Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Boswell's Best Looks at Fiction, Including Hosseini, Wallace, Scalzi, Tartellin, and Cheng, but Not Nesbo. Explanation Below.

Here's some fiction titles, some of them brand new, others a few weeks old, in Boswell's Best. All are 20% off, at least through next Monday.

"People who love Old Man's War are going to love this," said our buyer Jason, regarding John Scalzi's new novel, The Human Division (Tor). Publishers Weekly called this "an invigorating and morally complex interstellar thriller with heart." And for folks who already know they love Scalzi, I'd like to note that he will be visiting A Room of One's Own this Thursday, May 23, at 4 pm. We hosted a great event with him last year for Redshirts. For at least some of you, I think it's worth taking a vacation day to see him. Tell Sandi and friends we sent you!

Who am I kidding? By far the most high profile release of the week is And the Mountains Echoed (Riverhead), by Khaled Hosseini. While his first novel explored the father/son bond, and #2 tackled mothers and daughters, the newest is a story about siblings Pari and Abdullah, with Hosseini exploring the many ways in which family members love, wound, betray, honor, and sacrifice for one another. Michiko Kakutani in The New York Times called And the Mountains Echoed "his most assured and emotionally gripping story yet, more fluent and ambitious than The Kite Runner, more narratively complex than A Thousand Splendid Suns," and that ain't cole slaw.

Atria's been talking up Golden Boy (Atria), the first novel by Abigail Tartelin in a big way, and that led to a read and recommendation from Halley. She writes "Max is an outgoing, popular, and athletic fifteen-year-old son of a candidate for Parliament. Hidden underneath the perfect child facade is the fact that Max was born intersex, neither truly male or female. In a tragic turn, Max is betrayed and hurt by one of his childhood friends, which takes the book to even darker territory. The story broke my heart on numerous occasions, but even when I thought that I could go no further I kept on picking up the book for more." Jeanne Thornton in the Austin Chronicle also likes the novel, calling it "blissfully mainstream."

Stacie asked me if I'd tried reading Southern Cross the Dog (Ecco), by Bill Cheng, as she's become a huge fan. The New York Times story piqued a lot of folks interest, interviewing Southern booksellers who noted that Cheng nailed the voice of the area. The author was a student of Nathan Englander, who passed the book to Nicole Aragi. The Memphis Commercial Appeal is similarly fascinated that the author did not step foot in Mississippi before writing the book. When folks write books set in Wisconsin without having visited before (or in one case, having been here for just a few weeks), we yawn and say, "What else is new?" Stacie's rec says "Just trust me: open to page one and start reading. It only becomes more hypnotic as each page is turned. Wow."

One guy who has probably been to Mississippi is Daniel Wallace, whose new novel is The Kings and Queens of Roam (Touchstone), though you may know him from his first novel, Big Fish. It's the story of two sisters, their dark legacy, and the magical town that entwines them. Recs come from Hannah Tinti, Jill McCorkle, and Ron Rash, who says "the most impressive magic is his understanding of the human heart's depths and vagaries." A lot of folks call it fairy tale-ish. David Klein writes in Indy Week of Raleigh/Cary/Durham/Chapel Hill, "It's a testament to Wallace's skill at what one character calls 'maintaining fictions' that we are so immersed—or, in psychologist Bruno Bettelheim's locution, enchanted—by the tale he's spinning that we don't blink an eye at the idea of a lovelorn goat."

And finally, I asked Jason what happened to our the new Jo Nesbo novel, The Redeemer. Funny I should ask! Jason learned that our new release shipment was put on the wrong truck. They caught it, but that led to a one day delay. We'll have Nesbo and the other new titles from Random House's divisions and distributees tomorrow. 

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