Books & Authors

From Page to Screen: A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW to Be Adapted into TV Series

Television rights to Amor Towles’ bestselling novel A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW (Viking) have been acquired by Carolyn Newman, Senior VP of Scripted Programming at eOne.  Tom Harper (War & Peace, Peaky Blinders) is attached to direct and will executive produce with Xavier Marchand of Moonriver Content.

Viking published A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW in September 2016. It has been on The New York Times bestseller list for 38 weeks and remains in the Top 10.  Most recently, the book hit the #1 spot in the Indie bestseller list for the third week in a row. 

Set during the Soviet Union’s turbulent early 1920s, A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW tells the story of Count Alexander Rostov. When he is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the count is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and now must live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors.

eOne will serve as the studio for the TV series and controls worldwide rights.

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.

 “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.

Reshma Saujani Brings “Girls Who Code” to Young Readers

Computing skills are the most sought-after realm in the U.S. job market, yet research shows that the share of women in the computing workforce has declined from 37% in 1995 to 24% today. In 2012, Reshma Saujani recognized this growing gender disparity and founded the national non-profit organization Girls Who Code to inspire, educate, and equip girls with the computing skills to pursue 21st century opportunities.

On Tuesday, August 22, Penguin Young Readers will join forces with Reshma and Girls Who Code to launch a new, multi-format, cross-imprint publishing program with the publication of GIRLS WHO CODE: Learn to Code and Change the World (Viking Books for Young Readers, for ages 10 & up) and THE FRIENDSHIP CODE (Penguin Workshop, for ages 8-12). These books teach girls the fundamental principles of coding and allow budding female coders to see themselves reflected in our cultural narrative. “When I first started Girls Who Code, I realized that there was a need for books that described what it’s like to actually be a girl who codes,” says Reshma Saujani. “I always say, ‘You can’t be what you can’t see.’ And that’s true for books, too. We need to read stories about girls who look like us in order to be inspired to try something new.” Reshma kicks off her national, 8-city book tour on August 22 at 5:00 p.m. with a Women in Tech rally at Union Square, followed by a book launch at 7:00 pm at Barnes & Noble, Union Square, with Reshma and editor Cristina Arreola in conversation. Major national media for the book launch includes interviews with Good Morning America,, The New York Times, TIME for Kids, The Chicago Tribune and CNN, as well as review coverage in Family Circle and Scholastic Teacher.

Featured Author Event: Alex Gilvarry

Alex Gilvarry will discuss and sign copies of his second novel EASTMAN WAS HERE (Viking) at McNally Jackson Booksellers on Tuesday, August 22, at 7:00 p.m.  Following his widely acclaimed debut, FROM THE MEMOIRS OF A NON-ENEMY COMBATANT, the author employs the same thoughtful, yet dark sense of humor in this new novel.


The year is 1973, and Alan Eastman, a public intellectual, accidental cultural critic, washed-up war journalist, husband, and philanderer; finds himself alone on the floor of his study in an existential crisis. In the depths of despair, he receives an unexpected and unwelcome phone call from his old rival dating back to his days on the Harvard literary journal, offering him the chance to go to Vietnam to write the definitive account of the end of America’s longest war. This ambitious new novel captures a man’s search for meaning in the face of advancing age, fading love, and a rapidly-changing world.

EASTMAN WAS HERE is one of The Millions’ Most Anticipated Books of the Second Half of 2017 and BuzzFeed’s Exciting New Books You Need To Read This Summer.

Gilvarry is the winner of the Hornblower Award for a First Book and Best New Voice 2012 by Bookspan, and selected by the New York Times as an Editor’s Choice. He is a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 honoree and has received fellowships from the Harry Ransom Center and the Norman Mailer Center. He is also a professor at Monmouth University where he teaches fiction.

HOME FIRE: Humanizing the Dilemmas of Our Moment

This week’s Igloo Book Buzz, HOME FIRE by Kamila Shamsie, was shortlisted for the 2017 Man Booker Prize and published by Riverhead Books on August 15.  Suspenseful and heartbreaking, this is the story of an immigrant family driven to pit love against loyalty, with devastating consequences. 

