Addison, Corban. A Walk Across the Sun. SilverOak, dist. by Sterling. Jan. 2012. 384p. ISBN 9781402792809. $24.95. MYSTERY
Billed as a mystery but much more, this work aims to disclose the horrors of the international sex trade. Two sisters left orphaned by a tsunami that hits their coastal village decide to return to the convent where they attend school but are abducted and sold to a brothel in Mumbai. Washington, DC, attorney Thomas Clarke is on sabbatical in India, pursuing pro bono work for an NGO, when he hears the sisters’ story and determines to rescue them. Addison specializes in corporate law but actively pursues human rights issues and researched this book in India. Likely both sobering and suspenseful.
Benulis, Sabrina. Archon: The Book of Raziel. HarperVoyageur: HarperCollins. Jan. 2012. 400p. ISBN 9780062069405 $22.99; eISBN 9780062069450. PARANORMAL
Relentlessly afflicted with visions of angels and just released from a mental institution, Angela Mathers is hoping to find a little peace and quiet at the Vatican’s West Wood Academy. Instead, she finds angels and demons both determined to find a way to open the secret book of the lost archangel Raziel. As it happens, Angela is the human chosen for possession by the spirit of this dead angel. A hot paranormal debut by a young author; check out the 75,000-copy first printing.
DeLillo, Don. The Angel Esmeralda: Nine Stories. Scribner. Nov. 2011. 224p. ISBN 9781451655841. $24. CD: S. & S. Audio. SHORT STORIES
Recently dropping into the schedule, this collection gathers stories published in various literary magazines over the last three decades. The stories range in setting from the streets of New York to a spacecraft in outer space but address themes DeLillo has consistently explored for decades. Great while you’re waiting for the next novel.
Kay, Francesca. Translation of Bones. Scribner. Jan. 2011. 224p. ISBN 9781451636819. $24. LITERARY
Sweet, overweight Mary-Margaret O’Reilly dutifully helps around Sacred Heart church in Battersea. One day when she is cleaning the statue of Jesus, she drops unconscious to the floor, her head gashed, and word gets out that blood has flowed from the statue’s head. Soon the church is the center of a religious mania, even as Mary-Margaret returns to the statue, convinced that she has heard it speak and despairing when it remains stone-cold uncommunicative. This study in religious obsession sounds fascinating, and as Kay’s An Equal Stillness won the Orange Award for New Writers in 2009, it promises to be a strong work.
McCafferty, Jane. First You Try Everything. Harper: HarperCollins. Jan. 2012. 304p. ISBN 9780066210629. $24.99. LITERARY
Initially seeking comfort from each other after painful childhoods, married couple Evvie and Ben are now drawing apart. She’s still bohemian in outlook, while he’s gone corporate and wants to go on without her. The breakup of their marriage nearly shatters Evvie’s mind. This book isn’t starting terribly big for this publisher‚ the initial print run is 30,000 copies‚ but buzz is definitely building. McCafferty won the Drue Heinz Literature Prize for The Director of the World and Other Stories. Watch.
Nesbø, Jo. The Leopard. Knopf. Dec. 2011. 544p. ISBN 9780307595874. $26.95. lrg. prnt. CD: Random Audio. THRILLER
Back in yet another adventure, Detective Harry Hole has been enjoying himself in Hong Kong when he is recalled to Oslo to investigate two ugly murders that eventually take him to a remote hostel in the mountains. Tidbit: Not only is Nesbø an internationally best-selling author (with eight million copies of his books available worldwide) but he plays in one of Norway’s hottest rock band. With a 150,000-copy first printing and a national tour.
Rees, Rod. The Demi-Monde: Winter. Morrow. Jan. 2012. 528p. ISBN 9780062070340 $26.99. FANTASY
Billed as an sf, thriller, dystopian, and steampunk mash-up that will also appeal to those who grew up reading Harry Potter, this book is the first of four installments (note the seasonal approach, signaled by the subtitle) centered on a computer simulation called the Demi-Monde aimed at training soldiers for urban warfare. Alas, it’s gone a bit wonky, trapping the President’s daughter in its shadowy precincts, and an 18-year-old jazz singer named Ella Thomas must go save her. That puts her up against cyber versions of four of history’s nastier folks: Reinhard Heydrich, Lavrentiy Beria, Grand Inquisitor Tomás de Torquemada, and Maximillien Robespierre. Great expectations on this one, which should appeal to a wide range of genre fiction fans.
