Fiction

Barry, Sebastian. On Canaan’s Side. Viking. Sept. 2011. 272p. ISBN 9780670022922. $24.95.
Lilly Bere’s complex life spans 20th-century America: owing to IRA death threats, she flees Ireland with her fiancé, he’s killed in Chicago, she marries and survives the Depression, she then moves to Washington, DC, with her husband, he disappears, she raises a son who’s called up for Vietnam, then he disappears, leaving a young son behind. Summed up that way, this book sounds implausible, but the award-winning Barry (Costa Book of the Year, James Tait Black Prize, Irish Book of the Year) has the skill to make it work. With a six-city tour.

Collins, Jackie. Goddess of Vengeance. St. Martin’s. Sept. 2011. ISBN 9780312567460. $26.99. CD: Macmillan Audio.
Originally due out in May and featured in Prepub Alert 11/8/10 , this is the story of Lucky’s battle with real estate mogul Armand Jordan, who wants her hotel/casino.

Cameron, Bruce. Emory’s Gift. Forge: Tor. Sept. 2011. 352p. ISBN 9780765327819. $22.99.
Cameron must love animals. Here he follows up the New York Times best-selling A Dog’s Purpose with the story of a grizzly bear that saves 13-year-old Charlie from a mountain lion. Since his mom is dead and his dad in mourning, Charlie could use a fuzzy friend. Sweet.

Erickson, Carolly. The Favored Queen: A Novel of Henry VIII’s Third Wife. St. Martin’s. Sept. 2011. 304p. ISBN 9780312596903. $25.99.
Having published The Last Wife of Henry VIII (among many other works, both fiction and nonfiction, about female royalty), Erickson backtracks to tell the story of Jane Seymour, third wife of Henry VIII, who married him somewhat reluctantly days after Anne Boleyn’s unceremonious beheading and died giving birth to the male heir he so wanted. Erickson is loved by the historical fiction set; buy accordingly.

Fagerholm, Monika. The Glitter Scene. Other. Aug. 2011. 528p. pap. ISBN 9781590514207. pap. $17.95.
Johanna lives with her aunt Solveig along the remoter reaches of Finland’s coast and knows little of her backgroundglitter3 Fiction until friend Ulla tells her about a tragedy involving an American girl that happened years ago and somehow involves Johanna’s dead parents. Since Fagerholm was nominated for an IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for her first novel and subsequently won a passel of prizes (including the August Prize) for The American Girl (yes, I’m assuming that there’s a connection here), this book is worth considering for your ambitious readers.

My Pick
Grossman, Lev. The Magician King. Viking. Sept. 2011. 448p. ISBN 9780670022311. $26.95. CD: Penguin Audio.
If Time book critic Grossman’s The Magicians was Harry Potter with a darker edge, then this sequel sounds like The Chronicles of Narnia way updated. Quentin and his friends now rule as the kings and queens of Fillory, and it’s getting dull. So he and Julia board a magical sailing ship to sojourn to the outer reaches of the kingdom‚ and end up back at Quentin’s parents home in Chesterton, MA. That’s horrifying enough, but they’re suddenly in danger, and Julia’s weird black magic comes in handy. Since The Magicians was a New York Times best seller and New Yorker Best Book of the Year‚ not to mention a mind-stretchingly fun read‚ you’ll definitely want this. Consider multiples; with a ten-city tour.

Grozni, Nikolai. Wunderkind: A Novel. Free Pr. Sept. 2011. ISBN 9781451616910. $24.
Grozni is certainly qualified to write a novel about the life of a piano prodigy behind the Iron Curtain just before communism falls; he was one. Born in Bulgaria, he started studying classical piano at age four and won his first bigwunder1 Fiction prize at age nine. Subsequently, he studied jazz at Boston’s famed Berklee College, spent four years in India as a Buddhist monk (which inspired three works in Bulgarian and his English-language memoir, Turtle Feet), got an MFA in creative writing at Brown, and here delivers a roman √† clef that I, for one, am wholly intrigued to read.

Kirkman, Robert. The Walking Dead. St. Martin’s. Sept. 2011. 320p. ISBN 9780312547738. $24.99.
First came The Walking Dead comic book series, then the television series. Now here’s a debut novel in a trilogy about the Governor, one of the more evil types in the Walking Dead world; when he first appeared, he was voted Villain of the Year by Wizard Magazine. This is your chance to learn how the Governor, who runs the enclosed town of Woodbury with his own warped sense of justice, got to be so bad. Calling all zombie lovers.

