October 9, 2017
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.
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.
September 26, 2017
Our new Igloo Book Buzz selection is FIVE-CARAT SOUL, the new story collection from James McBride, published by Riverhead Books on Tuesday, September 26. This represents the first new fiction from McBride since his last novel, THE GOOD LORD BIRD, which won the 2013 National Book Award for Fiction. He is also the author of two other bestselling novels, a James Brown biography, and his #1 bestselling memoir, THE COLOR OF WATER: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother. In FIVE-CARAT SOUL, McBride writes stories with humor and insight, about how we struggle to understand who we are in a world we don’t fully comprehend.
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Riverhead Books Executive Editor Jake Morrissey
edited this book and says, “As James McBride is both an extraordinary writer and a talented musician, it was fascinating working with him on FIVE-CARAT SOUL to help discover the melody in the collection itself, harmonizing and counterpointing the stories, and finding the right tones for his characters. The result is a terrifically readable, even musical, riff on identity and humanity.”
When McBride was asked what it’s like to write stories instead of a novel, he responded: “Writing a short story is like picking up a 747 and flinging it into the air. You heave it skyward and hope it flies. Except it’s a heavy item to pick up. Novels give you a runway to get started. You have the space to gather speed and get it rolling before it eases off the ground. Short stories involve a lot more muscle. They’re harder to do. You have to engage the reader and keep them engaged.”
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Credit: Chia Messina[/caption]
Looking at the characters in FIVE-CARAT SOUL and their lives on the page, McBride says, “I’m every one of those characters. I’m the talking animals. I’m the toy collector. I’m the kid who thinks Abraham Lincoln is my dad. I’m all of them. You have to be all those characters if you want them to be strong enough to get up and walk across the room.”
What draws the stories in this collection together? McBride says, “The stories are drawn together by my desire to show we are more alike than we are different. We all want the same thing: love, family, comfort, comedy. The stories are meant to be funny and illuminating. They’re relief from a world that doesn’t seem to be working well. That’s why I wrote them. I wanted relief. I needed an out, and they gave me one. They allowed me to see the possibility of the good and understanding that humans are capable of. If I didn’t have the desire to feel or see that, I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed in the morning.”
September 25, 2017
We are delighted with The National Book Foundation’s announcement of this year’s “5 Under 35” honorees, their annual selection of debut fiction writers under the age of 35 whose work “promises to leave a lasting impression on the literary landscape.” Penguin Random House imprints publish four of the all-women group of honoree authors:
Lesley Nneka Arimah
, WHAT IT MEANS WHEN A MAN FALLS FROM THE SKY: Stories
, WHAT WE LOSE
, WHEN WATCHED: Stories
Warm congratulations to our 5 Under 35 honorees, their editors and publishers.
These authors will be celebrated at a ceremony in Manhattan on November 13, two days before this year’s National Book Awards dinner. Each honoree will receive a $1,000 prize. They represent writers from around the world, under the age of 35, who have published their first and only book of fiction—either a short story collection or a novel—within the last five years. Each author was selected by a National Book Award Winner, Finalist, or writer previously recognized by the 5 Under 35 program.
Lisa Lucas, Executive Director of the National Book Foundation, said, “For the last twelve years, the National Book Foundation has been committed to highlighting the exceptional talent of emerging writers and to amplifying new voices. At a moment in which we are having the necessary conversations surrounding the underrepresentation of female voices, it’s a thrill to see this list of tremendous women chosen organically by our selectors.”
For more information and a complete list of the 2017 5 Under 35 honorees, click here
August 29, 2017
In this Three Questions for an Editor interview with Sarah McGrath, Vice President, Editor in Chief, Riverhead Books, she shares insights into gifted debut author Gabriel Tallent and his exceptional debut novel, MY ABSOLUTE DARLING, which goes on sale from Riverhead today.
At Book Expo 2017, Sarah was on the Adult Editors Buzz panel, and told a packed room that this novel “will be held in readers’ hearts for generations and renew your faith in the transformative power of reading,” then quoted from an e-mail she received from Stephen King: “The word ‘masterpiece’ has been cheapened by too many blurbs, but MY ABSOLUTE DARLING absolutely is one.”
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In this brilliant, immersive, all-consuming read set in the wilds of the northern California coast, 14-year-old Turtle Alveston emerges as one of the most unforgettable characters in modern literary fiction. In advance reading copies of MY ABSOLUTE DARLING, Sarah wrote, in part, “As Turtle fights for her own soul through acts of physical and emotional courage, we watch, heart in throat, as she struggles to become her own hero – and in the process becomes ours as well. There is darkness along the way, but ultimately this is a survival story with a heart-wrenching redemptive arc. A love story, in more ways than one.”