Weisman, John. KBL: Kill Bin Laden. Morrow. Nov. 2011. 288p. ISBN 9780062119513. $26.99. lrg. prnt. THRILLER
Weisman here fictionalizes the hunt for Osama bin Laden and his eventual killing, crosscutting scenes of Navy SEAL action with political maneuvering at the White House and CIA headquarters while stressing the role of anonymous intelligence operatives. His credentials? He’s coauthor of the hugely best-selling Rogue Warrior series, an experienced former journalist who has recently war-gamed counterterrorist tactical scenarios and red-teamed State Department countersurveillance units, and an intelligence expert who’s been invited to speak by such prominent clients as the German government. With a one-day laydown on 11/15/11 and a 200,000-copy first printing; bound to be big.
Eade, Philip. Prince Philip: The Turbulent Early Life of the Man Who Married Queen Elizabeth II. Holt. Nov. 2011. 368p. ISBN 9780805095449. $28. BIOGRAPHY
Next year is Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, marking her 60th year on the throne, and already the book flood has started. (See Andrew Marr’s The Real Elizabeth and Sally Bedell Smith’s Elizabeth the Queen, previewed last month in Prepub Alert.) It’s nice that someone has remembered her husband. Former barrister Eade, whose first book, Sylvia, Queen of the Headhunters, was a runner-up for the Biographers’ Club Prize, here offers a thoroughgoing biography of Prince Philip that became a best seller (no surprise) in the U.K.
Isaacson, Walter. Steve Jobs. S. & S. Nov. 2011. 448p. ISBN 9781451648539. $32.50. BIOGRAPHY
In a particularly farsighted move, this biography of Apple genius Steve Jobs was just dropped into the schedule, with a one-day laydown on 11/21/11. Based on 40 interviews with Jobs, plus hundreds of interviews with family, friends, and competitors, the book aims to show how Jobs has utterly transformed six key industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing. Given Isaacson’s background‚ a former chair of CNN and managing editor of Time, he’s written biographies of Benjamin Franklin and Henry Kissinger‚ and Jobs’s evident willingness to speak forthrightly without asking for final say over the manuscript, this should be significant. Think about multiples for informed readers.
Mda, Zakes. Sometimes There Is a Void: Memoirs of an Outsider. Farrar. Jan. 2012. 576p. ISBN 978037428094. $30. MEMOIR
Prominent South African author Mda has had a life as rich as any of this books. Here he recalls it all, from exile in Basutoland (Lesotho) and abuse by priests as an altar boy to his passion for Dvorák and Coltrane, involvement in politics after the Soweto uprising, playwriting, three marriages, and immigration to America, where he began writing novels (I loved The Whale Caller). With Binyavanga Wainaina’s memoir, One Day I Will Write About This Place, having snagged Oprah’s attention‚ and hence the world’s‚ this memoir by another noted African author could do well.
Murray, Charles. Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960‚ 2010. Crown Forum. Jan. 2012. 288p. ISBN 9780307453426. $27. CONSUMER AFFAIRS
W. H. Brady Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, Murray likes to stir contention; you’ll remember he wrote The Bell Curve with Richard J. Herrnstein. Here he argues that America’s social structure has changed and that the social mobility isn’t what it used to be, ultimately pointing to class rather than race or ethnicity as the main source of tension in the country today. Apparently, he makes much of an elite class in America, which is bound to raise everyone’s blood pressure.
Wills, Garry. Rome and Rhetoric: Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Yale Univ. Nov. 2011. 160p. ISBN 9780300152180. $25.
Alas, I missed the Royal Shakespeare Company’s performance of Julius Caesar in New York this summer, but I don’t plan to miss Pulitzer Prize‚ winning historian Wills’s study of the magic Shakespeare wrought in the play. Wills focuses on how different rhetorical devices are used to magnify each of the four main characters: Caesar, Brutus, Antony, and Cassius. Not likely for your average reader, but as this book first saw light at the Anthony Hecht Lectures in Humanities series, given biennially at Bard, this should be accessible and‚ after all, it’s Wills‚ interesting.
Yates, Jon. What’s Your Problem?: Cut Through Red Tape, Challenge the System, and Get Your Money Back. HarperPaperbacks: HarperCollins. Jan. 2012. 272p. ISBN 9780062009883. pap. $14.99; ebook ISBN 9780062098900.
Yates’s What’s Your Problem? consumer advocate column runs four days a week in the Chicago Tribune and periodically in other leading papers; he blogs for the Tribune as well. It deals with issues that sops like me need help with, e.g., how to appeal a denied health insurance claim or get the city to come fix the mess it made in the front yard. The accumulated wisdom here should make for a great library book.