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  • Miwa Messer 2:45 pm on 2018/03/27 Permalink
    Tags: B&N's Discover Great New Writers,   

    Announcing the Discover Great New Writers Summer 2018 Selections 

    The booksellers who sit on the selection committee for our Discover Great New Writers program really knocked it out of the park with our Summer 2018 list. Here are fifteen novels and seven standout works of nonfiction that wowed us and broke our hearts (sometimes in the same sentence); twenty-two books publishing between April and August that we can’t stop thinking about, because the writing is just that sharp and snappy and good and the narrative voice just that unforgettable.

    (And this is the same team of booksellers who tapped Spring ’18 picks The Immortalists, by Chloe Benjamin; The Woman in the Window, by A.J. Finn; Heart Berries, by Teresa Mailhot; and Educated: A Memoir, by Tara Westover, so…)

    If you love stories about family and identity, start with Fatima Farheen Mizra’s stunning debut, A Place for Us, a beautiful story of love, identity, and belonging. In July, road trip with unexpected—and delightful—company in America for Beginners, by Leah Franqui. Lucy Tan’s What We Were Promised is a luminous debut novel that asks: What happens after the American Dream fails and the prodigal son returns home, family in tow? Set against a backdrop of unspeakable violence in 1990s Colombia, and told from the perspectives of two young girls, Fruit of the Drunken Tree is inspired by the author’s own life. Tommy Orange’s There, There is fierce and wild and wonderful, digging deep into a world few have encountered, that of Native Americans on urban soil.

    Journalist Alex Wagner’s family history is complicated, but her memoir Futureface is smart, sharp, and wonderfully wry. Tessa Fontaine’s worst nightmare is coming true: her mother is dying, but what Tessa does in response is an incredible call to face your fears in The Electric Woman. Darnell L. Moore’s beautiful and deeply honest memoir about his own coming of age and coming out, No Ashes in the Fire, had us in tears more than once. Like Paul Kalanthi’s When Breath Becomes Air, The Inward Empire is an incredible, and elegantly written, story of life and death and fatherhood. New York of the 1970s and ’80s looms large in fiction and in movies, but for Amanda Stern, her panic disorder loomed even larger; Little Panic is a memoir of mental illness written with a gentle hand and terrific sense of humor.

    What if your friends (and frenemies) are your family? There is, as one of our bookseller reviewers said, “WOW on every page” in The Ensemble, the story of four friends bound by their art and their ambition in this striking debut. Do you miss Friday Night Lights? Stephen Markley’s debut novel, Ohio, plunged us into small-town America, in a story of four classmates returning to their Rust Belt hometown in the wake of the Great Recession that shocked and amazed us. Social Creature is Gossip Girl meets The Talented Mr. Ripley, a Tangerine (Discover Spring ’18) for the digital age, but it’s not the only thriller we’re featuring for Summer 2018. Bearskin, by James A. McLaughlin, is a classic slow-burn story of man vs. nature and a perfect blend of gorgeous prose and narrative tension. Sex Money Murder is a heart-stopping true story of gangs and drugs and justice that reads like a crime novel by Richard Price.

    We love the impossible and the improbable, magical and haunting stories like The Essex Serpent, by Sarah Perry; The Book of Speculation, by Erika Swyler; and The Bear and the Nightingale, by Katherine Arden. In What Should be Wild, by Julia Fine, Maisie is a girl born with an extraordinary power, and when her father disappears, she sets off into the wild woods to find him. The Poppy War is a cinematic story that reads like a fantastic mashup of Lev Grossman’s Magicians trilogy and the best Shaolin action film and features a smart, sharp heroine. If you only had 100 words a day, what would you do to be heard? Mark your calendars now for August 21st and Christina Dalcher’s Vox.

    In the midst of a terrible drought, the bees are dying, and a woman opens her failing farm to outsiders in hopes of saving it. But like The Lightkeepers, by Abby Geni; Euphoria, by Lily King; and State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett, nothing is quite what is seems in The Honey Farm. If you loved A Man Called Ove, don’t miss the wildly imaginative and darkly comic novel Mr. Flood’s Last Resort, which features matter-of-fact Maud Drennan and her elderly charge, Mr. Flood. Dear Mrs. Bird is straight-up comedy, a coming of age with heart, in which a young woman becomes a secret advice columnist in WWII-era London.

    And, there’s this, the memoir that made us want to pull up stakes and move to France: Killing It: An Education, by Camas Davis. It is, as one Discover reader said, “Eat, Pray, Love with pigs.”

