John Grisham continues his young adult series with Theodore Boone: The Abduction

John Grisham is back with Theodore Boone: The Abduction, the follow-up to Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer. Just when it seems like life for Theo is back to the status quo, a new legal mystery comes to town--and Theo is the only one who can crack the case. 

"Not since Nancy Drew has a nosy, crime-obsessed kid been so hard to resist." -The New York Times

Tom Franklin Brings Big Book Prize Home

    Tom Franklin’s excellent novel and Square Books bestseller, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, got in the running for two major book awards this spring when it was announced as one of six finalists for the Edgar Award and one of five finalists for a prestigious L A Times Book Prize as the best mystery novel of 2010.   Franklin, who lives in Oxford and teaches in the MFA program at Ole Miss, attended the Edgar ceremony April 27, this past Thursday night, then hopped on a plane the following morning in order to attend the LA Times event Friday night.   Beth Ann Fennelly, the poet and Franklin’s wife, was in the store the other day and said to us, of the awards, “I told him not to come home without at least one of them.”  
    To home Tom Franklin triumphantly comes, then, with the L A Times Prize, presented by Attica Locke, who visited us in the summer of 2009 with her award winning first novel, Black Water Rising.   Another winner at the Los Angeles ceremony, for the 2010 Innovator’s Award, are our friends at Powell’s Books, for “cutting edge work to bring books, publishing, and storytelling into the future.”
    Hooray for Tom Franklin and Powell’s Books!

Sara Foster and Martha Foose bring good food to Square Books

Spring is truly here and with it our palates are awakened and ready for fresh tastes.  The doors are open at Square Books and the savory smells waft in from our great restaurants on the square, making me ready to go home and get busy in the kitchen.  With two new beautiful cookbooks out, Sara Foster's Southern Kitchen, and Martha Foose's A Southerly Course, I have extra inspiration.   

Sara Foster, the owner of Foster's Market, the acclaimed gourmet stores for pick-up or eat-in in North Carolina, came to Square Books a week ago to promote her fourth (and I think best) cookbook.  Sara wanted to have samples of her recipes and graciously offered to prepare them if I could find a kitchen for her.  That is how I ended up cooking alongside a famous chef.  As Sara's pound cake from her first book has become our family standard,  I thought I'd try her  Buttermilk Pound Cake with Tangy Buttermilk Glaze (p 316), while Sara and her sister effortlessly whipped up Deviled Ham Salad (p 11), Carmelized Red Onion Tarts (p 14) and Rosemary Cheese Crackers (p 8).  We brought all these tasty treats to the store for the event that afternoon and enjoyed them with an Edward Sellers' Paso Robles Rhone.  All was delicious and  quickly gone.  The Rosemary Cheese Crackers were great plain or with a little brie and a dab of pepper jelly.  I wish Sara & Judy were still in my kitchen, but will think of them as I prepare Roasted Asparagus with Country Ham, Red-Eye Gravy and Poached Eggs (p 84) for Easter brunch.  

A few days later, Martha Foose was in town for her follow-up to the James Beard Award winner, Screen Doors and Sweet Tea, A Southerly Course.  Martha was to be on Thacker Mountain Radio with fellow Yazoo City homie, Teresa Nicholas (Buryin' Daddy).  Sadly, Martha did not have time to cook for me, but we got in a good visit, and Martha can tell some stories.  Besides being an amazing collection of everything Delta from Dandelion Cracklings, Kibbe, Burgundy Duck, Pickled Crawfish Tails, Grilled Co-Cola Drumsticks, and Satsuma Tart, A Southerly Course is as much fun to read as to cook from.  Read about Eudora Welty while waiting for that Peach Shortcake to come out of the oven. CFR
(from left: Sara Foster, Lyn Roberts, and Sara's sister, Judy) 

Yann Martel speaks with students and community members

One of the Barksdale Honors College classes is reading Yann Martel’s Life of Pi this semester, and when it was announced the author planned to visit Square Books on March 9, we immediately received a request from the class professors asking whether he might meet with the class.  Through the good offices of Spiegel and Grau, the publishers of Martel’s new paperback edition of Beatrice and Virgil, which brought him to Oxford, the meeting was arranged.  At 3 p.m. close to 50 students convened at Off Square Books to hear what the 2002 Man Booker Prize winner had to say.  An initial question about Life of Pi led to a lengthy discussion about faith as the book’s major construct, why Hinduism was used as a particular vehicle (it’s a monotheistic religion that may be expressed and accessed in a variety of ways), and some of the writer’s own ideas about religion and philosophy -- all fascinating.  At the end of the discussion Martel was presented a personally inscribed copy of I Beat the Odds, by former Ole Miss football player Michael Oher, who, while the discussion took place, had been in the back room signing copies for the ongoing demand at Square Books.

