Riverhead Books

Riverhead’s DRAMA HIGH is the Book Behind NBC-TV’s “Rise” Series

Hailed as “this season’s hottest new TV show” is NBC’s Rise, based on Riverhead’s beloved book, DRAMA HIGH: The Incredible True Story of a Brilliant Teacher, a Struggling Town, and the Magic of Theater  by Michael Sokolove. Critics and fans alike are raving over the silver screen adaptation of this true story of “a brilliant, demanding and subversive teacher who practices the best kind of magic – the kind that’s real and that changes lives” (USA Today).  

[caption id="attachment_10119" align="alignright" width="203"] Michael Sokolove © Michael Williamson[/caption] Created by Jason Katims (the man behind the TV series Friday Night Lights and Parenthood) and Jeffrey Seller (a producer of a little Broadway show called Hamilton), Sokolove’s incredible true story is imbedded in the heart of the show.  The story behind Rise began when Seller, making his first foray into series TV, read an excerpt from “DRAMA HIGH” in The New York Times Magazine in 2013. He bought the book.  It made him cry.  But the broadcast rights to the book had already been sold. A few years later, when Seller joined up with the veteran producer Flody Suarez (8 Simple Rules, The Tick), he learned that those rights were once again available. “I handed Flody the book and I said, ‘This is what I want to make into a TV show,’ Seller recalled.” (New York Times). Sokolove spoke to Entertainment Weekly about seeing his life adapted for television and why his story feels relevant: “[Nobody] who went to school was inspired by trying to get a standardized test score ... What [this story] shows so clearly is that education is still about passion and inspiration.” Rise airs Tuesday nights on NBC at 10:00 p.m. and is available on Hulu if you missed the March 13 premiere.  

Arimah, Clemmons, Hamid are 2018 Aspen Words Literary Prize Finalists

The inaugural Aspen Words Literary Prize has unveiled its five finalists and three of the authors and their books are published by Penguin Random House imprints. The Aspen Institute established this new annual prize to recognize “an influential work of fiction that illuminates a vital contemporary issue and demonstrates the transformative power of literature on thought and culture.” 

Our Aspen Words Literary Prize nominees: WHAT IT MEANS WHEN A MAN FALLS FROM THE SKY by Lesley Nneka Arimah (Riverhead) WHAT WE LOSE by Zinzi Clemmons (Viking) EXIT WEST by Mohsin Hamid (Riverhead) Penguin Press author Phil Klay, head judge on the five-member awards jury, commented to NPR, "I think we wanted writers who are really able to capture the messiness of reality and human experience in their works — in whichever direction they took.  These are the books which we think are most vital for understanding who we are as a people, as a country, as a world right now. And that sounds like a big, broad statement, but I think that's what you're going to find in the best fiction written about social issues right now." View the complete list of 2018 Aspen Words Literary Prize finalists here. The winner will receive $35,000 and be announced at an awards ceremony at the Morgan Library & Museum in Manhattan on April 10.

Our 15 L.A. Times Book Prize Finalists

The Los Angeles Times  has announced the finalists for its 2017 Book Prize Awards, which annually honors outstanding books in 10 categories. Below are our 15 Penguin Random House imprint nominations, and our winners of two of their non-competitive prizes. The winners in the literary categories will revealed on April 20.

Art Seidenbaum Award For First Fiction THE IDIOT by Elif Batuman (Penguin Books) MY ABSOLUTE DARLING by Gabriel Tallent (Riverhead Books) SOUR HEART by Jenny Zhang (Lenny) Biography GRANT by Ron Chernow (Penguin Press) RICHARD NIXON: THE LIFE by John A. Farrell (Vintage) 2017 Innovator’s Award - Winner WELL-READ BLACK GIRL by Glory Edim (Ballantine Books) 2017 Christopher Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose - Winner THE HUE AND CRY AT OUR HOUSE: A YEAR REMEMBERED by Benjamin Taylor (Penguin Books) Current Interest WE WERE EIGHT YEARS IN POWER: AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY  by Ta-Nehisi Coates (One World) DEMOCRACY IN CHAINS: THE DEEP HISTORY OF THE RADICAL RIGHT'S STEALTH PLAN FOR AMERICA By Nancy MacLean (Viking) THE FAR AWAY BROTHERS: TWO YOUNG MIGRANTS AND THE MAKING OF AN AMERICAN LIFE by Lauren Markham (Crown) Fiction EXIT WEST by Mohsin Hamid (Riverhead Books) THE CHANGELING by Victor LaValle (Spiegel & Grau) GHACHAR GHOCHAR Vivek Shanbhag (Penguin Books)

