NPR posted a new review  of Jen Lin-Liu's On the Noodle Road.  In it, the reviewer says of the book, “The offering that lingers longest is that capacity for wonder and empathy which opens up between hosts and visitors in even the most closed societies. It makes you wish that the world’s cultures could mingle more freely, making peace by breaking bread. For now, though, this book stands as a tantalizing glimpse of what might be.”

Get your copy here

In 1936, a rowing team from the University of Washington stunned the world by winning a gold medal in eight-oar crew at the Berlin Olympics in front of a crowd that included Adolph Hitler and Joseph Goebbels.
The sons of American loggers, farmers and shipyard workers defeated elite European teams, grabbing the attention of millions of Americans and transforming the sport.

Daniel James Brown tells their story in his new book The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Olympics

Listen to NPR’s “Here and Now” interview with Daniel James Brown about his fascinating new book.

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Fallen Land
, the new thriller by Patrick Flanery, was recently the object of some spectacular, laudatory reviews. 

Certainly not beating around the bush, The Boston Globe  doled out comparisons to Shirley Jackson and Edgar Allen Poe, writing that Flanery’s “crumbling 21st-century manor … can hold its own among those authors’ most sepulchral, allegorical inspirations." 

NPR's All Things Considered calls Fallen Land "a dark and complex thriller,” and praises Flanery’s “taut narrative where the characters see their lives slowly disintegrate as their lives twine together.”

James McBride and his new novel, The Good Lord Bird, have been the recipients of truly stellar advance praise–most notably from The New York Times, “A magnificent new novel by the best-selling author James McBride … a brilliant romp of a novel … McBride—with the same flair for historical mining, musicality of voice and outsize characterization that made his memoir The Color of Water, an instant classic—pulls off his portrait masterfully, like a modern-day Mark Twain: evoking sheer glee with every page.”

The Chicago Tribune  calls the novel “unexpectedly hilarious” and likens the reading experience to “sitting in with a great jazz band." 

The Washington Post  maintains  that The Good Lord Bird  is "akin to the work of Homer.”Marie Arana says, “A boisterous, highly entertaining, altogether original novel by James Mcbride … There is something deeply humane in this [story], something akin to the work of Homer or Mark Twain. We tend to forget that history is all too often made by fallible beings who make mistakes, calculate badly, love blindly and want too much. We forget, too, that real life presents utterly human heroes with far more contingency than history books can offer. McBride’s Little Onion—a sparkling narrator who is sure to win new life on the silver screen—leads us through history’s dark corridors, suggesting that ‘truths’ may actually lie elsewhere.”


It seems, Mr. McBride, that you’re in good company!

Drama High
, a new work of nonfiction by Michael Sokolove, has been receiving across-the-board praise from a variety of outlets. 

Kirkus  calls the book “memorable and uplifting,” while Publishers Weekly  dubs it “a moving tribute to the power of the arts.”

According to The Christian Science Monitor, Drama High is "emotional, inspiring, and transcends simple cliches.“

Most impressively, Booklist  praises Drama High  as ”a powerful look at the way a dynamic and dedicated teacher can change lives.“

You can purchase your copy here

In Their Own Words -- Robert Hillman

The stories told in The Honey Thief  are versions of the  tales my friend and co-author Najaf Mazari enjoyed during his early life in  Afgahistan. He worked as a shepherd until the age of eleven, alone all day in  the high pastures of the Hindu Kush. When he returned  to the family’s tent in the evening, cold and hungry, his father and eldest  brother would reward him with a tale. Both were accomplished storytellers and  vied to provide the more gripping story. Most of the tales in the tradition of  Najaf’s people, the Hazara, are altered or enhanced in the retelling. It would  be thought lazy and a little bit shameful for the storyteller to repeat a tale  exactly as it was told in the past. In our retelling of the Hazara stories,  Najaf and I have given ourselves complete liberty to convey our take on Hazara  culture. We have gone further: a number of the stories are set in contemporary  Afghanistan,  some during the Russian occupation, some in era of the Taliban, each of them  rendered in the idiom of the much older tales.

