Editors' Picks | Day of Dialog 2019

LJ's annual Day of Dialog opened with Editors' Picks, featuring seven editors from top publishers with their leading fall/winter titles. 

The 21st annual Day of Dialog opened with a robust “Editors’ Picks” panel featuring titles from authors both new and established, though some established authors trod new territory. For instance, Pamela Dorman, VP/publisher of her eponymous imprint at Viking, presented debut author Clare Pooley’s “warm and fuzzy” The Authenticity Project and LibraryReads favorite/”Community Reads” panelist J. Ryan Stradel’s The Lager Queen of Minnesota (“it does for beer what Kitchens of the Great Midwest does for food”), then highlighted Jojo Moyes’s The Giver of Stars. “If someone had told me I would fall in love with a novel about a group of librarians on horseback in Depression-era Appalachia, I would have told them that they were nuts,” said Dorman of Moyes’s unexpected work. But she added, “I never thought I would fall in love with a book about an arrogant quadriplegic and a local girl who becomes his carer,” referencing Moyes’s blockbuster Me Before You. Representing Grand Central Publishing, Senior VP/Publisher Ben Sevier introduced Stephen Chbosky’s Imaginary Friend, an adult novel being compared to early Stephen King that follows 1999’s multi-million-copy best-selling debut YA novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Susannah Cahalan’s The Great Pretender: The Undercover Mission That Changed Our Understanding of Madness follows her searing memoir, Brain on Fire, which “changed how many readers look at mental health system, and this one is even more important,” stated Sevier. Another high-expectations title: Kira Jane Buxton’s Hollow Kingdom, starring a talking crow bent on saving humankind (See “Top Debut Novels”).

 Top row, l.-r.: Ben Sevier, Dan Zitt, Kathryn Belden. Seated, l.-r.: Pamela Dorman, Jordan Pavlin, Lauren Wein

Scribner VP/Publisher Kathryn Belden presented two books that should expand their authors’ reputations. In Out of Darkness, Shining Light, the multi-award-winning Petina Gappah portrays Africans bearing David Livingston’s body to the coast for its final trip home, showing “great compassion for her characters” and using rich language that gives “the feel of period and place.” With Wildhood: The Epic Journey from Adolescence to Adulthood in Humans and Other Animals, New York Times best-selling coauthors Barbara Natterson-Horowitz and Kathryn Bowers (Zoobiquity) use their “eye-opening, cross-disciplinary, species-spanning approach [to show]… connections between humans and animals coming of age.” Belden also quickly mentioned Jesmyn Ward’s April 2020 Navigate You Stars, aimed at graduating students.

Lauren Wein, executive editor at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, featured Jami Attenberg’s All This Could Be Yours, “a gutsy and deliciously immersive family story,” and Kate Racculia’s Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts, “a treasure hunt masquerading as a novel [that’s] audacious …in a brainy, clever, spectacularly cerebral way.” Newcomer titles included Zoetrope founder Adrienne Brodeur’s Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover, and Me, the story of a 14-year-old drawn into her mother’s affair that “could be the next big memoir” (see “Women Have Their Say”) and British novelist Kate Davies’s In at the Deep End, “perfect if you like your rom-coms a little dark and very dirty. It’s for Fleabag fans.”

Knopf VP/Executive Editor Jordan Pavlin boasted two start-out authors exemplifying literary espionage. Lara Prescott’s debut novel, The Secrets We Kept, features the Seven Sisters–educated women in the CIA’s typing pool tasked with smuggling Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago out of Russia. “I’ve been at Knopf for 25 years, and I can count on one hand the number of times I have seen the whole house galvanized behind one book,” said Pavlin. Amaryllis Fox’s memoir Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA explains what it’s like to work undercover, with a cyanide pill in your pocket and no recourse if you are discovered, all told in gorgeous language that recalls Joan Didion.

Amistad Editorial Director Tracy Sherrod was unable to attend owing to a family emergency, so the moderator, Prepub Alert editor Barbara Hoffert, introduced her books. Two are by authors speaking at ALA. In Diamond Doris: The True Story of the World’s Most Notorious Jewel Thief, Doris Payne, raised in a poor, segregated West Virginia town, explains that she started her six-decade-long career as a jewel thief when a jewelry store owner threw her out of his store once a white customer entered. In Think Black: A Memoir, Clyde W. Ford recalls how the racism his father encountered as IBM’s first black software engineer led to self-loathing and what he himself grappled with years later at the company. Also presented: Jeffrey Colvin’s Novia Scotia–set, multigenerational debut novel, Africaville.

Wrapping up the panel with his third Day of Dialog appearance, Dan Zitt, Senior VP/Content Production, Random House Audio, started off big by introducing the full-cast audiobook of the National Theatre’s 2018 Broadway revival of Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize–winning Angels in America. This innovative audiobook was over eight months in the making and includes stage directions (spoken by Bobby Cannavale and Edie Falco) to flesh out the listening experience. Zitt promised that it sets the stage for more such productions. Other trend-setting moves from Zitt’s group: the ramped-up production of Spanish-language audio (George R.R. Martin’s Juegos de Tronos, anyone?) and graphic novel audios (e.g., Mira Jacobs’s Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations).