Mystery / Thriller

THE NIGHT OCEAN by Paul La Farge (Penguin Press) Science & Technology BEHAVE: THE BIOLOGY OF HUMANS AT OUR BEST AND WORST by Robert M. Sapolsky (Penguin Press) LIFE 3.0: BEING HUMAN IN THE AGE OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE by Max Tegmark (Knopf) Young Adult Literature GENUINE FRAUD by E. Lockhart (Delacorte Press)    

Riverhead to Publish Illustrated Book About the Refugee Crisis by Khaled Hosseini this Fall

Riverhead Books is proud to announce a new work from the award-winning and internationally-bestselling writer and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador,Khaled Hosseini as was revealed in Entertainment Weekly.  The new work, titled SEA PRAYER, is a short, illustrated book that Hosseini wrote in response to the current refugee crisis and the haunting image of young Alan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian boy whose body washed up on the beach in Turkey in September 2015.

Written in the form of a letter, SEA PRAYER  is a father’s reflection as he watches over his sleeping son, on the dangerous journey across the sea that lies before them. It is also an account of their life in Homs, Syria, before the war, and of that city’s swift transformation from a home into a deadly war zone. Originally produced in collaboration with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, Sea Prayer was first released as a Guardian virtual film on September 1, 2017. [caption id="attachment_9675" align="alignright" width="306"] Image from SEA PRAYER, illustrated by Dan Williams[/caption] Khaled Hosseini said: “We are living in the midst of a displacement crisis of enormous proportions. Sea Prayer is an attempt to pay tribute to the millions of families, like Alan Kurdi’s, who have been splintered and forced from home by war and persecution.”SEA PRAYER will be illustrated by London-based artist Dan Williams, and will be published September 18, 2018, to mark the third anniversary of Kurdi’s death.  Riverhead will support publication with a major marketing and publicity campaign. The book will be published simultaneously by Penguin Canada and Bloomsbury in the UK. Riverhead Editor in Chief and Hosseini’s long-time editor, Sarah McGrath, said: “Any new project from Khaled Hosseini is momentous. He is one of the most important writers of our time. But this work is particularly poignant in its heartbreaking engagement with the refugee crisis. I believe this beautifully written, intensely moving story will be cherished by people of all ages, and all over the world.”

“What Happens After We Die?”

Some of the biggest questions and mysteries that many humans ponder are at the heart of Thomas Pierce’s new Riverhead novel, THE AFTERLIVES, our latest Igloo Book Buzz selection.  The author reveals, “I set out to write a story about a guy trying to find bedrock in a world that often feels so ridiculous and so full of spectacle and along the way wound up writing about love and death and ghosts and holograms.  Go figure..” 

[caption id="attachment_9229" align="alignright" width="200"] Thomas Pierce
(c) Andrew Owen[/caption] Riverhead Editor Laura Perciasepe says, “This was the second book I worked on with Thomas but his first novel, after the story collection HALL OF SMALL MAMMALS.  It was a joy to dive back into Thomas’ writing in THE AFTERLIVES. He has a style and a perspective all his own, funny and profound, intimate and infinite. He takes this cosmic question – what happens after we die? – and makes it real and familiar. He gives you answers, and entertains along the way.” Fellow Penguin Random House author Emily St. John Mandel (STATION ELEVEN) is among the many fans of THE AFTERLIVES: “A bracingly intelligent, beautifully rendered meditation on ghosts, technology, marriage, and the afterlife. This is a remarkable novel.”
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Alarcón, Moshfegh, Strout: Finalists for The Story Prize

The three finalists for the 2017 Story Prize, which annually honors authors of outstanding short story collections published in the prior year, are all published by Penguin Random House imprints:  

  THE KING IS ALWAYS ABOVE THE PEOPLE by Daniel Alarcón (Riverhead Books) HOMESICK FOR ANOTHER WORLD by Ottessa Moshfegh (Penguin Press) ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE by Elizabeth Strout (Random House) The Story Prize, now in its 14th year, announced that these finalists were chosen from 120 submissions representing 93 different publishers or imprints.  Three independent judges – Knopf/Vintage author and poet Susan Minot, critic and author Walton Muyumba, and Library Journal Associate Editor Stephanie Sendaula – will determine the winner, to be revealed at the Story Prize’s annual award event, co-sponsored by the Graduate Creative Writing Program, at The New School in Manhattan on February 28.   The finalists will read from and discuss their work with Larry Dark, director of The Story Prize.  Then Story Prize founder Julie Lindsey will present the 2017 winner with a check for $20,000.  The two runners-up will each receive $5,000.

