Tuesday, October 15, 2013

New Releases from Jayne Anne Phillips, Scott Turow, Elizabeth George, Lee Smith, and yes, Eleanor Catton, the Man Booker Prize Winner.

Congrats to Eleanor Catton, author of The Luminaries from Little, Brown, this year's Man Booker Prize winner. Mike Fischer reviews the book in next Sunday's Journal Sentinel, posted early here. He writes that the novel is "An 848-page dish so fresh that one continues to gorge, long past being crammed full of goodness. Nearly impossible to put down, it's easily the best novel I've read this year. The Man Booker judges feel the same way, having just given her this year's prize. How unusual that the book won the award on its American on-sale date. Has that ever happened before with a major award?

When I looked at the titles Jason was featuring in hardcover fiction, one of the things I noticed was how many of them have events at Andersons in Naperville. Tomorrow (October 16) you can see Jayne Ann Phillips, author of Quiet Dell (she moved to Scribner). The story actually takes place in the 1930s, and concerns a con man who murders a family, and the intrepid journalist (are all intrepid journalists women?) who tries to unlock the story's secrets. It's a novel that's based on a true story, and Phillips should get a lot of attention for her work, considering her past laurels, including Lark and Termite, which we read in our in-store lit group. Here's a great interview with NPR.

Scott Turow is back, with another literary thriller called Identical. (Grand Central, who for a long time published him in paperback) That means twins of course, with one running for mayor and the other just released from prison. Entertainment Weekly reviews it here. And here's Scott Turow in the NYT discussing his favorite and not-so-favorite writers. He also apologizes for dissing Patti Smith. It turns out that the National Book Award did not turn into a celebrity circus. Just Kids really was amazing. Oh, and he's at Andersons on October 19.

Elizabeth George also has a new release, and it's called Just One Evil Act. (Now at Dutton) It's an Inspector Lynley novel, "a gripping child-in-danger story that tests Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers like never before." Once again, I never know whether to put quote marks around publisher copy. Is it proper edit-iquette to write "some anonymous person said..." Moira Macdonald is hardly anonymous, and reviews the book in the Seattle Times (the author is a local), noting "You finish the book longing for the next installment to arrive swiftly, so as to hear Lynley and Havers’ voices again." And yes, she's at Anderson's on October 22.

And finally, one new book whose tour is not coming too far north of the Mason Dixon Line. It's the new novel by Lee Smith, Guests on Earth. (Algonquin, though I still think of her as one of the stable of Putnam writers under the late editor Faith Sale). Smith, like Phillips, takes a historical moment and fleshes it out into a novel, in this case a tragic fire in a mental hospital that rocked Asheville in the 1940s, killing among others, Zelda Fitzgerald. It's a story filled with unanswered questions, and Smith tries to answer them using a fictional character named Evelina Toussaint. To keep this Chicago centered, I found a staff rec from Linda Bubon at Women and Children First. "What a lovely, engaging novel!" she cheered. And on the journalistic front, Kim Church in the Raleigh News and Observer loves the "captivating, inimitable voice."

So I started out making the theme Chicago-area booksellers, but I realized that another recurring motif was author musical chairs. I always pride myself on knowing who is published by whom, but I've got to admit I might start needing a program.

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