Books & Authors

Crown Hosts NYU Students for an Inside Look at the Making of a Book That Matters

A contingent of 28 students from the NYU School of Professional Studies, led by Andrea Chambers, Director of NYU’s Center for Publishing, visited the Crown Publishing Group offices at 1745 Broadway on Friday, April 6, to learn about and discuss a forthcoming Fall 2018 title, THIRST by Scott Harrison, to be published on October 2 by CPG imprint Currency. The book is an inspiring personal story of redemption, second chances, and the transformative power of change, from the founder and CEO of the successful nonprofit charity: water.

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The Crown presentation featured Campbell Wharton, Associate Publisher, Currency; Group; Derek Reed, Editor, Convergent; Donna Passannante, Vice President, Executive Director, Marketing, Crown Publishing Group; Carisa Hays, Vice President, Executive Director of Publicity, Crown Publishing Group; and Megan Schumann, Manager, Publicity, Crown Publishing Group. They provided insights into the acquisition, editing and publishing processes as well as marketing and publicity campaigns for the book, and how it could help change the conversation about charities and our personal involvement in good works. The event concluded with a lively question & answer session. A few days later, NYU student Amanda Orozco wrote a wonderful blog post titled “Thirst for Change: Crown Publishing and Author Scott Harrison Team Up to Make a Difference.” Here is an excerpt: “What if… ?” This question is a leitmotif for Scott Harrison’s life and new book. What if a nightclub promoter wanted to do more with his time? What if he gave up the New York club scene to help people in developing African nations have clean water? What if he started a charity, charity: water, that put 100% of its donations into building wells in African nations with poor or polluted water supplies? What if his efforts helped 7.3 million people in Africa finally have clean drinking water and a reduction in disease? What if he could grow his charity from two people to over 70 in less than ten years? What if he could raise $3 million in less than 15 minutes? What if he could change the way charities are run forever… and change lives? “NYU M.S. in Publishing: Digital & Print Media students found out the answers to these and other questions when they were invited to be early readers of THIRST, Harrison’s forthcoming memoir. They were given special reading galleys in preparation for a recent visit to Harrison’s publisher, the Crown Publishing Group. During their visit, the students got to hear the story behind the story – the amazing publishing process of this book – from the members of the team that are bringing the book to life.” To read the complete NYU blog post, click here. Please note: author Scott Harrison will be featured at a Penguin Random House “Lunch & Learn” on Tuesday, June 5 at 1745 Broadway. Check back on Igloo for details in the coming days.

Featured Author Event: Lesley Nneka Arimah (NYC)

Riverhead author Lesley Nneka Arimah shares her award-winning, dazzlingly accomplished debut story collection, WHAT IT MEANS WHEN A MAN FALLS FROM THE SKY, at The Strand in Manhattan on Monday, April 23. Lesley will discuss her stories with fellow author Alice Sola Kim, from 7:30 to 8:30 pm, in the bookstore’s second floor Art Department.

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Arimah’s stories explore the ties that bind parents and children, husbands and wives, lovers and friends, to one another and to the places they call home. The New York Times Book Review offered high praise: “Strange and wonderful… a witty, oblique and mischievous storyteller, Arimah can compress a family history into a few pages and invent utopian parables, magical tales and nightmare scenarios while moving deftly between comic distancing and insightful psychological realism…her science fiction parables, with their ecological and feminist concerns, recall those of Margaret Atwood. But it would be wrong not to hail Arimah’s exhilarating originality: She is conducting adventures in narrative on her own terms, keeping her streak of light, that bright ember, burning fiercely, undimmed.” Lesley Nneka Arimah was born in the UK and grew up in Nigeria and the United States. Her work has received grants and awards from the Commonwealth Writers, the Elizabeth George Foundation, The MacDowell Colony, Breadloaf and others. She was selected for the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35” honor and is the recipient of an O’Henry Award, the 2017 Kirkus Prize, and is a Society of Midland Authors 2017 honoree.

How the “Million-Dollar Brain” Replaced the “Million-Dollar Arm”

Why couldn’t Michael Jordan, master athlete that he was, crush a baseball? Our new Igloo Book Buzz selection, Zach Schonbrun’s THE PERFORMANCE CORTEX, published by Dutton on April 17, provides an answer to that question and many others while revealing what actually drives human movement and its spectacular potential. Whether it is timing a 95 mph fastball or reaching for a coffee mug, movement requires a complex suite of computations that many take for granted. With this book, Schonbrun ushers in a new way of thinking about the athletic gifts we marvel over and seek to develop in our own lives. It’s not about the million-dollar arm anymore. It’s about the million-dollar brain.