    We hope you love the Summer 2018 Discover picks as much as we do.

    The post Announcing the Discover Great New Writers Summer 2018 Selections appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Miwa Messer 7:15 am on 2018/01/22 Permalink
    Tags: B&N's Discover Great New Writers,   

    Announcing the Discover Great New Writers Spring 2018 Selections 

    The booksellers who sit on the selection committee for our Discover Great New Writers program are always on the hunt for the next great read. Our Spring 2018 picks are a mix of novels, memoir, travel writing, women’s studies, and essays.

    We have the perfect recommendation for readers who loved bestsellers like The Interestings, by Meg Wolitzer; The Book of Speculation, by Erika Swyler; A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara; City on Fire, by Garth Risk Hallberg; Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett; The Son, by Philip Meyer; and Stephen King’s It. There’s a memoir here that had more than one of us holding our breath as we read, and another that made us want to move to India. We loved hanging out (on the page) with Brittney Cooper and Morgan Jerkins, and think you will, too. Some of these books are available now, with more landing in February, March, and April.

    We hope you love them as much as we do. (And just wait until you see what we’re working on for Summer 2018…) 

    Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions, by Mario Giordano
    Part Auntie Mame, part Precious Ramotswe of Alexander McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, Auntie Poldi is our new favorite amateur sleuth. This spunky, breezy, witty story of death and misadventure is terrific fun, a marvelous escape while we wait for summer to return. 

    Brass, by Xehnet Aliu
    We couldn’t stop reading this beautifully told, often very funny, and always big-hearted story of an unforgettable mother and daughter.  We’re not alone in our love for this novel: Sherman Alexie and Celeste Ng are also fans of Xhenet Aliu’s whip-smart prose and sharp insight.

    The Chalk Man, by C.J. Tudor
    Sticks and stones will break my bones…
    A childhood game gone terribly wrong jumpstarts this creepy thriller that cuts between past and present. Some of our readers were reminded of Stephen King’s classic novel It, others were reminded of Stranger Things, and the rest of us just didn’t sleep for a week. 

    Educated, by Tara Westover
    Tara Westover’s powerful memoir starts as a searing story of growing up off the grid, and becomes an inspirational story of a young woman who saves her own life through her love of books and learning. (P.S. More than one us held our breath while we were reading, waiting to see what happened next.)

    Eloquent Rage, Brittney Cooper
    We can’t get enough of Brittney Cooper’s often hilarious and always laser-sharp observations about feminism, friendship—and rage, which she argues can be used to drive positive social change. In the words of Rebecca Traister (All the Single Ladies), “Brittney Cooper is a national treasure…this book is just so good.”

    Every Other Weekend, by Zulema Renee Summerfield
    It is 1988 and America is full of broken homes. This melancholic, and often very funny, story of life after divorce is narrated by an irresistible young girl. Our booksellers love this unforgettable debut like they love Tell the Wolves I’m Home, by Carol Rivka Brunt, and Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett.

    Fire Sermon, by Jamie Quatro
    But this story begins where others end: a boy and a girl in love, a wedding, a happily-ever-after. This is a magnetic—and provocative—story of love and obsession, and the complexities of marriage; a map of one woman’s emotional, psychological, and spiritual desires, and the decisions those desires inform.

    The Gunners, by Rebecca Kauffman
    Our booksellers were reminded of The Interestings, by Meg Wolitzer, as we read this beautiful, melancholy, smart story of friendship and growing up. The writing is gorgeous, and the characters are so good we’d like nothing more than to keep hanging out with them.

    Heart Berries, by Terese Marie Mailhot
    This memoir by a First Nation woman wowed us. This is an incredible story of survival, of growing up indigenous and mentally ill in a colonial world, told with grace and deep emotional resonance, in a voice that is wildly funny, enraged, and always, always honest. Roxane Gay and Sherman Alexie are fans, too.

    The House of Impossible Beauties, by Joseph Cassara
    Did you love the emotional intensity of A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara? Are you a fan of City on Fire, by Garth Risk Hallberg, looking for another side of New York City? Or do you just want to get lost in a heartbreaking story of love and family and home, told in a voice that is witty, angry, tender, and wise? This debut novel set in the world of the Harlem ball scene is for you.

    The Immortalists, by Chloe Benjamin
    If you knew the date of your death, how would you live your life? This dazzling novel asks big questions about life and death and love and family. If you loved the fantastic novel The Book of Speculation, by Erika Swyler, as much as we did, you won’t want to miss this incredible story of destiny vs. choice.

