After slow fiction sales last year, publishers are hoping their BEA offerings will rebound this fall—though that's far from certain in an election year where nonfiction is ruling the airwaves. Still, our annual preview of the show's hottest galleys reveals that the fall fiction lineup is not as crowded with literary lions as in the past two years. That may leave more breathing room for the titles listed below, in our selective guide to the galleys that publishers will push most passionately, and that booksellers tell us they are most likely to lug home.
Top of the Stack
Early buzz is that Pulitzer Prize and National Medal of Arts winner
Phillip Roth is at the peak of his form in The Plot Against America (Oct.). Set in 1940s' wartime America, the novel imagines renowned aviation hero and rabid isolationist Charles A. Lindbergh as a U.S. president who negotiates a cordial "understanding" with Adolf Hitler, while a million Jewish families in Newark, N.J., and across the country brace for the worst. ARCs can be found in the Houghton Mifflin booth (2112, 2212).
Newly ensconced at Houghton, NBCC winner
Cynthia Ozick is back with Heir to the Glimmering World (Sept.; booth 2112, 2212), her first novel since 1997's Puttermesser Papers. Inspired by the real-life Christopher Robin and set on the outskirts of the Bronx during the Depression, it's the tale of an outsized clan of refugees from Nazi Germany and their eccentric benefactor.
Gish Jen is also returning from a seven-year break with a new novel, The Love Wife (Sept.). Expectations are high for this comic tale about a Chinese-American, his WASP wife, their two adopted Asian daughters and biracial son. Jen will sign galleys in the Knopf booth (2231) on Friday, June 4, 4—5 p.m., and will be a BEA breakfast speaker on Sunday, June 6.
Having received the reviews of his career for last year's NBA finalist—and PW bestseller—Drop City, the prolific
T.C. Boyle follows up with The Inner Circle (Viking, Sept.; booth 4431). Told by one of the research assistants to Dr. Alfred Kinsey in the 1940s and '50s, it's the story of a man's erotic awakening in the midst of sexual experiments that become increasingly uninhibited.
In the past three years,
Jennifer Weiner has produced two funny, bittersweet bestsellers about contemporary women's lives: Good in Bed and In Her Shoes. Her latest, Little Earthquakes (Atria, Sept.; booth 2223), follows a chef, a venture capitalist and a woman whose husband is accused of rape as each confronts the challenges of motherhood. The novel has already been optioned for film by Universal.
Best known for his Cold War bestseller Gorky Park,
Martin Cruz Smith is beloved by his fans for reliably delivering a mesmerizing read. In Wolves Eat Dogs (S&S, Nov.; booth 2223- 2123), he focuses on the New Russia, taking detective Arkady Renko on a suspenseful journey into the criminal underworld that revolves around Chernobyl.
In his first since novel 1998's Cloudsplitter, President of the International Parliament of Writers
Russell Banks offers a tale of an American woman who flees her political past for a different life in Liberia in The Darling (HarperCollins, Oct.; booth 1601).
Following the international success of The Tipping Point, New Yorker staff writer
Malcolm Gladwell takes a look at how we make decisions, and why some people are so good at it, in Blink: Thin Slicing, Snap Judgments and the Power of Thinking Without Thinking (Jan.; booth 2416-2418). Little, Brown will host a media and bookseller breakfast for Gladwell on Friday, June 4, at 8:30 a.m., and at 10:30 a.m. he will sign galleys in the main autographing area.
Still riding high on his bestselling memoirs Running with Scissors and Dry,
Augusten Burroughs gives voice to thoughts we all have but dare not mention in a new essay collection, Magical Thinking. Burroughs will sign galleys in the St. Martin's booth (1525) on Friday at 3 p.m. He'll also be at the AudioBook Tea on Saturday, June 5, 3:30—5 p.m.
Returning Fiction Favorites
Emma Donoghue, author of the indie bestseller Slammerkin, returns to 18th-century England with Life Mask (Sept.), the story of a love triangle between an eccentric sculptress, a comic stage actress and London's wealthiest aristocrat. Donoghue will sign galleys in the Harcourt booth (2102) on Saturday, June 5, at 11 a.m.
Following great reviews and word-of-mouth for Prague, his first novel about disaffected young American ex-pats,
Arthur Phillips returns with The Egyptologist (Sept.), a literary adventure and puzzle set in the 1920s. Phillips will sign books at the Random booth (2231) on Friday, June 4, from 10 to 11 a.m.
David Schickler, whose 2001 story collection, Kissing in Manhattan, won the hearts of many booksellers, delivers his first novel, Sweet and Vicious (Dial Press, Sept.; booth 2231), about the dark side of love. He's also set to write the screenplay for the film version, optioned by Universal Pictures.