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[caption id="attachment_111171" align="alignright" width="249"] Stephen Morrow[/caption] Stephen Morrow, Vice President, Executive Editor, Dutton, said, “From the first moments of engagement with Zach Schonbrun’s proposal, his passionate curiosity was captivating. I had the impression he was a sports reporter, but that oversimplification of his immense journalistic talent was quickly swept away. I didn’t grow up with baseball (cricket guy), but I loved Moneyball and this book promised to take the science of sport to a new level. Zach had found two neuroscience start-up entrepreneurs, an unsung brilliant researcher at John’s Hopkins, and was burning to talk to someone in England. All this in pursuit of an understanding of what exactly makes the best athletes so good at making impossible feats look easy. It has been an utter delight and profound pleasure to work with a first time author of such skill and poise on the page and in the field, wherever his investigations take him. Including airline flights themselves, as you can see here. [caption id="attachment_111174" align="alignright" width="261"] Zach Schonbrun © Curtis Cort[/caption] Schonbrun reveals the stories behind THE PERFORMANCE CORTEX: “I came across the topic when my wife found a small blurb in the Columbia alumni magazine about neuroscientists trying to work with Major League Baseball teams. I certainly didn't think at the time that it might lead me here, but I kept tugging at that thread of neuroscience and sports and there was just so much to unravel. I began to realize, well, maybe I've been looking at athleticism all wrong. And I figured if I had, then probably others had as well. The book formed from my own curiosity, and a desire to kind of set the record straight. “My background is in sports journalism, not science, so there was a fairly steep learning curve for me. I leaned on the researchers that I profiled to make sure that what I was writing was fair and accurate. And I also leaned on Stephen, whose own knowledge and vision kept this as a science-sports book, rather than the other way around. But one thing I never struggled with was enthusiasm for and interest in the subject, and I'm grateful for that. It made this experience much more enjoyable.” Here is a sampling of advance media praise for THE PERFORMANCE CORTEX: “A must-read for the cerebral sports fan…like Moneyball except nerdier. Much nerdier.” --Sports Illustrated “Fans of sport science, sport psychology, robotics, and neuroscience will find this to be informative and inspiring.” --Library Journal “[A] revealing tour of the minds of winning athletes… readers interested in the applications of neuroscience to everyday life will find plenty of value here.” --Kirkus Reviews “Poised to guide the sophisticated sports fan in such examination, Schonbrun lucidly explains the fascinating new world of neuroathletics…The stereotype of the dumb jock may not survive this explosive jolt!” --Booklist

Featured Author Event: Claire Dederer (Seattle)

Attention colleagues in the Pacific Northwest: Tonight author Claire Dederer is launching the paperback edition of LOVE AND TROUBLE: A Midlife Reckoning (Vintage) at the University Book Store on the University of Washington campus in Seattle, beginning at 7:00 p.m. (PDT). She will be read from her book, and following a Q&A, sign copies for attendees.

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Named one of the best books of the year by Kirkus Reviews, LOVE AND TROUBLE is a ferocious, sexy, hilarious memoir about going off the rails at midlife, when Dederer developed a sudden yearning for jailbreak. Trying to reconcile the girl she was with the woman she has become, she reflects on two periods in her life uncannily similar in their emotional intensity: her present experience as a middle-aged mom in the grip of unruly and mysterious new hungers, and her recollections of herself as a teenager. “Sentence for sentence, a more pleasure-yielding midlife memoir is hard to think of.” —The Atlantic Dederer is also the author of the New York Times bestseller POSER: My Life in Twenty-Three Yoga Poses, and is a book critic, essayist, and reporter. A longtime contributor to the New York Times, she has also written for The Atlantic, Vogue, Slate, The Nation, and New York Magazine, among other publications.  

TRUE ROOTS: First Rodale Books NY Times Bestseller from Crown Publishing

The Crown Publishing Group is celebrating an historic milestone: its first New York Times bestseller since the venerable wellness publisher became an imprint within its division earlier this year. Rodale Books’ TRUE ROOTS by Kristin Cavallari debuts at #3 on the NYT April 22 Advice, How-to, and Miscellaneous list.

