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See the cover for Pittacus Lore's newest I Am Number Four, 'The Revenge of Seven' -- EXCLUSIVE

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Check out the cover for Pittacus Lore’s The Revenge of Seven, the fifth installment of the I Am Number Four series. (God, that’s a numbers jumble, isn’t it?) The book goes on sale August 26th. HarperCollins gave this preview of the story: READ FULL STORY

On The Books: Laura Hillenbrand rewrote 'Unbroken' as a YA book

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Laura Hillenbrand has rewritten her best-seller Unbroken, the life story of Olympic runner Louie Zamperini, as a YA nonfiction book that will be published on Veterans Day (Nov. 11, 2014). The original Unbroken tells the tale of Zamperini’s Odysseian journey from a hard-scrabble kid in Southern California during the Depression to his meteoric rise as an Olympic runner in the 1936 Berlin Games. Later he signed up as a fighter pilot during World War II and flew planes in the South Pacific. His bomber crashed 850 miles off the coast of Hawaii and he spent 47 days stranded on a raft before being captured by the Japanese and brutally abused in a POW camp until the end up the war. But it’s not a downer! He perseveres and with the same buoyant spirit that carried him to the Olympics, he recovers from his wartime experiences and finds new life for himself.

I’m not sure why this needs a “YA” version. It sounds pretty appropriate for the 12+ ages of the “young adult” genre. Surely if you can be conscripted to read Lord of the Flies at 13, you can read this amazing real-life tale of the triumph of human spirit. Hillenbrand didn’t say specifically what she changed for the younger version, only that “Louie Zamperini’s story is spellbinding to people of every age. At the urging of librarians, teachers, and parents, I’ve created this edition specifically for younger readers. I’m delighted to bring Louie’s inspiring, exhilarating story to a new generation.” Since its original publication in November 2010, Unbroken has sold nearly 4 million copies and has remained on the bestseller list for over 160 weeks, with 14 weeks at #1. Angelina Jolie is directing a film adaptation (written by the Cohen brothers no less!) which is set for release on Christmas Day 2014.

READ FULL STORY

Kid Lit's Primary Color: White -- REPORT

Of 3,200 children’s books published last year, only 93 featured black characters—and the numbers weren’t great for Asians, American Indians, and Latinos either. What gives?

If you’re a parent of a child of color, finding relatable kids’ books can be something of a challenge. Just ask Lori Tharps, an African-American journalism professor and the mom of three bilingual, bicultural children. “I’m not trying to make my kids read about slaves all the time,” she says. “A black wizard story would be nice. Flat Stanley could be Asian or Latino. But they’re not there… at least it would be one less blond-haired, blue-eyed heroine or hero to worship.” A survey of 3,200 children’s books published in 2013—out of a total of 5,000—found that only 67 were by African-American authors, and only 93 titles centered on black characters. That’s the lowest number of black protagonists since 1994, when the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison began tracking that data. The numbers were similarly abysmal for children’s books by or about American Indians, Asians, and Latinos — proving that publishing, like the film and TV industry, has a long way to go when it comes to fostering and promoting diversity.

So why are bookshelves so whitewashed? For one thing, children’s books about diverse characters don’t sell (though there are exceptions, such as Octavia Spencer’s middle-grade mystery, Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective: The Case of the Time-Capsule Bandit). Says one children’s-book executive, “If we thought there was a demand for more nonwhite characters, we would try to fill it.” Sales can “certainly impact visibility and output,” says Rosemary Brosnan, editorial director at HarperCollins Children’s Books. Award-winning Mexican-American writer Gary Soto knows this all too well: He had to end his 20-year career writing children’s books due to low sales. “I think many buyers think, ‘We already have a Gary Soto book in our library or classroom; we don’t need any more.’” Tharps, a former EW staffer, says, “Part of this problem could be solved if the great books that are out there that feature characters of color were given more promotional push by publishers and not shoved into the multicultural section.” READ FULL STORY

2014 Pulitzer Prize winners announced; Donna Tartt takes the big fiction prize

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Donna Tartt’s sprawling literary epic that centers on a mysterious little painting has taken the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, besting other lengthy titles, such as The Son by Philipp  Meyer and The Woman Who Lost Her Soul by Bob Shacochis, both of which received “A” grades from EW. READ FULL STORY

