Hot Tickets

Galleys that moved like hotcakes on the BEA floor Never mind that the air was recycled, the lighting was fluorescent, and the food tasted as if it had been fried on the Hollywood pavement. This year’s BookExpo America (BEA) attendees still relished their time on the show floor of the Los Angeles Convention Center, luxuriating in an alternate reality where the printed word—not gas, not politicians, not celebrities—dominated the conversation. The first hot book sighting came courtesy of Anne Rice, whose goth girls and boys may cry over her Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession (Knopf, Oct.). The woman who gave the world Lestat now chronicles her loss and rediscovery of Catholic faith in New Orleans. No one in the winding line of autograph seekers was complaining, however. Rice, dressed in cream silk, looked refined and amiable. Not that any author would object to being besieged by fans, of course. But long and winding lines can present problems. Michelle Moran, who introduced her new historical novel, The Heretic Queen (Crown, Sept.), at LJ’s Day of Dialog (see News, p. 15), had to shoo folks away as her signing ended. After speaking eloquently about his America, America (Random, Jul.) at Friday morning’s Random House/LJ breakfast, Ethan Canin signed for an hour outside the booth and was then moved inside for more. Nearby, Curtis Sittenfeld was drumming up considerable interest with galley giveaways of her third novel, American Wife (Random, Sept.), about a librarian/schoolteacher who becomes First Lady. LJ’s Tag Team reviewers John Helling and Natasha Grant attest that this story sounds familiar for a reason—it’s the life of Laura Bush! American Wife was highlighted at Day of Dialog by Random editor-at-large David Ebershoff, who modestly refrained from citing his own novel, The 19th Wife (Random, Aug.). No matter; Day of Dialog attendees asked about it anyway, and the book did well on the floor. Two new YA novels offered serious crossover potential. Though no galleys were in sight, librarians at LJ’s Librarians’ Lounge were talking up Stephenie Meyer’s Breaking Dawn (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, Aug.), the fourth and concluding volume in her cult “Twilight” series. Elsewhere, attendees of all ages snapped up galleys of Pulitzer Prize winner Oscar Hijuelos’s teen debut, Dark Dude (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, Sept.).

Witchy brews

The haunting face of a Colonial-era child was seen everywhere at BEA on the cover of Kathleen Kent’s The Heretic’s Daughter (Little, Brown, Sept.), perhaps owing to an intriguing premise. How many first novelists could write affectingly about an ancestor hanged as a witch in 1692 Salem? For that matter, who knew that the Salem witch trials were so hot? Originally self-published and touted by Morrow editor Laurie Chittenden at Day of Dialog, Brunonia Barry’s The Lace Reader (Morrow, Jul.) is set in a contemporary Salem that echoes with the past. The book went on to be a BEA darling and so far has sold rights in nearly two dozen countries. Kent was to have appeared with a strong lineup of authors at a librarians’ dinner jointly sponsored by the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and LJ on Thursday, May 28, but couldn’t make it. Her surprisingly funny substitute was Brad Meltzer, whose newest work, The Book of Lies (Grand Central, Sept.), drew considerable attention of its own. So did Michael Connelly’s 20th book, the Mickey Haller–Harry Bosch team-up The Brass Verdict (Little, Brown, Oct.), already enjoying a multimillion-dollar publicity campaign—including a custom-made Zagat pocket guide to Connelly’s Los Angeles. Dressed in a demure cover, Kira Salak’s The White Mary (Holt, Aug.) was spotted regularly. Holt editor Sarah Knight presented this title at the Editors Buzz panel but pushed it at Day of Dialog first. Proclaimed Knight, “I’m a different person for reading this book,” award-winning journalist Salak’s account of a war correspondent’s efforts to track down her hero, presumed dead. Other books given the high five at Day of Dialog: Jim Harrison’s The English Major (Grove, Oct.), the story of 60-ish Cliff’s improbable road trip and Grove Atlantic’s biggest BEA hit, and Anne Enright’s Yesterday’s Weather (Grove, Sept.). Since Enright recently won the Man Booker Prize for The Gathering, it’s no surprise that “folks were all over” this story collection, as publicity director Deb Seager notes. Fantasy, anyone? The fastest-moving galley from Hachette Book Group’s new sf and fantasy imprint was Orcs (Orbit, Sept.), which gathers into one book British sensation Stan Nicholls’s internationally best-selling trilogy, introducing it to the U.S. market. The publisher’s initial 250 copies were gone by noon on the first show day, and a rush order went out for another 250, which disappeared as well.

