Alfred A. Knopf

Nathan Englander Invites Readers to DINNER AT THE CENTER OF THE EARTH

Our new Igloo Book Buzz selection is award-winning author Nathan Englander’s DINNER AT THE CENTER OF THE EARTH, published by Knopf to much acclaim.  This timely political thriller unfolds in the highly charged territory of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and pivots on the complex relationship between a secret prisoner and his guard.  Nathan has woven a powerful, intensely suspenseful portrait of a nation riven by insoluble conflict, even as the lives of its citizens become fatefully and inextricably entwined, interrogating the anguished, violent division between Israelis and Palestinians, and dramatizing the immense moral ambiguities haunting both sides. 

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Nathan offers personal insights into his latest novel with responses to the following three questions:
[caption id="attachment_7732" align="alignright" width="300"] Nathan Englander
Credit: Joshua Meier[/caption] How would you describe the genesis of DINNER AT THE CENTER OF THE EARTH? I trace it back to the collapse of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the end of my time in Jerusalem (where I lived from 1996 to 2001). I never got over the opportunity lost. And I’ve always wanted to explore that impossibly complicated conflict in a novel. What were the most challenging and rewarding aspects of writing this book? The most challenging? That’s easy. Part of what obsesses me about the subject, is the circular nature of the fighting. Everyone always avenging those who died avenging. Everyone, on both sides—I promise you—right now preparing for the next round. I wanted DINNER AT THE CENTER OF THE EARTH to reflect that spiral in its structure. So, though it reads in a linear fashion, it’s built up of maybe a half dozen different timelines, and with characters playing dual roles. As for the rewarding aspects, it was a lot of fun to build a spy who is, in many ways—mercy upon him—as neurotic as I am. What elements of DINNER AT THE CENTER OF THE EARTH do you think will resonate most strongly with readers? I’d say my guess is as good as yours. But, it’s actually worse. I’ve only done two public events so far, and I’ve already learned so many things about what’s in the book, and how it will be read. Last night, I was in conversation with Jonathan Safran Foer and he asked a question about the parallels between the two critical dinners at the end of the novel that was so smart, so different from how I’d thought about it, it made me see the ending in a whole new light.

Why Ayobami Adebayo’s STAY WITH ME is So Powerful and Relevant

Our new Igloo Book Buzz selection is Ayobami Adebayo’s debut novel STAY WITH ME, published by Knopf  today.  The title was an Editors Book Buzz pick at Book Expo 2017 and enthusiastically presented by Jennifer Jackson, Senior Editor, Knopf Doubleday.

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 “Within ten pages of reading STAY WITH ME I knew I was in the hands of an exceptional storyteller,” said Ms. Jackson.  “The voice is so powerful. Comparisons to Chimamanda Adichi and Chinua Achebe feel nearly blasphemous in their audacity, but it’s impossible not to think of these great Nigerian writers when reading Ayobami’s work. And even though STAY WITH ME is set mostly in 1980s Lagos, it feels devastatingly relevant in its examination of the personal and the political, the pressure a society exerts over women’s bodies and their fertility.  Like the very best fiction, STAY WITH ME takes us to a different time and place and shows us ourselves more clearly along the way.”   When asked if a particular incident inspired the writing of her novel, Ms. Adebayo revealed, “When I was in my late teens, a couple of friends passed away suddenly. This was quite distressing but after a while, as tends to happen when one is once or twice removed from grief, I stopped thinking about them all the time.  Still, whenever I saw their mothers, I was moved by how they’d become physically transformed by what had happened to their children. I wondered how they found the strength to get out of bed every day after such a devastating loss, and questioned why these women were expected, after a period of mourning, to continue life as normal. In 2008, a few days after an encounter with one of them, I wrote a short story that would later morph into STAY WITH ME.” The author added, “I’m so happy that STAY WITH ME found a home at Knopf. It’s wonderful to be part of such a prestigious list and I’m delighted with the care and enthusiasm with which the wonderful Knopf team is publishing it.” In STAY WITH ME, Yejide and Akin have been married since they met and fell in love at university. Though many expected Akin to take several wives, he and Yejide have always agreed: polygamy is not for them. But four years into their marriage–after consulting fertility doctors and healers, trying strange teas and unlikely cures–Yejide is still not pregnant. She assumes she still has time–until her family arrives on her doorstep with a young woman they introduce as Akin’s second wife. Furious, shocked, and livid with jealousy, Yejide knows the only way to save her marriage is to get pregnant. Which, finally, she does–but at a cost far greater than she could have dared to imagine. An electrifying novel of enormous emotional power, STAY WITH ME asks how much we can sacrifice for the sake of family.

