11 April 2017
HILTON ALS’ CRITICISM GETS ITS DUE
The Pulitzer Prize announcements are out! There are so many reasons to rejoice, and one is the recognition accorded to Hilton Als. Now, unless you are a devotee of ferociously high-brow lit mags such as The New Yorker or Paris Review, your response to that news is, “Who?” He is a theater critic.
“With his deep knowledge of the history of performance—not only in theatre but in dance, music, and visual art—he not only shows us how to view a production but how to place its director, its author, and its performers in the ongoing continuum of dramatic art,” The New Yorker said of him in its announcement of his 2017 Pulitzer for Criticism. “His reviews are not simply reviews; they are provocative contributions to the discourse on theatre, race, class, sexuality, and identity in America.”
The New Yorker tribute contains links to samples of his work. Even more writing and information is available in Paris Review where as an “advisory editor” the writer curated the publication’s Winter Portfolio on Alice Neel’s East Harlem portraits.
16 March 2017
COLLABORATION BOOSTS AUDIO BOOK MARKET
Wattpad, the online writing and reading community and entertainment platform, is partnering with the Hachette Book Group to launch Hachette Audiobooks: Powered by Wattpad, a joint venture that will produce 50 audiobooks based on Wattpad stories.
The 50 initial Wattpad audiobook titles will be available beginning in the Summer 2017. Authors and titles will be named at a later date. The partnership will focus on popular Wattpad writers, using actors to adapt their stories into audiobooks for distribution beyond the Wattpad platform.
15 March 2017
Book experts worldwide are eyes on the 2017 London Book Fair where fiction seems to have the floor. Despite the hefty $65 million advance former U.S. President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama landed from Penguin Random House, a number of novels were the subject of chatter. According to Publishers Weekly, given the age of Brexit and Trump, the trend indicates readers might in the market for a place to escape.
A TALE OF TWO SISTERS
Julia Phillips’ Disappearing Earth is one of the notable books. Acquired in a two-book, six-figure preempt in the U.K. by Scribner’s Rowan Cope, and bought in the U.S. by Knopf’s Robin Desser. (Suzanne Gluck at William Morris Endeavor handled the U.S. sale, while WME’s Elizabeth Sheinkman handled the U.K. one.), the story is about two who disappear on the remote Russian peninsula of Kamchatka, the book, as Sheinkman’s office explained to PW Daily, delves into the lives of 12 women back in the girls’ rural Russian town whose lives “hold the clues to the crime.” The separate stories about these women collide, the agency said, in “one of the most isolated, secretive, and naturally magnificent places in the world.” The 29-year-old author is a Pushcart nominee and recent Yaddo resident who spent a year in Kamchatka on a Fulbright grant. – PW Daily
ONLY IN THE U.K.
Among the novels people are talking about is The Lido by Libby Page. The book, which, as of this writing, has not yet sold in the U.S., was acquired in the U.K. in an overnight preempt, for six figures, by Clare Hey at Orion. (Agent Robert Caskie, at Caskie Mushens, represents the author.) Set in Brixton, the novel follows the unlikely friendship that forms between an adrift 26-year-old and an 86-year-old widow who come together to fight the closure of their community pool. (“Lido” is a popular British term for a swimming pool.) The author, who lives in London, writes for The Guardian. (In addition to the U.K. sale, as of press time, preempts had been closed in Denmark, Finland, Italy and Sweden.) – PW Daily
A TRAVELER FROM INDIA
Another book on publishers’ radar is the debut novel Immigrant, Montana. A pitch letter which PW secured from agent David Higham, who represents the book, says it follows a man named Kailash who grows up in India in the 1960s before, as a young adult, emigrating to the U.S. The pitch letter said the novel “navigates the shift in cultural experience as Kailash opens himself up to the new world.” The book is being compared to Teju Cole’s Open City and Ben Lerner’s Leaving the Atocha Station. – PW Daily
A QUICK COURSE IN B.S.
Although fiction seems to be the hot ticket at this year’s fair, a few nonfiction titles have bubbled to the top of conversations. One of them is Calling Bullshit. Written by two academics at the University of Washington—biology professor Carl Bergstrom and assistant professor at the Information School, Jevin West—the book grew out of a class the pair created titled ‘Calling Bullshit in the Age of Big Data.’ After the website for the class drew an unusually high click-through rate, the professors decided to write a book on the topic. Agent Max Brockman at Brockman, Inc., who represents the author, said their book “will help people learn to navigate the bullshit-rich modern environment by identifying bullshit, seeing through it, and combating it with effective analysis and argumentation.” At press time, U.S. rights had sold to Random House’s Will Murphy in a six-figure preempt. -PW Daily