Saturday, May 28, 2016

More Forthcoming Treats from Book Expo

Product DetailsTwo debut authors and two seasoned veterans shared the big stage in the afternoon at Library Journal's Day of Dialog, and I'm especially excited about the novels from the newbies.

I wasn't able to snap up a copy of Emma Cline's "The Girls," but will be watching for it. Those of you who were riveted by the publicity surrounding the Charles Manson murders will recognize the time and place of Cline's book, northern California, late '60's, a novel which Cline remarks is not so much about the murders themselves as it is about the way in which na├»ve young women, desperately wanting to fit in, to be included, can be mesmerized by the tremendous power of evil. Published by the wonderful Bill Clegg ("Did you Ever Have a Family"), and already optioned for a film, the 26-year-old, Cline is on her way. To read more see this interview:

Product DetailsThe beautiful, passionate, Nicole Dennis-Benn, Jamaican-born, Cornell-educated writer, was there every time I turned around at Book Expo. Her credentials are impressive, and the buzz on her first novel, "Here Comes the Sun," is hot. I DID manage to get a copy and will be offering it as a giveaway the moment I finish it.

The book revolves around a major corporation that buys up the much sought after Jamaican waterfront property to build oases of opulence and indulgence for tourists, without giving a thought to the native population who once worked their own land. Jamaicans are supposed to consider themselves fortunate to be able to smile ingratiatingly while they man the phones, clean the rooms, and serve the food, for the foreigners who deign to fly in for a week of R and R and a chance to get on "Jamaican time, mon."

One senses that this will be a very personal, difficult novel to read based on the fact that Dennis-Benn broke down in sincere, deep sobs at one point during her talk with librarians at a private luncheon. She was able to escape to a better life here in the states but what about those who aren't so fortunate? That's who this book is about.

And what can I say about Colson Whitehead? His writing defies cataloging. A wunderkind in the literary world and too darn handsome (can I say that? Is it sexist?), his work has come up on the short list for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle awards ("John Henry Days"). My personal favorite was "Sag Harbor," and his last one was the non-fiction look at the world poker championship in Las Vegas, "The Noble Hustle."

Product DetailsBut coming later this summer is the novel he's been thinking about, he told us, for the last twenty years. "The Underground Railroad," mixes the facts gleaned from slave narratives complied in the 1930's by the WPA with Whitehead's stab at magical realism, in which the underground railroad is not just a turn of phrase but an actual railroad that runs underground. Readers follow Cora and Caesar as they navigate the railroad from a plantation in Georgia north to freedom and learn the dark history of America's dependence upon the economics of slavery along the way. I'm told it's a must read and yes, I'll be sharing my copy.

And that's not all! Chris Cleave, Amor Towles, and Jodi Picoult, still to come, along with my reviews of Louise Erdrich's "LaRose," and the quirky new "Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper."

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