French Connection: Knopf’s Jonathan Segal Converses with Author Martin Walker

Jonathan Segal, Vice President, Senior Editor, Knopf, recently was able to get together with one of his long-standing authors, Martin Walker, in the Dordogne region of France, where Walker has a home and has set his wonderful “Bruno, Chief of Police” series of

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mysteries. (Segal has a home in the Lot region of France, which is contiguous.) Editor and author met in the tiny village of St. Pompon where, by total coincidence, they stumbled across a restaurant called Chez Bruno. This photo op (with Walker on the right) was too good to resist. Then they went to work on the latest Bruno manuscript (to be published next year), glasses of rosé at hand to aid in the process, and finally they got to reminiscing. Segal: As I was reading this latest novel, I thought again of how much joy there is in these books—how much, through Bruno, you express your infinite pleasure in being able to spend as much time as you do in the Dordogne. Before I ask you about the origin of the Bruno character—and other repeating characters in the novels as well—tell me, what first attracted you to the region? What keeps you here? Walker: What attracted me first were the usual French pleasures of the street markets, the croissants for breakfast, the food and wine and restaurants and the ridiculously charming landscape with medieval castles and ancient stone churches perched on cliffs above winding rivers. Then I began visiting the Périgord caves with their prehistoric paintings and engravings and it was like peeling layer after layer from an onion as I became ever more fascinated by these remote ancestors of ours. At the same time I was visiting the vineyards, getting to know the vignerons and learning more about wine, which got me increasingly interested in cooking, and the whole place began to open for me like a flower. S: And what was on your mind as you created Bruno? W: In our local tennis club, I began playing doubles on Friday mornings with a bunch of guys and we all brought wine and food and one of our number always made omelets for us all with his own truffles. Sometimes he brought venison or even wild boar. This was Pierrot, a keen hunter and great cook, an army veteran who was our village policeman and a genuinely decent guy. I already had the perfect setting for a novel in the Périgord itself, and now I had the perfect character in Pierrot, but since he was a cop I now had to figure out how to write a mystery story. [caption id="attachment_85681" align="alignright" width="300"]Jonathan Segal and Martin Walker Jonathan Segal and Martin Walker[/caption] S: Were you at all concerned about your friends recognizing themselves in your books? W: I was a little nervous when they started being published in French, but the mayor told me he was pleased that he had not turned out to be the murderer. And since the English-language and Dutch and German versions had already been out for three and four years, before the French translation, Pierrot was already finding foreign tourists asking for him in the local markets so he could sign their books and have his photo taken with their wives. Then foreign TV crews and journalists began arriving in our village, and one morning in the café I was enjoying my croissant when three local women of a certain age arrived solemnly before me. Their arms were folded beneath their breasts, and I have been married long enough to know what that stance signifies. Monsieur Martin, they said, next time you have cameras here, you have to give us three days’ notice. Of course, mesdames, I replied, but why? Because, they replied in unison, we want to go to the hairdresser. S: It sounds like it has been a great ride. As things stand right now, what has been your greatest satisfaction with the Bruno books? W: Obviously the world-wide sales of the books, now close to 3 million, have been very gratifying. But the real reward is the ever-growing number of Americans, Germans, Italians, Australians and others whom I now meet in the Périgord who have been attracted by my Bruno stories. They come to the markets and look for a local policeman and ask if he is Bruno (several of them are now claiming to be the “real” one). They visit the Bergerac vineyards asking for the wines Bruno likes, go to the restaurants for dishes he enjoys, to the prehistoric cave paintings that so intrigue him and they rent canoes for the trip he took down the Vézère River. Since the Périgord economy depends heavily on tourism, being able to introduce so many more people to this magical region has been a very welcome development. Special Thanks to Knopf Publicist Katie Schoder for making this feature interview possible.

