Publisher's Notes - New Titles
by terry mathews - news-telegram arts editor
June 30, 2008 - After going through the Fall/Winter 2008 catalog from Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, I believe it's going to be a great few months for those of us who love to read.
Algonquin may not be the biggest publishing house on the block, but they consistently release quality books from talented writers.
Publisher Elisabeth Scharlatt took time to answer a few questions via e-mail about Algonquin's place in the world of good stories, well told.
News-Telegram: What is Algonquin's philosophy when it comes to choosing what to publish?
Elisabeth Scharlatt: Our so-called philosophy is rather simple. We look for originality, and, when it comes to fiction, an especially original voice. A good story well told is, as far as I can tell, what all of us have always looked for throughout our reading lives. The same is true for narrative non-fiction. Other non-fiction, I'd say, needs to show us something in a fresh way.
NT: How does Algonquin "grow" authors?
ES: Well, I'd like to think just by publishing them we contribute to that, but it's more the case that authors "grow" themselves. Our task is to help them find their readers, to help get their work out to as broad an audience as we can, and our wonderful publicity and marketing staff make that happen, both in the press and in the bookstores.
NT: Does an editor stay with an author while at Algonquin or does the arrangement change from time to time?
ES: Typically an editor and author continue to work together - especially when a good working relationship has been established. In the case of our small house, we've got a gang of people who are wholly engaged and everyone in some way likes to be involved - either in giving opinions or offering ways that we might make the experience as enriching as possible for everyone.
NT: How does Algonquin continue to flourish and publish quality books in this age of pulp fiction?
ES: We pretty much keep our heads down, read our stuff and react to it - all in a rather personal way. I'm glad you feel we're publishing quality books -that's the idea, isn't it? And it seems there is an audience who likes the same kind of books that we like. That's a happy circumstance.
NT: Is Algonquin excited about the upcoming fall/winter releases?
ES: Every season holds a surprise for all of us. I think we're a group of people who really like our jobs. Our list remains small and yet we have so many extraordinary books coming in the fall: Roland Merullo's American Savior;
Ariel Sabar's My Father's Paradise; Debora Kogan's Between Here and April and a handful of other treasures.
In addition, we're particularly excited about bringing out in paperback some of last year's books that will have a new life in a new format, reaching new readers - like the biography of Daniel Boone; and the enchanting novel, Breakfast with Buddha; and a sleeper on our list, Heart in the Right Place, among others. I could go on and on...
Here's a peek at some of the titles coming down the pike, complete with synopsis and a brief author bio. Look for more titles next week.
By Jane Pupek
$23.95. 304 pp.
For 11-year-old Ellie Sanders, her father has always been the rock she could cling to when her mother's emotional troubles become too frightening. But when her dad comes under the thrall of the pretty teenager who raises vegetables and tomatoes for sale at the general store that he runs, Ellie sees her security slowly slipping away. Now she must be witness and warden to her mother's gradual slide into madness.
Tomato Girl marks the debut of a gifted and promising new author who has written the kind of timeless Southern novel on which Algonquin's reputation was founded.
JANE PUPEK is a Virginia native and a former social worker. Thought Tomato Girl is her first novel, her writing has appeared in literary journals.
By Robert Morgan
$18.95. 576 pp.
The story of Daniel Boone is the story of America - its ideals, its promise, its romance and its destiny. Bestselling, critically acclaimed author Robert Morgan reveals the complex character of a frontiersman whose heroic life was far stranger and more fascinating than the myths that surround him.
This rich, authoritative biography offers a whole new perspective on a man who has been an American icon for more than 200 years - a hero as important to American history as his more political contemporaries George Washington and Benjamin Franklin. Extensive endnotes, cultural and historical background material and maps and illustrations underscore the scope of this distinguished and immensely entertaining work.
ROBERT MORGAN was raised on his family's farm in the North Carolina mountains. He is the author of 11 books of poetry and eight books of fiction, including the bestselling Gap Creek. Winner of a 2007 Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Literature, he teaches at Cornell University.
My Father's Paradise
By Ariel Sabar
$25.95. 348 pp.
Ariel Sabar's father Yona, an esteemed professor at UCLA, dedicated his career to preserving his people's traditions.
As father and son travel together to today's postwar Iraq to find what's left of Yona's birthplace, Ariel brings to life the ancient town of Zakho, telling his family's story and discovering his own role in this sweeping saga.
ARIEL SABAR is covering the 2008 presidential campaign for the Christian Science Monitor and is a former staff writer for the Baltimore Sun and the Providence (RI) Journal.
An Arsonist's Guide to Writer's Homes in New England
By Brock Clarke
$23.95. 320 pp.
A lot of remarkable things have happened in the life of Sam Pulsifer, the hapless hero of this incendiary novel, beginning with the 10 years he spent in prison for accidently burning down Emily Dickinson's house and unwittingly killing two people. When the homes of other famous New England writers suddenly go up in smoke, Sam must prove his innocence by uncovering the identity of this literary-minded arsonist.
BROCK CLARKE has twice been a finalist for the National Magazine Award. He teaches writing at the University of Cincinnati..