In Hazara culture, the influence of the written word  has largely been restricted to the sacred texts of Islam. The Hazara did not  read novels (although you might take a look at the role Mark Twain plays in  story seven of The Honey Thief ) and outside of school, works of non-fiction  were considered best left to the professors. But the oral tradition of  storytelling amongst the Hazara has for centuries been one of the richest in  the Middle East. In Najaf’s  village of Shar Shar, wandering storytellers would visit in the  winter and duel around the fire, one story after another, the prize awarded  only when both storytellers were exhausted.

The traditional tales of the Hazara recorded upheavals, disasters, triumphs, changes of fortune. All the stories concluded with a  thundering moral, even if the tale didn’t particularly bear the moral out. It was the storyteller’s duty to convince the listeners that his tales were  morally instructive. But in fact, entertainment, much more than sermonizing, was the what the audience relished.

And entertainment is the priority in the stories told inThe Honey Thief.  A village  beauty who scorns all her suitors, but falls for a young man who reads her Huckleberry Finn; a hunter who reveals both the lair of the snow leopard and  the mystery of life to an English wildlife enthusiast; a mute boy who wins a voice and the love of his sweetheart when he masters the wooden flute; a genius amongst professional  poisoners who sends toxic gnats on a journey of a thousand miles to satisfy a client: these stories, and a further half dozen, place on display the sheer joy of the oral tradition, put between the covers of a  book. 

In the opening chapter of The Honey Thief,  Najaf speaks of the way in which these stories helped to make him the man he is: “When I meet a Hazara, I don’t say: ‘Nice to meet you, I am Hazara too.’ There is no need. We  will greet each other in a different way than we greet people who are not of  our tribe. We will be both excited and shy at the one time. Excited because we are brothers; shy because without even knowing his name, the man I am talking  to can see deep into my heart. And if this man says: ‘I have no bed for the  night, I have no bed for the next year,’ I will say: ‘You have a bed in my house.’ As we stand facing each other, hundreds of years of good news and sad news flow between us. We are made from the same clay; or better say, we have
heard the same stories.”

For a free exam copy of this wonderful book, email to

JFK’S LAST HUNDRED DAYS by Thurston Clarke has just received accolades from The Wall Street Journal and The Economist. WSJ featured the book in the provocative article “JFK and Jackie’s Secret Life Between the Covers,” and the Economist called it “an enjoyable snapshot of the day-to-day workings of the presidency." 

LAST HUNDRED DAYS is available now, timed to commemorate the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination. Click the title to order.

, the 28th U.S. President’s new biography by Pulitzer-Prize winner A. Scott Berg, has been receiving near-universal acclaim. In the Library Journal’s starred review, WILSON was dubbed a “thorough, entertaining account … This excellent biography is long, but given Wilson’s remarkable life and considerable list of accomplishments, one would expect nothing less.”

In a second starred review, Booklist  praised Berg’s “astute, sensitive understanding of the man and his presidency. [His] research is deep and thorough and—important for a wide readership—comfortably couched in a graceful, smooth presentation.”

Also, keep an eye out for extensive print and broadcast coverage in the New York Times, Washington Post, and a 6-page spread in Vanity Fair! Broadcast coverage includes: “CBS Sunday Morning” and NPR’s “Fresh Air” on September 8th, “The Colbert Report” on Sept 9, and more with airing dates TBD. 

On July 9th, NPR interviewed The Penguin Press’s Alfredo Corchado, author of Midnight in Mexico: A Reporter’s Journey Through a Country’s Descent into Darkness.  Corchado discusses the “value of journalism” as a way to find hope in a country ravaged by violence, drugs and political and social corruption. Listen to the whole thing, or read a brief preamble on Corchado’s life and some highlights from the interview, here

NPR has chosen three new Penguin titles for its “Best of the Summer: 6 Books the Critics Adore” list! One critic writes that And the Mountains Echoed  made “the world fall away,” adding that she “truly could not put it down until she finished it.”