David Grossman’s A HORSE WALKS INTO A BAR Wins Man Booker International Prize

man booker 2017The winner of the 2017 Man Booker International Prize is David Grossman for A HORSE WALKS INTO A BAR, published by Alfred A. Knopf in the U.S. and Canada, and Jonathan Cape in the U.K., it was announced Wednesday night in London.  Mr. Grossman, bestselling Israeli author of fiction, nonfiction

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and children’s literature, shared the award with the book’s English-language translator, Jessica Cohen, the pair dividing the most prestigious prize for translated fiction in the U.K.   Congratulations to Mr. Grossman and his publisher, as well as Ms. Cohen. Nick Barley, chair of the 2017 judging panel, commented, “David Grossman has attempted an ambitious high-wire act of a novel, and he’s pulled it off spectacularly.  A HORSE WALKS INTO A BAR shines a spotlight on the effects of grief, without any hint of sentimentality. The central character is challenging and flawed, but completely compelling. We were bowled over by Grossman’s willingness to take emotional as well as stylistic risks: every sentence counts, every word matters in this supreme example of the writer’s craft.” david grossmanA HORSE WALKS INTO A BAR is searing short novel about the life of a stand-up comic, as revealed in the course of one evening’s performance. In the dance between comic and audience, with barbs flying back and forth, a deeper story begins to take shape—one that will alter the lives of many of those in attendance. Prior Man Booker International Prize winners include Penguin Random House authors Han Kang (in 2016, the first year the Prize was awarded to a single book rather than an author’s body of work), Chinua Achebe (in 2007) and Alice Munro (in 2009).

Our 4 Lambda Literary Award Winners

logo-mobileLambda Literary, the nation’s leading organization advancing lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) literature, has announced the winners of its 29th Annual Lambda Literary Awards (the “Lammys”), with Penguin Random House authors receiving four awards, including the Visionary Award, a

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lifetime achievement honor presented to Jacqueline Woodson.  The ceremony, bringing together authors, publishers and sponsors to celebrate excellence in LGBT literature, took place Monday night, June 12, at NYU’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts. Here are our 2017 Lammy Award winners in the following categories: LGBT Nonfiction Lambda-WinnersHOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE: The Inside Story of How Citizens and Science Tamed AIDS by David France, (Alfred A. Knopf) LGBT Science Fiction / Fantasy/ Horror THE DEVOURERS by Indra Das (Del Rey) Gay Mystery SPEAKERS OF THE DEAD: A Walt Whitman Mystery by J. Aaron Sanders (Plume) Visionary Award j woodsonJacqueline Woodson, author of such acclaimed books as the National Book Award-winning BROWN GIRL DREAMING (Nancy Paulsen Books/Puffin), received the Visionary Award for “breaking new ground in the field of LGBT literature.” Tony Award-winning actress Cynthia Nixon introduced Woodson as a “writer who is part of the institution but stands outside it and critiques.” Congratulations to our award-winning authors, editors and publishers. View the complete list of 2017 Lambda Literary Awards winners here.
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Inside Four New Heavyweight Biographies

igloo book buzz1This week’s Igloo Book Buzz celebrates the release of four major biographies that delve inside the lives of four distinctly different, supremely gifted individuals: Muhammad Ali, Ernest Hemingway, Otis Redding and Maurice Sendak. While Ali, Hemingway and Redding are instantly

