Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Follett and Woodward Books Here Now

Two other big books go on sale today, one a historical novel and one an examination of Obama's decision making regarding the war in Afghanistan, the campaign in Pakistan, and the world-wide fight against terrorism.

Obama's War, by journalist Bob Woodward, draws on internal memos, classified documents, meeting notes, and hundreds of hours of interviews with key players (mostly men, of course) to tell the story of how Obama and his administration tackled critical decisions on the war. Secret debates, White House strategy sessions, and firsthand accounts of the thoughts and concerns of the president help to paint an intimate and sweeping portrait of the young president as commander in chief.

Fall of Giants, by Ken Follett, is the first book of The Century Trilogy. In his magnificent new historical epic (and I emphasize the word epic -- this first volume is close to a thousand pages), Follett (author of World Without End and The Pillars of the Earth) follows the fates of five interrelated families -- American, German, Russian, English, and Welsh -- as they move through the world-shaking dramas of the First World War, the Russian Revolution, and the struggle for women's suffrage. Future volumes in the trilogy will follow subsequent generations of the same families as they travel through the great events of the rest of the twentieth centruy.

New Sedaris Book -- with Ian Falconer!

Hip hip hooray, it's a beautiful day -- even if the sun hasn't yet made an appearance. It's a beautiful day because the new book by David Sedaris goes on sale today!!! Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary offers sixteen animal tales, with illustrations by the wonderful Ian Falconer, author and illustrator of the Olivia children's books. Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk features baboons and bears, toads and turtles, storks and snakes, rabbits and rats, and, of course, squirrels and chipmunks, all behaving surprisingly human-like -- humans not at their best.

We've got lots of copies in the store, but I'm guessing they'll go fast -- I mean, come on, it's David Sedaris AND Ian Falconer; what's not to love? Here's a little video clip in which David Sedaris introduces his new book:

Monday, September 27, 2010

Penelope Scambly Schott & Crow Mercies

We hope you can join us Tuesday, September 28, at 7 pm to hear Penelope Scambly Schott read from her new collection of poems, Crow Mercies, published by Calyx Press and winner of the first Sarah Lantz Memorial Poetry Prize.

Penelope is a good friend of the store and has read here several times. You can read a previous posting about her on our blog. She has a PhD in late Medieval English Literature from City University of New York. Penelope won the 2008 Oregon Book Award for Poetry for her book A Is for Anne: Mistress Hutchison Disturbs the Commonwealth. She currently writes poetry and teaches workshops, and when she's not doing those two things she likes to hike and to spoil her husband, grandson, and dog (Lily Schott Sweetdog). She has written several books of poetry, poetry narratives, and chapbooks.

Naomi Shihab Nye had this to say about Crow Mercies: "There's a knife sharpener in California who ends his notes, 'Stay sharp and shiny.' This is what Penelope Schott does with words, images, stories and memories -- sharp! shiny! -- she is not afraid to startle or jolt. A reader feels electrified." And Pat Schneider says "To read these poems is to fall in love (again) with poetry."

The Sarah Lantz Memorial Poetry Book Prize was established to commemorate the work of Sarah Lantz, who first book Far Beyond Triage, was published by Calyx Books in 2007 -- just after Sarah died from a brain tumor. The prize stands as a memorial to a great poet, writer, thinker, and enthusiast for life.

We hope you can join us!

Friday, September 24, 2010

"Best American" Books are Here!

Each fall one of the highlights of the season is the arrival of the "Best American..." series -- you know, short stories, essays, travel writing, mystery writing, science writing, graphic novels, and more. Well, not only is the sun shining outside today but it's shining in the store as well, because we got our "Best American" shipment today!!! Woohoo. Come and get 'em.

Arrival of New Sale Books -- Lots of Winners!

Once again, Jennie has done a spectacular job of bringing in some deliciously wonderful sale books for you to choose from. We've just unpacked this newest shipment of great bargains. Here's just a sampling of what awaits you: Home, by Marilynne Robinson, The Careful Use of Compliments, by Alexander McCall Smith, The Boat, by Nam Le (a wonderful collection of short stories that I loved),The Indian Bride, by Karin Fossum (for those of you who just can't get enough Scandinavian mystery), and a beautiful collection of poetry by Li-Young Lee, Behind My Eyes. On the nonfiction side, some of the highlights are The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science, by Natalie Angier, The Fruit Hunters: A Story of Nature, Adventure, Commerce and Obsession, by Adam Leith Gollner, Cultural Amnesia: Necessary Memories from History and the Arts, by Clive James, and Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, by Mary Roach.

