igloo book buzz

EW Calls A PLACE FOR US “The Thinking Person’s Summer Read”

Our new Igloo Book Buzz selection is a transformative debut novel, A PLACE FOR US. “To be taken hostage by Fatima Farheen Mirza’s heartrending and timely story is a gutting pleasure,” says Sarah Jessica Parker, Editorial Director of SJP for Hogarth, of her newly published inaugural acquisition for the imprint. “It allows her reader to better understand what it means to reconcile one’s love of family and culture with a desire to find one’s own path, and one’s own faith. Ms. Mirza painstakingly details the life of an Indian Muslim family in America and their children’s search to feel whole, fulfilled, and content. She captures your mind and heart with an urgency that defies you to stop reading. I guarantee you will be different when you close the book.”

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A PLACE FOR US transports readers back to the beginning of a family’s life: from the bonds that bring them together, to the differences that pull them apart. All the joy and struggle of family life is in its pages, from the mother and father’s own arrival in America from India, to the years in which their children—each in their own way—tread between two cultures, seeking to find their place in the world, as well as a path home. [caption id="attachment_114770" align="alignright" width="261"] Fatima Farheen Mizra photo by Gregg Richards[/caption] Ms. Mirza: “I began writing this novel when I was a freshman in college, and it was my love for the characters—Layla, Rafiq, Hadia, and Amar, members of a single family—that committed me to the project. I was interested in exploring what it means when to be loyal to oneself is to betray the home you have come from, the bond between siblings as well as their betrayals, and the decisions that each character makes that determines not only their own destiny, but also the lives of their loved ones. After working on the novel for eight years, I could not be happier with the home it has found. Speaking with Sarah Jessica Parker and Lindsay Sagnette and seeing the care and enthusiasm they bring to their books has been deeply comforting. I’m confident in their vision for the novel and grateful that it will be brought into the world by SJP for Hogarth.” Here is a sampling of praise this buzz-worthy book and author have earned:
  • “Ambitious… a family epic that is textured and keenly felt… Mirza draws Amar’s lifelong struggle with the concept of unconditional devotion so poignantly that readers will find it exceedingly relatable. But so too is the mysterious whisper in his ear urging him always to return, no matter how far he strays, back home.” – The New York Times Book Review
  • “Mirza, 27, is about to become a star…The debut author brings us the thinking person’s summer read, a rich and layered tale about family and assimilation.” — Entertainment Weekly
  • "It is absolutely gorgeous… Mirza writes about family life with the wisdom, insight and patience you would expect from a mature novelist adding a final masterpiece to her canon, but this is, fortunately, just the start of an extraordinary career.” – The Washington Post
  • “An affecting, authentic and artful debut by Fatima Farheen Mirza…The novel is deeply moving and surprisingly insightful. Mirza's writing is poignantly beautiful.” – Associated Press
  • “The book dives into the lives of a Muslim-American family, opening on the eve of the eldest daughter’s marriage, and examines the intricacies of a family straddling two very different cultures.” — Vanity Fair
  • “Fatima Farheen Mirza’s A PLACE FOR US is everything I love about family sagas. It traverses time and place, explores the conflicts between a parent’s expectation and a child’s desires, and, most importantly, introduces us to fully imagined, flawed characters whose relationships are deep, entangled, and rich in love. The story — which centers on an American Muslim family navigating the tension between tradition and autonomy — is told in fragments, jumping from one character to another, slowly adding layers to scenes by revisiting interactions from multiple perspectives. And Mirza renders this family with a gentle hand, lovingly, so that each character will make their way into your heart.” — Buzzfeed
 

Jim Brown: 9 Years an NFL All-Pro, 81 Years a Man

Our new Igloo Book Buzz selection is Dave Zirin’s JIM BROWN: Last Man Standing – a raw and revealing biography that redefines an American icon who was not only a football legend but a Hollywood star and controversial activist as well. Mr. Zirin says, “Jim Brown is one of the most fascinating and relentlessly relevant figures in US culture over the last 60 years. His triumphs and his flaws alike make for the kind of material about which a writer dreams. I worked on this book for five years. In the first year, an old teammate of Jim Brown’s hooked us up and I was able to speak to him about the themes I was exploring in the book.