Foreign faves

BEA attendees scooped up all 400 copies of To Siberia (Graywolf, Oct.) by Norwegian novelist Per Petterson, author of IMPAC Dublin Literary Award winner Out Stealing Horses. “People really had a lot of name recognition surrounding Horses and were very excited to see that we were doing a new book,” explains Graywolf’s Mary Matze. Some 400 galley copies, too, went of the 900-page heavyweight 2666 (Farrar, Nov.) by the late Chilean novelist Roberto Bolaño (both a hardcover and a three-part paperback version will be available). “We could have given away twice that amount,” insists Farrar publicity director Jeff Seroy. Two other showstoppers cited by Seroy were Marilynne Robinson’s Home (Farrar, Sept.), which parallels her Pulitzer Prize–winning Gilead, and Jonathan Carroll’s The Ghost in Love (Sarah Crichton: Farrar, Sept.). At the HarperCollins booth, Francine Prose’s Goldengrove (Harper, Sept.) indeed proved to be golden. “This book is a departure for Prose,” notes publicity director Jane Beirn, “and word of mouth pushed it over the top.” Dennis Lehane also has a departure with The Given Day (Morrow, Sept.), which revolves around the Boston Police Strike of 1919. The publisher unloaded 1000 galleys at the booth, the formal signing, and Day of Dialog. There were more vanishing acts, not all of them from Joshua Jay, who caused traffic jams doing tricks from his Magic: The Complete Course in Becoming a Magician (Workman, Oct.). More than 800 galleys of Philip Roth’s Indignation (Houghton, Sept.), a Korean War–era coming-of-age novel, disappeared in just under an hour, and all 1500 galleys were gone as the second show day ended. Bantam Dell’s most oft-requested galley was The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society (Dial, Aug.), a first novel by former bookseller/librarian Mary Ann Shaffer and her niece, children’s author Annie Barrows. Some 500 copies were distributed at the booth and an additional 350 at the signing by Barrows. Sadly, Shaffer died in February.

Get ready for chills

Another buzzed-about book was Angel’s Tip (Harper, Aug.), Alafair Burke’s second novel (after Dead Connection) not featuring Samantha Kincaid and her first to be published by Harper. As Lee Child reported on his own blog (, he read Angel’s Tip on his flight home from BEA, where he had been signing finished copies of his 12th Jack Reacher thriller, Nothing To Lose (Delacorte, Jun.). Child’s verdict? “Real good.” Child might also have noted The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Knopf, Sept.), its publisher’s most-requested galley. Word of mouth is working well for this crime novel by the late Swedish journalist Stieg Larsson, which has sold more than two million copies worldwide. Katherine Neville will likely have an international best seller of her own with The Fire (Ballantine, Oct.), a sequel to The Eight, Ballantine’s first hardcover and a publishing phenomenon 20 years ago. Having heard her speak at the AAP/LJ dinner, attendees burned a hole in the carpet to Neville’s signing, forming a line that was more than 100 strong. Not surprisingly, Vicki Myron’s much-discussed Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World (Grand Central, Sept.) elicited anticipatory purrs from the Editors Buzz audience, which was stocked with librarians. Also featured at the panel was John Lloyd and John Mitchinson’s The Book of Animal Ignorance: Everything You Think You Know Is Wrong (Harmony, Sept.), which follows up the surprise best-selling The Book of General Ignorance. And look for a stampede: Benjamin Mee’s We Bought a Zoo: The Amazing True Story of a Young Family, a Broken Down Zoo, and the 200 Wild Animals That Change Their Lives Forever (Weinstein, Sept.) is being compared to John Grogan’s Marley & Me. Another juicy comparison: Bill Tancer’s Click: What Millions of People Are Doing Online and Why It Matters (Hyperion, Sept.) is said to be the new Tipping Point. But Cheryl Jarvis’s The Necklace: Thirteen Women and the Experiment That Transformed Their Lives (Ballantine, Sept.) may be like nothing you’ve ever read. Jarvis explains how she and some friends jointly purchased a stunning diamond necklace they call Jewelia. “Fans were able to get themselves photographed wearing the $36,000 piece,” explains Ballantine publicity director Brian McLendon. Finally, since BEA played out in steamy Los Angeles, one could rightly expect a little romance. New York Times best-selling author Stephanie Laurens’s The Edge of Desire (Avon, Sept.) almost closes the door on her Regency-set “Bastion Club” series about the members of an elite group of former spies. The ultimate Bastion will be breached in fall 2009. Meanwhile, look for best-selling New York Times and USA Todayauthor Julia London’s The Book of Scandal (Pocket, Sept.), the first in a trilogy based on a genuine 1806 document that revealed the peccadilloes of the Prince of Wales and his Royal relatives. Scandal makes the world go ’round—and this one will also be available as an ebook.
Bette-Lee Fox is Managing Editor, LJ; Barbara Hoffert is Editor, Raya Kuzyk is Associate Editor, Heather McCormack is Managing Editor, & Wilda Williams is Fiction Editor, LJ Book Review
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing