Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Book Expo 2017- The Editors' Buzz

Book Expo 2017 is off and running and today was the annual Editors' Buzz, where six editors present the upcoming books they are excited about. It was standing room only today and every book sounded like a winner.

Editors' Buzz Panel Books
Annie Philbrick, owner of Bank Square Books and Savoy Book Shop introduced the editors, reading a short bio of each. Jackie Cantor, Senior Editor of Scout Press presented Unraveling Oliver by Liz Nugent, which is a bestseller in Ireland and won the Crime Novel of the Year.

She opened by reading the killer first sentence- "I expected more of a reaction when I hit her." When Mary reveals to her husband Oliver that she found a secret box he had hidden, he beats her unconscious. The rest of the novel explains how Oliver became this sociopath, in the vein of Dexter and Hannibal Lecter.

Cantor described how author Nugent's "sunny disposition, so nice, so normal" is at odds with her creation Oliver's behavior. Is he morally depraved or insane? We'll have to read to find out.

Nigerian author Ayobami Adebayo's Stay With Me was presented by Jennifer Jackson, Senior Editor at Alfred A. Knopf. Yejide is in love with her husband and he with her. They long to start a family, but after four years, they still have no child.

One day her mother-in-law shows up with Funmi, whom she introduces as her son's second wife. Ilesa is devastated; she and her husband had an agreement that she would be his only wife. Yejide is so angry, she gives her mother-in-law food poisoning, and is determined to get pregnant at any cost.

Adebayo is just 28 years-old, and her debut novel is being compared to Lauren Groff's fabulous Fates and Furies, with its focus on a marriage told from two different perspectives.

The editors
Sarah McGrath, Editor in Chief of Riverhead Books passionately spoke of Gabriel Tallent's My Absolute Darling, which tells the story of 14 year-old Turtle, who lives with her survivalist, misogynistic yet charismatic father. When Turtle gets a crush on a sweet, loving boy named Jacob, she sees how different life can be and problems ensue.

McGrath said that reading this book "will renew your faith in transformative power of reading," high praise indeed. She said there is a "jaw-dropping climax" and although there is a darkness to the story, there is also humor and sweetness. And no less than Stephen King has called a modern classic.

Ben George, Senior Editor and Publisher at Little, Brown and Company spoke of Brendan Mathews' The World of Tomorrow, a sweeping novel set in New York City in June of 1939, at the time of the World's Fair. The Great Depression is ending, and America is on the cusp of WWII.

We meet two Irish brothers on their way to New York to see their brother. Set over the course of one week, the three brothers, a jazz musician, a fragile heiress, a Jewish photographer, a priest, a vengeful mob boss and his well-intentioned henchman all collide in this story that features  "big dreams, big love and the price you pay for family." George said that it felt like the documentary, Man On A Wire.

Sally Kim, VP and Editorial Director at Putnam spoke of Chloe Benjamin's The Immmortalists, calling it a "love story of a family". When four young siblings go to a fortune teller, they are forever changed. She has the ability to tell people when they are going to die, so the underlying question is if you know the day you are going to die, how will you live your life?

The story is told chronologically, with each sibling taking turns telling the story that spans five decades. Kim said that it has "a crescendo effect to the climactic end" and with questions of magic versus science and destiny versus fate, this one sounds very intriguing.

The last book is A.J. Finn's The Women in the Window, discussed by Jennifer Brehl, Senior Vice President, Executive Editor and Director of Editorial Development at William Morrow. Brehl said she was "held hostage to the story and characters, with its precise plotting and pitch-perfect voice."

Our narrator is a woman, who is separated from her husband and child, and refuses to leave her apartment. She drinks, takes pills, and watches the perfect Russell family across the way. When she sees something dangerous in the Russells' windows, she calls the police, but no one believes her.

Quite a crowd!
This Hitchcockian-thriller has already sold the movie rights, with Scott Rudin producing a script by Tracy Letts (whom I love!). Brehl let the audience in on a secret she discovered about the author, A.J. Finn, whom everyone believed to be a woman. After raving about the book to her colleagues, she found out that the author was not only a man, but he was an editor who works down the hall from her!

The crowd laughed as Brehl said "I thought we were friends, we go to lunch together" and she never knew he was writing a book.

I was able to fight through the hordes to get a copy of all six books and now my big decision is in which order do I read these fabulous books?

I'll post more about Book Expo 2017 in the next few days, and post photos on Twitter (@bookchickdi) and on Facebook (Diane Short LaRue).


  1. Outstanding recap! You were a boss handling that crowd trying to get galleys.

  2. I really blew it this year. Was so excited to have BEA back in NY, then agree to take care of a friend's greyhound at the same time. Next year for sure! My daughters are on the upper west side now and just signed their lease for another year :)

  3. I'm sorry I wasn't there to hear the presentations, but I'm not sorry to have missed the crowd.