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Cavallari is a popular television personality whose previous NYT bestseller, BALANCING IN HEELS, focused on sharing what she has learned from her personal journey. Her newest, subtitled “A Mindful Kitchen with More than 100 Recipes Free of Gluten, Dairy, and Refined Sugar,” presents her approach to enjoying a toxin-free, healthy diet. The book was published by Rodale on April 3, was the #1 overall Nielsen Bookscan nonfiction title in its first week on sale, and is #1 on the April 16 Publishers Weekly overall bestseller list. Rodale Books’ Adult nonfiction publishing program is part of Crown’s Illustrated and Lifestyle division, whose other imprints are Clarkson Potter, Ten Speed Press, and Harmony Books. Aaron Wehner, who oversees the division as Publisher, described this occasion as “really thrilling,” adding that “special notice is due to several of our new colleagues--editor Dervla Kelly, originating publisher Gail Gonzales, and marketer Brianne Sperber—with a big assist from the Harmony team under Diana Baroni, Vice President, Associate Publisher, Editorial Director, who is also responsible for Rodale Books. TRUE ROOTS is a terrific book, published by a terrific team, and it should continue to roll.”
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Armiah, Ruskovich, Zhang are Finalists for NYPL’s 2018 Young Lions Fiction Award

The New York Public Library has announced the five finalists for its 2018 Young Lions Fiction Award, which annually champions emerging writers and encourages innovation and excellence in contemporary fiction, with Penguin Random House imprints publishing three of the five authors’ books on this year’s shortlist. The winner will be announced on June 7 during an awards ceremony in the Celeste Bartos Forum of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building at the New York Public Library.

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Our Young Lions Fiction Award finalists: WHAT IT MEANS WHEN A MAN FALLS FROM THE SKY by Lesley Nneka Arimah (Riverhead) IDAHO by Emily Ruskovich (Random House) SOUR HEART by Jenny Zhang (Lenny) View the complete list of finalists here. Founded in 2001, the Young Lions Fiction Award is given annually to an American writer age 35 or younger for either a novel or collection of short stories. Each year, five young fiction writers are selected as finalists by a reading committee of writers, editors and librarians.

Kang, Saadawi,Tokarczuk are Finalists for the 2018 Man Booker International Prize

The Man Booker International Prize, which annually celebrates the finest works of translated fiction from around the world, has announced its 2018 shortlist of six titles, with three of the books published by Penguin Random House imprints:

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  THE WHITE BOOK by Han Kang (South Korea), translated by Deborah Smith (Hogarth to publish in the U.S. in Spring 2019) FRANKENSTEIN IN BAGHDAD by Ahmed Saadawi (Iraq), translated by Jonathan Wright (Penguin Books published in the U.S. 1/23/18) FLIGHTS by Olga Tokarczuk (Poland), translated by Jennifer Croft (Riverhead Books to publish in the U.S. 8/14/18) View the complete Man Booker International Prize 2018 shortlist here. The panel of judges included two Penguin Random House authors: Hari Kunzru, whose most recent book is WHITE TEARS (Vintage), and Helen Oyeyemi, whose most recent book is WHAT IS NOT YOUR IS NOT YOURS (Riverhead). The winner of the 2018 prize will be announced on May 22 at an awards dinner at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, with the £50,000 prize being divided equally between the author and the translator of the winning book. In addition, each shortlisted author and translator will share £1,000 each.

A Vet’s Tales of Caring for Our Beloved Pets – Plus a Furry Friends Photo Gallery

National Pet Day was April 11 and our new Igloo Book Buzz selection, Suzy Fincham-Gray’s MY PATIENTS AND OTHER ANIMALS: A Veterinarian’s Stories of Love, Loss and Hope, was published by Spiegel & Grau on April 10. Looking at her life spent in the company of animals, veterinarian Fincham-Gray invites readers into her personal world of loving, healing, and assisting with the loss of our beloved pets, while showing the many ways they change our lives. In her literary debut, she writes with the same tenderness she brings to her patients, whose needs she must meet with her mind, her hands, and her heart.

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[caption id="attachment_110808" align="alignright" width="183"] Suzy Fincham-Gray
© Robin Dayle[/caption] “When I first considered writing a book,” says Fincham-Gray, “I was determined not to write a memoir; however, as I explored the subjects that interested me, I returned again, and again, to the career I have pursued for almost thirty years. This journey has required that I take a deeper and clearer look at my role, as both a veterinarian and as a pet owner, and has helped me understand more about human-pet relationships. The stories in this book are the ones that demanded I write them, the cats and dogs who revealed, in a new way, what it means to care for the animals we love.” The book was acquired and edited by Spiegel & Grau Editor Annie Chagnot: “When I first read Suzy’s manuscript I was riveted by her ability to craft such suspenseful scenes (think Grey’s Anatomy but with animals) and I was surprised by how much the material moved me. There’s an intimacy and grace to her writing that makes it transcend the ‘pet lit’ category—which made sense when I learned that in addition to being a veterinarian, Suzy also has an MFA in creative writing, which makes her a rare breed! This is a book that any animal lover MUST read, but it’s also so universal in its theme of how we care for the ones we love, that I can’t imagine a reader who wouldn’t be moved by it.” In celebration of the release of MY PATIENTS AND OTHER ANIMALS and National Pet Day, this week several Random House and Spiegel & Grau colleagues’ cats and dogs posed for the camera.    

