BEA is about the future: the books that publishers are presenting, authors are signing, and booksellers and librarians are noting for the upcoming seasons.
This year, as always, we walked the aisles to ask our favorite folks in the know what upcoming books they are excited about. The two novels we heard about the most were Jonathan Franzen's Purity (FSG, Sept.) and Garth Risk Hallberg's City on Fire (Knopf, Oct.).
Cathy Langer, buyer for the Tattered Cover, Denver, CO, joins the crowd with raves for Purity and City on Fire, which she says she "loved. It blew me away. It's brilliant." Langer is excited, too, for Dan Marshall's Home is Burning (Flatiron Books, Oct.).
Joshua Jason of Mystery Pier Books in West Hollywood, CA chimed in with his praise for Franzen, saying that "He's really marvelous." And also noted that "I'm really anxious to read City of Fire." He also casts a vote for The Blue Between Sea and Sky (Bloomsbury, Sept.) by Susan Abulhawa: "It's set in Gaza. I love this book. It's beautiful."
Books & Books buyer Joanna Clarke is excited about City on Fire "of course," and says that "the editor really sold it." She's also jazzed about The Fall of Princes by Robert Goolrick (Algonquin, Aug.), and mentions memoirs by musicians: Patti Smith's new memoir The M Train (Knopf, October) and Elvis Costello's memoir, Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink (Blue Rider, October).
Becky Anderson of Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville, Ill. Echoed Clarke's sentiments, especially when it came to Goolrick and Costello. The Fall of Princes by Robert Goolrick is "so beautifully written," she said, "His books stay with you for a long time. We cannot wait to sell it. We are so excited about it." And, as for Elvis Costello's memoir, Anderson says it's the first memoir by a musician she's wanted to read. Anderson noted that he's got a "unique perspective" on the U.K. music scene and that he has insights she hasn't perceived from other musicians. "He goes deeper," she says than the typical memoir by a pop culture icon.
The head buyer for Washington D.C. bookstore Kramerbooks & Afterwords, Jake Cumsky-Whitlock, is looking forward this fall to Undermajordomo Minor (Ecco, Sept.) by Patrick DeWitt.
"We are great admirers of DeWitt's The Sisters Brothers here at Kramerbooks, and have hand-sold hundreds of copies of that nouveau western. His forthcoming novel trades gold-rush era California for the mountains of Central Europe, where young Lucien Minor has arrived to assume his post as undermajordomo at the Castle Von Aux. Undermajordomo Minor has all the sharp black comedy, eccentricity, and adventure that we have come to expect from DeWitt."
Also on Cumsky-Whitlock's radar is This is Your Life, Harriet Chance! (Algonquin, Sept.) by Jonathan Evison. Cumsky-Whitlock says, "Evison writes approachable, funny novels that are full of sympathetic and honest characters. He's the Alexander Payne of contemporary novelists, and his latest work is no exception. I'm hoping that Harriet Chance is the book that breaks him out entirely.
Luisa Smith, buying director for Book Passage in Corte Madera, Calif. says that she loves the fall season and is excited about several wonderful titles, including Above the Waterfall (Ecco, Sept.) by Ron Rash. Smith adds that it was really difficult to choose among so many books. "I guess that means it's going to be a great season!"
Paul Yamazaki, head buyer at City Lights Books in San Francisco has many favorites but gives his top picks as In the Country (Knopf, June) by Mia Alvar—"This young Philippina writer's first book, a collection of stories, is magnificent," he says.
Of Dragonfish (WW Norton, Aug.) by Vu Tran, a young Vietnamese American writer, Yamazaki comments, "This is great. It's a book that should be talked about. It's very different from Walter Mosley, but it gave me the same sense as Devil in a Blue Dress."
And he says about Jonathan Galassi's Muse (Knopf, June): "It's tremendous. For anyone interested in the world of literary publishing, this book is a must. It's passionate, acerbic, and it's coming from one of our great editors."
And finally, one of the reason we love booksellers, Yamazaki mentions Beauty is a Wound (New Directions, Sept.) by Eka Kurniawan. "I know nothing about it. This is why I come to New York! [for BEA]." Kathy Jesson, from Black Bond Books in Surrey, B.C., Canada is hot for Circling the Sun by Paula McLain (Random House, July). "It's a great book. It's better than The Paris Wife. We're really looking forward to selling it. It's fabulous. Everyone in the store is raving about it."
There's big buzz from booksellers around a small press hit, translated from the Spanish, The Story of My Teeth (Coffee House, Sept.) by Valeria Luiselli. Jeremy Garber, events coordinator, Powell's in Portland, Ore., casts a vote for The Story of My Teeth. "It's dazzling, it's tremendous."
Judith Lafitte, co-owner of Octavia Books in New Orleans, is taken by The Muralist by B.A. Shapiro (Algonquin, Nov.). "I'm so excited about the author. She's really great. And I like Algonquin. They put out great books. They're very classy."
Melinda Powers from Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA, is touting Claire Vaye Watkins debut novel, Gold Flame Citrus (Riverhead, Oct.). "She's a fantastic writer. I hear that copies are here. I really want to get one."
Jonathan Welch, Talking Leaves Books, Buffalo, NY picks Bonnie Jo Campbell's Mothers Tell Your Daughters (Norton, Oct.). "I think she's a really good writer, and under-appreciated."
Sarah Goddin, general manager of Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC says, "I am a huge Louise Penny fan. She's so smart. The Nature of the Beast (Minotaur, Sept.) has such a great French Canadian sense, with a lot of humanity in her characters."
Ann Salisbury, bookseller from Bienville Books, Mobile, Alabama is excited about Rick Bragg's new book, Southern Journey: True Stories from the Heart of the South (Oxmoor House, Sept.). "I love everything he writes. If you want a Southern voice, that's him. Plus he's local. This book is a must-have, especially for my store."
And from Anmiryam Budner, bookseller from Main Point Books, Bryn Mawr, Penn.: "I'm looking forward to A.S. King's newest novel, I Crawl Through It (Little Brown, Sept.), which sounds like it will have her characteristic alchemy of smart writing, intriguing characters and willingness to confront the pain of growing up with a hint that there is something better ahead.
Budner awaits the new Elena Ferrante novel, The Story of the Lost Child, but that goes without saying. And, finally there is a debut fantasy novel from Tor books, Last Song Before Night by Ilana C. Myer (Oct.), which imagines a world in which songs were magical - but as a dark threat to the world looms, musicians must find a way to make songs something more than just words and music. I've heard great things – can't wait to read it!"
PW's bookseller of the year for 2015, Mitchell Kaplan of Books & Books in Coral Gables, Fla., focused on the offerings by small presses, including Sofrito by Philippe Diederich (Cinco Puntos, June), whom he described as a "great writer" who happens to hail from Miami. "We're going to do really well with this," Kaplan said, noting that "there are a lot of good Miami-based Miami writers out there.
Matt Norcross, co-owner of McLean & Eakin Books in Petoskey, Mich. Is excited about Black Man in a White Coat, by Tweedy Damon (Picador, Sept.) calling the adult book buzz panel memoir "an important book for our national dialogue about race."
Kris Kleindienst and Jarek Steele, of Left Bank Books, St. Louis, Mo., are looking forward to The Fall of Princes. These two booksellers are also excited for Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between The World & Me and Amy Stewart's Girl Waits with Gun. And a surfing memoir that Ann Godoff of Penguin edited. "Neither of us can remember author or title. That's what you get after a night of heavy drinking."
To see the buzzed-about children's books, click here.