How did you discover Gabriel Tallent and what were your initial impressions of him and his writing?
I first read the manuscript in November 2015 when it came to me from his agent. I was struck immediately both by the writing – the shocking, thrilling originality of the language – and by the magnetism of the main character, a girl who was at once so fierce and so vulnerable that I wanted only to spend as much time with her as possible, to track her experiences and survival. I disappeared into the story and I’m still not sure if I ever fully surfaced.
What was involved in the editor/author process as MY ABSOLUTE DARLING went from manuscript to book form?
Gabriel was inspiring to work with. He approached the edit with an incredible focus and intensity, engaging deeply with every question and suggestion I threw his way, even when he didn’t agree. It led us into some wonderfully involved discussions and explorations. I enjoyed every minute of it.
What is it about this book that resonates so strongly with readers?
It’s Turtle, I think. The language is breath-taking; the wilderness is written with such beauty and power that it becomes a character itself; but the thing that I think grabs readers’ hearts from the very beginning and never lets go is the novel’s protagonist, Turtle. She is so real, so herself, so unusual, that you know, as a reader, that you’re going to be changed just by knowing her.
July 27, 2017
Grace Han, Senior Designer for Riverhead Books, has worked at Penguin Random House for nearly four years, designing covers for a wide range of titles, everything from cookbooks (THE ART OF FLAVOR) to Drew Barrymore’s memoir (WILDFLOWER). Her covers are simple, elegant, and beautiful. We’re thrilled to feature Grace in our Beyond the Book Covers series.
Below, she shares her journey into the world of book cover design, her work process, some stories behind her covers, and her thoughts about the future.
What initially drew you to the world of book cover art design?
I studied graphic design and motion graphics at the School of Visual Arts. During my last year, a good amount of my thesis project ended up being book covers. I think my love for reading and design converged. Once I realized there was a career in designing book covers, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. Not long after graduation, I was lucky enough to be hired by Riverhead Books.
How would you describe how you work when conceptualizing and then creating cover designs?
It’s different for every book, but I usually enjoy writing down concepts and visuals, sketching while reading the content I’m designing for. Then I play with ideas on paper or on the computer. When you play enough, ideas will work themselves out.
Sometimes, all it takes is a great piece of art or typeface so I spend a good amount of time researching images, artists, and type designers. For HALL OF SMALL MAMMALS
, I was able to work with Kate Bergin whose work is so wonderfully quirky–perfect for Thomas Pierce’s writing. It’s great getting to fully craft a cover by myself, but it’s also really exciting to be able to work with other creatives.
Which of the book covers that you designed are you proudest of and why?
I loved working on THE LONELY HEARTS HOTEL
, especially because I enjoy Heather O'Neill’s writing. The book is dark, sexy, and beautifully tragic. For the final cover, I came across a photo of a woman on the moon which felt romantic and sad. The font Futuracha, created by Høly, a creative studio in Athens, Greece, added just the right amount of eccentricity. It took a lot of drafts to get to the final, but I was able to explore many directions and learn a great deal in the process.
Where do you see the future of book design going and how do you envision the evolution of your craft?
I think book design will need to continue to be creative and push boundaries. I believe people will continue to appreciate books as a tangible object. But books will need to be a covetable item while still being able to stand out as a thumbnail in the digital world. I enjoy working at PRH because I feel like we are aiming to do just that.
You can view more of Grace's work here
May 1, 2017
The wait is over. Two and a half years since she took the world by storm with her international bestselling sensation THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN, Paula Hawkins returns with INTO THE WATER, on sale from Riverhead Books on May 2. In an “equally addicting page-turner” (Marie Claire) that brings the same psychological
depth and propulsive plotting that shocked the world, plus more twists, turns, and troubled characters, INTO THE WATER is a “creepy” (Booklist, starred review), “unputdownable, smart, thoughtful thriller” (PopSugar) with “a satisfying punch” (Publishers Weekly).
An INTO THE WATER excerpt and author profile is in the current edition of Vogue, which places Hawkins “at the forefront of a group of female authors – think Gillian Flynn and Megan Abbott – who have reinvigorated the literary suspense novel by tapping a rich vein of psychological menace and social unease.” Still ahead, interviews on Good Morning America and NPR Weekend Edition, along with dozens of reviews in other print and online outlets.