Ernesto Quinonez, a native of New York's Spanish Harlem who won many fans in 2000 with the paperback original Bodega Dreams, moves into hardcover with his second novel, Chango's Fire (HarperCollins/Rayo, Oct.; booth 1501), a love story set in a gentrifying urban neighborhood. He will sign galleys on Friday, June 4, from 11:30 a.m.- 12 p.m. at Table 9.
Anthony Doerr drew strong praise from booksellers in 2002 with his powerful, brooding debut collection of stories about the natural world, The Shell Seeker. His first novel is About Grace (Scribner, Oct., booth 2223-2123).
The surprise success of
Mary Kay Andrews's Savannah Blues (2002) revealed the appeal of her world, where "the mint juleps are cold, the sex is hot, the manners are genteel, the relatives are loony and the antiques are to be lusted after." She will sign galleys of her second novel, Hissy Fit (HarperCollins, Sept.; booth 1501), on Saturday, June 5, 2—3 p.m. at Table 28.
The author of the acclaimed 1980 novel Housekeeping,
Marilynne Robinson, returns with Gilead (Nov.), about a third-generation minister who wrestles with the legacy of his abolitionist grandfather and pacifist father. She will sign ARCs in the FSG booth (1612) on Saturday at 11 a.m.
Best known for his paperback bestseller The Long Night of the White Chickens,
Francisco Goldman is back with his third novel, The Divine Husband (Sept.), about a woman whose life is touched by Cuban poet-revolutionary José Martí in the heady late-19th-century atmosphere of Guatemala City and New York. Goldman will sign ARCs in the Grove Atlantic booth (3931) on Saturday, June 5, 11 a.m.—noon.
The oldest story in all of world literature, Gilgamesh, receives a literary rendering by master translator and bestselling author
Stephen Mitchell. The Free Press's (booth 2223-2123) October publication will come on the heels of the movie version starring Omar Sharif and Peter O'Toole, to be released this July by Stonelock Pictures.
New Faces to Watch
Recommended to Knopf editor-at-large Gary Fisketjon by Plainsong author Kent Haruf,
Mark Spragg's An Unfinished Life (Sept.) is the story of a mother and daughter on the run and the men who threaten and shelter them. A film adaptation starring Robert Redford and Jennifer Lopez is scheduled for release by Miramax in November. Spragg will sign galleys in the Knopf booth (2231) on Saturday, June 5, 9:30—10:30 a.m.
Heralded by Neil Gaiman as "unquestionably the finest English novel of the fantastic written in the last 70 years," Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by
Susanna Clarke (Sept.) is the tale of a magician and his assistant, who aid England in its 19th-century struggle with Napoleon. Clarke will sign books on Friday, June 4, 2—3 p.m., in the Bloomsbury booth (1622).
Marc Acito's farcical coming-of-age novel, How I Paid for College: A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship & Musical Theater (Sept.; booth 2231), was recommended to Doubleday executive editor Gerry Howard by Chuck Palahniuk, bestselling author of Diary. Film rights have been sold to Columbia Pictures.
Already a #1 Australian bestseller, Shantarum (Oct.) is
Gregory David Roberts's autobiographical novel of a junkie involved in scams from bank robbery to money laundering, who escaped from maximum security prisons five times and fled to India, before finally finishing his sentence in Australia. Roberts will sign galleys at the St. Martin's booth (1525) on Saturday, June 5, at 9:30 a.m.
Esmeralda Santiago, whose memoirs When I Was Puerto Rican and Almost a Woman remain evergreen paperbacks, returns with The Turkish Lover (Sept.), the story of an exotic and dangerous love affair. Santiago will sign galleys on Friday, June 4, 2—3 p.m., in the Da Capo booth (1737).
Bookseller buzz is growing for Shadow Divers (July) by
Robert Kurson, the journalistic narrative of two deep-sea divers who in 1991 found the wreck of a WWII U-boat off New Jersey. Esquire writer Kurson will sign galleys on Saturday, June 5, 11 a.m.—noon, in the Random House booth (2231).
In The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World (Oct.), Esquire senior editor
A.J. Jacobs reveals what it was like to read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica. He will sign galleys in the S&S booth (2223-2123) on Friday, June 4, 4—5 p.m.
