While galleys might not be piled to the ceiling at BEA this year, many publishers are still bringing them in good quantities, especially in connection with those award-winning authors whose names roll off our tongues. From publishers, editors and publicists, we've collected the standouts and some of the whys and hows.
Random House is betting on autographings, with the only giveaways at signings, according to Carol Schneider, v-p executive director of publicity. Bestselling author Sarah Dunant sets her latest aristocratic Renaissance heroine in a convent (against her will, of course) in Sacred Hearts. Linwood Barclay's stand-alone thriller for Bantam, Fear the Worst, has a frantic father searching for the daughter who doesn't come home from her summer job, while Ballantine's NBA-nominated author Dan Chaon has his first novel in five years, Await Your Reply, billed as literary “with the haunting momentum of a thriller.” Page turners all.
The Anthologist by veteran Nicholson Baker (remember Vox?), about an unknown poet who contemplates poets and poetry, is Simon and Schuster's big push. No author presence, but 300 ARCs and publisher David Rosenthal's recommendation: “unlike any book I've seen this year. We'll capitalize on reviewers' fascination with Baker, not to mention a broader market for poetry.” (He mentioned Billy Collins.)
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is going big with nonfiction, expecting another score with NBA Award-winner and bestselling author Timothy Egan. Editor-in-chief Andrea Schultz claims Egan's follow-up, The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire That Saved America, is “fresh and exciting, with the elements that made the last one such a winner.”
And the instantly recognizable novelists with publishers' optimistic expectations to do it again include Grove's Sherman Alexie and Grand Central's Pete Dexter.
National Book Award—winner Alexie, with his War Dances, a short story collection about “ordinary men on the brink of exceptional change,” will be signing limited edition chap books. And after the Sunday morning breakfast, Pete Dexter, new to Grand Central's list, will be signing 200 galleys of Spooner, the story of the relationship between a difficult son and his stepfather.
Knopf has Lorrie Moore signing with 800 copies of the long-awaited A Gate at the Stair, the coming-of-age of a Midwestern farm girl set after 9/11, and Pulitzer Prize—winner Richard Russo (also signing 800 copies) tackles marriage and family on Cape Cod in That Old Cape Magic.
But the next big thing is what sets everyone on fire, so kudos to Shaye Areheart for New World Monkeys, Canadian author Nancy Mauro's “funny, dark and disturbing” debut novel that begins with a couple's accidental hit-and-run killing of a wild boar, the mascot of the town where they are planning to spend the summer (an in-booth signing with 200 galleys). And from Harper is Under the Broken Sky by author and filmmaker Shandi Mitchell (another Canadian), a first novel capturing the hard life of Ukrainian immigrant farmers in post-WWII Canada that “was read overnight and bought immediately.”
Ecco editors have got what they think is another Gorky Park “for the Putin era,” Red to Black, “a spy thriller, a love story and a chilling look at a resurgent superpower.” This is the only galley Ecco is giving out, and the author isn't signing. Alex Dryden is a pseudonym, and for now, at least, his identity is a secret.
The prize for the most far-out and exciting entry goes to Bloomsbury, for the graphic novel Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth by Apostolos Doxiadis, Christos H. Papadimitriou, Alecos Papadatos and Annie Di Donna. It's a book-length full-color comic that's a biography of Bertrand Russell but also a primer on the history of pure mathematics and intellectuals from ancient Greece to the 20th century in 300 pages of beautiful artwork. Our Calvin Reid calls it dazzling, “easily one of the most impressive combinations of popular art and serious history you're likely to encounter in prose or comics.” Bloomsbury will be giving away 300 galleys. Excellent. Sounds like something that has to be seen to be believed.