Hawkins will kick off a six-city tour in the US in Barnes & Noble Union Square in conversation with fellow Penguin Random House author Lee Child on May 9.
March 30, 2017
Riverhead Books is thrilled to announce THE LINE BECOMES A RIVER, a bold and personal literary exploration of the US-Mexican border – its politics, gatekeepers, and victims on both sides of the line – from 2017 Whiting Award winner and former U.S. Border Patrol agent Francisco Cantú. Riverhead will publish THE LINE BECOMES A RIVER on February 6, 2018.
For Cantú, the border is in the blood. His mother, a second-generation Mexican American whose father was a border crosser, raised him in Arizona’s desert scrublands and the national parks where she worked as a ranger, driven to protect the places she loved. Haunted by the landscape of his youth, Cantú joins the Border Patrol. Stationed at the remote crossroads of a drug route and a smuggling corridor, he learns how to track other humans under the punishing glare of the sun and through dark, frigid nights. He detains the exhausted, the parched, the huddled children yearning for their families. He hauls in the dead bodies from where they have fallen.
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THE LINE BECOMES A RIVER interlaces Cantú’s haunting personal stories with ruminations on the nature of borderlines, grappling at once with some of the largest political and social questions facing America today and the intimate stories of the hopeful and desperate who set out on a perilous crossing that many will not survive. Cantú challenges us to hear, absorb, and question the politics, policies, and ingrained ideas of borders that not only derail countless migrants’ lives and tear apart their families but do violence to the humanity of us all.
Cantú is an author and translator with an MFA in nonfiction from the University of Arizona. His essays and translations have been featured in Guernica,
Best American Essays 2016, Ploughshares, Orion
, and Public Books
, where he serves as a contributing editor. A Fulbright fellow and 2017 Whiting Award winner, Cantú served as an agent for the United States Border Patrol from 2008 to 2012, working in the deserts of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.
February 28, 2017
This week’s Igloo Book Buzz selection is Mohsin Hamid’s EXIT WEST, one of the most anticipated books of 2017. Riverhead Vice President & Editorial Director Rebecca Saletan, Mohsin’s longtime editor, shares her insights: “I have had the enormous privilege of publishing Mohsin Hamid for the entire span of
his extraordinary writing life, some twenty years now. He has the rare and precious gift, never more evident than in this new book, of being able not only to see into the future but to imagine, in the shape of real human lives, plausible and humane alternatives to the dark places where our worst impulses could lead us.”
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Mohsin Hamid. Photo by Jillian Edelstein[/caption]
From the internationally bestselling author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist,
EXIT WEST goes on sale from Riverhead Books on March 7 and is an astonishingly timely love story that brilliantly imagines the forces that transform ordinary people into refugees — and the impossible choices that follow — as they’re driven from their homes to the uncertain embrace of new lands. Profoundly intimate and powerfully inventive, this book tells an unforgettable story of love, loyalty, and courage that is both completely of our time and for all time.
EXIT WEST is the #1 Indie Next Pick for March and has been lauded with tremendous advance praise. Here is a sampling:
“Mohsin Hamid’s dynamic yet lapidary books have all explored the convulsive changes overtaking the world…His compelling new novel, EXIT WEST, is no exception…Writing in spare, crystalline prose, Hamid conveys the experience of living in a city under siege with sharp, stabbing immediacy….Hamid does a harrowing job of conveying what it is like to leave behind family members, and what it means to leave home, which, however dangerous or oppressive it’s become, still represents everything that is familiar and known.” –Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“[A] thought experiment that pivots on the crucial figure of this century: the migrant… [A] wry, intelligent novel… brilliantly managed… Hamid’s cautious, even fastidious prose makes the sudden flashes of social breakdown all the more affecting,” the author continues. “Evading the lure of both the utopian and the dystopian, Exit West makes some rough early sketches of the world that must come if we (or is it ‘you’?) are to avoid walling out the rest of the human race in the 21st century.” –The Financial Times
“Writers should be wise, and Hamid is wiser than many… No novel is really about the cliche called ‘the human condition,’ but good novels expose and interpret the particular condition of the humans in their charge, and this is what Hamid has achieved here.” –The Washington Post
“Hamid’s prose powerfully evokes the violence and anxiety of lives lived ‘under the drone-crossed sky.’ But his whimsical framing of the situation offers a hopeful metaphor for the future as the ‘natives’ come to accept their new neighbors.” –TIME Magazine