The chosen Penguin titles are the novels And the Mountains Echoed  by Khaled Hosseini and The Sound of Things Falling  by Juan Gabriel Vasquez, as well as the memoir She Left Me the Gun  by Emma Brockes. 

Read or listen to the full reviews over at NPR’s summer 2013 Critic’s Lists

Mo Yan Wins the Nobel Prize in Literature

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       One of the most controversial
       and oft-banned novelists of our time,
       Mo Yan, has won the Nobel Prize
       in Literature.

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In the words of John Englund, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, Yan’s works explore “hallucinatory realism [and merge] folk tales, history and the contemporary.” Penguin is proud to have published his most famous work, Red Sorghum, since 1994. It is translated from the original Chinese by the acclaimed Howard Goldblatt. Complex in its structure, Red Sorgum  displays Yan’s most masterful prose, twisting together tales of staggering horror against a backdrop of surreal beauty. The novel has been praised in both its native China and the Western world, and has been adapted into an Oscar-nominated film of the same name.

“We are delighted Mo Yan has won the Nobel Prize in Literature,” said Kathryn Court, President and Publisher of Penguin Books. “[Red Sorghum] is a title that continues to sell for us and has strong course adoption. With this prize it will gain a whole new audience.”

Speaking of his work’s influence, Yan has stated, “A writer should express criticism and indignation at the dark side of society and the ugliness of human nature, but we should not use one uniform expression. Some may want to shout on the street, but we should tolerate those who hide in their rooms and use literature to voice their opinions.” This philosophy of giving voice to the mute is an inimitable hallmark of his writings.

Mo Yan’s induction marks Penguin’s 23rd published Nobel Prize winner. Included in this list are such monoliths as William Faulkner, T.S. Eliot, Nadine Gordimer, Selma Lagerlof, and J.M. Coetzee. 

Read the New York Times article on Mo Yan’s latest achievement. 

Terry Teachout’s new biography, Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington, has garnered some impressive criticism. 

In a starred review, Booklist  calls it “comprehensive and well-researched … important … [an] entertaining and valuable biography.” 

Publishers Weekly hails it as "revealing … neatly balances colorful anecdote with shrewd character assessments and musicological analysis, and … manages to debunk Ellington’s self-mythologizing, while preserving his stature as the man who caught jazz’s ephemeral genius in a bottle.” The publication has also named it one of their Top 10 Music Books of 2013. 

California's American Rag  says of Teachout’s new work that it’s “destined to be [Ellington’s] definitive biography.”

“Teachout’s writing is clear, the facts seem to be well supported both from previously published sources and from interviews, and some of the awareness that the author provides (e.g., the extent to which Ellington was a collaborative composer who used ideas from his band members) will expand readers’ view of the man who was perhaps the greatest jazz composer of the 20th century. Photographs sprinkled throughout are well chosen to provide support to Teachout’s points in the text.”–Library Journal

In addition, expect to see Duke make national media appearances in the Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair, and JazzTimes Magazine. 

Advance praise for CHURCHILL AND THE KING by Kenneth Weisbrode: 

Here’s a heap of praise for CHURCHILL AND THE KING. Well-timed, considering another landmark royal event

Churchill and the King is a thoughtful, deeply insightful account of two unconventional friends – the shy, stammering George VI and the flamboyant Winston Churchill – who, after triumphing over their own personal adversities, join forces to rally their countrymen and inspire the world in the dark days of World War II.“

– Lynne Olson , Author of Citizens of London, Troublesome Young Men, and  Those Angry Days

“Weisbrode’s excellent book on Churchill’s relationship with King George VI is very well done and will take an honoured place on my Churchill shelf.”

– Paul Johnson, author of Modern Times and Churchill

"In this well-researched and well-written book, [Kenneth Weisbrode] shows how what began as a professional necessity turned into a genuine friendship, and eventually one of the best working relationships of either man’s life.”

– Andrew Roberts, author of The Storm of War and Masters and Commanders

“The shy, stammering King and the loquacious, domineering Prime Minister were an odd couple–but they gave each other courage and confidence when England stood alone. Ken Weisbrode has written an elegant and perceptive study of friendship in power.”

