Captain Underpants author Dav Pilkey, comedian-actress Jenny Slate and Jennifer Weiner were all drawing long lines as the BookExpo moved into high gear at the Javits Convention Center Thursday.
Pilkey’s new children’s book from Scholastic, “Dog Man for Whom the Ball Rolls,” is due to hit in August and was a lighthearted reprieve from many of the heavier themes on display.
Political books were fewer than a year ago. But Bill Wolfsthal, vice president of independent publisher Skyhorse Publishing, said the company’s bet on the “The Mueller Report” paid off big.
“Robert Mueller is doing a great job selling the book,” said Wolfsthal. “He said he didn’t want to talk further and told people they should just read the report,” and that helped push Skyhorse to No. 14 on Amazon’s list and No. 2 on the NYT paperback best-seller list, right behind Simon & Schuster’s version of the report.
The #MeToo movement was far more prevalent than politics in this year’ s crop of books.
Slate, who has played such roles as Mona-Lisa Saperstein in “Parks and Recreation” and the teacher of a mathematical genius in the movie “Gifted,” wrote “Little Weirds,” a collection of feminist essays that Little, Brown is releasing in November.
She’s reportedly said the book will demonstrate “what it’s like to be a feminist in a misogynist culture.”
As always, the heaviest-attended session was for the buzz panel on Wednesday — when publishers peg six books that they hope will transform into the big sellers in the coming year.
One of the hottest books of 2020 is expected to be “My Dark Vanessa,” which author Kate Elizabeth Russell took 20 years to write and reportedly resulted in a $1 million advance from the William Morrow imprint of Harper Collins. The novel is about a 15-year-old girl and a psychologically manipulative English teacher. Entertainment Weekly calls the book “Lolita for the #MeToo era.”
“Uncanny Valley” by Anna Wiener started as an essay in n+1 magazine in the spring of 2016 and was quickly snapped up by Farrar Straus and Giroux editor Emily Bell for a book.
Wiener, who now writes for The New Yorker, penned it as a memoir about the sexist and workaholic culture she encountered while employed in Silicon Valley.
The Saeed Jones memoir “How We Fight for Our Lives,” about growing up as a gay black man in the US, is being pushed for October publication. Simon & Schuster editor Jonathan Cox, who signed the book in 2015, tells Media Ink, “I’d say there’s a lot of tough moments, but it’s about what it takes to become a full person. It brings you through those dark times.”
Kiley Reid’s “Such a Fun Age” delves into race and sexuality in a tale about a young black baby-sitter falsely accused by a security guard of kidnapping the white toddler she was watching. On the buzz panel, Putnam editor Sally Kim said, “It is one of the best explorations of race and class and injustice in our time.”
Lara Prescott’s “The Secrets We Kept” draws its inspiration from the real-life story of the CIA’s efforts to smuggle Boris Pasternak’s manuscript for “Doctor Zhivago” out of the Soviet Union. The novel centers on CIA secretaries recruited as spies and Pasternak’s lover. “This is a novel about the fierce and brilliant women who made [it] possible,” said Knopf editor Jordan Pavlin.
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