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On the Books: New Toni Morrison novel coming in April 2015

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Toni Morrison
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-45 years after Toni Morrison, 83, published her groundbreaking debut The Bluest Eye in 1970, the visionary author’s 12th novel will hit shelves. Set to be published by Knopf in April 2014, God Help the Child will—like many of Morrison’s works—tell the story of a strong African American woman battling personal hardships and the social constructs of race. Knopf describes the book:

“Spare and unsparing, God Help the Child is a searing tale about the way childhood trauma shapes and misshapes the life of the adult. At the center: a woman who calls herself Bride, whose stunning blue-black skin is only one element of her beauty, her boldness and confidence, her success in life; but which caused her light-skinned mother to deny her even the simplest forms of love until she told a lie that ruined the life of an innocent woman, a lie whose reverberations refuse to diminish…”

The bestselling writer of Song of Solomon (1977) has received accolades including the Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award and Presidential Medal of Freedom over the course of her career. Just a couple of weeks ago, she sat down with Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report.

-Today, Little, Brown announced it is will publish J.K. Rowling’s 2008 Harvard graduation commencement speech, “Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination,” in a book next April. Sales from the book, which will feature illustrations by Joel Holland, will go toward students needing financial aid at the university, as well as Rowling’s foundation for underprivileged children, Lumos. The elaborate and magical Harry Potter universe is evidence enough of Rowling’s great imagination, but the bestselling author is equally familiar with failure—her first Harry Potter manuscript was rejected by a dozen publishers, and she lived on welfare pre-Potter. “I have heard and read many commencement speeches, none more moving and memorable than J.K. Rowling’s,” said Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust. “Years after her visit to Harvard, people still talk about it and still find inspiration in her singular evocation of the idea that living a meaningful life so often means daring to risk failure.” [USA Today]

-An Indiegogo campaign seeking $50,000 to fund next year’s first-ever Bay Area Book Festival launched today. The free festival, set to be held in downtown Berkeley, June 6-7, 2015, will feature 150 authors, including Neil Gaiman, Michael Chabon, Michael Pollan, Daniel Handler, and Sherman Alexie—as well as panel discussions, Skype sessions with authors, children’s storytelling stages, book booths and more. “The vision for the Bay Area Book Festival is ambitious: a big, busy, public and entirely free street festival of the sort I’ve enjoyed so much in Los Angeles, Miami, and Brooklyn,” said festival adviser Ethan Nosowsky of Graywolf Press. “Its aim is to celebrate the readers, writers, and books, that shape one of the most vibrant literary communities in the country.” Festival founder Cherilyn Parsons says the fest will celebrate not just literature but “the digital revolution in publishing,” with Twitter tie-ins and panels featuring tech authors and industry leaders. “The Bay Area is unique because it’s both a literary mecca and the global capital of digital innovation,” she said. [Publishers Weekly]

-Amazon’s contentious year in the world of book publishing—sparring over contract negotiations with Hachette and Authors United, and angering readers—didn’t do a thing to dampen Black Friday sales. On the retail holiday this year, Amazon sold three times as many Kindle Fires and nearly four times as many Kindle eReaders compared to 2013. “We’re energized by the year over year growth of tablet and e-reader Black Friday sales on Amazon.com,” said David Limp, the Senior Vice President of the e-giant’s tablet division. “This holiday there are going to be a lot of customers opening up new Amazon devices.” [GalleyCat]

 

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