    Love, Hate, and Other Filters, by Samira Ahmed
    Being a teenager is hard enough, and being torn between worlds really doesn’t help. This timely novel is full of universal themes about parents and school and real life, but it was the novel’s terrific narrative voice that grabbed us—a voice our readers couldn’t get enough of and definitely won’t forget.

    The Milk Lady of Bangalore, by Shoba Narayan
    On a map, it’s a little more than 8,000 miles from New York to Bangalore, but luckily for readers, this charming story covers that distance and more, as the search for a perfect cow—and the friendship between two women that results—turns into an adventure that is fresh, funny, and unforgettable.

    Only Killers and Thieves, by Paul Howarth
    Discover alum and bestselling author Paulette Jiles (Enemy Women and News of the World) loves Paul Howarth’s debut novel as much as the Discover selection committee readers do. This is a classic story of brothers and revenge, injustice and honor that will remind some readers of The Son, by Phillip Meyer.

    This Will Be My Undoing, by Morgan Jerkins
    Morgan Jerkins writes beautifully and with great honesty, covering universal subjects like body image, home and family, faith, and books. Readers who couldn’t get enough of the essay collections Bad Feminist, by Roxane Gay, or The Empathy Exams, by Leslie Jamison, won’t want to miss this fabulous debut.

    Tangerine, by Christine Mangan
    With nods to The Talented Mr. Ripley and the gothic novels of Daphne du Maurier, this debut novel set in Tangier, 1956—a city on the verge of revolution—sent shivers down our spines. Isolated and overwhelmed, trapped in a loveless marriage, this is not what Alice expected from her post-collegiate life…

    White Chrysanthemum, by Mary Lynn Bracht
    More than one of our readers stayed awake deep into the night to finish reading this heartbreaking story of two Korean sisters brutally separated by World War Two. This is the best kind of historical fiction: a thought-provoking story brought fully to life by the voices of incredible characters.

    The Woman in the Window, by A. J. Finn
    Her husband’s almost home. He’ll catch her this time. We love puzzling out stories with unreliable narrators. And we’re not the only fans of this twisty, page-turning psychological thriller: bestselling authors Gillian Flynn, Ruth Ware, and Louise Penny have nothing but praise for this riveting debut.

    The post Announcing the Discover Great New Writers Spring 2018 Selections appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Miwa Messer 4:30 pm on 2017/09/11 Permalink
    Tags: B&N's Discover Great New Writers, , ,   

    Authors Devin Murphy and Kate Quinn Discuss Research, Family History, and Murphy’s B&N Discover Pick The Boat Runner 

    “What was Jacob’s father thinking?” That was the first thing the booksellers who read for our Discover Great New Writers program wanted to know as they read Devin Murphy’s The Boat Runner, an assured, ambitious, harrowing debut about personal redemption and the power of love set during World War II. Like All the Light We Cannot SeeThe Nightingale, or The Book Thief, The Boat Runner, a Fall 2017 Discover pick, immerses the reader in the experience of war, in this case from the point of view of a teenager coming of age. Jacob, a privileged fourteen-year-old, enjoys a quiet life with family and friends, in a small Dutch town where much of the community’s life is centered on his father’s factory. As the book opens, no one is thinking of war, including the boy’s father, who naively sends Jacob and his brother to a Hitler Youth Camp in an effort to secure German business for his factory. After war breaks out, The Boat Runner follows Jacob over the course of four years, through the forests of France, the stormy beaches of England, and deep into the secret missions of the German navy, where he is confronted with the moral dilemma that will change his life—and his life’s mission—forever.

    Recently Murphy spoke about his debut with Kate Quinn, whose latest novel, The Alice Network, is a Reese Witherspoon Book Club Summer Reading Pick and a USA Today bestseller, and brings together the story of a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and that of an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947 in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption. Here is their conversation.

    Kate Quinn: First of all, congratulations on your release! The Boat Runner is a terrific read.

    Devin Murphy: Thank you, Kate. I loved The Alice Network, so it’s an honor to talk to you.

    KQ: There are so many books about both World War I and II published today. My novel The Alice Network follows a secret network of women spies working in France during World War I; I was drawn to that story because it hadn’t been told before. The Boat Runner follows Jacob Koopman, a young Dutch boy who is fourteen years old on the eve of World War II—what drew you to tell that story?

