Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Shelf Awareness - r best adult books for 2017

You'd think it would be difficult to narrow down the year's best books. And it was. We promise, though, that no Shelf Awareness staffers were injured in the making of this list, so enjoy! (Click here to see our reviews in today's Shelf Awareness for Readers.)

A Horse Walks into a Bar by David Grossman (Knopf)
Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal (Morrow)
Exit West by Mohsin Ahmed (Riverhead)
Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan by Ruth Gilligan (Tin House)
Since I Laid My Burden Down by Brontez Purnell (Amethyst Editions/Feminist Press)
So Much Blue by Percivel Everett (Graywolf Press)
Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang (Lenny/Random House)
South Pole Station by Ashley Shelby (Picador)
Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo (Knopf)
The Bear & the Nightingale by Katherine Arden (Del Ray)
The Girl in Green by Derek B. Miller (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
The Marsh King's Daughter by Karen Dionne (Putnam)
The Year of the Comet by Sergel Levedev (New Vessel Press)
What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky by Lesley Nnneka Arimah (Riverhead)
White Tears by Hari Kunzru (Knopf)
A Really Big Lunch: Meditations on Food and Life from the Roving Gourmand by Jim Harrison (Grove Atlantic)
Ants Among Elephants: An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India by Sujatha Gidla (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet: Ghosts and Monsters of the Anthropocene by Anna Tsing, Heather Swanson, Elaine Gan and Nils Bubandt (Univ. of Minnesota Press)
Cuz: The Life and Times of Michael A. by Danielle Allen (Liveright)
Ghost of the Innocent Man: A True Story of Trial and Redemption by Benjamin Rachlin (Little, Brown)
Give a Girl a Knife by Amy Thielen (Clarkson Potter)
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay (Harper)
Insomniac City: New York, Oliver, and Me by Bill Hayes (Bloomsbury USA)
Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann (Doubleday)
No One Cares About Crazy People: The Chaos and Heartbreak of Mental Health in America by Ron Powers (Hachette)
Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood (Riverhead Books)
The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui (Abrams ComicArts)
The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story by Douglas Preston (Grand Central)
Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge (Bloomsbury Circus)
You Don't Have to Say You Love Me: A Memoir by Sherman Alexie (Little, Brown)

A story of emotional survival

I’ll have You Home by Christmas
by June Allen
June Allen’s estranged husband snatched the oldest of their three children in August 1969, while the family was living in Sydney. He left June a note to say he would be back later the same day for the other two children. Terrified of losing the other children and heartbroken at having to leave 7-year-old Philip behind, June raced to the airport in the clothes she, Patti and Rex were wearing and carrying only the blanket 4-year-old Rex was wrapped in. Her father in New Zealand paid for their air tickets and later that day they were back in Auckland.

    So begins a heart breaking account of June’s struggle to care for Patti and Rex and after a brief time with her father, to manage alone as a solo-parent, all the while trying to figure out how to get Philip back from Australia. Her book is a stark reminder that today’s social woes – homelessness, dysfunctional families, child poverty and poor mental health – are nothing new. They all existed back then, 50-odd years ago.

     However, Allen’s story highlights that then those issues were greatly stigmatised and there was very little aid for a young mother in dire need. There was no tenant protection and it appears to have been far too easy for her family to free themselves of June by committing her to a psychiatric hospital and her children to foster care. Eventually her former husband and his new partner tired of caring for Philip and he was reunited with his mother, Patti and Rex. Without any financial support from the children’s father, the early 1970s were a tough time for Allen and her little family. Life was harsh and they were often cold and hungry, inadequately clothed and resorting to extreme tactics to find somewhere safe to be together. And yet Allen never relented in her determination to create a dignified life for her family.

