The Returned by Jason Mott, about loved ones coming back from the dead, is Harlequin’s upcoming megabook (long lines snaked at Mott’s Friday signing) and the sentiment of “returning” could be the buzzword of this year’s BEA, with well-known names back with books, some of them after years of silence, everyone hoping for a repeat blockbuster.
Jayne Anne Phillips has a new book, Quiet Dell (Scribner), a historical, which Linda Bubon of the 34-year-old bookstore Women & Children First, in Chicago, is looking forward to reading. “It’s been a while,” Bubon said, “so I’m excited.” She’s also anxious to read Someone (FSG) by Alice McDermott, the author whose name is associated with several prizes in literature. Then there’s Amy Tan, after a hiatus of eight years. Her novel The Valley of Amazement (Ecco) is billed as an epic mapping of “the lives of women connected by blood and history.”
Rebekah Farley, a bookseller from Farley’s Books in New Hope, Pa., gave a yelp of happiness when she picked up Marisha Pessl’s literary thriller, Night Film (Random House). She’s just reading Pessl’s bestselling debut, Calamity Physics, and so is “thrilled” that there’s another one in the wings. Andre Dubus III is back to fiction (after Townie) with Dirty Love (Norton), set in his hood on the coast north of Boston. David Mallman, a bookseller at Books & Co, Oconomowoc, Wis., said about Dubus: “I love the way he writes. It’s three stories and a novella, which is different for him. The early reads [other booksellers who’ve read it already] have been amazing.”
Bob Shacochis has a novel, his first fiction in 20 years, The Woman Who Lost Her Soul (Atlantic Monthly Press), a doorstopper of a novel at 700 pages, which attempts to explain the origins of conflict between East and West in the second half of the 20th century. Jim Harrison’s new book is his 36th, Brown Dog (Grove), a collection of novellas set in the American West.
Donna Tartt joked at the Little, Brown lunch about how long it took her to write a book. It’s been over 10 years since her last, and this novel, The Goldfinch, is her first with Little, Brown. Michael Pietsch, always enthusiastic, said working on Tartt’s book was a high point of being in publishing. Wally Lamb, who had two Oprah book club novels in rapid succession back in the day, has a new novel, We Are Water (Harper), sure to tug the heartstrings. Another anticipated novel, a decade after his last, is Local Souls (Liveright) by Allan Gurganus, who returns to Falls, N.C. Another author back after more than a decade is Susan Minot, with Thirty Girls (Knopf).
From master E.L. Doctorow is a slim novel, Andrew’s Brain (Random House), his first since Homery & Langley, alongside Norman Rush, another master, with Subtle Bodies (Knopf). In that same league is Ann Patchett, with her essay collection, This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage (Harper). Philipp Meyer returns with an American history epic, The Son (Ecco) as does Ishmael Beah, the boy soldier from Sierra Leone, whose memoir, A Long Way Gone, was a surprise bestseller for FSG/Sarah Crichton Books. This time he’s written a novel, Radiance of Tomorrow (also Sarah Crichton) about the after-effects of war. From Pulitzer Prize–winner Doris Kearns Goodwin comes The Bully Pulpit (Simon & Schuster), about Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and American journalism. And another Pulitzer winner, Paul Harding, for his first novel, Tinkers, from indie press Bellevue, is publishing his second, Enon, with Random House, while Bellevue Literary press is pushing at this show Melissa Pritchard’s Palmerino.
Big buzz surrounded Nicola Griffith’s big novel set in seventh-century Britain, Hild (FSG), and on the bathroom line, there was talk among booksellers of “The New Devil Wears Prada” book, Revenge Wears Prada (Simon & Schuster) by Lauren Weisberger. Joshua Jason of Mystery Pier Book in West Hollywood, Calif., also can’t wait: “I loved the first one.” Helen Fielding is back with Bridget Jones in Mad About the Boy (Knopf). Elizabeth Gilbert globe-trots, this time in a novel: The Signature of All Things (Viking). On a sweet note is the charming romance Thursdays in the Park (Quercus) by Hilary Boyd, in which a 60-year-old finds love unexpectedly.
Martha Grimes has a nonfiction account of mother-son alcoholism, written with her son, Ken Grimes, Double Double (Scribner). As always, there are the debuts with the potential to send their authors to the top of the lists, like Burial Rites (Little, Brown) by Hannah Kent, inspired by her time as a student in a small Icelandic town, about the story of the last women in that country to be executed.
Or what could be the next Gone Girl, the Paula Daly debut, Just What Kind of Mother Are You? (Grove), or The Visionist (Little, Brown) by Rachel Urquhart. And there’s Betwixt and Between by Jessica Stilling (Ig Publishing). “It’s an up-to-date fairy tale, and Ig always publishes good stuff,” said bookseller Brette Weinkle, of Greenlight Books in Brooklyn. An official Buzz (panel) book from Overlook Press is The Facades, a debut by Eric Lundgren. Amy Grace Loyd has a big debut (and another official Buzz book) with The Affairs of Others (Picador). Another Picador title creating news is Havisham by Ronald Frame, a sort of prequel to the Charles Dickens classic Great Expectations.
Women at the forefront of history are featured in Hitler’s Furies by Wendy Lower (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), about women Nazis. Hitler’s Furies was a Buzz book and fascinates Janice Prytz of Barnes & Noble in Murrieta, Calif., because, she said, “It’s about women’s culpabilities.” And from Annick Cojean, a French journalist and bestselling writer in France, comes the true story of a Libyan woman who was conscripted into Gaddafi’s Harem (Grove).
An exciting show with so many books to look forward to, or as Chelsea Handler’s latest book puts it, Uganda Be Kidding Me. But we’re not...
To read about the big children's books of the show, click here.