“Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul.” — Joyce Carol Oates
From the moment one arrives at Book Expo America until the moment one leaves, flush with the pleasure of meeting authors, publishers, and fellow book lovers; with head ringing from sensory overload from the color, noise, activity, and sheer volume of books to look at; and with shoulders aching from carrying too many impossible-to-resist literary giveaways, a BEA attendee will fully understand what it feels like to experience “book heaven.” For a few days each year, the Javits Center in New York City is a showcase for the book industry, a place where librarians, book sellers, teachers, writers, editors, bloggers, critics, and the press can preview books that will be released in the next few months, attend author breakfasts and chats, line up for book signings, obtain free review copies, and learn more about the book industry. Thousands of “book professionals” this year met with publishers and authors on Thursday, May 29, and Friday, May 30.
For those who are not “book professionals” but who may also want to attend a BEA exhibition, there is no problem anymore, thanks to a new BEA feature which debuted today, Saturday, May 31. “Book Con,” modeled on the wildly popular Comic Con fan conventions held in numerous cities throughout the world, now allows and encourages any book-loving “non-professional” to visit the BEA exhibition hall on the last day of the Expo, which, this year, was Saturday, May 31. Described in one report as an event in which “storytelling and pop culture collide,” the new Book Con allows publishers and authors to connect directly with their readers, one-on-one, during the last day of the exhibition. Among the events at this first Book Con were author signings for many books which will surely be bestsellers, autographing sessions and book signings by dozens of popular authors on the bestseller lists, giveaways of thousands of books, author panels (one of which was “John Grisham in Conversation with Carl Hiaasen” and another of which was “Jodi Picoult, Kathy Reichs, and Ruth Reichl Talk Bestsellers”). A truly unique feature – “a Book Swap/Speed Dating Event” is planned for late this afternoon!
By Saturday at ten o’clock a.m., all nine thousand tickets were completely sold out for this one-day Book Con, and by noontime, I’d received an e-mailed press release from BEA saying that they have already decided that next year a fourth day will be added to the exhibition and that the Book Con feature will also run for more days, either as an add-on or perhaps simultaneously with Book Expo in separate sections of the exhibition hall.
The Book Expo session which I attended on Thursday, May 29, emphasized the Expo’s interest in broadening its scope, and it featured a number of booths from foreign publishers, including Korea, Romania, Italy, Iceland, Russia, the Nordic countries, Spain, Turkey, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Mexico, China, Saudi Arabia, and the Emirate of Sharjah (which I had to look up). There was also a section for publishers specializing in literature in translation, which included representatives of the new Hispabooks, a publisher from Spain, and Europa Editions, based in Italy, with a New York office (one of the publishers whose many books I have reviewed regularly for more than five years). When I met with Europa’s Kent Carroll, I learned, to my surprise, that the “quartet” of novels by Maurizio de Giovanni, including I Will Have Vengeance, Blood Curse, and Everyone in Their Place, did not really end with Book Four, The Day of the Dead, after all, since a fifth Commissario Ricciardi novel will be released in August, and a sixth in March, 2015!
Those who bemoaned the disappointing ending to the fourth book will undoubtedly cheer this development. In addition, Europa’s “trilogy” by Elena Ferrante, including My Brilliant Friend and The Story of a New Name, which have been wildly popular, will not end with Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, scheduled for a September 2 release. At least one more novel – the fourth – in that series is already being readied for publication. Obviously, that series has found an audience.
Other authors with new books coming out: Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran, which sold over a million copies, has a new release in October, The Republic of Imagination, which considers what reading means to Americans, as opposed to what it means to her former students in Tehran.
Deon Meyer, who won France’s Le Grand Prix de Litterature in 2003, and numerous other prizes over the past fifteen years, has a ninth mystery set in South Africa – Cobra – due for release in October. Links to other novels by Deon Meyer may be found here: Blood Safari.
Edgard Telles Ribeiro’s His Own Man, winner of the Brazilian PEN Prize, draws on the author’s own experience as a diplomat and journalist in this realistic novel about Brazil’s military coup of 1964, scheduled for release in September.
Jane Smiley, winner in 1992 of both the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Critics Circle Award for A Thousand Acres, introduces the first novel of her planned trilogy about an Iowa farm family in Some Luck, due out on October 7.
Sarah Waters, British Book Awards Author of the Year in 2003, and winner of “Writer of the Year” in 2006 and 2009, at the Stonewall Awards, has The Paying Guests coming out in September. Set in 1922, this is a BIG book, which may expand Waters’s reputation for brilliant historical fiction. Due out in September.
Lily King’s Euphoria (which I read, fascinated, on the train home from BEA) focuses on the lives of three anthropologists in New Guinea in the 1930s, and is inspired by the life of Margaret Mead. This one will be released on June 3.
Ru Freeman’s On Sal Mal Lane, about the effects of the Sri Lankan Civil War on one residential neighborhood, has just been released in paperback. It was a Library Journal Best Indie Fiction selection for 2013.
Other novels which will interest many readers of this site: Alan Furst’s Midnight in Europe; Bradford Morrow’s The Forgers; Peter Stamm’s All Days Are Night; Adriana Lisboa’s Crow Blue; Germaine Greer’s White Beech: The Rainforest Years; Javier Cercas’s Outlaws; Paolo Giordano’s The Human Body; Naomi Wood’s Mrs. Hemingway; John Vaillant’s The Jaguar’s Children; and Colm Toibin’s Nora Webster.
Photos, in order: The photo of the Javits Center appears on http://www.bvents.com
The photos of Neil Patrick Harris, Azar Nafisi, Jane Smiley, and Ru Freeman are by Mary Whipple and are copyrighted.