    DM: I loved reading your Author’s Note about discovering the story of the Queen of Spies and how that launched you into your novel. My experience started with a set of pictures of boys at a Hitler Youth camp. These boys were exuberantly jumping over bomb fires to show their bravery, playing tug-of-war with gas masks on, and joyfully saluting the Führer. It was the gleeful look on their faces that horrified me. They were having fun. They believed in what they were told. This made me start to think about how brilliantly manipulative these camps were at indoctrinating a whole generation of boys into becoming Blitzkrieg soldiers. Then I found a picture of the German navy’s secret mission to create miniature, one-person submarines. The idea of being alone in the middle of the ocean in a vessel with orders to inflict such great violence made me zoom in on what it would be like to be one of those boys. At that moment, my novel burst to life for me.

    KQ: I understand you have a family connection to this history—your mother was born in occupied Holland in 1942, and your grandfather was an electrical engineer at Phillips who was forced into hiding to avoid conscription by the Germans. Not too dissimilar from Jacob’s father in The Boat Runner, who owns a lightbulb factory in a small village in Holland just across from the mouth of the Ems River in Germany. How did your own family history end up influencing the novel?

    DM: The story of my grandfather in hiding always fascinated me. There were rumors that he’d sought refuge in a monastery, gone to England, or been captured, but no one ever knew for sure. This meant my Oma, while caring for my mother and her three sisters during wartime, had to go out looking for her husband. Imagining the fear and uncertainty they all must have faced each day led me into their story, and I began to write about the deep complexities of life under occupation.

    KQ: What sort of research did you do when writing The Boat Runner?

    DM: I went to large museums and dozens of small veterans’ collections to feel weaponry and clothing, studied in every library within two days’ drive of me, and read philosophy, fairy tales, music, and mythology. I’ve always liked history, but during the writing of this novel for the first time I learned how to do research as a fiction writer. I stopped looking for facts and details to dress up a description, and instead sought out scenes and events that I could hold up and ask, Does this event reveal what it was like to be alive at this moment for my character?

    KQ: I see that you worked at sea for three years, which brought you to more than fifty countries across all seven continents! That’s an amazing background to bring to the world of novel writing. What was your job like? How did that experience influence the writing of The Boat Runner?

    DM: When I was nineteen I took a job as a deckhand on a small tourist boat in Alaska for a summer. I tied lines, painted the decks, and kept night watch. I’d never been at sea before, but loved it right away and realized that working on ships would let me see the world. I worked as a bartender, deckhand, purser, waiter, steward, assistant hotel manager, and cruise director, and eventually worked my way up to being an expedition leader on small vessels that traveled to the most exotic places on earth. Being so far from home for years left me feeling isolated from friends and family. I longed for some form of connection and found it by delving into my family’s history. Now I see that in many ways those years were a search for stories to write.

    KQ: And finally, for readers who turn the last page of The Boat Runner and need something just as good to read, what are your favorite World War II novels?

    DM: Years ago, my wife and I both read, and loved, Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief. She offhandedly said I could write something like that if I did some research. I took her words as a bit of a challenge, so that book has a special place for me. I also loved City of Thieves, by David Benioff, and classics like Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 and Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five.

    The Boat Runner and The Alice Network are available now.

    The post Authors Devin Murphy and Kate Quinn Discuss Research, Family History, and Murphy’s B&N Discover Pick The Boat Runner appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Melissa Albert 4:30 pm on 2017/07/31 Permalink
    Tags: B&N's Discover Great New Writers, , ,   

    White FurAuthor Jardine Libaire Shares Her Favorite Autobiographical Books by Rebellious Women 

    More than one of us cancelled dinner plans so we could finish reading Jardine Libaire’s White Fur, her gorgeous novel about love and obsession set in gritty 1980s New York. This ferocious and seductive—almost hypnotic—story is absolutely unforgettable. We asked Jardine to tell us what she read while she was working on White Fur, and this is what she said:

    “The female protagonist in White Fur is a woman named Elise, and I got fueled to write about her by entering the consciousnesses of other strong and original women, women who didn’t quite do what they were told. I particularly love to read about these women and their worlds in their own words. Whether they all thought of themselves as feminists is less important to me than the monumental power they demonstrate to be who we want, to write what we want, and to love who we want.”

    Here’s the author to share some of these inspiring books

    Walking Through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black, by Cookie Mueller
    Right out of the gate, Mueller runs on high-test gasoline, defiantly becoming who she is in high school—teased hair and cat eyes, in love with a boy and with a girl—and never looking back. This is a furious life, full of adventures, mishaps, love, drugs, fun, hitchhiking, friends, art, and burning houses. And no apologies.