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“The challenge in writing this book comes with the search for balance as I attempted to draw out the lessons of Jim Brown’s life. Brown is somebody with diehard supporters and detractors. I was not looking to build him up or tear him down: just to distill some of the lessons from his remarkable life. I know there will be people who say I’m too hard on him and there will be people who think I’m too soft. Knowing that this kind of criticism is in my future is a challenge unto itself. “This is a book that is meant for people well beyond the football audience. It’s about masculinity, racism, and the ways that changing definitions of manhood have affected the life of someone who has resolutely chosen not to change.” Jim Brown is recognized as perhaps the greatest football player to ever live. But his phenomenal nine-year career with the Cleveland Browns is only part of his remarkable story, the opening salvo to a much more sprawling epic. Brown parlayed his athletic fame into stardom in Hollywood, where it was thought that he could become “the black John Wayne.” He was an outspoken Black Power icon in the 1960s, and he formed Black Economic Unions to challenge racism in the business world. For this and for his decades of work as a truce negotiator with street gangs, Brown – along with such figures as Muhammad Ali, Bill Russell, and Billie Jean King – is revered as a socially conscious athlete. At eighty-one years old, he continues to speak out and look for fights. His recent public support of Donald Trump and criticism of Colin Kaepernick are just the latest examples of someone who seems restless if he is not in conflict.

The Making of a Gripping New Novel Set in North Korea

Our new Igloo Book Buzz selection, D.B. John’s STAR OF THE NORTH, published by Crown on May 22, is particularly timely, as much of the highly-charged narrative unfolds in North Korea. Crown Senior Editor Nate Roberson offers these insights: “Describing STAR OF THE NORTH as a ‘thriller’ is accurate—it’s one of the most exciting books I’ve read in years—but also incomplete, because this book is so much more than just an entertaining thrill ride.

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“With unparalleled insight and empathy, D. B. John has pulled back the curtain on a fascinating world that even now remains opaque to so many Americans. As we watch a brilliant CIA agent fight to rescue a victim of the regime, we are also seeing the other side of that coin, the people of North Korea whose very survival hinges on overcoming an unfathomable degree of oppression and deprivation. As North Korea once again takes center stage in world events, I am grateful to have been so immersed in a work that moved me, kept me up all night turning pages, and ultimately totally transformed my understanding of North Korea.” D.B. John: “I had long wanted to make this closed, secretive country the setting for a thriller. The outline of a story began to take shape the week Kim Jong-il died in 2011. I watched the footage of those vast crowds grieving in Pyongyang, and behind the crying I saw fear. Everyone, even the children, knew what awaited those who shed too few tears. I visited the country four months later, in April 2012. The whole trip had an air of unreality about it, from the silence I stepped into as I left the plane—imagine a land with no traffic, no planes overhead, no bird song—to the daily rituals in the cult of Kim. My small tour group was obliged to demonstrate our respect by lining up and bowing before the Great Leader’s statue. And wherever we went there was a statue. “North Korea is a violent tyranny led by a single family. One mistake, one word out of line… and a person can be taken away in a truck at night, along with their children and parents, and not seen again. My challenge as a writer was to convey something that’s hard for us, who take our freedoms and personal liberties for granted, to imagine: how life carries on under pervasive surveillance and extreme political control. This thriller stemmed partly from my curiosity about people who forever have to hide their thoughts and feelings. What are the private cares and aspirations of people living under the most oppressive regime the world has ever seen?” To read the newly published Parade interview with D.B. John, click here. To view D.B. John's fascinating visual diary of his research trip to North Korea for STAR OF THE NORTH, posted on EW.com, click here. STAR OF THE NORTH has generated a wide range of advance praise. Here is a sampling:
  • “[a] multistranded espionage thriller…told with drama and flair.” – Wall Street Journal
  • “A thrilling tale of abduction and escape in North Korea....highly entertaining.” – The Washington Post
  • “An outstanding thriller . . . Those seeking a realistic, highly readable look at North Korea will be rewarded.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
  • “Well-researched, fast-paced, and pertinent . . . a fantastic read.” —Library Journal (starred review)
  • “A remarkable story about the most opaque country on Earth . . . STAR OF THE NORTH would be a superior thriller even if it was pure fiction.” —Booklist (starred review)
  • “Extraordinary. Smart, sophisticated, suspenseful—and important. If you try one new thing this year, make it STAR OF THE NORTH.” —Lee Child

Flying 100,000 Miles in a Prop Plane to Take the Pulse of Small Town America

Our new Igloo Book Buzz selection is James and Deborah Fallows’ OUR TOWNS: A 100,000-Mile Journey into the Heart of America, published by Pantheon on May 8. For the last five years, the Fallowses have been traveling across America in a single-engine prop airplane. Visiting dozens of towns, they met hundreds of civic leaders, workers, immigrants, educators, environmentalists, artists, public servants, librarians, business people, city planners, students, and entrepreneurs to take the pulse and understand the prospects of places that usually draw notice only after a disaster or during a political campaign.

