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Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Armchair BEA: Upcoming Titles
If I were at BEA this week, I'd have my eye on a few titles. Last year, I thought I was conscientious and only took books I intended to read. I didn't read most of them. I've also clarified my reading goals much better this year. I rarely dabble in children's, young adult or popular fiction. If I were going this year, I'd keep the list to no more than ten. I also learned last year to pay attention to the titles picked for BEA Editor's Buzz (many of which I've included below) because some of my favorite reads were featured there last year.
1. The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta
Tom Perrotta might be my favorite author (it's so hard to choose!), and I already featured his upcoming novel on Waiting on Wednesday, but I'm still eagerly awaiting it (and hoping a copy just might find its way into my hands before it's published in August.)
2. The Art of Fielding by Chard Harbach
I love a debut novel, and this one has everyone buzzing, including Jonathan Franzen, who said "first novels this complete and consuming come along very, very seldom." Yes, it's about baseball, which holds a special place in my heart after I interned in the Baseball Hall of Fame's Research Library a few summers ago. Really, this novel sounds right up my alley. It's set on a Midwestern college campus (hello, awesome new job I can't wait to start!), involves sports, and "upends the lives of five people" after "a routine throw goes disastrously off course." I adore interconnecting narratives. Little Brown will publish The Art of Fielding on September 7, 2011. (BEA Editor's Buzz pick)
3. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Here's another debut novel getting tons of great buzz, including Tea Obreht, who arguably wrote the most buzzed about debut novel of the year thus far. Obreht called it "a riveting debut. [It] pulls you into a world as dark as it is dazzling, fully-realized but still something out of a dream. You will not want to leave it." It sounds like just the kind of book I want to know very little about until I turn the first page and discover its world. If you do want to know more, you can watch the book trailer. Doubleday will publish The Night Circus on September 13, 2011. (BEA Editor's Buzz pick)
4. Running the Rift by Naomi Benaron
Running the Rift was the 2010 winner of the Bellweather Prize, a wonderful prize (founded by Barbara Kingsolver) for an unpublished manuscript that addresses issues of social justice. Kingsovler said Running the Rift "engages the reader with complex political questions about ethnic animosity in Rwanda and so many other issues relevant to North American readers." Algonquin will publish Running the Rift on January 17, 2012. (BEA Editor's Buzz pick, but I discovered it on the Algonquin Books blog first.)
5. Birds of Paradise by Diana Abu-Jaber
I've intended to read Diana Abu-Jaber for years, and this may finally be the book that nags me into doing so. It's set in Miami, a city I'm absolutely fascinated with despite never having traveled there. It's published by Norton, a publisher I'm increasingly enamored with and will talk about more on Thursday. Here's how the publisher describes it: "Avis and Brian Muir are still haunted by the disappearance of their ineffably beautiful daughter, Felice, who ran away when she was thirteen. Now, after five years of modeling tattoos, skateboarding, clubbing, and sleeping in a squat house or on th beach, Felice is about to turn eighteen. Her family will each be forced to confront their anguish, loss, and sense of betrayal. Meanwhile, Felice must reckon with the guilty secret that drove her away, and must face her fear of losing her family and her sense of self forever." Norton will publish Birds of Paradise on September 6, 2011. (BEA Editor's Buzz pick)
6. We the Animals by Justin Torres
The last of my debut novel picks, this one comes with the praise of Michael Cunningham, Marilynne Robinson and Paul Harding. That combination of names for a debut writer instantly screams Iowa Writer's Workshop to me (did I mention I'm moving to Iowa next week?!), and yes, he's an alumnus. Even more intriguing? This novel comes in at only 144 pages, and I am inexplicably drawn to short, powerful novels. I'll be standing in line for this one. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will publish We the Animals on September 1, 2011.
7. The Forgotten Waltz by Anne Enright
Anne Enright's last novel, The Gathering won the Booker Prize and was longlisted for the Orange Prize. She's a contemporary fiction legend, and I haven't read any of her novels. It came out in the UK in April, and I'm eagerly awaiting its U.S. publication in October. It's set in suburban Dublin in the late 2000's, and I cannot wait to get my hands on it. I won't be surprised if it pops up on the Booker longlist this summer either. Norton will publish The Forgotten Waltz on October 3, 2011.
8. Blueprints for Building Better Girls by Elissa Schappell
I read Use Me by Elissa Schappell in college and loved it. It was actually a book I forgot about until I heard about this collection of stories. I adored Use Me, even if I remember few of the details; I remember the emotions I felt reading it, which is pretty amazing. I'm not a huge fan of short stories, but I'll read them from authors I adore, and Scahppell certainly qualifies. Also, how amazing is that title? With pre-release buzz coming from Tom Perrotta, Elizabeth Strout and Karen Russell, I'm triply sold. Simon and Schuster will publish Blueprints for Building Better Girls on September 6, 2011.
9. Zone One by Colson Whitehead
The theme of this post may increasingly be 'authors I've intended to read for years and never have are coming out with new books.' Add Colson Whitehead to that list. I want to be more of a genre fiction reader, and when literary fiction authors experiment with genre, I'm first in line to read beautiful writing and amazing originality. Zone One is being billed as a post-apocalyptic horror novel about a pandemic that devastated the globe. Doubleday will publish Zone One on October 18, 2011.
10. Contents May Have Shifted by Pamela Houston
Contents May Have Shifted is by a new-to-me author, Pamela Houston. I discovered it when reading the latest W.W. Norton catalog, which always has me adding almost every novel they publish to my wishlist. I'm a sucker for literary novels about traveling, and this one sounds funny too.
Now tell me...what titles would you pick up if you were at BEA this week?
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