Akhtar, Ayad. American Dervish. Little, Brown. Jan. 2012. 336p. ISBN 9780316183314. $24.99. CD: Hachette Audio. LITERARY
Pakistan American youngster Hayat Shah discover the joys of the Quran‚ and encounters serious complications‚ when his mother’s smart, beautiful, and devout friend Mina comes to America. There’s nothing but good news about this book: the author has already been on a successful prepublication tour to six cities; rights have been sold to 21 countries; Morning Edition, O: The Oprah Magazine, the New York Times Book Review, USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal have all come calling; and there’s a ten-city tour in the works. What’s more, the book is both an IndieBound and a B&N Discover pick, and it’s already hovering between four and five stars on Goodreads. You can’t beat that.
Avery, Ellis. The Last Nude. Riverhead: Penguin Group (USA). Jan. 2011. 320p. ISBN 9781594488139. $25.95. LITERARY
Author of The Teahouse Fire, Avery tells the story of an American in 1920s Paris who models for Art Deco painter Tamara de Lempicka and becomes her lover. No less a writer than Emma Donoghue (Room) conducted a big Amazon interview. Lots of interest already from women’s magazines, including O: The Oprah Magazine, and interest in de Lempicka, too; the painting featured on the book’s cover just sold at Sotheby’s for $8.5 million. The starred LJ review (mine) called this absorbing, affecting, and agitating. It’s a stunner.
Baggott, Julianna. Pure. Grand Central. Feb. 2012. 448p. ISBN 9781455503063. $25.99; eISBN 9781455503049. Downloadable: Hachette Audio. DYSTOPIAN FICTION
The first in a postapocalyptic trilogy, already being compared to Justin Cronin’s The Passage and Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games, this novel takes place after the Detonations, when the scarred survivors must turn themselves over to the authorities at age 16 to become either soldiers or live targets. A huge acquisition for the publisher that’s been anticipated for months; Baggott hit all the regional booksellers shows this fall and will appear at AAP’s ALA Midwinter Breakfast. And I’ve been staying up past midnight to read it.
Bazell, Josh. Wild Thing. Reagan Arthur Bks: Little, Brown. Feb. 2012. 240p. ISBN 9780316032193. $25.99; eISBN 9780316125826. CD/Downloadable: Hachette Audio. THRILLER
Once Pietro Brwna, mob hitman, Dr. Peter Brown has changed to a calmer profession. Here he accepts a job accompanying a sexy but out-of-control paleontologist on a dangerous field trip. This follow-up to Bazell’s hailed debut, Beat the Reaper, should inspire enthusiasm; a big campaign is already underway.
Groff, Lauren. Arcadia. Hyperion. Mar. 2012. 304p. ISBN 9781401340872. $25.95. LITERARY
After her masterly debut, The Monsters of Templeton, Groff offers the tale of a Sixties commune going to seed. There’s media excitement already from women’s magazines and newspapers nationwide, and note that Richard Russo is a fan; Groff will be doing an event with him at Brooklyn’s Greenlight Bookstore. LJ‘s starred review advises, Groff’s exquisite writing ties the reader in knots‚ hurry up to read the next beautiful sentence, or slow down and savor each stunning passage.
Johnson, Adam. The Orphan Master’s Son. Random. Jan. 2012. 512p. ISBN 9780812992793. $26; eISBN 9780679643999. CD: Random Audio. LITERARY
Blending personal story, political history, and what one character calls the greatest North Korean love story ever told, Johnson follows an orphan who starts out as a tunnel soldier and rises through the military ranks until he’s set to challenge Kim Jong-Il himself. Lots of review and retail interest on this one. Nothing but raves, everywhere I look.
Ivey, Eowyn. The Snow Child. Reagan Arthur: Little, Brown. Feb. 2012. 400p. ISBN 9780316175678. $24.99. LITERARY
A retelling of the Russian fairytale, set in 1920s Alaska, this debut features a newly homesteading couple, unable to have a family, who connect with a wild child they spot in the woods. It’s a gorgeous, evocative work that shows us how hard the wilderness is, highlighting our need for community even as we recognize that there are things in this world that can’t be tamed. Yes, the starred LJ review was mine‚ and everyone I know who’s read it has been astonished.
