In a room packed with hundreds of booksellers, the editors participating in this year’s Adult Editors Buzz Panel were so persuasive in talking up the six forthcoming releases that the galley giveaway following the presentation turned into a scrum reminiscent more of BookCon than BookExpo, with audience members stampeding to the back of the room to snatch up novels which, if they had one thing in common, involved flawed protagonists battling obstacles that were too often of their own making.
Disclosing that she has always been fascinated by “handsome, sophisticated, erudite sociopaths,” Jackie Cantor, senior editor at S&S/Scout Press, described Liz Nugent’s Unraveling Oliver (August) as a thriller with a protagonist, “a man seemingly without a conscience,” who commits an act of violence against his wife. “Oliver is the ultimate con man,” Cantor said, “But Nugent manages to make [him] someone you will care about.”
Comparing Stay With Me (August) by Ayobami Adebayo to The Handmaid’s Tale, Knopf senior editor Jennifer Jackson described it as the “story of a Nigerian woman whose fertility comes to be the most important thing in her life,” so essential that she will risk everything to become pregnant. “The female spirit in this book is vibrant, it is alive, it is white hot,” Jackson said.
Turtle, the 14-year-old daughter of a survivalist in My Absolute Darling (Sept.) by Gabriel Tallent is “going to be held in readers’ hearts for generations,” Riverhead Books editor-in-chief Sarah McGrath predicted, describing the novel as a tale of suspense that will “consume, challenge, and change” readers.
Calling The World of Tomorrow (Sept.) by Brendan Mathews “an Irish Kavalier and Klay,” the novel is, Little Brown senior editor Ben George said, both a love letter to pre-World War II New York City and a testament to the idea that “everybody has a story; everybody matters.” And, he added, despite it clocking in at 552 pages, it “reads like a book half its length” with an ending that has made early readers cry.
“I’m a sucker for sibling stories,” Putnam editorial editor Sally Kim said, “Especially stories about adult siblings who are re-negotiating their relationships.” The Immortalists (Jan. 2018) by Chloe Benjamin, about four children who are told by a fortune-teller of the dates of their deaths, tells the story of each over the next five decades.
The Woman in the Window (Jan. 2018) by A.J. Flynn is a “taut, pristine Hitchcockian thriller,” Morrow executive editor Jennifer Brehl said, about a woman who spends her time drinking and spying on her neighbors. “The twists and turns of this story will take your breath away,” she said. A real-world twist to the story: Flynn is a pseudonym for her colleague, executive editor Daniel Mallory. “It surprised the hell out of all of us,” Brehl said.