Browsing the Booths
W. W. Norton & Co. (booth 1323—1326): Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare (Sept.) by Harvard Renaissance scholar
Stephen Greenblatt "sets out to recover the links between Shakespeare and his world and to construct a full and vital portrait of the man." Acquired in a heated auction among 13 publishers, it's been selected by BOMC, History Book Club, Reader's Subscription, QPB and American Compass. Meanwhile, the New Yorker has nabbed first serial rights to Another Bullshit Night in Suck City (Sept.), a memoir by award-winning poet
Nick Flynn, who met his poet-cum-conman father for only the third time when he came a caseworker at a Boston homeless shelter. Norton's new Enterprise imprint offers
Ken Auletta's Media Man: Ted Turner's Improbable Empire (Sept.), which was written with Turner's cooperation and is a co-publication with Atlas Books.
HarperCollins (1601): National Book Award—winner
Joyce Carol Oates's longtime editor and friend Dan Halpern is touting her latest novel, The Falls (Sept.), as a major achievement. Set against Niagara Falls, it's the story of love gone wrong.
Stephen Amidon's Human Capital (Oct.) is a social novel about new money and old envies in the suburbs, with the "ambitious sweep and narrative power of a 19th-century novel," according to novelist Tom Perrotta.
Bloomsbury (1622): English filmmaker
Neil Jordan's first novel, Shade (Sept.), is a metaphysical mystery that centers on a murder among childhood friends. Jordan will be at the booth on Saturday, June 5, 2—3 p.m.
Tor (1626—1627): The Exile is
Allan Folsom's third novel, after the 1995 bestseller The Day After Tomorrow and 1999's Day of Confession. In it, an L.A.P.D. elite officer becomes involved in an international plot to bring descendants of the Russian tsars back to power.
Public Affairs (1737): In Masters of Chaos: The Secret History of the Special Forces (Oct.), U.S. News and World Report journalist
Linda Robinson uses her unique access to tell the inside story of America's elite troops, from their nadir in Vietnam to today's frontline fight against terrorism.
Leslie Schnur, former editor-in-chief of Delacorte/Dell Publishing, makes her fiction debut with The Dog Walker (Aug.), a love story involving a woman with keys to many strangers' apartments.
Doubleday (2231): Just in time to tie in with this fall's major biopic of Alexander the Great, bestselling historical novelist
Stephen Pressfield re-creates the undefeated warrior's life in The Virtues of War (Oct.).
Crown/Shaye Areheart Books (2231): Fire Point (Aug.) is a literary thriller set in northern Michigan by John Smolens, who has been winning over booksellers with his novels Cold (2002) and Invisible World (2001). He will sign galleys on Friday, June 4, or Saturday, June 5, 10 a.m.—2 p.m.
Delacorte (2231): Edgar, Anthony and Shamus Award—winning writer S.J. Rozan departs from her mystery series to deliver her first standalone novel, Absent Friends (Sept.), which takes place in the wake of 9/11.
Greg Rucka's A Gentleman's Game is based on the graphic novels that won him the comic world's highest accolade, the Eisner Award. Already optioned by Fox, it focuses on a British intelligence agent in London as terrorist attacks cripple the city.
Pantheon (2231): Set in Buffalo in the late '20s,
Nancy Reisman's debut novel, The First Desire (Sept.), boasts enthusiastic quotes from Julia Glass and Dani Shapiro. Reisman will sign galleys in the booth on Friday, June 4, 1:30—2 p.m.
Little, Brown (2416—2418): The house's lead fiction debut is The Ha-Ha by
Dave King (Jan.), about the redemption of a mute Vietnam veteran after he opens his home to a young boy.
Hyperion (2422): The Gifts by
Jan Goldstein (Sept.) is a debut novel about a young women who moves from despair to hope with the help of her feisty grandmother.
Cassandra King, the author of the 2002 breakout novel The Sunday Wife, is back with The Same Sweet Girls (Jan.), about women who meet every year at a beach house.
Miramax (2425): Award-winning comedy writer
Kristin Gore reveals what life is really like for 20-something Capitol Hill staffers in Sammy's Hill (Sept.); she'll write the screenplay for the Sony/Columbia film.
Canongate (3933): In
M.J. Hyland's debut, How the Light Gets In (June), a Holden Caulfield—esque 16-year-old exchange student takes up residence in a suburban Chicago mini-mansion. The author will appear at a "wining and signing" on Saturday, June 5, at 5 p.m. in the publisher's booth.
MacAdam/Cage (3633): How to Be Lost (Oct.) is
Amanda Eyre Ward's second novel, about a cocktail waitress searching for her missing sister. Ward's first novel, Sleep Toward Heaven, was MacAdam/ Cage's second-bestselling book for 2003, after Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife.
Vintage (4033): Touted by Britain's Sunday Telegraph as "the cleverest, funniest, sharpest writer" in the U.K.,
Howard Jacobson makes his U.S. debut with The Making of Henry, a paperback original.