We’ve written about the reduction in giveaways and we’ve beaten the bushes about the end of publishing as we know it, but life does go on, and this year at BEA publishers are once again handing out galleys, bringing hopeful debut authors to sign and schmooze, and parading their bestsellers, believing that lightning will strike twice, or three, or 50 times. We’re crazy about all of it because despite the wonders of digital and the brave new world, there’s nothing like the excitement of watching an author finding the page to sign, or the fans waiting to meet that author whose book has broken their heart.
Some highlights this year
Free Press (3657, 3658) has 300 galleys of Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by New York Post reporter Susannah Cahalan, a first-person account of her physical and mental breakdown and the doctors who figured out what exactly was going on. Editor Millicent Bennett won a coveted spot on the Editor’s Buzz panel for this one, where additional galleys will be available.
Gallery Books (3657) is giving away Chanel Bonfire: A Memoir (a category we don’t ever seem to get enough of). Here Wendy Lawless grows up with a sister and a mother billed as “a real-life Holly Golightly,” who moves them from trailer park to penthouse.
At St. Martin’s (3358), there’s 250 galleys of The Forgetting Tree, Tatjana Soli’s second novel after the success of her debut, The Lotus Eaters, that made the cover of the New York Times book review and sold some copies. This time Soli writes about a California ranch family dealing with a tragedy. And getting a copy of The Beautiful Mystery, the enduring Louise Penny’s next book in her Chief Inspector Gamache series, will definitely mean spending time in a long line.
Twelve (3627), emphatic about its boutique imprint status (translation: we are very selective), is giving away galleys of only two books, both novels, but with unfettered enthusiasm and big numbers: Schroder by Amity Gage (1,000 ARCs with French flaps and an author q&a) and debut novel Albert of Adelaide by Howard Anderson (750 copies), a rambunctious mix of genres with a platypus protagonist (the Albert of the title). We have to admire Twelve’s style. Schroder covers seven days on the road with a father and the daughter he’s kidnapped during a parental visit. Jonathan Franzen’s done a blurb, and publisher Cary Goldstein, we’re told, has been pursuing Gage since 2006 and believes this is her “breakthrough performance.”
Harlequin (3739, 3740) is always a big presence at BEA, with many in-booth events, but the galleys we expect will be coveted are One Breath Away by Heather Gudenkauf, a novel that opens with an unknown armed man walking into an elementary school classroom, and Rebecca Coleman’s Heaven Should Fall, in which a young woman falls madly in love, has a baby, and moves with the baby daddy to his family’s New England farm complete with his complicated extended family (free tote bags available).
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (3358) has galleys of The Heart Broke by James Meek, whose 2005 novel set in Siberia, The People’s Act of Love, generated a lot of buzz (this time he’s sticking closer to home). In an interesting bit, there will be print and also digital giveaways of Robin Sloan’s Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, a 6,000-word story about finding a job and love, billed as a modern-day fairy tale.
At Little, Brown (3627), generosity rules with 1,200 galleys of The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers, the story of two soldiers in Iraq and the effect of war on the families left at home. Powers writes from what he knows: he joined the army at 17 and served as a machine gunner in Mosul and Tal Afar. There’s also 1,000 galleys of James Patterson’s Zoo (talk about lines around the block), 1,000 each of the mystery/thrillers The Prophet by Michael Koryta and Breed (Mulholland Books) by Chase Novak, the pseudonym for National Book Award–winner Scott Spencer. And 750 galleys of Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann, a family saga set in American literature’s never ending source of domestic drama, New England.
Henry Holt’s special giveaway (3358) is Paul Auster’s Winter Journal (250 copies), which executive editor Barbara Jones calls “the long-awaited bookend to The Invention of Solitude. Last time out, Auster was uncovering his father’s history; this time, of course, 30 years later, he’s considering his own mortality....”
Doubleday (3940) has the venerable Chris Bohjalian’s latest, Sandcastle Girls, and Hyperion Voice (MR7243) will have J.R. Moehringer signing 200 galleys of his debut novel, Sutton, based on the life of legendary bank robber Willie Sutton. Over at Grove Atlantic (4139), there will be 250–300 galleys of Sherman Alexie’s new and collected stories, Blasphemy; Robert Olen Butler’s The Hot Country; and from G. Willow Wilson—whose memoir, The Butterfly Mosque, covered her conversion to Islam (she’s wearing a hijab in her author photo) and romantic adventure in Cairo—a debut novel, Alif the Unseen, the story of an Arab–Indian hacker in an unnamed repressive Middle Eastern state.
HarperCollins (3339, 3340) has a mix of well-known bestselling names, like Dennis Lehane with Live by Night (William Morrow), Louise Erdrich with The Round House (Harper), some celebrity cred with When It Happens to You by ’80s film sweetheart Molly Ringwald (It Books) and a debut novel, The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin, set at the turn of the 20th century in the Pacific Northwest, that senior director of publicity Jane Beirn cannot stop talking about. And for Richard Ford, an in-booth champagne toast celebrating his long anticipated Canada (Ecco).
Random House (3940), with 250 galleys for each title, can count on Debbie Macomber’s The Inn at Rose Harbor and Lee Child’s A Wanted Man to excite the crowds, and also Justin Cronin’s follow-up to The Passage, the novel that dominated BEA in 2010. Cronin will be there to promote The Twelve, in which “three strangers attempt to navigate the chaos cast upon civilization by a U.S. government gone wrong” before 12 vampires (hence the title) take over the story 100 years in the future. Karen Slaughter delivers a murder mystery, Criminal; Jon Meacham details the life of a president in Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power; and Karen Thompson Walker will appear with her debut novel, The Age of Miracles, set in a world where the Earth slows on its axis (for which she was reportedly paid somewhere around $2 million for U.S. and U.K. rights). Also, our very own (he was PW’s cover boy for Best Books 2009) Victor LaValle with The Devil in Silver, about four mental patients in a haunted asylum fighting off... yes, the Devil.
Crown (3940) will have 150 finished books of the thriller Gone Girl, with author Gillian Flynn signing. Hogarth (3940) has 150 ARCs of Vincent Lam’s The Headmaster’s Wager, set in 1960s Saigon, for his signing.
Galleys of Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures by Emma Straub (Peter’s daughter) will be given away by Riverhead (4028). Knopf (3940) will have galleys of The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe and The Dog Stars by Peter Heller, both at author signings.
Revered author Mark Helprin (who writes New York like no other) has a new novel, an epic love story set in postwar 1940s New York City, In Sunlight and in Shadow. According to Lori Glazer, executive director of publicity, who says about the book that she “truly didn’t want it to end,” Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (3447) will be giving away 1,000 galleys of the 700-page saga about a returning soldier and the brave young actress he meets on the Staten Island Ferry. And HMH will have 500 galleys of Antoine Wilson’s Panorama City (a Buzz Panel selection), in which a 28-year-old man speaks into a cassette recorder a story for his unborn son.
Grand Central (3621–3626) is bringing 1,100 galleys of Does This Church Make Me Look Fat? A Mennonite Finds Faith, Meets Mr. Right, and Solves Her Lady Problems, Rhoda Janzen’s follow-up to megaseller Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, along with 1,000 galleys of the novel about a Midwestern family, The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg; 1,250 blads of Stephen Colbert’s America Again (Colbert is hosting the Adult Book & Author Breakfast on June 5); and Dan Rather, who will be signing finished books of Rather Outspoken: My Life in the News, written with Digby Diehl.
Algonquin (4158) is giving away 1,000 galleys of Jonathan Evison’s new book, The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, a novel whose protagonist loses literally everything and becomes caretaker for a seriously disabled young man with whom he sets out on an eventful road trip across the West. There will also be 500 galleys each of The Art Forger, a literary thriller by B.A. Shapiro, about the largest unsolved art theft in history, and Life Among Giants, Bill Roorbach’s novel that intersects two families on either side of the “pond” in murder and seduction, starring a main character who’s almost seven feet tall.
At Sourcebooks (4112), it’s like old times, with hundreds and hundreds of galleys of several titles, with the novel The Ruins of Lace by Iris Anthony (a pseudonym), about the “mad French passion for forbidden Flemish bobbin lace” in the 1600s, in the forefront, with 1,000 available galleys.
Unbridled (4252) has four titles to give away, 100 copies of each one, including Love Slave by Jennifer Spiegel, about an office temp who follows the Band in New York City in the ’90s, and Rocket City by Cathryn Alpert (“three melons and a dwarf sat in the front seat of Marilee’s ’72 Dodge...). We’re intrigued, also with Tor Books (3358), where Walter Mosley will sign 100 copies of his two speculative tales in one volume, The Gift of Fire and On the Head of a Pin. And there will be 250 galleys each of John Edwards’s look at the end of the world in Fallen Masters and Andrea Thalasino’s inspirational An Echo Through the Snow.
Graywolf (3463) has the wonderful Per Petterson’s new novel, It’s Fine by Me with 150 galley giveaways, in which we see Arvid Jansen as a rebellious teenager in late ’60s Oslo, and another 150 galleys of Familiar by J. Robert Lennon, a novel about a woman who literally changes (a changed body, different clothes, even a new car) while she’s driving home from visiting her son’s grave.
Coffee House Press (3906) has one big book, Read This! Handpicked Favorites from America’s Indie Bookstores, which started with a customer asking Hans Weyandt of Micawber’s Bookstore in St. Louis about his “personal top 10 favorite books.” Hans started making lists for his blog, contacting other booksellers, and here’s the culmination of the project, with an intro by newly minted bookstore owner Ann Patchett. There will be 500 “booklet samplers” plus T-shirts, postcards, and bookmarks.
McSweeney’s will have galleys at its booth (2047) of John Brandon’s novel, A Million Heavens, also a selection for the Buzz panel. And some other small press books that have grabbed our attention include Maidenhair by Russian writer Mikhail (Russia is the country of focus this year) from Open Letter Books (40 copies, 2424), The Way of the Stars: Journeys on the Camino de Santiago by Robert C. Sibley from University of Virginia Press (3430), and from Red Wheel Weiser Conari Press (4368), The Monks and Me by Mary Patterson, a Toronto yoga teacher, who spent 40 days in Vietnam on a personal quest.
To see Children's Galleys to Grab, click here.