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recognizable, Sendak is the wild card, with his art and such books as Where the Wild Things Are more renowned than his name. Here are compelling commentaries about each of these new biographies: STING LIKE A BEE: Muhammad Ali vs the United States of America, 1966-1971 by Leigh Montville (Doubleday, 5/16) 9780385536059Author Leigh Montville: “I’m only 18 months younger than Ali, so I dealt with the draft and Vietnam when he did, got married when he did, lived through the same headlines he did. I also covered five of his fights later in his career, so I had a small history with a bunch of the characters involved in his story. There was an easy familiarity with the subject matter from the start.  This is a slice of time book, not a biography. It is a commentary on how we lived during the sixties as much as what happened in Ali’s life. The issues around him then resonate in our country today, probably louder than ever when you look at Black Lives Matter and the Muslim bans and the military adventurism and the right-leaning government in Washington. Would the Muhammad Ali of 1966 have trouble in 2017? Ali was Colin Kapernick expanded by a multiple of ten. Did Colin Kapernick have trouble?” ERNEST HEMINGWAY by Mary V. Dearborn (Knopf, 5/16) 9780307594679Victoria Wilson, VP & Editor, Alfred A. Knopf: “Mary Dearborn’s life of Hemingway goes beyond the standard-brands portrait of the macho, hyper-charismatic figure whose celebrated exploits and adventures became associated with his lean true prose. She draws on newly available materials, among them, the so-called ‘Cuban accession’—the vast collection of papers Hemingway left behind when he fled Cuba in 1961; his complete FBI file; the newly opened files of the KGB; the letters and papers of his sister, and his mistress, as well as the previously ignored and voluminous wealth of papers of his mother, Grace Hemingway, opera singer and painter whose revealing and startling life of shattered rules and convention, and whose insistence on her own artistic expression—against all odds—give us a nuanced and illuminating, rich portrait of Hemingway, the man, and the writer. “In many aspects, Hemingway’s is the quintessential twentieth-century American story . . . a cautionary tale of how things look from the outside, as compared to the life being lived from within; a story of the accumulation of vast amounts of money and fame, adulation and legend and the withering away of discipline and talent and art . . . the story of Hemingway’s life has the feel about it of a Citizen Kane . . . a large story, a giant of a personality, the hidden demons, the hardcore values left behind; and the ‘rosebud’ of it all—the carefree Hemingway childhood that carried him along until ‘everything went to hell,’ as Hemingway said, and it all blew up . . .” OTIS REDDING: An Unfinished Life by Jonathan Gould (Crown Archetype, 5/16) 9780307453945Crown Senior Editor Matthew Inman: “While Otis Redding made music that has long served as the gold standard of 1960s soul, an aura of myth and mystery has always surrounded his life, which was tragically cut short at the height of his career by a plane crash in December 1967. Nearly a decade in the making, Jonathan Gould’s OTIS REDDING: An Unfinished Life draws on exhaustive research, the cooperation of the Redding family, and previously unavailable sources to finally present the first complete portrait of the King of Soul.  Published to coincide with 50th anniversary of Otis Redding’s legendary performance at the Monterey Pop Festival, this definitive biography is both a revealing look at a brilliant artist lost too soon and a provocative exploration of the tangled history of race and music in America.” THERE’S A MYSTERY THERE: The Primal Vision of Maurice Sendak by Jonathan Cott (Doubleday, 5/16) 9780385540438Gerry Howard, VP & Executive Editor, Doubleday: “Polymath and master interviewer Jonathan Cott first interviewed Maurice Sendak in 1976 for Rolling Stone, just at the time when Outside Over There, the concluding and by far the strangest volume of a trilogy that began with Where The Wild Things Are and In the Night Kitchen, was gestating. Over the course of their wide-ranging and revelatory conversation about his life, work, and the fantasies and obsessions that drove his creative process, they focused on many of the themes and images that would appear in the new book five years later. Drawing on that interview, THERE’S A MYSTERY THERE is a profound examination of the inner workings of a complicated genius’s torments and inspirations that ranges over the entirety of his work and his formative life experiences, and uses Outside Over There, brilliantly and originally, as the key to understanding just what made this extravagantly talented man tick.

