as an only child in Karachi, then her devastation when her mother travels to a family wedding in Delhi and is caught up in the riots preceding the 1947 Partition. Amla and her father soon flee Karachi, leaving behind Amla's bosom friend, a Muslim girl named Fiza. Arriving in Gujarat, they move into a house belonging to her mother's grandmother, and her father begins working for the local landowner. Later, Amla will witness a tragedy that leaves a deep mark on her, but her years in Gujarat also shape who she will become as a young woman, as she tries to access the memories stored in her mother's tapestry.

Thanki's narrative brims with sensory detail: the flavors of mithai (sweets) in Amla's father's shop; the taste of chaash (buttermilk); the vivid colors of saris and dupattas worn by women and girls. Thanki also writes evocatively of Amla's loneliness, her longing for Fiza, and the difficulty of bridging the gap caused by distance and new experiences. Eventually, Ayukta relates the story of her mother, Arni, the impulsive but talented second daughter of Amla and her husband. Arni inherits the tapestry and later immigrates to New York City as a student to build a life in a new, cold country far away from everything she has known. Ayukta speaks, too, of her own struggle to accept the tapestry and its gift, her deep love for the women she comes from, and the magic and burden of their memories.

Evocative, sweeping, and intimate, A Thousand Times Before explores Indian politics, the different ways to love a person, and the complexities of family: what we inherit, what we build for ourselves, and what we choose to keep. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Shelf Talker: Asha Thanki's luminous debut novel traces the multigenerational history of an Indian family through a tapestry that allows women to access their ancestors' memories.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. Haunting Adeline by H.D. Carlton
2. Twisted Love by Ana Huang
3. Vicious by L.J. Shen
4. Zodiac Academy 9: Restless Stars by Susanne Valenti
5. The Ritual: A Dark College Romance by Shantel Tessier
6. The Teacher by Freida McFadden
7. Hunting Adeline by H.D. Carlton
8. The Inmate by Freida McFadden
9. One by One by Freida McFadden
10. Wild Love by Elsie Silver

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