     I’ll Have You Home by Christmas is an unembroidered account of Allen’s hardships. It is bleak and disturbing and sad. Perhaps it will have you wishing you could have been there to help her and there will be rare comic moments that will let you laugh out loud. There may be times when you wish you could have given Allen and/or her family a good shake. Readers who have ever had to deal first hand with any of Allen’s hardship will sympathise with her, while those who have escaped such challenges may find this a somewhat frustrating read, but at the same time, I’ll Have You Home by Christmas is a tribute to Allen’s unwavering courage, resilience, resourcefulness and single-mindedness.

     It would be so easy to dismiss I’ll Have You Home by Christmas for its simple, slightly jumbled literary style and no-frills presentation. However, even the luckiest of readers, and I count myself as having had a fairly untroubled life, will surely ask themselves, as I did, How would I have coped in those conditions? so that in the end this book is an acclamation of love and a mother’s survival instinct; of sheer grit and truthfulness.

     As difficult as life still is for the under-privileged in 21st-century New Zealand society, I’ll Have You Home by Christmas is proof that some conditions at least have changed for the better.

Flaxflower Review by Carolyn McKenzie
Writer, freelance proofreader, copy editor, and translator from Italian to English.
Carolyn kindly offers accommodation at reasonable ratesfor FlaxFlower writers
in Thames (Waikato) and Ventimiglia Alta (Liguria, Italy ).
Title: I’ll Have You Home by Christmas.  A story of emotional survival
Author: June Allen
Publisher: Kwizzel Publishing
ISBN: ISBN 978 0 473 388522; large print ISBN 978 0 473 396275
RRP: $ $32.00; large print $34.50
Available: McLeod’s Rotorua, selected Paper Plus stores, Wheelers, Unity Books Wellington, All Books, and the Publisher

The Roundup with PW

 Harassment Probe Hits Audible: Two executives departed Amazon’s Audible unit last week in the midst of a company investigation into workplace harassment.

Sean Spicer Gets a Book Deal: Regnery will publish the former Trump White House press secretary's book about his “turbulent tenure” next summer.

'Cat Person' Breaks Records: A much-talked-about short story published by the 'New Yorker' is already one of its most-read overall pieces.

Early Sonnets by Walter Benjamin: One of the great thinkers of the 20th Century, while heartbroken, turned to poetry, which has finally been translated into English.

My Editor Was Black: Debut author Naima Coster on working with Morgan Parker, the whiteness of publishing, and literary self-determination.

Off the Shelf

December 12, 2017
Off the Shelf Staff

The 10 Most Popular Lists on Off the Shelf in 2017
Books on books on books. It was a great year for reading, and we wrote lists of so many outstanding books this year. As much time as we spend talking about our favorites, we’re really curious about your favorites. So we did a little research. Here are the 10 most popular books lists on Off the Shelf in 2017.

WORDS - Douglas McLennan

Is The Internet Making Us Into Worse Writers?
     from The Economist
The 25 Most-Read New Yorker Stories Of 2017
     from The New Yorker
What Translators Do For Us
     from New York Review of Books


in the

A.J. Finn


Intricate, atmospheric, and utterly spellbinding, The Woman in the Window is one of the most eagerly anticipated literary debuts of the decade — a Rear Window expertly and thrillingly re-imagined for our time, with comparisons being drawn to major publishing events like Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train.

The most widely acquired novel of all time prior to publication, The Woman in the Window has been sold in 38 territories around the world, and Fox 2000, the makers of Life of Pi and Hidden Figures, pre-empted the film rights, with Oscar winner Scott Rudin producing and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tracy Letts writing the script.

What’s behind all the excitement?  A gripping psychological thriller about an agoraphobic woman who believes she has witnessed a horrible crime in a neighbouring house, combined with one of the most appealing and intelligent heroines in recent fiction, laced with stunning turnarounds, and brimming with allusions to classic suspense films.  And who’s the writer behind it?  A top young book editor who studied mystery and suspense fiction at Oxford University, who now publishes the work of Agatha Christie, and whose own writing is crafted in homage to the classics from Hitchcock and Highsmith. 