These are just a few of the fantastic deals that Jennie has found. As always, there are only one or two copies of each of these bargains, so come in soon while the pickings are good.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Great New Picture Books!

Wow! It's been a great week for children's picture books! Here's just a taste of what's arrived recently:
  • The Boy in the Garden, by Caldecott Medalist and local author Allen Say. In his new book he puts a creative twist on the Japanese folktale "The Crane Wife." Allen won the Caldecott for his book Grandfather's Journey.
  • Art & Max, by three-time Caldecott Medal winner David Wiesner -- only the second person in history to win this award three times. David won the Caldecott for Tuesday, The Three Pigs, and FlotsamArt & Max is a gorgeous mixed-media picture book about friendship and art.
  • The 3 Little Dassies, by Jan Brett. Another beautifully illustrated, wildly colorful book by the bestselling children's book author and illustrator known in particular for her book The Mitten. This new book is Jan's African version of the three little pigs story.
  • The Odious Ogre, by Norton Juster and Jules Feiffer. These two greats together again for the first time since The Phantom Tollbooth -- one of my all-time favorite books.
  • Late for School, by Stever Martin (illustrated by C.F. Payne) -- yes, that Steve Martin, the wild and crazy guy with an arrow through his head. This picture book about the challenges of getting to school on time includes Martin's Grammy-winning banjo and vocal performance on an enclosed CD.
  • Skippyjon Jones: Presto Change-O Edition, by Judy Schachner. Who doesn't love Skippyjon Jones, the Siamese cat who thinks he's a Chihuahua? This special edition of the original book sports a "presto-change-o" cover that changes scenes as the book is moved (cool!), and contains a CD with all five Skippyjon Jones adventures.
  • Bats at the Ballgame, by Brian Lies, follows on the heels of the very popular Bats at the Beach and Bats at the Library. Nothing like combining flying rodents and our national pastime in magical, brilliant paintings!
So many wonderful new pictures books -- I have a big weakness for them. Come see these and a whole bunch more! Great for kids of all ages.

Ron Charles, Hipppest Book Reviewer Ever

Ron Charles, from The Washington Post, is one of my favorite book reviewers. Recently he's started doing video clips, which are pretty entertaining. In this one he talks (eventually) about the five finalists for this year's Man Booker Prize for Fiction -- except he gets the title wrong for one of them. The nominated title by Andrea Levy is The Long Song, not Small Island. Although Small Island is a great book -- one I enjoyed very much -- and the winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction, the Orange Prize for Fiction Best of the Best, the Whitbread Novel Award and Best Book Award, and the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize.

Win a Year's Worth of Ham by Hamming it Up!

Can you believe Green Eggs and Ham, by Dr. Seuss, is turning 50 this year??? Where does the time go? Here's something fun and rewarding you can do to help celebrate this birthday: act out a scene from the book and videotape it. Then submit it to win great prizes!!! Here's the skinny:

"Once your masterpiece is complete, upload your video to our contest site and get your friends and family voting and sharing. The videos with the most votes after five weeks will be judged by a team at Random House Children's Books and Dr. Seuss to determine the best overall act. So what are we looking for? We want your most dramatic, your most creative, your funniest, and of course your very, very hammiest! The grand prize winner will take home $2,000 cash, a limited edition Dr. Seuss print worth over $3,000, a year's supply of ham from Ham-I-Am, a Flip cam, and the entire Dr. Seuss library!"

Those are some spectacular prizes!!! Come on, Portland, I know how creative you can be!!! Show us your stuff. The deadline is November 3rd, and the winners will be announced on November 15th. You can read more about the contest at this site.

Reminds me of a great cartoon in The Oregonian not long ago, "Baby Blues," in which the stay-at-home mom greets the working dad at the door with "How was your day? Did you laugh? Did you play? Did you run in the sun? Did you have any fun? The dad says "Dr. Seuss overload, huh?" And the mom replies "Yes, reading is fine! Do we have any wine!" Made me laugh.

I'm not quite sure how someone who is no longer living can participate in the judging, but dead people publish books all the time, so I guess it's possible for Dr. Seuss to speak from the grave and offer an opinion on the best video. When I was a kid my mom was an elementary school librarian. One year she made a recording of Horton Hears a Who: she read the story and my sibs and I got to help provide the sound effects. It was fabulous. My mom does great voices.

A Click Isn't Always the Answer

Recently John Mesjak wrote an essay for The Huffington Post that caught my eye (via Shelf Awareness). John is an independent publishers rep who has also spent time working in three great independent bookstores, so he's clearly not without a dog in this "fight," but hey, neither am I! Here's a piece of what John had to say:

"Online book shopping shows up the flaws as well as the virtues of our increasingly digital, connected world: we have instant access to any book we might think of. If we already know of the book we're looking for, then finding it online is the work of seconds and buying a physical copy can be accomplished in a few more seconds, thanks to "One Click." If we wish to have an ebook, a minute more and it's on our device.

"But what if we don't already know what book we're looking for? A great read? Something that we once heard about on NPR, but have forgotten the title, author, air date? What if we're just looking for something new but need some guidance?"
"If all your book-buying is done online, you might find that your local physical bookstore is no longer there when you have one of those "I wonder what life will put in my path" sort of days. And that would be a shame."

Of course you can find just about any book you want online. And sometimes that might be the best thing. But unless you know exactly what you're looking for, you're facing the onerous (and not nearly as pleasing as browsing in a bookstore) task of clicking through page after page after page after page after page.... Assuming that your local neighborhood bookstore will magically always be there for you when you need it is a precarious assumption. You can read the full essay at The Huffington Post or at John's own blog, my3books.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Come Join the Oh Hmmm Discussion!

Oregon Humanities wants to kick the conversation up a notch. On all sorts of topics. And all kinds of ideas. Especially the kind that make you go "Oh. Hmmmm." You can participate in the discussion this Thursday night (Sept 23) at 7 at Broadway Books, when we gather to celebrate the summer 2010 issue of Oregon Humanities magazine, which focuses on the theme of "work." (The theme for the fall 2010 issue will be "Ha!")

Joining us this evening will be Kathleen Holt, the magazine's editor (also "word wrangler, straight talker, wry observer," according to her new business cards), along with Bette Husted, M. Allen Cunningham, Dave Weich, and Barry Johnson, who each have essays in the summer issue. Following the readings will be a reception and of course further discussion -- more opportunities to go "Oh. Hmmmm."

The Oregon Council for the Humanities, created in 1971 as part of the National Endowment for the Humanities, is in the middle of a rebranding campaign to make the humanities more accessible and relevant to all Oregonians. Here's a great article from the Oregonian about the campaign. Below is one of the three videos created by the Council to talk about the power of ideas. One of the lines I liked the most from one of the other videos is "even in the most familiar you can find something new." Check out all three! And please join the discussion Thursday night at Broadway Books!

Noel Hanlon Reading from Blue Abundance

What a great evening it was when we hosted Noel Hanlon, reading from her wonderful collection of poetry, Blue Abundance. Here's a glimpse into that evening.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Culinary Journey Through Vietnam

Kim Fay grew up in Washington State and attended Washington State University in Pullman, where she studied broadcast journalism and won the Presidential Award for Fiction, judged by Ursula Hegi. After WSU she spent five years working in one of the best independent bookstores in the Northwest, Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle.

In 1991 she traveled to Vietnam for the first time and fell in love with the country, its people, and its cuisine. She lived in Vietnam for four years, teaching English and writing, and has traveled back there frequently. While living in Vietnam, Kim did not learn to cook a single Vietnamese dish, despite her passion for the food: "It wasn't for lack of interest. It's just that my mind and heart were preoccupied. I was writing a novel. I was navigating a relationship. I was building friendships. I was torturing myself with unsuccessful stop-and-start efforts to learn the language. I was discovering myself as an entirely new person living in a foreign land. Also, I could just walk out my front door at any hour of the day and trade a few cents for an amazing bowl of beef noodle soup spiked with cinnamon and star anise, or wander around the corner for the best home cooking in Vietnam."

Learning to prepare the food herself was not a high priority while she was living in Vietnam. But after Kim returned to the states, settling into the LA area where she now lives, she realized that she was going to have to learn to make the food for herself. In learning to do so she became "fascinated with Vietnam's culinary past: -- the way that the country's food reflected its complex history -- and curious about its future. Through its food, I realized that I could understand more than just the country's flavors. I could understand its cultures, traditions, geography, and people. I wanted to gather everything I was discovering and put it all in a book."

So she plotted out a return trip to Vietnam, beginning in the north and winding down to her former home in Saigon in the south, contacting chefs, arranging culinary classes, and making lists of markets and farms and fisheries and "must eats." She was accompanied on her trip by her sister, Julie Fay Ashborn, a photographer, and her good friend Nguyen thi Lan Huong, who served a translator. The three of them set off to taste as much as possible while exploring Vietnamese rituals and traditions, street cafes and haute cuisine. Together they discovered a society shaped by its ever-changing relationship with food.

The result of this trip is the gorgeous new book, Communion: A Culinary Journey Through Vietnam, published by ThingsAsian Press. Communion is a travel book of the best kind and a collection of delicious and exciting recipes, with beautiful color photographs. On Wednesday, September 22, Kim and Julie will be here to talk about the book and show photographs Julie took in Vietnam. Rumor has it they will be bringing some Vietnamese nibbles for us to sample as well! Please join us Wednesday at 7 pm for what is sure to be an educational, entertaining, and decidedly delicious evening!

Oregon Poets Read from New Anthology

Please join us tonight at 7 pm as we celebrate the publication of a wonderful new -- and deliciously large! -- poetry anthology featuring 250 poets (and 450 poems) from eleven western states: New Poets of the American West. Tonight's event will be hosted by our friend Penelope Scambly Schott (who will also be reading at the store next Tuesday from her new book Crow Mercies, published by Calyx Press). Other Oregonians reading from their contributions to this new book will be Ellen Waterson, Michele Glazer, Joy McDowell, Ingrid Wendt, Lisa Steinman, David Axelrod, Harold, and Jenny Root.

New Poets of the American West is edited by Lowell Jaeger and published by Many Voices Press. Lowell teaches creative writing at Flathead Valley Community College in Kalispell, Montana, and is the founding editor of Many Voices Press, which is run by an all-volunteer staff as a nonprofit entity of FVCC. Lowell has published four books of poems, the most recent of which is WE, published in 2010 by Main Street Rag Publishing.

Some of the other poets represented in this new anthology are Sherman Alexi, Leslie Marmon Silk, Jim Harrison, Kay Ryan, Judy Blunt, Matthew Dickman, Carlos Reyes, and Kim Stafford. The book includes poems in English, Spanish, Navajo, Salish, Assiniboin, and Dakota languages.

Tonight's event is the first of three fun-filled evenings at the store this week -- we hope you'll be able to join us for some or all of them!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Matt Love and Willy Vlautin Videos

What a great treat for the full house that was here on August 31 to see Matt Love and Willy Vlautin rock the house!! They were both terrific. Matt read from his new memoir, Gimme Refuge: The Education of a Caretaker, and Willy read from his new novel, Lean on Pete. I've posted both videos on our youtube channel and on our web page. You can find videos from previous events posted at both sites as well. Read more about both Matt and Willy here.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Follett's Next Epic Masterpiece

Call me crazy. Or maybe just old-fashioned. But I can't get used to the idea of video trailers to promote books. But because I'm so excited about this new trilogy coming from Ken Follett -- author of the medieval historical novels The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End (as well as several suspense novels) -- I thought I'd share this with you.

Fall of Giants, the first novel in The Century Trilogy, follows the fates of five interrelated families -- American, German, Russian, English, and Welsh -- as they move through the world-shaking dramas of the First World War, the Russian Revolution, and the struggle for women's suffrage. As always with Ken Follett, the historical background is brilliantly researched and rendered, the action fast-moving, the characters rich in nuance and emotion. The next two books in the trilogy will follow subsequent generations of the same families through the great events of the rest of the twentieth century.

Through the lives of these five families, Follett illuminates the major events, trends and issues of the times, a remarkable synthesis of fact and fiction. This giant of a book -- it clocks in at just around a thousand pages -- goes on sale two weeks from tomorrow. We'd be happy to hold a copy for you.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Today's the Day -- One Day Only!