Ms. Shamsie revealed, “The idea of adapting Sophocles’ Antigone in a contemporary context was first suggested to me by a man called Jatinder Verma, who runs a theatre company in London. Hedidn’t define a particular contemporary context but this was atime when the papers were full of stories of young British Muslim men going to Syria to join the Islamic State, and the government was wanting to respond by stripping them of their citizenship.  I very quickly saw how those stories in the headlines could be laid on to an ancient Greek story about two sisters who are forbidden from burying their brother, because of his crimes against the state – one accepts the state’s edict, the other doesn’t. The more times I read the play the more it struck me as being so filled with potential because it’s about large themes of justice and the state vs. the individual while also being the story of characters whose lives are entwined by blood and by love.”   [caption id="attachment_7435" align="alignright" width="250"] Kamila Shamsie
Credit: Zain Mustafa[/caption] The book’s editor, Riverhead Vice President and Editorial Director Rebecca Saletan, said, “Though I’d long admired Kamila’s work, this was my first time publishing her. To my delight, that involved some of my favorite kind of editorial work—helping her to figure out, in conjunction with her longtime editorial team at Bloomsbury, how to fine-tune some of the emotional dynamics as she finished transposing the story from classical Greek drama to thrilling contemporary novel.  HOME FIRE would have been a pleasure to publish at any time, but it is so—what’s the right word, empowering?— to have it to bring before the world at this moment when aggressive xenophobia is being fueled from on high. A teenager goes astray, a family who have lived in a country for decades are suddenly ‘other’ – it humanizes powerfully and inescapably the dilemmas of our moment.”   Reviewer praise for HOME FIRE has been unequivocally rapturous: “Ingenious and love-struck … HOME FIRE takes flight. … Shamsie drives this gleaming machine home in a manner that, if I weren’t handling airplane metaphors, I would call smashing. … Builds to one of the most memorable final scenes I’ve read in a novel this century.” —The New York Times “This is a haunting novel, full of dazzling moments and not a few surprising turns … HOME FIRE  blazes with the kind of annihilating devastation that transcends grief.” —The Washington Post “All of Shamsie’s novels are deeply moving and morally complex, leading to the kind of rich reading experience most of us hope for in every novel we pick up. Her newest has all of that and more.” —San Francisco Chronicle “Shamsie’s timely fiction probes the roots of radicalism and the pull of the family.” —O, the Oprah Magazine
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Our 4 PEN Center USA 2017 Literary Awards Finalists

PEN Center USA, the West Coast division of PEN International, has announced its 2017 Literary Awards finalists.  Penguin Random House imprints publish four of the finalists in the following categories:

  Fiction Karan Mahajan, THE ASSOCIATION OF SMALL BOMBS  (Viking) Creative Nonfiction Paul Kalanithi, WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR  (Random House) Research Nonfiction Elizabeth Letts, THE PERFECT HORSE  (Ballantine) Young Adult Stacey Lee, OUTRUN THE MOON  (GP Putnam’s Sons, Penguin Books for Young Readers) Congratulations to our authors, their editors and publishers. To view a complete list of the PEN Center USA finalists, click here. The award winners will be announced in early September and prizes presented at the 27th Annual Literary Awards Festival on October 27 in Southern California at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, where Penguin Random House author Margaret Atwood will be honored with the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award.  The event will be hosted by actor/Penguin Random House author Nick Offerman.

Hit the Road for the #UnitedStatesofBooks Interactive Tour

Late last year, colleagues in our Consumer Engagement Group launched a fun new initiative called The United States of Books, with Penguin Random House employees and readers across the country picking books set in specific states and an object the state is known for.  An easy way to take a tour of these United States of Books’ selections, along with stylized, art-forward images, is this interactive “road trip.” To get rolling, click here.

As you move the Penguin in his van along the highway, click the billboards to see the Read Down lists of books set in each state, including Pennsylvania’s RABBIT RUN by John Updike, Ohio’s MOSQUITOLAND by David Arnold, and Kentucky’s THE BOURBON KINGS by J.R. Ward.  Buckle up.  It’s going to be a book-y ride!

