American Dirt Threats Likened to Rushdie's Fatwa, Katy Keene Adaptation Comes to Netflix

Concerns about threats of violence around American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins prompt statements from WaPo, PEN America, and others; more alternative reading lists are out as well. There are also new booklists for February. A bookselling startup takes on Amazon. LJ has a report on the state of the Macmillan embargo. Jerry Seinfeld will have a book about comedy out on Oct. 6. Witches, Norse mythology, and new series dominate page-to-screen adaptations this week.

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Page to Screen

Witches, Norse mythology, and new series dominate adaptations this week.







Jan. 31

Gretel & Hansel, based on the Grimms’ fairy tale. Reviews | Trailer

The Rhythm Section, based on the book by Mark Burnell (St. Martin’s: Macmillan). Reviews | Trailer

Diablero, based on the book by F.G. Haghenbeck (Ediciones B ). No reviews | Trailer

Ragnarok, based on Norse mythology. Reviews (scroll down) | Trailer

Luna Nera, based on Luna Nera. Le città perdute by Tiziana Triana (Sonzogno). No reviews | Trailer

Feb. 4:

The Flash, based on the DC comic character. No reviews | Trailer

Feb. 6:

The Sinner, based on the book by Petra Hammesfahr (Penguin). Reviews (scroll down) | Trailer

Briarpatch, based on the novel by Ross Thomas (St. Martin’s Griffin: Macmillan). Reviews | Trailer

Katy Keene, based on the comic character created by Bill Woggon. Reviews | Trailer


The NYT reviews Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara (Random House): "Rich with easy joy, Anappara’s writing announces the arrival of a literary supernova." Also, The Lost Book of Adana Moreau by Michael Zapata (Hanover Square Press: Harper): “Through the allegory of the multiverse, Zapata reinterprets the extent and toll of exile on Earth, the gulf between universes of human experience."The Affirmative Action Puzzle: A Living History from Reconstruction to Today by Melvin I Urofsky (Knopf): “The great merit of this meticulously researched, honestly crafted work is that it allows readers to draw their own conclusions about the value of this uniquely American experiment, quite independent of the author’s own conflicted views about it.” The paper also runs its “New in Paperback” column and Mira Jacob remakes book covers from her favorite reads when younger.

Book Marks has the best reviewed books of the week.

Briefly Noted

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins (Flatiron: Macmillan; LJ starred review) remains at the top of book news. The Washington Post writes “This is what we’ve come to. In the United States of America. More than 30 years after the Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa demanding the assassination of Salman Rushdie for writing “The Satanic Verses,” here we are terrorizing one of our own novelists.” PEN America has a statement. The NYT has an opinion piece by author Reyna Grande. Salon has an explainer. USA Today suggests “8 books by Latin American authors to read instead of, or in addition to, ‘American Dirt’.” The Guardian has “Beyond American Dirt: the best books to understand Latinx culture.”

The NYT suggests 10 books for the week. offers “All the New Genre-Bending Books Arriving in February.”

LitHub picks 14 books for February.

Book Riot has a list of the best manga of 2020.

New Panorama Picks for ebooks are out for the fourth quarter of 2019.

The winners of The Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature are announced.

In forthcoming book news, USA Today reports that Jerry Seinfeld will have a book about comedy out on Oct. 6. It is yet untitled and will be published by S. & S. Also, Entertainment Weekly excerpts the forthcoming Never Look Back by Lilliam Rivera (Bloomsbury YA: Macmillan). LitHub, by way of Publishers Marketplace, reports two new Katherine Dunn works are forthcoming, one in 2020.

The Washington Post features The Obama Portraits by Taína Caragol, Dorothy Moss, Richard Powell, Kim Sajet (Princeton).

Shondaland showcases Why We Can't Sleep: Women's New Midlife Crisis by Ada Calhoun (Grove Press; LJ starred review).

Entertainment Weekly reports on Laura Linney’s multi-platform work on My Name is Lucy Barton.

Electric Lit interviews Tochi Onyebuchi, Riot Baby (

The Guardian interviews Susan Choi, Trust Exercise (Henry Holt: Macmillan).

Time interviews Jenny Han, author of the widely popular film adaptations of the P.S. I Love You series.

Raina Telgemeier writes “Why Jerry Craft’s Newbery Medal Matters” for Time.

Author Gwen Ifill is honored with a Black Heritage Forever stamp.

Philly is a literary hotbed. The magazine Philadelphia explains who and why.

Electric Lit writes “How Amazon Ruined the Publication of a Secret J.D. Salinger Novel.”

The L.A. Times reports on “the first aphasia book club at a public library in North America.”

Wired writes about a new bookselling venture, a startup that “Wants to Help Indie Booksellers Take on Amazon.”

LJ has a report on the state of the Macmillan embargo.

Authors on Air

NPR’s Fresh Air interviews Lara Maiklem Mudlark: In Search of London’s Past Along the River Thames (Liveright: W.W. Norton). Also, the show has an interview with Kim Ghattas, Black Wave: Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Forty-Year Rivalry That Unraveled Culture, Religion, and Collective Memory in the Middle East (Henry Holt: Macmillan).

PBS NewsHour has a guide by Malcolm Gladwell about meeting someone for the first time. He wrote, of course, Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don't Know (Little, Brown: Hachette).

Deadline has a report on the Timmy Failure adaptation, based on the series by Stephan Pastis.

The Plot Against America gets a new trailer.

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Neal Wyatt

Neal Wyatt is LJ’s readers’ advisory columnist, contributing The Reader’s Shelf, Book Pulse, and Wyatt’s World columns. She is the coauthor of The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction, 3d ed. (ALA Editions, 2019). Contact her at

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