Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Day of Dialog - The Afternoon

Product DetailsAfter the lunch break at Library Journal's Day of Dialog, which was held concurrent with the 2017 Book Expo festival in New York City, the big panelists came out to play. Besides librarian Nancy Pearl and debut author Brendan Mathews who I wrote about yesterday, we also heard from the lovely Tayari Jones whose splendid 2012 novel "Silver Sparrow" pleased readers and reviewers alike. http://readaroundtheworld-sallyb.blogspot.com/2012/01/oh-what-tangled-webs-we-weave.html.
Jones is back with another insightful book about relationships tested to the breaking point with "An American Marriage," the story of a husband falsely accused and sentenced to prison for a crime he didn't commit and a wife asked to wait for the uncertainty of his return. Though he's eventually exonerated, will too much water have passed under that bridge? How long does it take for love to starve? We'll have to wait until February to find out. Watch for it.

Another returning author was Gabrielle Zevin who pleased us mightily with "The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry." http://bit.ly/1x1Eixn Zevin is a feisty, funny raconteur and her fiction reflects this. But on the Day of Dialog she was deeply serious when speaking about her new novel loosely based on a Monica Lewinsky-type character, a smart young woman, a political addict, who makes the mistake of falling for the congressman for whom she's working. I've already had the pleasure of reading "Young Jane Young" and I'll tell you, it really prodded me to see myself in a new and unflattering light.

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Zevin spoke eloquently about the nasty habit of slut shaming and about how feminism so often fails when we women fail to protect our own. How is it that the politician always get to walk away from these sexual encounters unscathed while the woman involved is often ruined for life? If you believe that "living well is the best revenge" then you're going to enjoy Zevin's new novel. I did and will be reviewing it soon.

Barbara Hoffert, my editor at Library Journal, told the crowd that she is "messianic about books in translation." I laughed out loud because it's oh, so true. I love her passion for works from other countries and I love that she shares so many with me.
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I've added several of the featured books to my "must read" list including "Three Floors Up" by Israeli novelist Eshkol Nevo. Set in an upscale Tel Aviv apartment building Eshkol creates a microcosm of a splintering Israeli society through the lives of three families on three floors.

Europa Books, which probably produces the most beautiful covers in the publishing world, had two new titles that immediately got my heart pounding. Nicola Langoia, according to Europa, is the new Elena Ferrante! Need I say more? Her latest novel, "Ferocity," is a literary thriller about a family of morally corrupt property developers in southern Italy.

Product DetailsAnd then there's the sweet sounding love story that centers around "The Nakano Thrift Shop," where one man's trash is another man's treasure and found objects acquire deep meaning to new owners. Hiromi Kawakami is the author and this novel is already available for purchase on Amazon. Not sure if it'll be in your libraries yet but ask for it.

From Germany's Jenny Erpenbeck comes "Go, Went, Gone," which is billed as a scathing indictment of western reaction to the refugee crisis. (though I'd say Germany has nothing to be ashamed of!) It sounds like a tough one, in which a retired classics professor whose wife has just died takes an interest in an African refugee family he spots on the street and then becomes wrapped up in their lives. The question is probably who changes whom the most.

And now, because I may be taking up too much of your reading time, I'll just say that the final panel of the day was made up of authors who are publishing their sophomore efforts after big, startling first novels. Look for Chloe Benjamin's "The Immortalists" about siblings who know when they are each going to die and how they live with that knowledge. Celeste Ng writes a fictional take on her upbringing in Shaker Heights, Ohio, with the big issues of race/class tension and interracial adoption in "Little Fires Everywhere."

Marie Benedict follows "Einstein's Wife" with "Carnegie's Maid," set in 1800's Pittsburgh and based upon an actual family member of Benedict's large Irish clan who lived and worked in what's now one of the Carnegie museums. Georgia's Eleanor Henderson spoke about her new novel, "The Twelve Mile Straight," which takes place in the 1930's Jim Crow south where a young woman gives birth to twins, one white and one black. You can imagine the trauma that ensues. Sounds like a future book discussion pick for sure.

I hope this helps you think about what you should purchase for your libraries this fall and what titles you might want to personally place on hold before the world finds out about them. There's plenty to be excited about and maybe you'll think about joining the librarians at next year's Book Expo in New York.  


Lesa said...

What you really couldn't appreciate online was the emotion when Khzir Khan walked into the room, and 240 librarians gave him a standing ovation. Just wonderful.

Sallyb said...

I agree. I saw it but it wasn't the same. What a gracious man.