On The Books: 2013's Ten Most Challenged Books

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Every year the American Library Association publishes a list of the most challenged books in the country to keep the public informed of encroaching censorship. The ALA defines a challenge as “a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness.” The number of challenges reflects only incidents reported. The group estimates that for every reported challenge, four or five remain unreported. This year’s list is topped by the The Adventures of Captain Underpants series, which also held that slot in 2012. The humorous and cartoony book about two 4th grade boys and their imaginary-turned-real superhero Captain Underpants was cited for: offensive language, unsuited for age group, and violence. Fifty Shades of Grey also made the list, as did The Hunger Games. Check out the complete list. READ FULL STORY

On The Books: Hillary Clinton's latest memoir for June 10

Hillary Clinton’s latest memoir will be released June 10, 2014. An ad from the publisher gives only this information about it: “Hillary Clinton shares candid reflections about key moments during her time as Secretary of State as well as her thoughts about how to navigate the challenges of the 21st century.” How to navigate the challenges of the 21st century? As with every move that Hillary Clinton makes these days, people are wondering if the subtext of this release is “vote for me in 2016.” [The Wrap]

J.K. Rowling will be guest editing BBC Radio 4 Women’s Hour later this month. She’ll be discussing her literary pseudonym Robert Galbraith and “the power and myth of the shoe in popular culture.” So quite a range of ideas there… I’ve always wanted to know how Lady Rowling felt about footwear. [Guardian]

Things I learned about Chuck Palahniuk from The Guardian this morning:

1. He has an online mentorship program for writers, who are encouraged to employ his “minimal style.” I don’t know if I’ve ever thought of Chuck as being “minimal.” Definitely more of a maximal guy in my memory.

2. He’s writing a graphic novel sequel to Fight Club.

3. Chuck is now releasing an anthology of his mentee’s writing that will be entirely focused on taboo subjects – his specialty. “Transgressive fiction authors write stories some are afraid to tell. Stories with taboo subjects, unique voices, shocking images – nothing safe or dry,” says its publisher. “These stories run the gamut from horrific and fantastic to humorous and touching, but each leaves a lasting impression. Some may say even a scar.”

On The Books: New Ian McEwan novel 'The Children Act'

Ian McEwan, the award-winning author of Atonement, has announced a new novel called The Children Act to be published on September 9, 2014. McEwan has written 15 books, including Amsterdam, which won the Man Booker Prize, Solar, The Child in Time and The Comfort of Strangers. His most recent novel, Sweet Tooth, about a beautiful intelligence agent during the Cold War whose undercover persona begins to unravel as she falls for a writer, came out in 2012. No word yet on what The Children Act will be about, other than that it will be “emotionally wrenching.” This coming from the man who wrote Atonement, so prepare to be very wrenched.

Philip Roth will be awarded the first annual Yaddo Medal from the Yaddo artists’ colony in Saratoga Springs, NY. Founded in 1900 by financier Spencer Trask (a man who supported Edison when he was inventing the lightbulb), the colony hosts around 200 artists a year who would like to spend 2-6 weeks on their 400-acre ranch. Roth himself has resided at the colony seven times since 1964. I appreciate Yaddo going out on a limb and awarding their first medal to such an unsung hero like Phil Roth. [New York Times]

Kurt Vonnegut was quite the sketch artist. You may have seen some of his drawings in his books, or recognize his self-portrait scribble that doubled as his signature. But don’t miss the slideshow of his work that the New Yorker put together. Vonnegut felt that drawing was the window through which he could jump out of when his writing became too much to bear. “My own means of making a living is essentially clerical, and hence tedious and constipating.… The making of pictures is to writing what laughing gas is to the Asian influenza.”

Tin House has a deep Q&A with playwright Craig Lucas, whose play Ode to Joy is as the Cherry Lane Theater until April 19th. Lucas is a Pulitzer Prize finalist and a two time Tony-nominee, who wrote Prelude to a Kiss, Reckless, and The Light in the Piazza. In describing the theme of the new play, he wrote: “Joy, motherfuckers. Joy.” The man truly has a way with words. We should all buy tickets. [Tin House]

Parul Sehgal has an essay on “What Muriel Spark Saw” in the New Yorker. A Scottish novelist who was a contemporary of Graham Greene and Evelyn Waugh, Spark’s novels are being rereleased in America. One of her famous quotes is “I aim to startle as well as please,” a motto to live by. Sehgal writes: “She loved lightning. It wasn’t her favorite weapon—fire was, or knives. But lightning has a brutal, beautiful efficiency, and she used it to good effect, once frying alive a pair of lovers.” So I’m buying everything she ever wrote.