How the Kellogg Brothers Transformed Breakfast and Wellness

“What’s more American than Corn Flakes?” Bing Crosby once posed that rhetorical question and would probably have enjoyed reading our new Igloo Book Buzz selection, Howard Markel’s THE KELLOGGS: The Battling Brothers of Battle Creek, published by Pantheon.  

What inspired Markel, a doctor, professor, historian, and author, to write this book?  He said, “After finding a treasure trove of papers and other archival materials documenting the Kellogg brothers’ lives, I knew there was a remarkable story worth telling. This family saga was more than the story of the creation of corn flakes or a feud between brothers, it was a compelling and important tale of modern medicine, nutrition, industry and wellness in America.”   Vicky Wilson, who edited the book, said, “The story of the Kellogg Brothers is a great American saga of know-how, instinct, curiosity, invention and determination.  It’s the building of a vast industry that changed how America lived and ate for more than seven decades, from post-Civil-War America, through the gilded age up to the Second World War.  It’s a kind of Magnificent Ambersons, mid-western American saga that gives us a changing world in the heart of the industrial age.” [caption id="attachment_7390" align="alignright" width="199"] Howard Markel
Credit: Joyce Ravid[/caption] THE KELLOGGS has garnered much praise from media outlets as well as authors: “A tale of grit, controversy, faith and the emergence of the ‘wellness’ movement. In the hands of Markel, a trained historian, physician, seasoned writer and chronicler of America, this tale comes alive. A fabulous read.” —Abraham Verghese, author of CUTTING FOR STONE “Howard Markel’s riveting, deeply researched new book covers vast territory: the saga of the squabbling Kellogg brothers (“magnificent showmen, resolute empire builders, and unwavering visionaries”), their mass-branding of breakfast cereals, their concept of ‘wellness,’ and their enormous influence on the diet of millions of Americans.  This book arrives at a pivotal moment in our own history when mass-marketing, showmanship, and the media deserve particularly deep study.  Markel’s incandescent scholarship and his incisive analysis shine through this book.  THE KELLOGGS can certainly be read as a biography of two visionaries (and their extended families), but it also deserves to be read as a case study by generations of future readers.” — Siddhartha Mukherjee, Pulitzer Prize -winning author of The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer “This incredible story by itself would be sufficient for a book. Markel, however, goes much further . . .an engrossing adventure about the rise of Midwest America from the pioneering days of the Kellogg family to World War II with all of its failures and successes. Medicine, breakfast foods, and the Seventh Day Adventist Church are part of the story.” — Robert S. Davis, New York Journal of Books

50 Books | 50 Covers Features 17 Penguin Random House Prize-Winning Designs

This year’s 50 Books  | 50 Covers competition, widely recognized as the highest design honor in the book publishing world, features 4 interior and 13 cover prize-winning designs created by our Penguin Random House art directors and designers in 2016.  