King, Stephen. The Wind Through the Keyhole: A Dark Tower Novel. Scribner. Apr. 2012. 336p. ISBN 9781451658903. $27. CD: S. & S. Audio. POP FICTION
In this latest Dark Tower book‚ the first since 2004, so you bet fans will be excited‚ King returns to Mid-World and the teenaged years of gunslinger Roland Deschain. King’s own assessment: It’s not going to change anybody’s life, but God I had fun.
Kunzru, Hari. Gods Without Men. Knopf. Mar. 2012. 384p. ISBN 9780307957115. $26.95; eISBN 9780307957498. LITERARY
In this book by the author of The Impressionist, his first set in the United States, two New Yorkers encounter strange and interesting characters while hunting for their autistic son in the starkly beautiful Mojave Desert. Too early for much media buzz here, but we trust the Guardian‘s reviews, don’t we?: This rather extraordinary fourth novel has the countercultural, mind-expanding feel of a late-1960s US campus hit.
Landay, William. Defending Jacob. Delacorte. Feb. 2012. 432p. ISBN 9780385344227. $26; eISBN 9780345527592. THRILLER
In the publisher’s big fiction title for the season, assistant district attorney Andy Barber had a tough case: his own son, Jacob, stands accused of murder. LJ‘s starred review says it recalls Scott Turow’s Presumed Innocent, which is no small accomplishment.
Lee, Krys. Drifting House. Viking. Feb. 2012. 224p. ISBN 9780670023257. $25.95. CD: Penguin Audio. SHORT STORIES
This first collection about the Korean immigrant experience comes from a writer to watch. Comparing her to Daniyal Mueenuddin, a National Book Award and Pulitzer finalist for his first collection, LJ‘s review says, Lee, too, enters the literary world fully formed. Grab this and say you read Lee before your friends did.
McDermid, Val. The Retribution. Atlantic Monthly. Jan. 2012. 416p. ISBN 9780802120175. $25. THRILLER
In another bone-crunching tale from a thriller master, clinical psychologist Tony Hill and police detective Carol Jordan are understandably concerned when serial killer Jacko Vance breaks out of the jail cell where they’ve put him. I’m introducing this book at the Association of American Publishers’ upcoming American Library Association Midwinter breakfast, which leaves me quaking in my boots; I scare easily.
Mallon, Thomas. Watergate: A Novel. Pantheon. Feb. 2012. 448p. ISBN 9780307378729. $27.95; eISBN 9780307907080. HISTORICAL FICTION
Since he’s written novels like Dewey Defeats Truman, Mallon would seem to have the right mix of historical understanding and fresh whimsy to portray the craziness that was Watergate. In fact, one Random sales rep said that he makes Watergate comes off much funnier the second time around. Lots of buzz among the reps, plus confirmed media coverage from Vanity Fair, O: The Oprah Magazine, and Out magazine (so far) and a big NPR/Weekend Edition piece.
Mason, Richard. History of a Pleasure-Seeker. Knopf. Feb. 2012. 288p. ISBN 9780307599476. $25.95; eISBN 9780307957528. LITERARY
A drop-dead handsome young man, poor but ambitious, becomes a tutor in a leading bourgeois household in Amsterdam during Europe’s Belle √âpoque and ingratiates himself with the mistress of the house. Not just a romance (it’s more knowing), not just a historical (it’s psychologically as well as socially alive), this is a probing commentary on class‚ and human‚ relations. Mason is truly eager to visit libraries, and he’s said to be a charmer.
Moore, Christopher. Sacré Bleu: A Comedy d’Art. Morrow. Apr. 2012. 416p. ISBN 9780061779749. $26.99; eISBN 9780062101242. CD: HarperAudio. COMIC FANTASY
Vincent Van Gogh has shot himself, and friends Henri Toulouse-Lautrec and baker-turned-painter Lucien Lessard find that it has something to do with a color man he thought was stalking him and a certain shade of blue. How’s this going? Still early, but a one-day laydown is planned and a Sacré Bleu blog should be revving up. Interesting to see Moore go beyond vampires.
Neuman, Andrés. Traveler of the Century. Farrar. Feb. 2012. 528p. ISBN 9780374119393. $30. LITERARY
The plot sounds intriguing enough‚ a mysterious traveler in a town on the Saxony-Prussian border talks philosophically with an organ grinder and starts an ill-advised affair‚ but what’s really interesting is that the author is touted as Latin America’s next big splash in America after Roberto Bola√±o. Even more interesting, he’s being brought over from Spain for a tour. An Alfaguara award winner.