Hogarth’s Alexis Washam on How Jo Nesbø Transformed MACBETH

The newest novel in the Hogarth Shakespeare Series is Jo Nesbø’s MACBETH, published on April 10. Set in the 1970s in a run-down, rainy industrial town, this gripping transformative take on one of Shakespeare’s bloodiest plays centers around a police force struggling to shed an incessant drug problem. Creating an engrossing story of love and guilt, political ambition, and greed for more, Nesbø explores the darkest corners of human nature, and the aspirations of the criminal mind.

In this “Three Questions for an Editor” interview, Alexis Washam, Executive Editor, Crown Publishers and Hogarth, offers insights into the Hogarth Shakespeare Series, the process of working with Nesbø on this project, and how readers may embrace the remarkable novel that was created. Read on.

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What was involved in the process of having Jo Nesbø retell MACBETH as part of the Hogarth Shakespeare Series? When we first conceived of the Hogarth Shakespeare series, my colleagues here and in the UK agreed that we wanted to give the participating authors as much latitude as possible on this project. When we approached Jo, we asked him which Shakespeare play he would be most excited about retelling, and when he came back with MACBETH, we were both thrilled and not entirely surprised. It is, after all, one of the Bard’s bloodiest. Once we matched the author with the play, there was very little directive – basically, “write a novel!” - and I’ve been amazed to see how each book has come back with its author’s own unique take on his or her play. Nesbø is no different – he took a timeless tale of ambition and madness and set it in a police department in an atmospheric port town, and the result is a page-turning thriller that stands up to the best of them.   How would you describe working with the author as his editor as this book came to be? [caption id="attachment_110713" align="alignright" width="197"] Alexis Washam[/caption] It’s been a true honor to work with all of the authors on our Hogarth Shakespeare list, and each of them has been incredibly open and gracious about the editorial process. All of the books in the series are published in collaboration with my colleagues at Hogarth UK, so in the case of MACBETH, Jo delivered his manuscript, fully finished and translated by Don Bartlett, to myself and the UK editor at the same time. We both read it at once (it was exciting to be one of the first to read a new Nesbø novel!), and then sent along our editorial notes to Jo and his agent. There was not very much that needed changing, as you can imagine. But he took our thoughts into consideration, and we did a small bit of work on the opening chapter in particular. Since the setting and the cast of characters would be new to Nesbø fans, we wanted to make sure we got the first pages exactly right, so they’d be instantly drawn in. We also had a conversation about the title: MACBETH is the only book in our series that shares its title with the play. At first, we weren’t sure about this exception, but after reading the manuscript it made sense. Since Jo had kept the names of the characters (he’s the only one who has done so, at least to this extent), we decided to stick with it. And it looks fantastic on a book cover! What elements of Nesbø’s MACBETH do you think will resonate with longtime fans of his Harry Hole novels as well as readers – particularly Shakespeare devotees – who may be coming to his fiction for the first time? Jo Nesbø’s novels are not just pulse-racing thrillers; his work has always explored the darkness and evil that is present in any seemingly functional society, and the chaos and infighting that serves as the backdrop to his MACBETH should be familiar to any fan of the play. Also, of course neither the play nor Nesbø’s work are strangers to violence – man’s worst impulses often result in murder and violent crime, and the Harry Hole novels and this new book make those acts of violence central to their plots. However, neither Nesbø nor Shakespeare was interested in bloodshed for its own sake; both in the original play and the novel, the character Macbeth’s deepest psychological demons and personal failings make for a compelling tale of a tragic fallen man.

Riverhead Author Mohsin Hamid Wins Aspen Words Literary Prize for EXIT WEST

Mohsin Hamid’s EXIT WEST (Riverhead Books) has won the inaugural Aspen Words Literary Prize, a new $35,000 award given to “an influential work of fiction that illuminates a vital contemporary issue and demonstrates the transformative power of literature on thought and culture.” The four finalists included fellow Riverhead author Lesley Nneka Arimah for WHAT IT MEANS WHEN A MAN FALLS FROM THE SKY and Viking author Zinzi Clemmons for WHAT WE LOSE.

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Riverhead Vice President, Editorial Director Rebecca Saletan accepted the award on Hamid’s behalf at the awards ceremony on Tuesday night at the Morgan Library in Manhattan. Afterwards, Saletan talked with NPR’s Linda Holmes about EXIT WEST. You can find out more about the ceremony and watch Mohsin Hamid’s recorded speech here. Among Hamid’s remarks: "I'm really grateful to be honored by this prize in particular, which is a prize that looks to books to have an impact on the world." In a conversation with NPR host Michel Martin during the evening, Arimah gave advice to new writers: “Be radically honest with yourself and with everyone else.”