Miracles Happen

As has been noted in news reports, scientific journals, etc., the time it takes Earth to rotate on its axis, or for a day to pass, has slowed. In fact, two milliseconds were added to the clock at midnight universal time June 30. (Said the New York Times, “The 61-Second Minute, But Blink and You’ll Miss It.”) The International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service, which oversees the addition of so-called “leap seconds” to the world’s official atomic clock, says that such adjustments are necessary in order to preserve the natural rhythms of sunrise, sunset, and the seasons. Enter debut novelist Karen Thompson Walker, whose widely lauded work, The Age of Miracles, opens with the following: “On a seemingly ordinary Saturday in a California suburb, Julia and her family awake to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth has suddenly begun to slow. The days and nights grow longer and longer, gravity is affected, the environment is thrown into disarray.” Michiko Kakutani in the New York Times dubbed the book “one of this summer’s hot literary reads”; Rolling Stone named Walker “the next big female novelist”; and PW’s starred review called the work “a gripping debut… a triumph of vision, language, and terrifying momentum.” Miracles movie rights have been optioned by River Road Entertainment, the production company for The Tree of Life, Into the Wild, and Brokeback Mountain, among others. YTD sales for Walker’s Age total 6,401.

With a mere 12 weeks on sale, John Grisham’s current blockbuster, Calico Joe, has racked up more than a quarter-million YTD sales, according to Nielsen BookScan. Following a 17-week run on our Fiction chart, his previous hardcover bestseller, The Litigators (sales of 607,867), was published last month in a dual paperback edition—a Dell mass market that’s sold 34,592 copies and a Bantam edition that has 14,007 in trade paper.—D.D.

Mother and Daughter Team Up

Jodi Picoult was on a book tour when she got a phone call from her teenage daughter. “Sammy told me she had an idea for a story,” Picoult recalled. “What if, when a book closed, the characters still lived in their world as people with interests and ideas different from the roles they played ‘onstage?’ And what if a prince in a fairytale was desperate to get out of his fairytale, but couldn’t get a reader to see him as anything but the prince in the story... until a teenage girl with a crush on that character noticed him trying to communicate with her? Well, it was brilliant. I suggested that we write the book together.”

And so they did. Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer pubbed on June 26, and shot to #2 in its first week on our frontlist children’s fiction list, with BookScan sales of 12,606. Van Leer told PW, “I learned a ton about how hard it is to be a writer. I never really understood what my mom did up in her office all day long. Now I know.” And Picoult praised her daughter’s literary talents, saying, “I treated her much more as a writing equal than I expected to, because her instincts are just so good. I’d love to work with Sammy again—it was one of the highlights of my career as a writer.”—D.R.