Publishers at the recently wrapped Public Library Association conference report that most of their galleys had been carted off by attendees at show’s end, but some galleys stood out for the speed with which they departed the booth. It’s hardly surprising that copies of Gabrille Zevin’s top LibraryReads pick, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry (Algonquin) “were gone in a nano-second,” as Michael Rockliff, Director, School & Library Sales and Marketing, Workman, observed. “I directed folks to Netgalley and Edelweiss, and got quite a few requests.”
And it’s hardly surprising that attendees were lured by new works from big-name authors, e.g., Anthony Doerr’s All The Light We Cannot See (Scribner), Alex Grecian’s Devil’s Workshop (Putnam), Sarah Jio’s Goodnight June (Penguin), Herman Koch’s Summer House with Swimming Pool (Hogarth: Crown), Francine Prose’s Lovers at the Chameleon Club (Harper), Rainbow Rowell’s Landline (St. Martin’s), Lisa See’s China Dolls (Random), Tom Rob Smith’s The Farm (Grand Central), and Jacqueline Winspear’s Care and Management of Lies—though note that Smith’s and Winspear’s books are departures from their usual territory, with Smith exploring psychological suspense and Winspear historical fiction.
But there were surprises, too, and smaller or debut works receiving plenty of traction. Rowell’s galley may have been a big hit at the Macmillan booth, but the title that really flew the coop was Lissa Lucas and Traci Torres’s My Pet Chicken Handbook (Rodale), distributed in finished-copy format. At the Harper booth, big movement graced two debuts—Laline Paull’s edgily imaginative The Bees (Ecco) and Josh Malerman’s Bird Box (Ecco), horror about something unknown that when seen compels people to attack others and then take their own lives. Also popular: Hazel Gaynor’s The Girl Who Came Home (Morrow Paperbacks), about a girl who survived the sinking of the Titanic and years later confides her story to her great-granddaughter.
Gaynor has other books to her credit, but the hunger for new titles (perhaps helped along by publisher eagerness to get new authors out there) showed up elsewhere. At the Random booth, two big titles included Rufi Thorpe’s The Girls from Corona Del Mar (Knopf), about teenage friends who switch their she’s lucky–she’s not roles in adulthood, and Lori Rader-Day’s The Black Hour (Seventh Street), about a teacher coming to terms with being shot by a student. The Simon & Schuster folks can report great success with Terry Hayes’s in-your-face thriller, I Am Pilgrim (Atria); Laura McBride’s grandly conceived We Are Called To Rise (S. & S.): and Courtney Maum’s I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You (Touchstone), about a philanderer’s efforts to reclaim the love of his wife.
It’s nice to see nonfiction getting some attention at the Hachette booth, with attendees grabbing Walter Borneman’s American Spring: Lexington, Concord, and the Road to Revolution (Little, Brown) and Brian McLaren’s We Make the Road by Walking (Jericho), weekly reading to freshen the Christian faith. It’s also nice to see Josh Ferris do so well with To Rise Again at a Decent Hour (Little, Brown), his third novel after a smashing start with his the National Book Award finalist Then We Came to the End. Laughter princess Susan Jane Gilman (Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress) also did well with, yes, a debut novel, The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street (Grand Central).
As always, the well-stocked Penguin booth was a place for discoveries, starting with Jean Kwok’s Mambo in Chinatown (Riverhead), her second novel after the successful Girl in Translation. Also picked up quickly: Joel Dicker’s The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (Penguin), an international best seller about a student trying to clear his mentor’s name (and get a book idea in the bargain); Naomi Wood’s Mrs. Hemingway (Penguin), which should draw the same readers as Paula McLain’s The Paris Wife; Thomas Sweterlitsch’s dystopian Tomorrow and Tomorrow (Putnam); Jan Elizabeth Watson’s psychological thriller, What Has Become of You (Dutton); Shari Shattuck’s tender Invisible Ellen (Putnam); Susan Scarf Merrell’s Shirley (Blue Rider), which imagines a couple’s friendship with Shirley Jackson and her husband; and Jennifer Niven’s American Blonde (Plume), whose pilot heroine–turned–protected movie star must break out on her own.
With fans swooning over Swoozie Kurtz’s autobiography, Part Swan, Part Goose (Perigee), and Marja Mills’s The Mockingbird Next Door (Penguin Pr.), an account of the author’s relationship with Harper Lee, Penguin nonfiction got a workout, too. As did anyone carrying all those galleys. In the end, Netgalley and Edelweiss requests are as good for the back as they are for the soul.