The annual BEA Editors’ Buzz program has earned a reputation as seer of the year’s hottest books. In past years it has picked a wide range of highly successful books, selecting nine titles including Room, The Art of Fielding, The Maze Runner, We Are Not Ourselves, and Fan Girl. “BEA has had a good track record in selecting upcoming bestsellers, and once again this year’s crop of authors is likely to become household names in the coming months,” says a spokesperson for BEA.“We’re happy with these selections and look forward to exploring these works further at BEA.”
It’s no easy feat to be chosen a buzz book. Three separate committees of booksellers, librarians, and other industry professionals designed to achieve the widest possible consensus engage in an intensive selection process over two and a half months.
Publishers have been, and continue to be enthusiastic, about the BEA Buzz panel. “I think it’s terrific. This Buzz panel has been one of the most popular panels at the book fair. It definitely puts the book on the radar of booksellers in a different, big way,” says Elisabeth Schmitz, vice president, editorial director, Grove Atlantic, whose novel The History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund is on the 2016 list.
Sarah McGrath, vice president, editor-in-chief, Riverhead Books, whose The Mothers by Brit Bennett is a Buzz pick, adds, “I think it is a great opportunity to bring awareness to new writers, and a great way to present good books for booksellers and for the media to hear what is exciting about them.”
Lindsay Frakoff, marketing director of Nation Books, believes the Buzz program not only gets the outside world interested in the chosen books but validates the company’s commitment to the titles. “That Another Day in the Death of America by Gary Younge was selected for the Buzz program got everyone here very excited and has elevated the book to a whole new level.”
The panel takes place today in room W183, 4:15–5:30 p.m. Interviews with some of the authors are on the following pages. Here’s a peek at the titles.
Another Day in the Death of America
Nation Books, Oct.
A Guardian journalist and Alfred Knobler Fellow at the Nation Institute, Younge tells the stories of the lives lost to gun violence during the course of a single day in the United States. (In 2009 he won the British James Cameron award for his coverage of the 2008 U.S. presidential election.) “It’s part of American life that guns can kill children,” says his editor, Alessandra Bastagli. “Younge wants to show us that it is not normal and should not be acceptable. These lives matter, and we should be outraged and putting a halt to this.”
37 Ink, Sept.
The author of The Last Town on Earth delivers a literary police procedural set in 1948 Atlanta, exploring a murder, corrupt police, and strained race relations. Dawn Davis, vice president, publisher, 37 Ink, actually held up her own birthday party to finish reading it so she could bid on it. “Darktown is a terrific read, a powerful story, and beautifully written,” she confesses. “I so lost myself in this world that Tom had created that I didn’t mind that my friends had to wait before we had my party.” Darktown has been optioned for film by Hollywood heavyweights Amy Pascal and Jamie Foxx.
The History of Wolves
Grove Atlantic, Jan. 2017
This debut thriller is set in the cold, austere woods of northern Minnesota. An isolated 15-year-old girl learns “about how far you go for people that you love and trust, and in a way, how you can commandeer people for your own narrative,” says Elisabeth Schmitz. “It has literary writing with that psychological suspense that I find very rare.”
Hachette Books, Jan. 2017
“As soon as I gave the manuscript of Little Deaths to colleagues, I could tell it was going to be one of those books that everyone would fall in love with, and I was right,” says Paul Whitlach, senior editor. Inspired by the real-life story of Alice Crimmins, a mother accused of killing her children in 1965, Little Deaths takes on the tabloid media and women’s representation in that media.
Riverhead Books, Oct.
Set within a contemporary black community in Southern California, this first novel is an emotionally perceptive story about community, love, and ambition that begins with a secret. “The moment I started reading this book, I knew that here was a really special voice and this was the beginning of a really exciting career we really wanted to be a part of,” says Sarah McGrath.
Alfred A. Knopf, Aug.
When Samuel Andresen-Anderson gets a call that his mother, whom he hasn’t seen in 20 years, needs his help, the stalled writer/bored teacher/obsessive player of an online video game at a local college starts on a journey that will take the reader through the last 50 years of American history. “It has a rare blend of characteristics: deeply emotional, impeccably crafted, and very, very funny. When you give it to someone, you know they are going to have a good time,” says editor Timothy McConnell.
This article appeared in the May 11, 2016 edition of PW BEA Show Daily.