Canadian publisher Coach House Books is marking its 51st anniversary with its second presentation in as many years at the Uptown Stage (today, 1:45 p.m.) for the BEA Selects Literary Fiction program. The book, Coach House’s lead title, The Hidden Keys (Oct.), is the follow-up to writer André Alexis’s Canadian bestseller Fifteen Dogs, which received the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize in November.
“We sold 100,000 copies in Canada,” editorial director Alana Wilcox tells Show Daily. “It’s been such a huge hit.” Her only disappointment about the earlier novel has been the difficulty that Coach House has had maintaining that momentum south of the border. “We just weren’t able to get it out in the U.S.,” she adds.
As for the press’s approach to selling The Hidden Keys, Wilcox says, “We’re just going to double down on publicity and marketing efforts.” In addition to the shout-out from the stage, Coach House is printing 700 galleys. Coupons can be redeemed for galleys at the Coach House booth (2058G).
An adventure novel, inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, The Hidden Keys has an unusual main character, Tancred Palmieri, a cat burglar with exquisite taste, who feels honor bound to fulfill a commission from an aging heroin addict, who dies. Palmieri has to steal the object that the woman and each of her four siblings was given by their deceased father to solve the puzzle of where the father left their large inheritance.
The novel is the third book in what author Alexis calls his “quincunx.” The set of five began with Pastoral in 2014, followed by Fifteen Dogs. The remaining two books will include a romance and a noir.
Both Cinco Puntos Press (booth 2061B) and Poisoned Pen Press (booth 943A) are presenting debut novels with strong literary and mystery elements. Erich Wurster’s The Coaster (Aug.) was one of two manuscripts that Poisoned Pen signed out of the 167 submissions it received during its open season last year. “We loved the voice and the dark, self-deprecating humor,” publisher and president Robert Rosenwald says, adding, “It’s not easy to get someone to laugh out loud while reading, and [Wurster] managed to get several different readers here to do so. There’s a lot about this book that’s reminiscent of Don Westlake.”
“We’re having a pretty busy BEA,” Cinco Puntos marketing director and CFO John Byrd says. Actually it’s his mother, Lee Byrd, the press’s copublisher, senior editor, and president, who’s particularly busy. This morning at 10 a.m., she is presenting, at the YA Editors’ Buzz Panel, Sonia Patel’s Rani Patel in Full Effect (Oct.), about a girl who shaves her head when her father leaves her mother, and becomes a hip-hop performer. At the Literary Fiction Stage, Byrd will switch gears to talk about Marcia Rendon’s Murder on the Red River (Mar. 2017).
Rendon, an enrolled member of the White Earth Anishinabe Nation, is a performance artist who published her first children’s book two years ago, Pow Wow Summer (Minnesota Historical Society). She contacted Cinco Puntos at the suggestion of a mutual friend, Debbie Reese, a founding member of the Native American House and American Indian Studies program at the University of Illinois. John Byrd sees Rendon’s novel as equal parts mystery and literary fiction, which is part of what gets him so excited about it. “It’s a little bit different,” he says. “You could sell it in either part of the store.” The tale involves an unlikely pairing—20-something Cash, a tough Indian woman with special seeing powers, and Sheriff Wheaton—who together have to find the men who murdered an Indian found lying in a field. The book is set in northern Minnesota along the Red River.
This article appeared in the May 12, 2016 edition of PW BEA Show Daily.