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The America they saw is acutely conscious of its problems—from economic dislocation to the opioid scourge—but it is also crafting solutions, with a practical-minded determination at dramatic odds with the bitter paralysis of national politics. At times of dysfunction on a national level, reform possibilities have often arisen from the local level. The Fallowses describe America in the middle of one of these creative waves. Their view of the country is as complex and contradictory as America itself, but it also reflects the energy, the generosity and compassion, the dreams, and the determination of many who are in the midst of making things better. The Fallowses talked to Slate about OUR TOWNS: “We started this project in 2013,” Deborah said, “when there wasn’t a political backdrop to this story. It was more coming out of the recession, and us coming back from China and wanting to get some instincts about where America was at this point, and wanting to go out to as many places as we could to see if our impressions of what we heard about America from being in China for a long time—everything was going to hell in a hand basket, and that there were really tough times—was true.” James added, “I think we’re naturally optimistic people, and so our starting point was more we kind of didn’t think things could be that bad, and it wasn’t our experience and it certainly wasn’t our experience in the time that we had been in America before. We didn’t have an agenda. It was really to just open the book and see what was out there.” “We didn’t ask about national things,” Deborah said, “except at the very end. But when we just asked about people’s lives and what was going on in their town, it was so heavily weighted towards in my neighborhood, at my schools, on our main street, what people need here, what people want from my town. I don’t know if people had just given up on the national scene or they didn’t want to talk about it anymore, but it felt like it just didn’t occupy a huge part of where their energy and where their intentions were set and were focused.” James concluded, “The complete tribal nature, identity nature, quasi-religious nature of national politics is separate from the local in a way that I don’t know an exact precedent. It is reassuring for the health at the local level. It’s quite alarming that nonetheless, we have this national result. I guess the news we have to offer is that there is that contrast because I think most people have assumed that national-level dysfunction must indicate profound disease through the entire body politic.” To read the full Slate article, click here. Watch and listen to James and Deborah Fallows’ recent segments on CBS Sunday Morning and CBS This Morning. James Fallows has been a national correspondent for The Atlantic for more than thirty-five years, reporting from China, Japan, Southeast Asia, Europe, and across the United States. He is the author of eleven previous books. He has won a National Book Award and a National Magazine Award. For two years he was President Jimmy Carter’s chief speechwriter. Deborah Fallows is a linguist and writer who holds a PhD in theoretical linguistics and is the author of two previous books. She has written for The Atlantic, National Geographic, Slate, The New York Times, and The Washington Monthly, and has worked at the Pew Research Center, Oxygen Media, and Georgetown University.

Laugh, Cry, Find Hope and Joy in the South of France

As April gives way to May, it’s finally starting to feel like spring, and our new Igloo Book Buzz selection, Catherine Isaac’s YOU ME EVERYTHING, published by Pamela Dorman Books/Viking today, is a title best read while relaxing outdoors. Set in the French countryside on an idyllic summer vacation, this beautifully written novel is by turns heart wrenching and hopeful, driven by one woman’s fierce determination to grab hold of the family she has and never let go.