Ice-T & Mal Radcliff. Kings of Vice. Forge: Tor. Sept. 2011. 336p. ISBN 9780765325136. pap. $14.99.
Yes, famed rapper/actor Ice-T has penned a debut novel, and, not surprisingly, it’s a gritty street piece. When former gang leader Marcus Crush Casey leaves the pen after 20 years, the New York he rediscovers is on the verge of collapse. He’s there to help shore it up‚ but first he must reassemble his gang and get even with the traitor who handed him to the Feds. Note that Ice-T’s wife, model and actress Nicole Coco Marrow, has a debut novel of her own coming out from Forge in September (see below for the details). That will be some author tour. Expect lots of interest.

Lamplighter, L. Jagi. Prospero Regained. Tor. Sept. 2011. 480p. ISBN 9780765319319. $25.99.
In this continuation of the popular series, begun with Prospero Lost and set four centuries after the events in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Miranda and her brothers are guided through Hell by a member of the Brotherhood of Hope, who reminds them that nothing can hurt them in these fiery realms as long as they do not fear it. Not so simple when you are swimming through the Swamp of Uncleanness and crossing the Plains of Wasted Lives. But the siblings’ goal is noble: to save the life of their father, the magician Prospero, and free other siblings from their fate. Get wherever the series is popular.

Lazellari, Edward. Awakenings. Tor. Sept. 2011. 352p. ISBN 978-0765327871. $24.99.
Cal is a happily married cop and Seth an end-of-his-rope photographer. They have nothing in common‚ except amnesia; their lives until 13 years ago are blank. Then they discover that they are being stalked by otherworldly beings (deeply unfriendly) who do know about those lives, with the fate of a distant empire hanging in the balance. This is a debut and the first in an urban fantasy series from an illustrator whose work has appeared in Marvel Entertainment, DC Comics, and Jim Henson Productions. Promising credentials, and there’s lots of in-house excitement.

Lodge, David. A Man of Parts. Viking. Sept. 2011. 432p. ISBN 9780670022984. $26.95.
As if H.G. Wells’s life weren’t interesting enough, it’s now been turned into a novel by Lodge, twice finalist for the Man Booker Prize. Here, as he lies dying, Wells recalls tender moments with the wives he’s married and women he’s bedded, including Rebecca West. Could be good.

Marrow, Nicole Coco & Laura Hayden. Angel. Forge: Tor. Sept. 2011. 304p. ISBN 9780765330239. pap. $14.99.
This debut by actress/model Coco, wife of Ice-T (see above), starts out on a plane that’s about to crash into the Hudson. (There’s realism for you.) A woman on board is told that, given the passenger list, she must be Angela Sands‚ but she has no recollection of who she is and is convinced that she was murdered and has somehow leapt into a the body of a stranger. Whoa, let’s see where Coco goes with this.

Smith, Haywood. Wife-in-Law. St. Martin’s. Sept. 2011. 384p. ISBN 9780312609771. $25.99.
Proper Republican Betsy and flaming liberal Kat end up best friends. Then, Betsy’s husband leaves her for his secretary. Then he comes back‚ but falls for and marries newly widowed Kat. Getting a sense of the complications here? The author of The Red Hat Club should deliver; buy where his previous books were popular. With a reading group guide.

Torres, Justin. We the Animals. Houghton Harcourt. Sept. 2011. ISBN 978-0547576725. $21.
In this case, the animals are a band of three brothers who wreak joy and havoc as their Puerto Rican dad and WASPy mom battle through their days. There’s a great in-house push behind this debut, whose author has published work in Granta, Tin House, and Glimmer Train‚ great venues all. Watch this one.

My Pick
Tuck, Lily. I Married You for Happiness. Atlantic Monthly. Sept. 2011. 208p. ISBN 9780802119919. $24.
As this novel opens, a woman sits holding the hand of her husband, who has died unexpectedly. She reflects on their tender and tumultuous life together, starting with their meeting in Paris as artist and mathematician; they are united in love though they are from such different worlds. Expect the author of the National Book Award winner, The News from Paraguay, to turn in something burnished and sophisticated.

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Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (bhoffert@mediasourceinc.com, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; 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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