A Different Kind of Thriller

At its heart, The Woman in the Window is a compulsively readable thriller that will captivate a vast audience.  Served up in 100 bite-sized chapters, its propulsive narrative is spring-loaded with startling twists and red herrings.  Designed to adjust the reader to the rhythms of a life spent in a stringently controlled environment, it then explosively disrupts that life before drawing to its shocking, unsettling, and profoundly satisfying conclusion.

Yet Finn’s first book also offers the reader a richer and more complex experience than most suspense fiction, as one might expect from a writer immersed in mystery books since childhood — who also happens to have focused on suspense fiction as both a scholar and a publishing professional.  Finn’s story is informed as well by personal experience battling incorrectly diagnosed bipolar disorder for more than fifteen years.

The Woman in the Window introduces readers to 38-year-old Anna Fox, once a respected child psychologist, now a shut-in who hasn’t set foot outside her New York City townhouse for almost a year.  She lives alone, separated from her husband and their young daughter.  As a housebound recluse, she spends her days self-medicating, watching old movies, and spying on her neighbours, whom she can often glimpse through their windows.  Anna takes a particular interest in a new family that has just moved into another townhouse opposite her own across a small park.

 Then she witnesses what appears to be a horrific incident in their living room.  Unable to leave her house to investigate, she is equally unable to convince the police or anyone else to believe her. Drinking too much and taking a number of powerful prescription medications, Anna begins to wonder if she has lost her mind, or if someone is trying to make her believe that she has.

For all that, Anna Fox is remarkably strong, independent, and self-reliant.  ‘So often,’ Finn comments, ‘in suspense fiction, female characters — even those with starring roles — spend a lot of time fretting about men, or relying upon men, or generally orbiting men.  This, I think, is one of the reasons why Lisbeth Salander of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Amy Dunne of Gone Girl made such an impact: Like many women, they’re more than a match for the men around them.  The heroine of my novel is a mess, and a mess largely of her own making; but I’ll say this for her: She pursues an inquiry, unravels a mystery, and tests her limits, all without the help of a man, or indeed anyone.  She might not be as crusading as Salander or as controlling as Amy Dunne, yet she’s no damsel in distress.’

 Just remember: It isn’t paranoia if it’s really happening.

A. J. Finn has written for numerous publications, including the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, and the Times Literary Supplement (UK).  A native of New York, Finn lived in England for ten years before returning to New York City.

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn
Published: 15 January 2018
Imprint: HarperCollins
Format: Paperback; RRP: $35; ISBN: 9780008234164

Latest from The Bookseller

The decline in independent bookshop numbers witnessed over the last decade could finally be halting, the Booksellers Association has revealed.
Tina Turner
Tina Turner has signed a six-figure deal with Century to publish her autobiography.
John Boyne
Novelist and short story writer John Boyne has claimed "women are better novelists than men". 
Lynda La Plante
Bonnier Zaffre has announced it is expanding into the US market, starting by directly publishing brand authors Wilbur Smith and Lynda La Plante into North America.
Quentin Blake
Quentin Blake and Neil Gaiman were among the authors and illustrators who helped to raise almost £130,000 for House of Illustration.
Three psychological thrillers were the most-bought fiction iBooks in 2017.

Melanie Reid
4th Estate will publish the "hopeful, humorous and moving" memoir from the Times columnist Melanie Reid.
Kazuo Ishiguro
Faber is publishing Kazuo Ishiguro's Nobel Lecture which the acclaimed writer used to issue a rallying call to the literary world for open mindedness and diversity.
Dr Sara Seager
4th Estate will publish astronomer and planetary scientist Dr Sara Seager’s “highly original” grief memoir following a reported seven-figure deal in the US.
Bookouture has signed debut author Dee MacDonald in a two-book deal.

Publishers Lunch

Today's Meal

New York Times Book Review editor Jennifer Ildiko Szalai will move over to serve as nonfiction book critic starting in January, taking over as Jennifer Senior moves back to long-form journalism for the paper. As books editor Pamela Paul writes, "Sometimes, you search for the ideal candidate for a position far and wide, and find that the best one is sitting right across from you." She adds, "Jennifer is one of the most stylish, incisive, original writers on books, politics and culture today. A Canadian native who grew up between cultures – her father was Hungarian and her mother is from the Philippines – Jennifer is accustomed to negotiating between different viewpoints; she is an independent thinker with a supple, open mind attuned to books on many subjects – politics, foreign policy, government, social sciences, economics, science, technology, business and the arts." For the past four years Szalai had edited reviews, Bookends, and various columnists.

People, Etc.

At Chronicle Books, Tessa Ingersoll has been promoted to associate director of international sales. Lynda Zuber Sassi been appointed to director of international and subsidiary rights sales.

Linda Iarrera is joining McGill-Queen's University Press as sales manager. Previously she was manager of institutional sales for US academic library accounts at Wiley.

Mark Hillesheim left his position recently as national account manager for Legato. He was the final dedicated Legato employee, and with his departure that distribution unit is formally finished. Following Ingram’s acquisition of the Perseus distribution companies in 2016, Legato and its clients have been fully integrated into PGW. Legato was founded as an "affiliate" of PGW and had used its systems.

Simon & Schuster and ceo Carolyn Reidy held an early 90th birthday party on Monday night for Mary Higgins Clark, "forever the first lady of Simon & Schuster." Her actual birthday is December 24 and S&S staff gave her a special "advent calendar" featuring all of her books from over the years to count down to the occasion. As Reidy noted, birthday parties for authors are rare events, but "when it comes to authors, there's absolutely nobody like Mary Higgins Clark....We are fortunate and grateful to be able celebrate one of the best Christmas gifts a publisher could ever receive." Clark called it "the happiest of relationships," noting that S&S acquired Where Are The Children? for publication in 1975 when "two other publishers turned it down without a comment." (The acquiring editor was Phyllis Grann, who left S&S before the book was published. She
told the AP previously, "I was allowed to buy anything for $3,000 or under without going through contortions.")

The Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas has made available online an extensive digital archive of Gabriel García Márquez's papers. Comprising approximately 27,500 items, it includes manuscript drafts of published and unpublished works, research material, photographs, scrapbooks, correspondence, clippings, notebooks, screenplays, printed material, ephemera, and an audio recording of García Márquez's acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1982. The Center indicates that the Marquez materials are among their "most frequently circulated collections."

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Latest from The Bookseller

Fresh figures have shown the scale of library closures in Great Britain continues unabated, with 105 closed in the UK last year.
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls
Blackwell’s has named its Book of the Year as the "inspirational" Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls (Particular Books) by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo.
Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen
Gill Books has struck a six-figure two-book deal with journalists Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen to continue their series about stereotypical Irish girl Aisling, hailed as Ireland's answer to Bridget Jones. 
Meghan Markle
Andrew Morton is to pen an in-depth biography on Meghan Markle, who he calls a "dramatic contrast to the blushing, coy royal brides of recent history".
Mel Giedroyc
Television presenter Mel Giedroyc will chair the BBC National Short Story Award’s judging panel.
Wiley saw a year-on-year revenue increase of 6% (3% at constant currency) in the second quarter to end October 2017, at $452m.

Mike Doodson
A digital marketing manager has won the Amazon Christmas Writing Competition for his tale of a greedy squirrel who learns compassion from "three wise trees".
Michael Lynton
Michael Lynton, chairman of messaging app Snapchat, and a former chair and c.e.o. of Sony Entertainment, has been appointed to the Pearson board of directors. 
Hannah Pearl
Ruby Fiction, a new imprint of women's fiction publisher Choc Lit, has signed a three-book deal with Hannah Pearl, last week's winner of the #HeatSeeker Short Story Writing Competition.
Pocket guidebook publisher, Do Books, has launched an audio partnership with Penguin Random House.
Penguin Random House has inked a deal to publish The New Female Tribes which "explodes" gender stereotypes and explores the role of women in advertising.