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[caption id="attachment_111976" align="alignright" width="217"] Catherine Isaac, Credit: Deana Kay[/caption] “YOU ME EVERYTHING tackles a difficult and at times heartbreaking topic,” said Catherine Isaac, “but I aimed to write with a lightness of touch, to make readers laugh as well as cry, and ultimately deliver an uplifting message. It's set in the Dordogne in France, where I’ve vacationed since childhood, and I hoped to vividly recreate the sights, sounds and tastes of a region I adore. I’ve come to think of the book as a love story but in the widest definition of the term, because it explores relationships far beyond those of the two main characters, Jess and Adam. YOU ME EVERYTHING is my American debut but I’d been writing under a pseudonym for a decade in the UK before I wrote it. I feel immensely privileged that my writing is now being introduced to US readers and I’m hugely excited to see how it’s received.” [caption id="attachment_111975" align="alignleft" width="225"] Pam Dorman[/caption] Pam Dorman, VP & Publisher, Pamela Dorman Books/Viking, commented, “Catherine Issac was introduced to me by one of the agents I trust most—Sheila Crowley of Curtis Brown, Ltd., who also represents Jojo Moyes. While of course Moyes and Isaac each has her own voice, what attracted me to Isaac was both her ability to create very believable, very relatable characters, especially a mother and son whose relationship seemed utterly real and quite moving to me. In addition, though, I loved the humor with which she infused what could have been an exceptionally sad story. And the setting—the gorgeous French countryside in the Dordogne in the south of France—was pretty hard to resist! Catherine had written a number of other, more conventional books before both Sheila and I took her on, and she was very determined to write a book that was bigger and deeper than any she had written before. She absolutely succeeded—and we worked in conjunction with her long-time UK publisher, Suzanne Baboneau at S & S UK, to bring this book to its richest possible incarnation.” Fellow authors weigh in with words of praise : “Glass of chilled rosé, check. Comfy chair, check. Box of tissues, check. YOU ME EVERYTHING is everything you need for a moving, funny, heartbreaking, and ultimately joyous read. Set in one of the world’s most magical places, it’s a story that celebrates the power of love to overcome any fear. You’ll savor this one like an aperitif of socca and wine.” – Susan Wiggs, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Map of the Heart “What would you do for the child you love? You Me Everything takes a raw and honest look at one mother’s struggle to forge the best future for her son. A fractured family and a summer in the beautiful French countryside come alive in Catherine Isaac’s capable hands.” – Lisa Wingate, New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours “Wow. Just Wow. If you liked Me Before You, you’ll love YOU ME EVERYTHING. Heartbreakingly beautiful.” – Clare Mackintosh, New York Times bestselling author of I Let You Go
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Top Thriller Writers Turn Out for a “Ulysses-like Odyssey” that “Starts Fast and Never Stops”

Our latest Igloo Book Buzz selection, WARNING LIGHT, David Ricciardi’s debut spy thriller, was published by Berkley on Tuesday, April 17, to widespread acclaim. The book takes off with a bang, as new covert operator Zac Miller literally flies under the radar on a job for the CIA. Zac finds himself on a mission gone wrong, and soon embarks on a globe-trotting epic in order to clear his own name and set the record straight before he can be captured by the Iranian government—or a litany of enemies he makes along the way to get back to his bosses and save his own skin.

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[caption id="attachment_111649" align="alignright" width="225"] Tom Colgan and David Ricciardi[/caption] Major pre-publication buzz for WARNING LIGHT started early. Quotes began lining the inbox of Berkley VP, Editorial Director Tom Colgan after a mere weekend of sending out the manuscript. In a matter of days, a number of the most revered thriller writers were raving about WARNING LIGHT—from Steve Berry to Larry Bond and Lee Child, who predicted that WARNING LIGHT was “one of the best thrillers you’ll read this year.” “In the end, we got quotes from every single author we approached,” said Colgan, “some of which included beauties like ‘Delivers nonstop action from the opening pages (Larry Bond) and ‘Starts fast and never stops’ (Alex Berenson).” He describes WARNING LIGHT as “the propulsive energy of Mark Greaney’s The Gray Man matched with the intellectual-in-over-his-head appeal of Tom Clancy’s classic hero Jack Ryan.” [caption id="attachment_111651" align="alignleft" width="200"] David Ricciardi and J. Todd Scott[/caption] Jon Land of the Providence Journal calls WARNING LIGHT “a tour de force of suspense and international intrigue in the best tradition of Frederick Forsyth, Robert Ludlum and Daniel Silva. A must for all political thriller fans,” and Kirkus Reviews declared it “a Ulysses-like odyssey.” Parade magazine featured an exclusive excerpt from the book, which went live online on publication day. The Real Book Spy named WARNING LIGHT on the “Twenty Must-Read Thrillers Hitting Bookstores This Spring.” National radio host Hugh Hewitt interviewed David about WARNING LIGHT, which was Hugh’s February Book Club selection; those interviews aired over several days surrounding publication. He also took part in a national radio satellite tour on April 18. [caption id="attachment_111652" align="alignright" width="200"] David Ricciardi and Joseph Finder[/caption] David went on a national multi-stop tour to promote the book with special guest moderators at each location. On April 17, David did a publication day event at Mysterious Bookshop in New York City, in conversation with New York Times bestselling Berkley author Mark Greaney. David discussed WARNING LIGHT and his writing process with his editor, Tom Colgan, at R.J. Julia in Madison, CT on Wednesday, April 18. Bestselling Dutton author Joseph Finder moderated a discussion about WARNING LIGHT during an event at the Brookline Library hosted by Brookline Booksmith in Boston, MA on Thursday, April 19. On Friday, April 20, David headed to Houston, TX, for a conversation with Dutton’s own Meg Gardiner at Murder by the Book. Finally, David concluded his tour on Saturday, April 21 with an event at the Poisoned Pen bookstore in Scottsdale, AZ, where he was joined by Putnam author and federal agent J. Todd Scott. [caption id="attachment_111653" align="alignleft" width="200"] Meg Gardiner and David Ricciardi[/caption] Said David of the tour: “For a debut novelist, the prospect of a book tour was both exciting and daunting. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to promote and discuss my work, but with no backlist and no name recognition, I was concerned about drawing readers to the signings. The Berkley publicity team structured a five-city tour with my editor and four well-known authors which drew on their appeal to lure potential buyers into the stores. Armed with thoughtful questions written by the publicists, my editor and the other authors kicked off each event. In every case, the attendees actively and enthusiastically followed with questions of their own, leading to lively discussions and enthusiastic buyers. Hats off to Loren Jaggers and Tara O'Connor at Berkley for coming up with a creative and successful solution for a new author!” Berkley is thrilled to give away five copies of WARNING LIGHT to the first five colleagues who e-mail Tara O'Connor (toconnor@penguinrandomhouse.com).  

