Saturday, May 8, 2021

Library Journal's Virtual Day of Dialog - A Resounding Success

Library Journal’s annual Day of Dialog is always a feast for the senses for librarians and book lovers everywhere. This is the second year that it has been presented in a virtual format and I’m shocked to admit this but, except for the joy of visiting New York and Chicago with my traveling buddy Maryellen Woodside, I love seeing my favorite authors on Zoom. It feels as if they are right there in the room with you instead of just a speck on a stage a football field’s length away.

Readers beware! There is a treasure trove of exciting new fiction heading your way in the fall, from debut novels to works from authors you already know and love. Here is just a small sample from the morning’s first panel on literary fiction.

Amor Towles, who wrote one of my favorite novels of all time, “A Gentleman in Moscow,” is back with “The Lincon Highway.” Where “Gentleman…” explored a Text, whiteboard

Description automatically generatedlarge life in a very closed space, Towles says that his new book does the opposite, following eighteen-year-old Emmett Watson, recently released from a Kansas work farm for wayward boys, and two of his cronies, as they embark on a ten-day odyssey from the Midwest to New York City.

Do you remember “The Reader” from German author Bernhard Schlink? It was the subject of every book discussion group in the country and was developed into a feature film. After many years Schlink returns with “Olga,” an orphan in turn-of-the-century Prussia. Though raised by a down at heel grandmother, Olga aspires to more, falling in love with a young man from another class, working to become a teacher, yet doomed by the mores of the time to live vicariously through her lover’s global adventures.

Florida writer Lauren Groff, master of the short story, and National Book Award Text

Description automatically generatednominee for her brilliant examination of marriage in “Fates and Furies,” has taken a turn toward the historical with “Matrix,” the story of a young woman expelled from the court of Eleanor of Aquitaine because she’s too “rough.” But the seventeen-year-old Marie de France, now in England serving as the matron of a Benedictine Abbey, channels all her thwarted desires into a zealous relationship with her sisters and her God.

Author Margaret Verble make me think I might even be interested in the deep, dark history of Nashville after describing her new novel with one of the best titles of the day. “When Two Feathers Fell from the Sky” introduces Two Feathers, a Cherokee native horse woman who is sent from Oklahoma to work at the Glendale Park Zoo in Nashville where she is part of a dare-devil act, diving on her horse into a pool of water. It’s 1926 and prejudices run high between the townspeople and the zoo workers. How Two Feathers navigates this world will be revealing.

Say You’re One of Them” was a well-reviewed short story collection from Nigerian A picture containing text

Description automatically generatedwriter Uwem Akpan and his debut novel sounds like a winner for any book nerd. “New York, My Village” is apparently a snarky send-up of the publishing industry that, who knows, may reflect Mr. Akpan’s own interactions with that lofty world. If that’s the case, it seems he has overcome the hurdles because this is billed as a brilliant, comedic satire about a Nigerian editor putting together a collection of short stories about the Biafran War while dealing with the smug, self-absorbed, cluelessness of the New Yorkers with whom he’s working. I can’t wait to get my hands on this one.

In my next post I will treat you to the gist of two inciteful interviews conducted by fiction editor at Library Journal, Barbara Hoffert, with the joyful writer Anthony Doerr and the bad boy trying to redeem himself, Jonathan Franzen.

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