Bill Clinton and James Patterson to Collaborate on a New Novel

Alfred-A.-KnopfPresident Bill Clinton and bestselling author James Patterson are working together on a novel, THE PRESIDENT IS MISSING, which will be published jointly by Alfred A. Knopf and Little, Brown and Company in June 2018. The announcement was made today by Sonny Mehta, Chairman of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing

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Group, and Michael Pietsch, CEO of Hachette Book Group. Mehta and Pietsch acquired world rights to the book including Canada – but excluding the UK and Commonwealth where it will be published by Century. clintonTHE PRESIDENT IS MISSING will offer readers a unique amalgam of intrigue, suspense and behind-the-scenes global drama from the highest corridors of power. It will be informed by insider details that only a President can know. “Working on a book about a sitting President – drawing on what I know about the job, life in the White House, and the way Washington works – has been a lot of fun,” said Clinton. “And working with Jim has been terrific. I’ve been a fan of his for a very long time.” The publication will be the President’s first novel and the novelist’s first collaboration with a president. “Working with President Clinton has been the highlight of my career, and having access to his first-hand experience has uniquely informed the writing of this novel,” said Patterson. “I’m a story-teller, and President Clinton’s insight has allowed us to tell a really interesting one.  It’s a rare combination – readers will be drawn to the suspense, of course, but they’ll also be given an inside look into what it’s like to be President.” THE PRESIDENT IS MISSING will be published simultaneously in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook, with the logos of both Little, Brown and Knopf displayed on all editions. At the time of publication, Clinton and Patterson and will embark on a national book tour. “This is a blockbuster collaboration between two bestselling authors,” said Mehta and Pietsch in a joint statement, “and the pages we’ve read to date are riveting, full of intricate plotting and detail. This is a book that promises to entertain and delight millions of readers around the world, and we are thrilled to be working on it together and with our esteemed houses supporting us.”

Judith Jones Inducted into the James Beard Hall of Fame

judith jonesJudith Jones, a longtime editor at Alfred A. Knopf, was honored this week by the James Beard Foundation when she was inducted into their Cookbook Hall of Fame. This was Judith’s second Beard honor – in 2006, she received the James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award.  

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Accepting the award on Mrs. Jones’ behalf was Lidia Matticchio Bastianich, who said, in part: “Judith’s contributions to our industry have been extraordinary. Her work as a cookbook editor has shaped the American culinary landscape. She has been instrumental in identifying culinary greats and shaping their ideas and recipes into award-winning cookbooks. My own journey with Judith has been extraordinary. She is a patient listener, a passionate and witty confidant, a one-of-a-kind editor… and dear friend.” Knopf Chairman Sonny Mehta said, “Culinary publishing today owes a great debt to Judith. Our lives have been enriched by her contributions. I remain grateful for the lessons she taught me.” Mrs. Jones’ remarkable career and life was celebrated at the James Beard Awards ceremony in an inspiring video tribute produced by Nick Davis Productions. Watch it here: Judith worked at Knopf for more than fifty years. As a young editor she is credited with discovering the then-unknown Julia Child and for publishing what became her bestselling classic, MASTERING THE ART OF FRENCH COOKING.  Some of the other noted cookbook authors she has worked with include Lidia Bastianich, James Beard, Marion Cunningham, Rosie Daley, Marcella Hazan, Madhur Jaffrey, Edna Lewis, Joan Nathan, Jacques Pépin, Claudia Roden, Penelope Casas and Nina Simonds. In addition, she also edited a number of literary writers, including John Hersey, William Maxwell, John Updike, and Anne Tyler. Judith is the author of THE TENTH MUSE: My Life in Food and THE PLEASURES OF COOKING FOR ONE.  She is the coauthor with Evan Jones (her late husband) of THE BOOK OF BREAD; KNEAD IT, PUNCH IT, BAKE IT! (for children); and THE BOOK OF NEW NEW ENGLAND COOKERY. She also collaborated with Angus Cameron on THE L. L. BEAN GAME AND FISH COOKBOOK.