Today's the big day! It's the very first Irvington Farmers Market Wine Walk on Broadway!! For a mere $16, you can stroll around NE Broadway on this gorgeous, sunny Fall day and taste northwest wines at ten different businesses.

At Broadway Books, we're serving delightful wines from Zerba Cellars, accompanied by yummy sandwiches from Pastini. Best of all, we're so excited about the whole affair that we're offering all of our hardcover fiction titles for 25% for today only -- this makes them just about the same price as a paperback, without having to wait!

We'll be here until 5 pm tonight -- hope to see you! You can pick up your wine glass and tasting tickets at the Irvington Farmers Market at NE Broadway & 16th.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

UK Book Club Picks The Crying Tree

Thanks to our good friends at Reading Local, we learned the exciting news today that Oregon author Naseem Rakha's debut novel, The Crying Tree, has just been selected as one of the eight books for this year's Richard and Judy's Book Club. Richard and Judy run a UK reading series that's sort of the UK equivalent of Oprah's Selections. Congratulations, Naseem -- that's spectacular news!

Naseem read from her novel at Broadway Books recently, and we still have a few signed copies left of her book, which recently came out in paperback. You can see a brief video of Naseem reading at Broadway Books at our website. And you can read our blog posting about her novel here. The author's website can be found here.

Here are the other seven books selected by Richard and Judy (I've indicated which ones are available now or shortly in this country):
  • Sister, Rosamund Lupton (will pub 4/5/11)
  • The Snowman, Jo Nesbo
  • Operation Mincemeat, Ben Macintyre (available now in hardcover)
  • Waiting for Columbus, Thomas Trofimuk (paperback pubs Oct 5)
  • A Place of Secrets, Rachel Hore
  • No & Me, Delphine de Vigan
  • The Wilding, Maria McCann

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wine, Food & BIG Fiction Sale!

The Irvington Farmers Market has something new up its sleeve: The first Wine Walk on Broadway!! And it's this Sunday, September 12, from 1 pm to 5 pm. Tickets are $16, which gives you a wine glass, taste tokens, and food. You can buy tickets at the participating merchants (see list below) in advance, or at the market on Sunday. On Sunday you turn your tickets in at the market to collect your glass and tokens.

Participating merchants (that's us) are paired with a northwest winery and a NE Broadway restaurant. Participants (that's you) get to wander from store to store, checking out what's there, sipping a little wine, and having a little nosh. We're thrilled to be matched up with Zerba Cellars from Milton Freewater, just outside of Walla Walla -- one of my favorite wineries! And for the crowning touch, our food will be provided by Petisco, one of our favorite restaurants on the block.

To celebrate our good fortune -- and thus yours -- we've decided to have a BIG SALE in conjunction with The Wine Walk. For this day only, all hardcover fiction is 25% off!!

What more could you ask for? Wine, food, and terrific books. Sunshine, you say? Perhaps, but no guarantees -- although I can assure you it's always sunny and warm in the store! Please come see us and sample all the delights! Besides the good wine and food, there are a ton of great new books recently published for you to delight in as well.

Here are the participating merchants who will be hosting wineries:
  • Broadway Books (Zerba Cellars)
  • Broadway Floral (Nehalem Bay Winery)
  • Caffe D'Arte (Sass Winery)
  • emily-jane (Mia Sonatina Cellars)
  • Golden (Solena Estate)
  • Kitchen Kaboodle (Anam Cara Cellars)
  • The Lion & The Rose Victorian B&B Inn (Anne Amie Vineyards)
  • McMenamins on Broadway (McMenamins Edgefield Winery)
  • Oh Baby! Lingerie (Naked Winery) -- now why does that pairing not surprise me????
  • Soho Boutique (hipCHICKSdoWINE)
Here's a link to the Irvington Farmers Market site. The market continues through November 7. Hope to see you on Sunday!!

Colin Cotterill Writes about Laos in the '70s

Here's a great article from the New York Times about Colin Cotterill, author of one of our most popular mystery series, set in Laos in the '70s and featuring Siri Paiboun, a "cranky and curmudgeonly septuagenarian doctor who is the first and only coroner in Laos." Cotterill's newest books in the series are Love Songs from a Shallow Grave, available in hardcover, and The Merry Misogynist, available in paperback. He is at work on his eighth book,

You can read our previous blog post about Cotterill's series here.