2011 New Great Novelists to Appear at Square Books for the Oxford Conference for the Book

Recently heralded young American writers will be featured in the 2011 Oxford Conference for the Book March 24 – 26.  Karen Russell, Téa Obreht, Kevin Brockmeier, and Justin Taylor, among others, will be here in support of their new books. 

The highly-regarded book reviewer, Janet Maslin, has called Karen Russell’s Swamplandia! a “wave-making debut novel.”  Russell’s first book—a collection of short stories titled St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves—was a huge success, landing her on most critics’ year-end lists. She came to Square Books in 2006 to read from and sign copies of the collection.  She will return to Oxford as a book conference panelist along with writers Tom Franklin and Kevin Brockmeier on Saturday, March 26 at 4 p.m. 

Téa Obreht’s first novel, The Tiger’s Wife, also received an excellent review in the New York Times, from the famously fastidious critic, Michiko Kakutani. The Tiger’s Wife is “a precocious debut…a richly textured and searing novel,” writes Kakutani, further asserting that Obreht “writes with remarkable authority and eloquence, and she demonstrates an uncommon ability to move seamlessly between the gritty realm of the real and the more primary-colored world of the fable.”  The precocious Ms. Obreht, a Serbian native who is twenty-five years old, will be joined by author Justin Taylor and moderator Lyn Roberts for a reading at the book conference on Friday, March 25 at 1:30 p.m.

In his new novel, The Illumination, Kevin Brockmeier “devotes his considerable gifts of description to the illuminated wounds of his characters” in a book that is “deeply felt and precisely observed,” according to Scott Hutchins in the New York Times.  Kevin, who lives in Arkansas and has visited Square Books previously, will join Karen Russell and Tom Franklin on Saturday, March 26 at 4 p.m.

Justin Taylor’s new novel, The Gospel of Anarchy, is the follow up to his debut collection of short stories, Everything Here is the Best Thing Ever, a staff favorite at Square Books.

There are many other notable authors appearing at this year’s conference, which includes the first panel on graphic novels, one that includes recent best graphic novel of the year nominee (National Cartoonist Society) Joyce Farmer, Michael Kupperman, Joe Matt, and Jack Pendarvis.   The “Comic Book Auteurs” panel will be held Saturday, March 26 at 2 p.m.

A full list of writers and participants at the conference as well as a detailed schedule can be found here.

To read the full New York Times review for Karen Russell’s Swamplandia! go here.

To read the full New York Times review for Téa Obreht’s The Tiger’s Wife go here

To read the full New York Times review for Kevin Brockmeier’s The Illumination please go here

Writer and Holocaust Survivor Arnost Lustig remembered

We mourn the recent loss of Czech writer Arnost Lustig, whose stories and novels that primarily deal with the experiences of children in the Holocaust earned him broad acclaim.   Lustig had been sent to Theresienstadt in 1942 when he was 15 years old, a concentration camp that he survived and, later, Auschwitz and Buchenwald.   While being transferred to Dachau in 1945, Lustig escaped from the transport train to freedom, as his mother, father, and many other family members were killed in the Holocaust.   After the war he lived in Prague, where he worked as a journalist and became associated with a group of writers that included Vaclav Havel.  Lustig managed to escape the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia that overtook the reform movement with which he had been involved, and moved to the United States in 1970, where he lived the remainder of his life, writing and teaching at American University in Washington.  
In 1996 Northwestern University Press, one of the noblest of publishers of literature in translation, received a grant to promote some of its authors.   Square Books and the Oxford community were the grateful beneficiaries of several visits from these authors, including two Holocaust survivors, Lucien Duckstein and, later, Arnost Lustig, considered by many as the greatest Holocaust novelist, author of Children of the Holocaust and Street of Lost Brothers and winner of the Jewish Book Award and acknowledgment from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.   Duckstein came to Oxford along with the translator of the book about his Holocaust experience, Lucien's Story, and reading at Square Books and meeting with two classes at Oxford High School.   Lustig gave a memorable reading at the old Off Square Books on a cold night, November 8, 1996.   He later signed to Lisa and me a copy of his novel, The Unloved -- "with thanks, and love." RH
For more info read this article in the New York Times here.

Kate DiCamillo is coming to Square Books, Jr. on Saturday, May 14

We're excited to announce that Newberry award-winning author, Kate DiCamillo will be coming to Square Books, Jr. in May. DiCamillo is the author of some of our favorite children's books including The Magician's Elephant, The Tale of Despereaux, Because of Winn-Dixie, Great Joy, the Mercy Watson series and many, many more. You don't want to miss this event with one of today's best children's authors.