Book Geek Bulletin: Morally Complicated Book News

Book Geek Bulletin is a regular feature where we round up what’s going on in the world of literary culture and books—both here in Minnesota and around the world.

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Local Lit

Coffee House Press will hold its annual Cookie House Press cookie swap, book sale, and holiday event on December 3, 2015. Attendance is free, but RSVPing is encouraged.

The deadline for nominations for the 28th annual Minnesota Book Awards is Friday, December 4, 2015. You can view the nominees to date by clicking here.

For the holidays, Minnesota author Chad Corrie is selling T-shirts with the logo of his fantasy setting Traloden through December 7, 2015.

Citizen by Claudia Rankine, published by Graywolf Press, climbed back onto the New York Times bestsellers list following the promotional bump from a woman reading it instead of paying attention at a Donald Trump rally. In addition, Citizen joined Graywolf’s The Argonauts (Maggie Nelson) and Coffee House Press’s The Story of My Teeth (Valeria Luiselli) on the NYT’s list of 100 Notable Books of 2015.

Citizen book cover The Argonauts cover The Story of My Teeth cover

Scout and Morgan Books in Cambridge, Minnesota, is a quarterfinalist for the 2015 Independent Small Business of the Year Award. Now through December 13, you can cast your vote if you’d like to support them (and votes are not limited to one per person).

Books out from Minnesota authors and publishers in December 2015 include:

  • In Winter’s Kitchen by Beth Dooley, a book about winter food culture in the Midwest (Milkweed Editions, December 1)
  • Rise of the Paladin by M. J. Brudenell, the first in a planned urban fantasy series (Soverign Hues, December 14)
  • Barnstorming the Prairies by Jason Weems, a look at how aerial views of the Midwest made possible by the introduction of the airplane influenced views of the region (University of Minnesota Press, December 29)

Want to work in Minnesota publishing? Milkweed is hiring a publishing assistant (applications due December 11) and Minnesota Historical Society Press is hiring an editor for Minnesota History magazine (due December 3).

And on a somber note, High-Class Comics was burglarized over the holiday weekend by someone who smashed the store’s front window and stole three boxes of comics. Staff are asking comic buyers to be on the lookout for anyone trying to resell “approximately 450 kids comics with tan or purple price stickers with a #10 in the upper left corner.”

Global News

Cover for The Cruelty by S. BergstromOn November 24, 2015, Publishers Weekly posted an article profiling Scott Bergstrom, who in two short years has gone from advertising executive to self-published YA novelist to the recipient of a six-figure traditional publishing advance and a Hollywood film deal. However, what got more attention from other authors, agents, and publishers than Bergstrom’s success was his comment to PW that “The morality of the book is more complicated than a lot of YA . . . If you think of those stories as a metaphor for high school, they start to make a lot more sense, but that was one thing I wanted to depart from.” The hashtag #MorallyComplicatedYA sprang up almost instantly on Twitter, used by people pointing to the widespread existence of complex young-adult fiction as well as seeming hypocrisies in Bergstrom’s own book and accusations of media sexism, and it only took a day for response articles to be posted on sites like Buzzfeed and Bustle.

Cards Against Humanity Fantasy Pack packaging artOn November 19, 2015, fantasy author Patrick Rothfuss announced on his blog that he had been working with Cards Against Humanity on a fantasy-themed expansion pack featuring 30 cards written by Rothfuss, Neil Gaiman, Wesley Chu, Jacqueline Carey, and other contributors. Proceeds from the $10 pack, now available on the Cards Against Humanity store, go to benefit Rothfuss’s charity Worldbuilders. The Name of the Wind author also held an AMA (Ask Me Anything session) on Reddit on November 25.