2010 Booker Shortlist Announced

The six finalists for the 2010 Man Booker Prize for fiction have just been announced. Andrew Molton, the chair of the judges, had this to say about the finalists:

"It's been a great privilege and an exciting challenge for us to reduce our longlist of thirteen to this shortlist of six outstandingly good novels. In doing so, we feel sure we've chosen books which demonstrate a rich variety of styles and themes - while in every case providing deep individual pleasures."

Here are the six shortlisted authors for 2010:
  • Peter Carey, Parrot and Olivier in America
  • Emma Donoghue, Room
  • Damon Galgut, In a Strange Room
  • Howard Jacobson, The Finkler Question
  • Andrea Levy, The Long Song 
  • Tom McCarthy, C
You can read more about the finalists at the Booker site. Read our previous blog posting to see the full list of thirteen nominated titles. I'm surprised that some of them didn't make the cut, but the Booker is an incredibly competitive prize. Guess I've got a lot more reading to do!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

David Mitchell's newest novel, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, is 479 pages long... By page 443 I was starting to panic because I realized I was nearing the end. By page 465, I was literally sweating, the sense of loss leaving me feeling hollow. And then came the end--page 479. It's not so much that the novel's ending itself was so explosive; instead I felt mournful about having to leave the world that Mitchell had created so vividly, so intensely, and re-enter my own mundane reality.

Mitchell is the author of several other spectacular novels including Ghostwritten, Black Swan Green and Cloud Atlas, all of which are crafted with especially distinctive flavors and varied writing styles. In The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, Mitchell introduces us to a real, but little-known, place in Shogunal Japan called Dejima. Dejima is a man-made island, specifically constructed for the employees of the Dutch East Indies Company to live and work on, allowing Japan a small, seemingly well-guarded window into the outside world at a time when the country was almost completely closed to foreigners.

In 1799, an earnest young clerk, named (you guessed it!) Jacob de Zoet, arrives at Dejima in order to clean up the account books and expose the rampant corruption that plagues the company's outpost. Jacob, smart yet naive, must contend with an intriguing cast of characters, including deceitful Japanese translators, jealous clerks, corrupt chiefs, a wily cook, a lazy slave, and one very grumpy doctor, as he finds his way in an unfamiliar world. Paralleling (and intersecting) his story is that of Orito Aibagawa, the disfigured daughter of a samurai doctor who acts as midwife to the city's powerful magistrate.

The novel is rich with characters, dialogue and atmosphere, the plot tight and intriguing. Mitchell is a master of his craft; this is undeniable. He has yet to let me down, and I'll count down the days, like the remaining pages of a good novel, until his next endeavor.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

2010 Thurber Prize for American Humor

The three finalists for the 2010 Thurber Prize for American Humor were recently announced. The winner will be announced on Monday, October 4th, at the Algonquin Hotel in New York City, where James Thurber once lived. The Thurber Award was started in 1997 -- Ian Frazier won the first award for his book Coyote v. Acme. It is the only recognition of the art of humor writing in the United States. Previous winners include David Sedaris, Christopher Buckley, and the editorial staff of The Onion. Here are this year's finalists:

Why is My Mother Getting a Tattoo? In her early forties, Jancee Dunn began to wonder why she still felt like a thirteen-year-old around her family. Talking to her friends, she found the same was true for themdespite successful jobs, marriages, and families of their own. Do we ever really grow up, she wonders? Why is the slow, sticky process of prying ourselves free from our parents and childhoods so difficult?

How I Became a Famous Novelist, by Steve Hely, is the only novel in the finals. Narrated by an unlikely literary legend, this work moves from the post-college slums of Boston to the fear-drenched halls of Manhattan's publishing houses and tells the horrifying, hilarious tale of how one man's self-described pile of garbage novel becomes the most talked about book in America.

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home. Not long after Rhoda Janzen turned forty, her world turned upside down. It was bad enough that her husband of fifteen years left her for Bob, a guy he met on Gay.com, but that same week a car accident left her injured. Needing a place to rest and pick up the pieces of her life, Rhoda packed her bags, crossed the country, and returned to her quirky Mennonite family's home, where she was welcomed back with open arms and offbeat advice.