– Evan Thomas, author of Ike’s Bluff and Sea of Thunder

Terry Lenzner’s THE INVESTIGATOR has been lauded by virtually every corner of the political Left. 

The latest boost is from Victor S. Navasky, author of National Book Award winner and former editor of The Nation. 

He writes, “Terry Lenzner is unique in combining his life as a brilliant, dogged, energetic, creative, no-holds-barred investigator with a deep and abiding commitment to human and civil rights and liberties.”

Other nods of approval have come from figures like Cokie Roberts of NPR and ABC, who calls Lenzner “the pre-eminent private investigator of our time” who has participated in “history-making moments." 

Author Jonathan Alter also praised Lenzner as a "great storyteller and a shrewd judge of character." 


New publicity for ON THE NOODLE ROAD by Jen Lin-Liu

In case you missed Jen Lin-Liu’s terrific interview with Linda Wertheimer about ON THE NOODLE ROAD on NPR Weekend Edition, you can listen to the segment here.  Great reviews for the book also ran in both the  Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune Printers Rowyesterday. The LA Times  calls Lin-Liu a “savvy cultural guide,” and her book “an intelligent beach read that will set your stomach rumbling,” while Printers Row called the book an “ambitious adventure” filled with “numerous and rich literary meals.”  

USA Today  also named it a new and noteworthy release for this week.
The Wall Street Journal’s Scene Asia blog interviewed Jen this morning in Chengdu for a profile set to run later this week, and a review for the book will appear in the next Entertainment Weekly, which will hit stands this Friday. 

Rave reviews continue for Jean Thompson's―THE HUMANITY PROJECT

“[THE HUMANITY PROJECT] is a forthright piece of social criticism … it is ambitious and largely captivating, and many of the passages, especially those describing the Bay Area, are luscious and evocative.” ―New York Times Book Review

“Thompson achieves exceptional clarity and force in this instantly addictive, tectonically shifting novel. As always, her affection and compassion for her characters draw you in close, as does her imaginative crafting of precarious situations and moments of sheer astonishment … Thompson infuses her characters’ bizarre, terrifying, and instructive misadventures with hilarity and profundity as she considers the wild versus the civilized, the “survival of the richest,” how and why we help and fail each other, and what it might mean to “build an authentic spiritual self.” Thompson is at her tender and scathing best in this tale of yearning, paradox, and hope.”―Booklist, starred review

You have to admire a book that focuses so tenaciously on big problems (poverty, violence, alienated youth) and manages to empathize with all its characters while refusing to sympathize entirely with any of them—a bracing narrative stance and a tart political viewpoint. If you want an affecting tale about a bunch of sad sacks who manage to pull together to create something useful and find love and stability in the process, this astringent novel is not for you. Instead, Ms. Thompson’s accomplishment is far more interesting: an almost clinical examination of unhappiness, down to its texture and ‘unfresh smell, soft around the edges, like the crumbs you found in the bottom of a coat pocket.’ Ms. Thompson has written an energetically mordant novel about our difficult times, a novel that doesn’t pretend to have any answers, comfortable or otherwise, but that vividly, insistently poses questions we should be asking.”―The New York Times

Great reviews for Gary Greenberg's—THE BOOK OF WOE

Dwight Garner from The New York Times  says that The Book of Woe  is, “[I]ndustrious and perfervid … Mr. Greenberg [argues] that the [DSM] and its authors, the American Psychiatric Association, wield their power arbitrarily and often unwisely, encouraging the diagnosis of too many bogus mental illnesses in patients (binge eating disorder, for example) and too much medication to treat them … Mr. Greenberg argues that psychiatry needs to become more humble, not more certain and aggressive … Greenberg is a fresher, funnier writer. He paces the psychiatric stage as if he were part George Carlin, part Gregory House.”

“Bright, humorous and seriously thoroughgoing, Greenberg takes all the DSMs for a spin as revealing as the emperor’s new clothes.”Kirkus Reviews

Also check out Greenberg’s AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Greenberg gave readers and reddit-ors alike the opportunity to  ask him, well …  anything!