The Girl with the Golden Touch

To say Donna Tartt’s new novel, The Goldfinch, was anticipated is to understate the facts. It’s been a wait of over 10 years, which seems to be her pattern. The Secret History, her debut novel, written when she was in her 20s (Tartt is now 49) and set in a college (resembling her alma mater, Bennington), about a group of obsessive classics students dealing with social strata and a murder, was an instant hit, selling a reported five million copies. That was in 1992. It was followed by The Little Friend in 2002, another dark tale of murder and social class, this time set in her native Mississippi. Tartt’s books, like the author herself, are very smart, and while Tartt has said she does not savor the limelight, her books are always strong sellers. The Goldfinch is holding fast to her “history.” According to Michelle Aielli at Little, Brown, there are 225,000 copies in print after two trips to press. Our Hardcover Fiction list bears out those numbers: The Goldfinch is at #2 (just behind fellow Mississippian John Grisham), with sales of more than 30,000 copies in its first week at outlets tracked by Nielsen. Aielli also reports that Tartt has begun a 12-city tour; more than 600 fans turned out for her appearance in Brooklyn, N.Y., last week. The novel opens in Amsterdam (Tartt has always been tremendously popular in Holland), with the protagonist, Theo Decker, haunted by the loss of his mother when he was 13. The 17th-century Dutch painting of the book’s title reminds Theo of his mother and draws him into mystery and danger. In a sweet coincidence, The Goldfinch painting is on display at the Frick Museum in New York City, part of a Dutch Masters exhibit. It arrived on Tartt’s publication day: Oct. 22. —Louisa Ermelino

Bruce Cameron: Going to the Dogs

“All dogs go to heaven… unless they have unfinished business here on Earth.” So wrote W. Bruce Cameron, whose 2010 panegyric to pooches, A Dog’s Purpose: A Novel for Humans, landed on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists and has 316,000 “likes” on the book’s Facebook Fan page. The author’s second canine tome, A Dog’s Journey (2012), garnered a PW starred review—“Readers will devour this wonderful story and cry from beginning to end.” Those readers might want to break out their handkerchiefs again, as Cameron has produced a third book, The Dogs of Christmas. In the author’s words, “The Dogs of Christmas is about how we rescue dogs and then they rescue us.” Cameron says that the inspiration for the story came from his own dog Tucker, who was dropped off barely an hour old in a cardboard box with his siblings at his daughter’s animal rescue in Denver. “The puppies were saved by a (generous) lactating German Shepherd,” reports Cameron. “With all the gloom in the daily news, I wanted to write a novel that was uplifting and enjoyable for the holidays. It was easy; every dog story is a love story.” Cameron’s Dogs landed at #19 last week on our Hardcover Fiction list, with sales of 6,196 at Nielsen outlets. The book climbed to #18 on this week’s list, with sales nearly doubling to 11,388.

Known for his charitable endeavors in support of animals, Cameron has made recent contributions at three prominent bookstores—Denver’s Tattered Cover, for Better Life Rescue; Rainy Day Books (Fairway, Kans.), for Wayside Waifs; and Square Books in Oxford, Miss., for the Oxford Lafayette Humane Society. Says Cameron, “I am involved in rescue because these unfortunate animals are in trouble through no fault of their own. It is a human problem—human negligence, human error, human cruelty—that leads to so many homeless dogs and cats. But the good news is that, almost unlike every other social problem on the planet, we can solve this one. We can rewrite the rules of animal reproduction and control populations, ending the heartbreak of unwanted puppies and kittens. By advocating for animals, I’m not just ‘making a difference’; I am helping to effect a solution.”

Not surprisingly, Hollywood has expressed interest in Cameron’s canines: the movie version of A Dog’s Purpose has been in development from DreamWorks (with Cameron adapting the screenplay), while an Oct. 1 Hollywood Reporter article noted that “Fox 2000 has acquired the rights to [Cameron’s latest] for producer Wyck Godfrey and Marty Bowen’s Temple Hill Studio.” (And Fox 2000 knows from dog books: the 2008 film version of Marley and Me grossed $242 million worldwide.)
—Dick Donahue

The Finishing Agent: Robert Parker’s Agent Completes the Author’s Last Work

Silent Night, an unfinished Spenser novel by the late Robert B. Parker, completed by his literary agent, Helen Brann, debuts at #20 on our Hardcover Fiction list.

It’s December in Boston, and Spenser is busy planning the menu for Christmas dinner when he’s confronted in his office by a boy named Slide. Homeless and alone, Slide has found refuge with an organization called Street Business, which gives shelter and seeks job opportunities for the homeless and lost. Slide’s mentor, Jackie Alvarez, is being threatened, and Street Business is in danger of losing its tenuous foothold in the community, which would put Slide and many others like him back on the street. But it’s not a simple case of intimidation—Spenser, aided by Hawk, finds a trail that leads to a dangerous drug kingpin, whose hold on the at-risk community that Street Business serves threatens not just the boys’ safety and security but their lives as well.

On Oct. 26, Brann did a signing at her neighborhood bookstore, the Hickory Stick, in Washington Depot, Conn. Dozens of her longtime friends attended and acquired a signed copy of the book while catching up with her. Brann’s decades-long association with Parker’s work gives her unique insight and perspective to his voice and storytelling style. Her contribution also speaks volumes about their friendship.—Peter Cannon

The Prince of Singapore: An American Pastor with an International Flock

Like so many other overnight successes who have actually been working and writing for years, Joseph Prince arrives on the bestseller list (#11 on our Hardcover Nonfiction list) with his 14th book, The Power of Right Believing. Prince has a worldwide following: he is senior pastor of New Creation Church in Singapore, with more than 30,000 attenders. His television program, Destined to Reign airs in 370 time slots on local channels in 35 cities in North America, as well as on national cable networks. He has more than one million Facebook fans, and a YouTube channel with more than 11 million views. You can even find him on Pinterest, or see advertising for the book on CNN while waiting at the airport. You might also see him in person; his first U.S. book tour includes stops in Houston, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Newark, N.J.
—Marcia Z. Nelson

Blood, Water, Wedding Bells: Lamb’s Novel of an Evolving Family Welcomed by his Fans

Hot off the presses, Wally Lamb’s new novel We Are the Water debuts on our Hardcover Fiction list at #5 in its first week on sale. He got the idea for the title from a Patti Griffith song, and the story followed. Hype began building for Lamb’s book, his first full-length novel in five years, back in May when the author spoke at the BEA Breakfast Series.

Set mostly in the author’s native Connecticut, We Are the Water explores race, class, sexuality, and art through the drama of the modern American family. On the brink of her second marriage, artist Annie Oh is plagued by “lifestyle guilt.” She has recently left her husband of 27 years for a woman—the sophisticated Viveca, a wealthy art dealer who encourages Annie to pursue her art. While Annie loves Viveca, she worries that her life choices are affecting her family, especially her three children, all in their 20s, who are struggling with the toll of young adulthood. As the wedding day nears, emotions fly and unhealed wounds resurface. The author is currently in the midst of a 10-city, monthlong tour.—Annie Coreno