In awards news:

  • The National Book Awards were presented November 18, 2015. Honorees included Ta-Nehisi Coates for Between the World and Me (nonfiction), Adam Johnson for Fortune Smiles: Stories (fiction), and James Patterson for the 2015 Literarian award. As Publishers Lunch pointed out, in contrast to last year’s ceremony, which was marred by a race-related joke told by Daniel Handler (better known as Lemony Snicket), “this year’s awards honored the most diverse set of authors to grace the NBA stage. ”
  • The Mystery Writers of America announced the names of several authors to receive awards at the 70th annual Edgar Awards Banquet in April 2016: Walter Mosley was named 2016 Grand Master; educator and editor Margaret Kinsman and writers group Sisters in Crime will each receive the Raven Mystery Award; and Janet A. Rudolph, editor of the Mystery Readers Journal (among other positions), will receive the Ellery Queen Award.
  • Japanese author Haruki Murakami has won the Danish Hans Christian Andersen Prize. However, he won’t actually receive the award until October 2016.
  • Physical by Andrew McMillan became the first collection of poetry ever to win the UK’s GuardianFirst Book Award in its 17-year history. It was only the second poetry book to even make the award shortlist.

The Penguin Hotline logo: a penguin holding a red phonePenguin Random House opened the phone lines November 16, 2015, for its second year of the Penguin Hotline, a holiday book-recommendation service in the style oft the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line. If you’re shopping for a book geek, you can get your recommendations now through December 21, 2015.

The Washington Post announced that it was breaking its rule against self-published novels by including the romance/erotica novel Serving Pleasure by Alisha Rai on its list of the best romance fiction of 2015. As the article disclaims, Rai published the novel on Amazon’s CreateSpace platform; meanwhile, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos acquired the WaPo in 2013.

Breathing Books, the new publishing house started by children’s author Cornelia Funke following “creative differences” with her US publisher, will be distributed in North America by Publishers Group West. Its first title, The Golden Yarn, originally planned for November publication, is now set to be released December 1, 2015.

Recent book deals of interest as reported by Publishers Lunch include:

  • The Impossible Fortress, a coming-of-age story by Jason Rekulak, publisher of Quirk Books and the man behind Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, acquired by Simon & Schuster at auction
  • New installments in five existing series by best-selling author Christine Feehan—Dark, Ghost Walkers, Leopard, Sisters of the Heart, and Shadow Riders—and the first book in her new Torpedo Ink series, to be published by Penguin
  • Rebound, a prequel by Kwame Alexander to his 2015 Newbery Medal–winning book The Crossover, “as well as an untitled trilogy”
  • Crazy is My Superpower, a memoir by WWE Diva A. J. Brooks “chronicling her unlikely rise from 100-pound nerd growing up in extreme poverty and enduring years of abuse, to international sex symbol and professional wrestling champion”
  • Adnan’s Story, “insider account of the case of Adnan Syed, subject of the hit podcast Serial,” by Syed’s friend and advocate Rabia Chaudry

Also in deals, Andrews McMeel Publishing has acquired the rights to the Sherlock Sam series by A. J. Low (the collective pen name of husband-and-wife duo Adan Jimenez and Felicia Low-Jimenez) for US publication.

Twixt Cup and Lip, a previously unpublished play by William Faulkner, was published in the latest issue of The Strand Magazine.

HarperCollins announced that it would be releasing of 500 signed copies of a high-end edition of Go Set A Watchman, Harper Lee’s controversial sort-of sequel to her famous novel To Kill a Mockingbird. The gilt-edged books will sell for $1,500 apiece.

Booksellers are ramping up for events coinciding with the December 18 release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Actor Charlie Sheen, who recently revealed he is HIV positive, is reportedly “in talks” to write a memoir focusing in part on his diagnosis.

Google displayed a Doodle dedicated to Lucy Maud, author of the Anne of Green Gables series.

And “prolific novelist” Stephen Birmingham passed away November 15, 2015, at the age of 86.

Page to Screen

A poster advertising The Man in the High Castle, featuring the Statue of Liberty draped in a Nazi sash and giving the Sieg Heil salute

An example of advertising for The Man in the High Castle. (The removed subway ads can be seen here.)

A set of subway-seat ads for The Man in the High Castle, the Amazon original series based on the alternate-history novel by Philip K. Dick, were pulled from the New York City subway after complaints about their Nazi and Imperial Japanese imagery.

Macbeth, based on the Shakespeare play, starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, opens in the US December 4, 2015.

The Big Short, based on the book by Michael Lewis about the housing and credit bubble, opens December 11, 2015. Lewis recently wrote a piece for Vanity Fair discussing his path to the film, which stars Brad Pitt, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, and Christian Bale.