Join NPR for National Poetry Month and help write their collaborative Twitter poem. See their website for details! [NPR]

 

On The Books: Stephen King's 'Carrie,' 'The Stand' and more to be reissued!

Six of Stephen King’s early novels are going to get a fancy, limited edition reissue from Cemetery Dance Publications. The collection will include some of his best works: Carrie, ’Salem’s Lot, The Shining, Night Shift, The Stand and Pet Sematary. The books will be oversize editions on heavy paper, with newly commissioned artwork for the dust jackets, new introductions by Mr. King, and other features. Ahhhh!! But they will only be printing very few and they will not be cheap, so start saving now. The fisrt installment will be Carrie: The Deluxe Special Edition, which is due in August. an essay by Tabitha King about the book’s exploration of adolescent terror and sexuality, six paintings (as well as a dust jacket) by the fantasy illustrator Tomislav Tikulin, and a reproduction of the telegram sent by Doubleday to Mr. King saying that the company would publish the book. You can buy at 3 price points, ranging from the artist-signed copies that are already sold out, to ones with a special dust jacket for $225 to the most affordable version in a slipcase for $80. [New York Times]

Rabble-rouser and British bad boy of the art world, Damien Hirst has finally confirmed that Penguin will be publishing his autobiography. This promises to be a wild ride and he’s sworn to write with “utter candor” about his early exploits. It will cover his childhood and his college years in London, including “his Turner prize win in 1995 for Mother and Child, Divided, one of his many works fixated on death. The piece consists of four glass tanks, containing the two halves of a cow and calf preserved in formaldehyde, and would be followed by his famous shark in formaldehyde known as Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living. The shark is one of my favorite pieces of modern art. Terrifying to behold. I hope the title of his book is something equally overstated: “The Physical Impossibility of the Infinite in the Mind of an Artist…and Also Death.” [Guardian]

The Bailey’s Prize for Women in Fiction has revealed it’s shortlist. The predictable choices were: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Americanah, Jhumpa Lahiri - The Lowland, Donna Tartt - The Goldfinch. Less obvious choices: Eimear McBride - A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing, Audrey Magee - The Undertaking, Hannah Kent - Burial Rites. Helen Fraser, the Chair of the judges said, “We feel you could give any one of these books to a friend with the absolute confidence that they would be gripped and absorbed and that maybe their view of the world would be changed once they had read it.” The winner of the prestigious honor and the £30,000 reward will be announced on June 4th.

Did you remember that Paddington Bear was Peruvian? Well he was, and the author Michael Bond is releasing a new Paddington book, Love From Paddington, where the duffel-coat-wearing bear writes letters to his Aunt Lucy in Lima, reminiscing about his first days in England. A Bear Called Paddington has been in print continuously since it’s publication in 1958, and Bond has written a number of sequels since then. There’s even a Paddington movie coming out in November with Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth.  [Guardian]

Archie Comics to kill off Archie, sort of

They say no one really appreciates you until after you’re gone. Now Archie Andrews, the hero of the long-running Archie comics series, will be able to discover that first-hand: An upcoming issue of the comic will flash-forward to the future and show how Archie meets his death.

Wait, what? READ FULL STORY

On The Books: CIA used 'Dr. Zhivago' as anti-USSR propoganda

When I first read that the CIA used Dr. Zhivago to breakdown the USSR during The Cold War, I assumed that they forced Soviets to watch that movie on repeat as a form of torture. I know, I know, before you get all up in arms about “how wonderful that film is” and “what a classic,” I’m a big fan of Omar Sharif and Alec Guinness (hello, Lawrence of Arabia.) But think about Dr. Zhivago‘s torture potential. No human could watch that 3+ hour Russian downer drama twice in a row without cracking. You would have to have a will of steel not to end up in a ball crying, “The balalaika! It’s always the balalaika!”

But I guess the CIA wasn’t on the same page. According to recently declassified CIA documents, the U.S. government commissioned Russian-language editions of Boris Pasternak’s novel (which Mother Russia had banned) and distributed them to citizens in Moscow. The story largely takes place during the Bolshevik Revolution and dramatizes the casualties of the Communist rising, so the Americans thought it would make great anti-USSR propaganda. We should fight more wars with these kinds of non-lethal weapons. This plot ranks right up there with blue jeans and MTV bringing down the Berlin Wall. [Washington Post]

READ FULL STORY

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