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

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.    

How Meg Wolitzer Illuminates Female Ambition, Power and Mentorship

Our new Igloo Book Buzz selection is Meg Wolitzer’s THE FEMALE PERSUASION, an eagerly awaited, much buzzed about book published by Riverhead today, April 3.  Charming and wise, knowing and witty, Wolitzer delivers a novel about power and influence, ego and loyalty, womanhood and ambition. At its heart, THE FEMALE PERSUASION is about the flame we all believe is flickering inside of us, waiting to be seen and fanned by the right person at the right time. It’s a story about the people who guide and the people who follow (and how those roles evolve over time), and the desire within all of us to be pulled into the light.  

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[caption id="attachment_10497" align="alignright" width="215"] Meg Wolitzer Photo: © Nina Subin[/caption] Wolitzer comments: “People always say ‘write what you know,’ but I've always felt that it's really more ‘write what obsesses you.’ And I realized that there are some things that I kept returning to. Female power — who has it, what does it mean? What about mentors and protégés?  Making meaning in the world but also the person you meet who can change your life forever.  All of these things were ideas that were kind of percolating in my mind for a long time.  And, of course, feminism.  As a feminist, that's somewhat of a given in me, but at the same time, a story that could address some of these things just sort of began to reveal itself to me.” [caption id="attachment_10496" align="alignleft" width="139"] Sarah McGrath[/caption] Riverhead Vice President, Editor in Chief Sarah McGrath said, “It's exciting to see the way that THE FEMALE PERSUASION is connecting to the moment that we are in right now, but the truth is that the ideas and relationships and emotions in this novel are much deeper than any particular snapshot in time.  As her editor (this year marks our 15th anniversary) I know that female ambition and power and mentorship are things that Meg has been thinking about and working with for years. What I love about this book is that its characters are even more unforgettable than its themes, and their story is going to be relevant for decades to come. “ There has been an outpouring of media praise for THE FEMALE PERSUASION.  Here is a sampling:
  • “[Wolitzer] writes in warm, specific prose that neither calls attention to itself nor ignores the mandate of the best books: to tell us things we know in ways we never thought to know them… [She] is an infinitely capable creator of human identities that are as real as the type on this page.” –The New York Times Book Review
  • “Wolitzer understands—seemingly on a cellular level—the puzzled, needy heart that beats within any teenager…the book is full of Wolitzer’s trademark wit and insight.” —The Washington Post
  • “Finally, a novel about a complicated relationship that doesn’t get nearly enough attention: that between mentor and mentee. Full of Meg Wolitzer’s signature acumen and insight.” —Esquire
  • “Equal parts cotton candy and red meat, in the best way.” –People

Having the Courage to Be True to Yourself, Stand Up and Empower Others

Our new Igloo Book Buzz selection is Sarah McBride’s TOMORROW WILL BE DIFFERENT: Love, Loss and the Fight for Trans Equality, published on March 6 by Crown Archetype.  Before she became the first transgender person to speak at a national political convention in 2016 at the age of twenty-six, Sarah McBride struggled with the decision to come out—not just to her family but to the students of American University, where she was serving as student body president.  Informative, heartbreaking, and profoundly empowering, TOMORROW WILL BE DIFFERENT is McBride’s story of love, loss and a powerful entry point into the LGBTQ community’s battle for equal rights and what it means to be openly transgender. 

