Sneak Preview: 12 Unexpected Titles You’ll Discover at ALA

Anna Badkhen’s The World Is a Carpet: Four Seasons in an Afghan Village (Riverhead: Penguin Group USA. Jun. 2013. 288p. ISBN 9781594488320. $26.96). Award-winning reporter Badkhen, whose beats have included the Middle East, portrays life in an Afghan village by detailing the weaving of a single carpet.

Dan Beachy-Quick’s An Impenetrable Screen of Purest Sky (Coffee House, dist. by Consortium. Sept 2013. 224p. ISBN 9781566893411. pap. $15.95). Striking poet Beachy-Quick offers a first novel of sorts that promises to be an engaging study of memory, storytelling, and coming of age.

Will Ferguson’s 419 (Pintail: Penguin Group USA. Aug. 2013. 432p. ISBN 9780143188728. pap. $16). In this Scotiabank Giller Prize winner, an editor investigates the consequences of an Internet swindle, which has cost her father his life.

Ronald Frame’s Havisham (Picador. Nov. 2013. 368p. ISBN 9781250037275. $26). A noted British novelist reimagines the youth of one of Dickens’s most memorable characters, and you think you can resist?

Chris Kluwe’s Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies: On Myths, Morons, Free Speech, Football, and Assorted Absurdities (Little, Brown. Aug. 2013. 9780316236775. $27). You’ve got to love the title, and it’s intriguing that these pointed reflections on society come from a Minnesota Vikings punter already noted for thinking (and publishing) outside the box.

Leanda de Lisle’s Tudor: The Family Story (PublicAffairs: Perseus Book Group. Nov. 2013. 576p. ISBN 9781610393638. $29.99). The Tudors are so hot right now, so why not tune in to the author of the nicely praised The Sisters Who Would Be Queen.

Pierre Lemaitre’s Alex. (Quercus. Sept. 2013. 384p. ISBN 9781623650001. $24.95). One of the first books from the British publisher’s new American division, this French thriller is buzzing and scary, scary, scary.

Colin McAdam’s A Beautiful Truth (Soho. Sept. 2013. 336p. ISBN 9781616953157. $25). Several books this year examine the bond between humans and chimps, but this lovely work is told from the perspective of both and won a starred LJ review.

Kristina Riggle’s Whole Golden World. (Morrow Paperbacks. Nov. 2013. 448p. ISBN 9780062206459. pap. $14.99).  Not just engaging but engaged, this novel concerns a family upended by a teenage daughter’s affair with her married teacher.

Alyson Richman’s The Mask Carver’s Son. (Berkley. Sept. 2013. 384p. ISBN 9780425267264. pap. $15). Set in 1890s Japan, Richman’s debut immediately intrigues by presenting a clash between East and West, between artist father and tradition-resistant son.

Najla Said’s Looking for Palestine: Growing Up Confused in an Arab American Family (Riverhead: Penguin Group USA. Aug. 2013. 272p. ISBN 9781594487088. $27.95.) Edward Said’s daughter is an actor, a speaker, and now a writer detailing her search for cultural identity.

Vivien Shotwell’s Vienna Nocturne. (Ballantine. Feb. 2014. ISBN 9780345536372. $26). Mezzo-soprano Shotwell already has a distinguished career, but now she launches herself as a writer with this novel inspired by a real-life soprano’s affair with Mozart.

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Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @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, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.