Odell, Jonathan. The Healing. Nan A. Talese: Doubleday. Feb. 2012. 352p. ISBN 9780385534673. $26. Downloadable: Random Audio. HISTORICAL FICTION
A woman healer is brought to a plantation whose mistress, mourning the loss of her child, has taken a newborn slave child as her own. A BOMC featured pick, compared to Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Alice Walker’s The Color Purple by one blogger and to Dolen Perkins-Valdez’s acclaimed Wench in LJ‘s starred review, this book is already generating buzz among booksellers.
O’Melveny, Regina. The Book of Madness and Cures. Little, Brown. Apr. 2012. 336p. ISBN 9780316195836. $25.99. CD/downloadable: Hachette Audio. HISTORICAL FICTION
The only woman practicing medicine in 16th-century Venice, Gabriella Mondini must launch on a long journey when her father goes missing. An intriguing fiction debut from a published poet; early yet for media buzz but the in-house enthusiasm is bowling me over.
O’Nan, Stewart. The Odds: A Love Story. Viking. Jan. 2012. 400p. ISBN 9780670023165. $25.95. LITERARY FICTION
Jobless and facing foreclosure, a couple whose marriage is on the rocks books the bridal suite at a fancy casino and risks everything at the roulette wheel. I like it when Book & Books says, Following on the heels of Emily, Alone, which the New York Times Book Review called O’Nan’s best novel yet, The Odds marks another resounding achievement for the author. Ha! He just stays good.
Pavone, Chris. The Expats. Crown. Mar. 2012. 336p. ISBN 9780307885289. $26. THRILLER
From a publishing veteran now who went abroad with his wife and became Mr. Mom of Europe, this debut features an American named Kate Moore who finds the expatriate’s life in Luxembourg a lot more fraught than she had imagined. Yes, it gets into espionage. Yes, rights were sold everywhere. Yes, there will a film. Yes, there’s already been lots of publicity‚ there was even a big publicity lunch.
Pearl, Matthew. The Technologists. Random. Feb. 2012. 496p. ISBN 9781400066575. $26; eISBN 9780679605072. CD/ downloadable: Random Audio. THRILLER
I’m intrigued to find Pearl shifting tack from literature to science as MIT’s first graduating class (including one smart female student) tries to discover why seven ships have crashed and burned in Boston’s harbor. Early readers are loving it.
Perlman, Elliot. The Street Sweeper. Riverhead: Penguin Group (USA). Jan. 2011. 688p. ISBN 9781594488474. $28.95. LITERARY
Paroled felon Lamont Williams, who works as a street sweeper in New York while looking for his lost daughter, befriends a dying Holocaust survivor and eventually meets Adam Zignelik, a Columbia history professor interested in both the Holocaust and the Civil Rights Movement. This is a grand, ambitious book from an award-winning writer (Seven Types of Ambiguity), and though I can’t tell you what’s stirring here, I can report that the word from Perlman’s native Australia is strong.
Rash, Ron. The Cove. Ecco: HarperCollins. Apr. 2012. 272p. ISBN 9780061804199. $25.99; pap. ISBN 9780062126115. $17.99. LITERARY
Shunned by neighbors in early 1900s North Carolina because she lives with her brother on land considered haunted, Laurel Mars finally has a chance at love‚ with a passing stranger. From the author of the breakout Serena, this is a haunting, powerfully moving novel, according to the starred LJ review, and the publisher’s lead spring title. I’m pleased to be introducing him at AAP’s ALA Midwinter breakfast
Scott, Kim. That Deadman Dance. Bloomsbury USA, dist. by Macmillan. Feb. 2012. 368p. ISBN 9781608197057. $25.
Set at a time when Europeans were first arriving in Australia, this novel features Bobby Wabalanginy, who must eventually choose sides. This is one highly honored novel, having won the Miles Franklin Award, plus the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for the region and the Australian Literary Society Gold Medal, and having been shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Award and the Western Australia Premier’s Book Award. And it’s just made the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award longlist.
Smith, Tom Rob. Agent 6. Grand Central. Jan. 2012. 448p. ISBN 9780446550765. $25.99. lrg. prnt. CD/downloadable: Hachette Audio. THRILLER
Winner of the CWA 2008 Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award, Smith brings back Leo Demidov, whose wife and daughter are attacked on a Peace Tour in Cold War America. This is already a best seller in the UK.