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In the following interview, McBride and her editor, Jen Schuster, Executive Editor, Crown, discuss what was involved in the creation of this book and how they hope the personal experiences shared will resonate with readers. How did you first become aware of Sarah and the stories she wanted to tell? [caption id="attachment_9870" align="alignright" width="247"] Jen Schuster[/caption] JS: I was first introduced to Sarah when she made her powerful speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2016 – the first openly transgender person to speak at a national convention. But I really became aware of her remarkable story when her agent, Katie Zanecchia, called to tell me about her new client. When the proposal arrived, I immediately fell in love with Sarah’s fearless voice as she wrote candidly about her experiences as a young trans person and her evolution to becoming the fierce activist she is today. And Sarah also wrote so affectingly about the love of her husband Andy and her tragic loss when he passed away, just four days after they were married. Sarah channeled this devastation into her work, determined to continue Andy’s life mission as much as her own. This, to me, spoke volumes about Sarah’s character. LGBTQ rights have been heavily debatedduring the last several years, and particularly during the campaign cycle. As the national press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign, Sarah is in the epicenter of the national fight for trans equality. She is a natural and effective storyteller who can brilliantly weave together her own experiences with insights into the legislative process. In the book, she’s able to contextualize the key issues in a way that will change minds and open hearts. What were the most challenging and rewarding aspects of writing TOMORROW WILL BE DIFFERENT? SM: In many ways the most challenging and rewarding parts are one in the same. Writing TOMORROW WILL BE DIFFERENT was a deeply emotional experience for me. Re-living some of the most difficult moments of my life, particularly the passing of my husband Andy, was exceptionally difficult, but I also felt blessed to have the time and opportunity to dive back into my positive memories with him. It was healing to pull out the memories that bring a smile to my face, rather than a tear to my eye, and to remember all of those experiences that had, unfortunately, been so consumed in my mind by his later battle with cancer. In many ways, writing this book was the grieving process that I never let myself have after Andy passed because I jumped so quickly back into our advocacy work. [caption id="attachment_9871" align="alignleft" width="245"] Sarah McBride, Credit B Proud[/caption] This book also came at an important time in my own advocacy work and evolution as an activist. I started writing this shortly after Donald Trump's election and during the first few months of his administration and, in writing the book then and drawing lessons from my experiences through the previous six years, I was able to rekindle my hope. I was reminded of all of the progress I've been able to see and was re-convinced of the goodness of people and the simple fact that change remains possible. During the last month of Andy's life, my brother, a radiation oncologist who has seen far too many people pass away, told me, "This is going to be difficult, but look around you and take stock in acts of amazing grace that you see." It was sage advice that helped me find light in that darkness. But I had never universalized that perspective in my life after Andy's death. So as I was writing this book and remembering those lessons while simultaneously seeing unprecedented marches, protesters filling airports to protect refugees, and diverse voices finally being heard, I thought to myself “amazing grace.” In many ways, that amazing grace is the story of the last year. In the end, hope only makes sense in the face of hardship. It took writing this book for me to fully realize that and to find the light once again. What was most inspiring about helping to bring TOMORROW WILL BE DIFFERENT to publication? JS: Sarah came into the office to meet with us about a week before the 2016 presidential election.  To say it was an intense time would be an understatement. We were all keenly aware of how important Sarah’s story and message were, but when the poll results began coming in on election day, it felt all the more dire. The agent held the auction the day after the election – a gloomy, difficult day in the office. With a decidedly anti-LGBTQ administration about to take power, I knew it was more important than ever to give a platform to voices from that community, to ensure that their stories, issues, and messages would never be censored. Sarah is poised for incredible things in her career as an activist and, perhaps, as a future politician. Helping to bring her book to market has been one of the greatest honors of my career in publishing. How do you hope readers will embrace your book and the experiences you share? SM: In the book, I talk a great deal about the power of vulnerability. I think in just laying it all out on the table, in saying this is who I am, this is what I fear, these are my dreams, we are actually able to bridge significant divides. Those shared hopes and dreams transcend ideology, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation and geography. That vulnerability unlocks empathy which leads to passion. My earnest hope in being as vulnerable as I'm being in this book is that readers will be able to find a greater degree of empathy and passion for transgender people and our basic equality. And then empowered with the knowledge about the challenges facing the transgender community that I include in the book, I hope readers will feel a renewed sense of urgency and confidence in joining the growing alliance of allies we have standing with us to open hearts, change minds, and move equality forward in every corner of this country.