Congratulations to all of our talented and creative colleagues, representing books published by imprints from across the house.   Our winners in the 50 Books category:  A SUPER UPSETTING COOKBOOK ABOUT SANDWICHES Author: Tyler Kord Publisher: Clarkson Potter Art Director: Marysarah Quinn, Stephanie Huntwork Designer: Ian Dingman CLASSIC PENGUIN: Cover to Cover Author: Edited with an Introduction by Paul Buckley, Preface by Elda Rotor Publisher:  Penguin Books Designer:  Paul Buckley and Matt Vee ME: A Compendium Author: Wee Society Publisher: Clarkson Potter Art Director: Jill Robertson, Rob Alexander         Designer: Rob Alexander somethingtofoodabout Author: Questlove and Ben Greenman Publisher: Clarkson Potter Art Director: Marysarah Quinn, Alexis Rosenzweig Designer: Rational Beauty: Jeanette Abbink, Mike Abbink Design intern: Yerang Choi   Our winners in the 50 Covers category: The Angelus Trilogy (The Watchers, Angel City, The Way of Sorrows) Author: Jon Steele Publisher: Blue Rider Press         Designer: Jason Booher BOY ERASED Author: Garrard Conley Publisher: Riverhead Books Creative + Art Director: Helen Yentus         Designer: Rachel Willey BUT WHAT IF WE’RE WRONG Author: Chuck Klosterman Publisher: Blue Rider Press Creative + Art Director: Jason Booher         Designer: Office of Paul Sahre GIRL IN PIECES Author: Kathleen Glasgow / Krista Marino Publisher: Random House Children‘s Books | Delacorte Creative + Art Director: Alison Impey         Designer: Jen Heuer HOW TO RUIN EVERYTHING Author: George Watsky Publisher: Plume Creative + Art Director: Jason Booher         Designer: Ben Denzer OLD RECORDS NEVER DIE Author: Eric Spitznagel Publisher: Plume Creative + Art Director: Jason Booher         Designer: John Gall ON DIRECTING FILM Author: David Mamet Publisher: Penguin Books Creative + Art Director: Paul Buckley, Roseanne Serra         Designer: Christopher Sergio Penguin Galaxy Series (Dune, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Neuromancer, Stranger in a Strange Land, The Left Hand of Darkness, The Once and Future King) Authors: Frank Herbert, Arthur C. Clarke, William Gibson, Robert A. Heinlein, Ursula K. Le Guin, T. H. White Publisher: Penguin Classics        Creative + Art Director: Paul Buckley        Designer: Alex Trochut Penguin Orange (Twelve Years a Slave, The Broom of the System, East of Eden, White Noise, The Joy Luck Club, The Snow Leopard, One Flew Over the Cuckoo‘s Nest, The Crucible, On the Road, Ceremony, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, The Call of Cthulhu) Authors: Solomon Northup, David Foster Wallace, John Steinbeck, Don DeLillo, Amy Tan, Peter Matthiessen, Ken Kesey, Arthur Miller, Jack Kerouac,         Leslie Marmon Silko, Shirley Jackson, H.P. Lovecraft         Publisher:  Penguin Classics         Creative + Art Director: Paul Buckley         Designer: Paul Buckley, Illustrations by Eric Nyquist THE BED MOVED Author: Rebecca Schiff/Diana Miller Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Creative + Art Director: Carol Devine Carson         Designer: Janet Hansen THE PASSION OF MADEMOISELLE S. Author: Jean Yves Berthault Publisher:  Spiegel & Grau / Random House Creative + Art Director: Paolo Pepe, Greg Mollica         Designer: Gabriele Wilson The Pelican Shakespeare (King Lear, Hamlet, A Midsummer Night‘s Dream, Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night, Othello, The Taming of the Shrew, Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest, Macbeth) Author: William Shakespeare Publisher: Penguin Classics         Creative + Art Director: Paul Buckley         Designer: Manuja Waldia THE POSER Author: Jacob Rubin Publisher: Penguin Books Creative + Art Director: Alison Forner         Designer: Will Staehle To view all of this year’s 50 Books prize-winning designs, click here. To view all of this year’s 50 Covers prize-winning designs, click here. Many Penguin Random House staff designers and art directors have been honored by the 50 Books |50 Covers contest over the years, and are deeply invested in seeing this design contest continue and remain vital. Established in 1923 by the American Institute of Graphic Arts as “Fifty Books,” the 50 Books | 50 Covers competition is now the longest continually running design competition in the United States. Design Observer has hosted the competition since 2011.

Taste What You Read: Penguin Random House India Pairs Books with Chocolate

Penguin Random House India has collaborated with the chocolate brand “All Things” to formulate and pair taste buds with words. Inspired by classics from Indian literature, it is now possible to appease multiple sensory palettes.  You can feel the flow of the narrative and truly taste what you read.  

From the initial sight of the packaging that resembles a book to chocolate melting in your mouth,  this collaboration promises a unique experience. Several Penguin Random House India colleagues served as “taste-testers” looking for perfect book & chocolate combinations. A caramel-toned Belgian milk chocolate with a lemon zest and cream cheese-flavored white chocolate ganache echoes the richness and longing of love found in Kalidasa’s luminous poetry. A bittersweet dark chocolate with botanical undertones paired with an aromatic Earl Grey-infused vodka ganache whets the appetite for the lyrical works of the poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz.  A milky Belgian chocolate with baked coconut crumble evokes Raja Rao’s The Cat and Shakespeare, which connects readers with the everyday struggles and ordinary pleasures of living in Trivandrum during the early 1940’s.