Riverhead’s Lesley Nneka Arimah Named Artist of the Year by Minneapolis Star Tribune

Lesley Nneka Arimah, author of WHAT IT MEANS WHEN A MAN FALLS FROM THE SKY (Riverhead), was recently named the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s 2017 Artist of the Year.  In an admiring announcement article titled “Lesley Nneka Arimah: A Wordsmith Who Spins Magic,” the Star Tribune provides a comprehensive overview of Arimah’s career, sprinkled with high praise throughout, including quotes from Riverhead Editorial Director Becky Saletan, National Book Foundation President Lisa Lucas and fellow Riverhead author Meg Wolitzer. 

Noting that this debut short story collection “lit up the world of books like a shooting star” and that Arimah is “at the forefront of … some of the most original and interesting fiction and poetry being published today,” the glowing feature celebrates the author as a pioneer in not only Minneapolis’s literary community, but in the artistic one at large. This recognition caps a terrific year for the author, in which she was awarded the Kirkus Prize for Fiction for WHAT IT MEANS WHEN A MAN FALLS FROM THE SKY and she was selected as one of the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35” honorees. Read the complete Minneapolis Star Tribune feature on Lesley Nneka Arimah here.

Riverhead Raises $3,500 for the Asian American Writers’ Workshop

Each December, Riverhead Books throws a fundraising party for a literary nonprofit.  This year, hundreds of publishing folks, authors, media and book friends gathered at Lite Brite Neon in Brooklyn to drink beer, celebrate literature, and fundraise for the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, a nonprofit devoted to supporting and disseminating creative writing by Asian Americans.  Riverhead has benefited from their advocacy of many authors through the years, including Katie Kitamura, Dina Nayeri, Chang-rae Lee, and Mohsin Hamid.  Thanks to the generosity of the attendees, and the dazzling raffle prizes donated by Aftelier Perfumes and the 20×200 art print company, $3,500 was raised to support AAWW.


Riverhead to Publish Two New Books by National Book Award-Winning Author Jacqueline Woodson

Riverhead Books is thrilled to announce that the imprint will be publishing the next two books by National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson. The celebrated author of such books as BROWN GIRL DREAMING, which won the 2014 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, says that she’s “had a long-distance crush on Riverhead” from her early writing days, and shares that she is planning to “write a novel and then something that is true,” but wouldn’t divulge anything further to Entertainment Weekly.  “Since my other books are already part of the Penguin family, it felt right and good to continue my work with Riverhead.  It’s exciting that so many of my books will be at one house.”

Riverhead Reveals Spring 2018 Catalog as Colorful Flip Book

Readers across the country are flipping over Riverhead Books’ latest collaborative catalog. To launch the Spring 2018 list, Riverhead Design Labs partnered with renowned illustrator Grace Helmer, beloved for her bright, beautiful oil paintings which bring everyday life to vivid, colorful life, on a clever and charming flip book. Paging forward and backwards reveals two different narratives, with every detail – a musical turtle, a perilously discarded coffee cup – representing a title on Riverhead’s spring list. 

Paste Magazine recently unveiled the flip book with exclusive stop-animation video of the narratives and a behind-the-scenes peek at Helmer’s process. Paste offered this praise: “Riverhead Books has a reputation for publishing fascinating nonfiction and literary fiction titles. Riverhead titles such as Patricia Lockwood’s PRIESTDADDY and Mohsin Hamid’s EXIT WEST are already rocking spots on Paste’s list of 2017’s best reads so far, and it looks like 2018 is shaping up to be a knockout year for the publisher as well.” This is the latest in Riverhead’s ongoing series of conceptual “catalogs,” seasonally partnering with artists to create beautiful works of art. In past seasons, Steve Powers brought one list to life as a mural on a local grammar school; Lorraine Loots made “drawings for ants,” with a tiny magnified box of brilliant illustrations; and Riverhead joined forces with the powerhouses of Ladies Drawing Night to host a collaborative evening of champagne and drawing lessons.  Each season’s catalog becomes a coveted art object and source of industry buzz.