    Dirty River: A Queer Femme of Color Dreaming Her Way Home, by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha
    Reading this is like stumbling through someone’s psychedelic notebook after she handed it to you and warned you not to expect answers or epiphanies. You get messy, exquisite life instead. You get the jewels of data that constitute someone’s daily thought experience.

    Dust Tracks on a Road, by Zora Neale Hurston
    I love this book for many things but largely for the joyful dissidence, the imaginative and creative rebellion. Hurston was not going to be what she was told to be, but she was also not going to be anything that had already been established as an alternative. She would be someone else, someone unprecedented.

    M Train, by Patti Smith
    How do you funnel the drive and the heart that goes into being a young wild bohemian rock star into the years that follow? This book is a pocket guide on staying fierce, on creating rituals (like graveyard sessions in other countries, or having brown bread and coffee every single morning) that help a woman maintain a blueprint of untamed living.

    The Letters of Frida Kahlo: Cartas Apasionadas, by Frida Kahlo
    Kahlo has fascinated me since I was young, and I used to be baffled by how she could be so autonomous, so proud, so strong, and also so attached to a man who gave her (what I thought was) less than she deserved. Now I deliberately respect the whole chaotic truth of her life, because it was her life, no one else’s. And it’s my honor and pleasure to read about it in her words.

    The post White FurAuthor Jardine Libaire Shares Her Favorite Autobiographical Books by Rebellious Women appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Miwa Messer 4:45 pm on 2017/07/21 Permalink
    Tags: B&N's Discover Great New Writers, ,   

    Perennials Author and B&N Discover Pick Mandy Berman Recommends 5 Coming-of-Age Must-Reads 

    Mandy Berman’s debut novel, Perennials, is a sharp and smart coming-of-age story about nostalgia, adolescent longing, and the enduring power of female friendship, set in the timeless, magical realm of summer camp, “the one place where you could trust that the only thing to change every year would be you.”

    The booksellers who handpick selections for our Discover Great New Writers program loved Mandy’s characters and her fresh take on a familiar setting, and they’re not alone: Rufi Thorpe (Dear Fang, With Love) and J. Courtney Sullivan (Saints for All Occasions) are also fans of Mandy’s debut.

    Here’s Berman to recommend her own favorite coming-of-age novels, perfect for summer reading and beyond.

    Prep, by Curtis Sittenfeld
    This modern classic, about a middle-class teenage girl attending a posh boarding school on full scholarship, is an enthralling meditation on what it feels like to be an outsider while in the already tumultuous throes of adolescence. Sittenfield’s writing on class and gender, through the first-person lens of Lee, is acute, painful, and all-too-real. I related to Lee’s navigation of the thorny, confusing, sexualized path of becoming a young woman.

    Goodbye, Columbus, by Philip Roth
    Roth’s first book, a novella about ill-fated teenage lovers Neil Klugman and Brenda Patimkin, is one of those classics that I can’t believe I only read recently. Roth captures the missteps of youth in love with pinpoint accuracy. Anyone who was ever in their early twenties will remember how it felt to be invincible, as Neil and Brenda both do, and will cringe with recognition at the mistakes they both make, mistakes that, in many ways, usher them unceremoniously into adulthood.

    Summer Sisters, by Judy Blume
    On a ski trip with my family when I was fifteen, I went to the slopes for exactly one day, then spent the rest of the week at the hotel’s indoor pool reading this book. Taking place over the course of many summers on Martha’s Vineyard—beginning when best friends Vix and Caitlin are eleven, and concluding twenty years later—Summer Sisters captures the complexities of young female friendship with such acuity and grace it’s no wonder Blume holds a place as one of our most eminent contemporary writers for children and young adults.

    Franny and Zooey, by J.D. Salinger
    No book spoke to me more when I was nineteen years old than this Salinger book did, a short story and a novella about two members of Salinger’s recurring Glass family. College freshman Franny’s existential crisis while on a date with a boyfriend, who’s so clearly wrong for her, will stick with me forever. Salinger captures, maybe better than anyone, what it feels like to be young and anxious and out of place and time in a world you’re supposed to belong to.

    Mandy Berman’s Perennials is on sale now.

    The post Perennials Author and B&N Discover Pick Mandy Berman Recommends 5 Coming-of-Age Must-Reads appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

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