You’ve seen them at Book Expo America: the grave sufferers of tote shoulder. Tote shoulder (noun, Pathology) is the sustained three-inch droop in the bag-bearing arm of conventioneers with too many galleys to choose from. To help avoid misalignment, we’ve narrowed it down to the top 10 galleys you won’t want to miss this year at BEA, taking place in Chicago at McCormick Place. They include literary titans’ long-awaited returns, top-notch investigative journalism, daring debuts, and the first novel from a short story master; we list publishers’ booth numbers at the end of each entry below. Happy galley hunting!
Riverhead (288 pp.) | Oct. 11, 2016
From an imprint known for launching diverse and distinctive voices—Junot Diaz, Chang-rae Lee, James McBride—comes Brit Bennett’s highly anticipated debut novel, “a wise and sad coming-of-age story showing how people are shaped by their losses,” our reviewer writes in this issue. A grieving young black woman in Southern California faces the tribulations of teen pregnancy, abortion, and a subsequent cover-up—events that will resonate through the lives of Nadia, boyfriend Luke, and best friend Aubrey for years to come. Just 24 years old, Bennett has written for the New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine,the Paris Review, and Jezebel,where her essay “I Don’t Know What To Do with Good White People” received a million shares. Booth 2433.
Ecco (416 pp.) | July 26, 2016
Kirkus named Burton’s debut novel, The Miniaturist, a Best Book of 2014, calling her “a fresh and impressive voice” in historical fiction. The Muse focuses on the parallel stories of two women: Odelle Bastien, a Trinidadian living in 1960s London, and Olive Schloss, a Venetian living in 1930s Andalusia. “A thrilling painting with a mysterious provenance connects [these] two bold young women” in a sophomore effort that will have “Burton fans ... happy to reunite with her committed storytelling,” our reviewer writes in this issue. Booths 2140-2141.
Here I Am
Foer, Jonathan Safran
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (592 pp.) | Sep. 6, 2016
Foer’s first novel since 2005’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close takes its title from the book of Genesis—they are the words with which Abraham responds to God when called upon to sacrifice his beloved son, Isaac; and to Isaac when asked why there is no animal to slaughter. Here I Am is the story of a Jewish family at a crisis point, unfolding over four weeks in present-day Washington, D.C., when a Middle Eastern earthquake begets the invasion of Israel. Expect this ambitious book to go big: it’s licensed in 17 countries (so far); a 20-plus U.S. city tour is planned; and Foer is set to sign ARCs at 2 p.m. on May 11. Booth 1958.
Lincoln in the Bardo
Random House (288 pp.) | Jan. 3, 2017
MacArthur fellow and National Book Award finalist Saunders is the author of eight books—including New York Times bestsellers Congratulations, by the Way and Tenth of December—none of which is a novel. This big debut takes place one ghastly night between the death of Abraham Lincoln’s 11-year-old son and the dawn of the Civil War, and it won’t hit bookstores until next year. Booth 2433.
The Underground Railroad
Doubleday (336 pp.) | Sept. 13, 2016
MacArthur fellow and Pulitzer Prize finalist Whitehead triumphs with the tale of Cora, a Georgia slave who must ride the rails of the Underground Railroad to freedom—literal rails: a secret network of tracks and tunnels pulsing with activity beneath Southern soil. “Whitehead continues the African-American artists’ inquiry into race mythology and history with rousing audacity and razor-sharp ingenuity; he is now assuredly a writer of the first rank,” our reviewer writes in a starred review in this issue. Booth 2433.
The Art of Waiting: On Fertility, Medicine and Motherhood
Graywolf (224 pp.) | Sep. 6, 2016
“It’s spring when I realize that I may never have children” begins “The Art of Waiting.” First published in Orion in 2012, the essay that begins Boggs’ book soon went viral. Accompanying that personal and poignant meditation are measured considerations of the economic, emotional, and social costs of infertility in personal lives and popular culture. “In her reporting, researching, and sharing, Boggs has performed a public service for those in a similar position—and for anyone interested in the implications of parenthood or in a story well-told and deeply felt,” our critic writes in a starred review in this issue. Booth 1865.
Being a Dog: Following the Dog into a World of Smell
Scribner (336 pp.) | Oct. 4, 2016
The New York Times bestselling author of Inside of a Dog follows her nose—and those of her pet pooches, Finnegan and Upton—to explore the olfactory organs of man’s best friend. Dr. Horowitz, who teaches psychology, canine cognition, and creative writing at Barnard College, explains how dogs “see” the world through their snouts and posits ways in which we may learn from their lead. Booths 2016-2017.
Truevine: Two Brothers, A Kidnapping, and a Mother’s Quest—A True Story of the Jim Crow South
Little, Brown (432 pp.) | Oct. 18, 2016
Award-winning investigative journalist Beth Macy made a splash with Factory Man, a New York Times bestseller and “masterly feat of reporting,” we wrote in a starred review. Comprised of hundreds of interviews and decades of research, her sophomore effort is sure to make waves: Truevine is the story of George and Willie Muse, two African-American albino brothers kidnapped from their Virginia town, circa 1900, by a white man who forced them to perform as an international circus act. Their mother, Harriett Muse, spent the next 28 years trying to bring them home. Booths 1716-1717.
Bolshoi Confidential: Secrets of the Russian Ballet—From the Rule of the Tsars to Today
W.W. Norton (512 pp.) | Oct. 11, 2016
Morrison is a Princeton University music professor and New York Times and New York Review of Books contributor. In his 2013 debut, Lina and Serge: The Love and Wars of Lina Prokofiev, “research, compassion and outrage combine in a story both riveting and wrenching,” our reviewer wrote in a starred review. Bolshoi Confidential turns his keen eye and critical mind on the operatic story of Russia’s premier ballet, from 1776 through a recent $680 million renovation and 2013’s headline-making acid attack on its artistic director, masterminded by a lead soloist. Booth 1840.
Wright, iO Tillett
Ecco (400 pp.) | Sep. 27, 2016
Gender nonconforming artist and activist Wright is soon to be known as the co-host of the upcoming documentary series MTV Suspect. She is perhaps best known for the TEDxWomen Talk, “Fifty Shades of Gay,” viewed more than 2.4 million times. Darling Days is Wright’s gritty, glittering account of an unconventional New York City upbringing. “An earnest and heartfelt memoir cloaked under a battle-toughened exterior,” our reviewer writes in this issue. Booths 2140-2141.
Megan Labrise writes “Field Notes” and features for Kirkus Reviews.