Knopf to Publish Book Five of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Series in September

Knopf2The worldwide #1 bestselling Millennium series of novels – which was launched in the U.S. in 2008 with the publication of Stieg Larsson’s THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO – will continue in September with the release of book five: THE GIRL WHO TAKES AN EYE FOR AN EYE. Written by David

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Lagercrantz, the new novel will be published in concert with the series’ other publishers from around the world, and will feature the return of its two iconic protagonists, Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist. THE GIRL WHO TAKES AN EYE FOR AN EYEThe announcement was made today by Sonny Mehta, Editor-in-Chief of Alfred A. Knopf, who has edited all of the books in the series in the U.S. "Revenge is not a fantasy for Lisbeth,” said Mr. Mehta, “and in this new book, she exacts it with a vengeance.” THE GIRL WHO TAKES AN EYE FOR AN EYE will be published in hardcover, as an e-book, and as an audiobook. The announced first printing is 500,000 copies. It will be translated from the Swedish by George Goulding. The Millennium series of novels have sold 85 million copies in 50 territories around the world, including 24 million copies in the U.S., where all of them were #1 bestsellers. In addition to THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, the other novels in the series include THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE, published in 2009, and THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET’S NEST, published in 2010, both written by Stieg Larsson, and THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB, published in 2015, which was written by Lagercrantz. Stieg Larsson died in November 2004, before the publication of the first book. In 2013, Mr. Lagercrantz, a Swedish journalist and best-selling author, was selected to continue the series.

Knopf Celebrates National Poetry Month with Poem-A-Day Program

Knopf_Poem-A-Day_Igloo NewsletterIn 1996, the Academy of American Poets set aside April as the official month to focus attention on poetry and its many contributions to our culture. Knopf takes part in the National Poetry Month celebration with our Poem-A-Day program. Each day during the month of April, we send out a free poem by a new or established poet drawn from the extensive list of books published by our group of imprints. 

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Some of the poems are treasures from the rich Knopf backlist, some are recently published works, and some are from collections that are soon to be released. This year, Knopf is announcing a new volume entitled RESISTANCE, REBELLION, LIFE: 50 Poems Now.  Edited and introduced by Knopf poet Amit Majmudar, Poet Laureate of Ohio, the book will include poems written from a myriad of perspectives, and yet represents only a fraction of the robust flowering of political poetry in the United States at the moment. Throughout April, we will feature poems from those who shared their work with us in the spirit of poetic resistance. Knopf_PoemADay_Signup_Borzoi_300x250Some of the poets contributing to this collection include Solmaz Sharif, Eileen Myles, Kevin Young, Juan Felipe Herrera, Ada Limón, Jane Hirshfield, Paul Muldoon, Sharon Olds, Jericho Brown, Maggie Smith, Michael Dickman, and Fady Joudah. The title of the book, Resistance, Rebellion, Life, is a salute to a collection of essays that was written by Albert Camus, “Resistance, Rebellion, and Death.” Clifton Fadiman, the noted editor and critic, once said that “any American publisher who accepts and prints fine verse is making a voluntary contribution to Western culture.” Knopf is honored to continue that tradition, and devoted to helping bring poetry to a wider audience. Join the celebration and sign up to receive your Poem-A-Day during the month of April. Happy Poetry Month from Knopf