Photos by William Neumann



Petina Gappah. Out of Darkness, Shining Light. Scribner. Sept. 2109. 320p. ISBN 9781982110338. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781982110352. LITERARY FICTION

Barbara Natterson-Horowitz & Kathryn Bowers. Wildhood: The Epic Journey from Adolescence to Adulthood in Humans and Other Animals. Scribner. Sept. 2019. 288p. ISBN 9781501164699. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781501164712. LIFE SCIENCES

Jessmyn Ward. Navigate You Stars. Scribner. Apr. 2020.


Claire Cooley. The Authenticity Project. Pamela Dorman: Viking. Feb. 2010. 368p. ISBN 9781984878618368. $26; ebk. 9781984878625. POP FICTION

Shari Lapena. Someone We Know. Pamela Dorman: Viking. 304p. ISBN 9780525557654. $27. ebk. ISBN 9780525557661. CD/downloadable. THRILLER

Jojo Moyes. The Giver of Stars. Pamela Dorman: Viking. Oct. 2019. 400p. ISBN 9780399562488. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780399562501. lrg. prnt. CD/downloadable. WOMEN’S/HISTORICAL

J. Ryan Stradal. The Lager Queen of Minnesota. Pamela Dorman: Viking. Jul. 2019. 368p. ISBN 9780399563058. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780399563072. lrg. prnt. CD/downloadable. LITERARY FICTION


Amaryllis Fox. Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA. Knopf. Oct. 2019. 240p. ISBN 9780525654971. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9780525654988. CD/downloadable. MEMOIR

Lara Prescott. The Secrets We Kept. Knopf. Sept. 2019. 368p. ISBN 9780525656159. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780525656166. Downloadable. LITERARY FICTION

Kira Jane Buxton. Hollow Kingdom. Grand Central. Aug. 2019. 320p. ISBN 9781538745823. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781538745816. lib. ebk. ISBN 9781538732571. Downloadable. LITERARY

Susasanh Cahalan. The Great Pretender: The Undercover Mission That Changed Our Understanding of Madness. Grand Central. Nov. 2019. 336p. ISBN 9781538715284. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781538715260. lib. ebk. ISBN 9781538716809. CD/downloadable. SOCIAL SCIENCE

Stephen Chbosky. Imaginary Friend. Grand Central. Oct. 2019. 720p. ISBN 9781538731338. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781538731345. lib. ebk. 9781538716762. lrg. prnt. CD/downloadable. HORROR

Shea Serrano (text) & Arturo Torres (illus.) Movies (And Other Things). Twelve. Oct. 2019. ISBN 9781538730195. $25.ebk. ISBN 9781538730201.


Jeffrey Colvin. Africaville. Amistad. Dec. 2019. 384p. ISBN 9780062913722. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062913739. LITERARY/HISTORICAL

Benjamin Crump. Open Season: Legalized Genocide of Colored People. Amistad. Oct. 2019. 304p. ISBN 9780062375094. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062375117. MEMOIR/LAW

Clyde W. Ford. Think Black: A Memoir. Amistad. Sept. 2019. 224p. ISBN 9780062890566. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062890580. MEMOIR

Doris Payne. Diamond Doris: The True Story of the World’s Most Notorious Jewel Thief. Amistad. Sept. 2019. ISBN 9780062917997. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062918017. MEMOIR


Jami Attenberg. All This Could Be Yours. Houghton Harcourt. Oct. 2019. 240p. ISBN 9780544824256. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780544824270. LITERARY FICTION

Adrienne Brodeur. Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover, and Me. Houghton Harcourt. Oct. 2019. 256p. ISBN 9781328519030. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781328519047. MEMOIR

Kate Davies. In at the Deep End. Houghton Harcourt. Jun. 2019. 336p. ISBN 9781328629678. $25. ebk. ISBN 9781328628657. CD/downloadable.

Kate Racculia. Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts. Houghton Harcourt. Oct. 2019. 368p. ISBN 9780358023937. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780358025405. WOMEN’S


Mira Jacob. Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations. Random Audio. Mar. 2019. ISBN 9780593105511. $15.

E.L. James. El Mister. Random Audio. May 2019. ISBN 9780593165133. $25.50. ROMANCE

Tony Kushner. Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes. Random Audio. May 2019. ISBN 9780593153949. $35. THEATER

George R.R. Martin. Juegos de Tronos. Random Audio. Apr. 2019. ISBN 9781984889218. $45. EPIC FANTASY

Cavan Scott. Dooku: Jedi Lost. (Star Wars). Random Audio. ISBN 9780593102817. $17.50. SF/FANTASY

Andy Weir. Chesire Crossing. Random Audio. Jul. 2019. ISBN 9780593102879. $15.


Author Image
Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (bhoffert@mediasourceinc.com, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Book Review; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president of the National Book Critics Circle, to which she has just been reelected.

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