Also opening December 11 is In the Heart of the Sea, the true story of the 1820 wreck of the American whaleship Essex, which is literary in a few different ways. The Ron Howard film is based on the nonfiction book of the same name by Nathaniel Philbrick; Philbrick’s research was based in part on first-person accounts published by Thomas Nickerson and Owen Chase, Essex crew members who survived the disaster; and the events described were the inspiration for Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick.

Matthew McConaughey has been offered the role of Walter Padick in the in-development adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower. The film is currently working toward a January 2017 release, and an accompanying TV series is also planned.

Also in Stephen King news, Hulu released a teaser for the eight-part series based on the author’s 2011 novel 11.22.63, which premieres on Presidents Day 2016.

Ryan Gosling has confirmed his involvement with the sequel to Blade Runner. It was originally reported that director Ridley Scott would return for the follow-up, but as announced in February, Denis Villeneuve (Sicario) will actually be directing. The original 1982 film was based on the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick.

In the Heart of the Sea book cover The Dark Tower book cover Blade Runner poster/DVD cover

Kenneth Branagh will both direct and star as Hercule Poirot in 20th Century Fox’s adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express. There have been several previous adaptations of the Agatha Christie novel, including the highly successful 1974 film featuring Albert Finney and a star-studded supporting cast and a 2010 episode of Agatha Christie’s Poirot starring David Suchet. The script for the new production will be written by Michael Green, who is also working on the above-mentioned Blade Runner 2.

Filmmaker Todd Haynes, whose film based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel Carol opened last month, will direct frequent collaborator Julianne Moore in Wonderstruck, based on the 2011 novel by Brian Selznick. Selznick is best known for The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which was adapted into the Oscar-winning film Hugo directed by Martin Scorsese.

Former Saturday Night Live cast member Bill Hader will star in Empress of Serenity, a film “loosely inspired” by A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace. The late author was recently the subject of the biopic The End of the Tour, released this past summer.

Wonderstruck book cover Cover for The Lost Years, book 1 of the Merlin Saga series Cat's Cradle book cover

Director Lenny Abrahamson and producer Ed Guiney, who worked together on the the recently released adaptation of Room by Emma Donoghue, will film a biopic focusing on boxer Emile Griffith, based on the biography A Man’s World by Donald McRae.

The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit screenwriter Philippa Boyens will adapt The Merlin Saga by T. A. Barron for Disney.

Fargo showrunner Noah Hawley will write and executive produce a limited series based on Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Cat’s Cradle for FX.

ABC is developing a TV adaptation based on the novel Read Bottom Up by by Sloane Crosley (writing as Skye Chatham) and Neel Shah.

Universal has acquired the film rights to the thriller The Girl Before by J. P. Delaney, with Ron Howard to direct the adaptation.

National Geographic is creating a miniseries based on The Long Road Home by Martha Raddatz.

The film adaptations of the Fifty Shades of Grey sequels—Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed—will film back to back. Despite rumors that circulated around the time of the first film’s release, Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson will return in the leading roles. The sequels are set for February 2017 and February 2018 releases, respectively.

Fresh today, Starz has released a teaser for season 2 of Outlander, based on the series of novels by Diana Gabaldon.

Although the only clip available online appears to have been uploaded somewhat . . . unofficially, the BBC aired its first trailer for The Night Manager, its adaptation of the novel by John le Carré (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy). The miniseries stars Tom Hiddleston (Crimson Peak, Thor), Hugh Laurie (House, A Bit of Fry & Laurie), and Olivia Colman (Peep Show).

Universal released four character posters and the first official trailer for The Huntsman: Winter’s War, the spin-off film based on Snow White and the Huntsman set for release in April 2016.

Paramount released a new trailer for The Little Prince, in theaters March 2016.

And HBO released a promotional image for season 6 of Game of Thrones that appears to feature a certain character who’s been the subject of rampant speculation since the end of season 5 (and, let’s face it, throughout most of the book series’ existence).

Game of Thrones season 6 poster featuring Jon Snow and the words "April" and "HBO"

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