Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Salvage the Bones: Fresh & Original Fiction

This week we are honored to have a special guest blogger, George Gibson, Publishing Director of Bloomsbury USA. Here he will discuss a book that has already captivated the minds of booksellers here at Warwick's, and after hearing George's words it is sure to captivate you too.
"I have to confess that, though I am the publisher of Bloomsbury in the U.S., and Bloomsbury publishes a lot of fiction, I have never edited a novel in my life. I'm comfortable editing any kind of non-fiction, even if I don't know the subject; but I wouldn't trust myself to project into a novelist's mind, to be able to see when something isn't working and suggest solutions. That said, I love to read fiction, and experience the same thrill seasoned fiction editors enjoy when discovering a fresh voice, someone who expresses her/himself in a seemingly original way. That's the feeling I got from the first sentence of Jesmyn Ward's novel Salvage the Bones, which Bloomsbury has recently published. It is set in a small, poor town on the Mississippi Gulf coast, in the 11 days leading up to Hurricane Katrina. The narrator, Esch, 14 years old, is pregnant; her mother has died; he father is an alcoholic; her brothers dream impossible dreams; and despite the tensions between them, they manage to hold onto each other, even as the devastating storm strikes. But while the characters are utterly memorable, especially Esch, it is Jesmyn Ward's voice, her skill with language, descriptive and conversational, that pulls one in and keeps the pages turning. I have to say her description of the storm, as Esch's family scrambles to survive it, is better than anything I have read elsewhere about Katrina. All great tragedies have their literature, and now with Dave Eggers' nonfiction Zeitoun, and Jesmyn Ward's Salvage the Bones, Katrina has a literature."

"And now, to top it off, Salvage the Bones has named one of five finalists for the National Book Award, the winner to be announced on November 16th. It is so gratifying when someone you feel has enormous skills and deserves to be discovered by readers everywhere is recognized for that talent."

"It is also enormously gratifying to collaborate with Warwick's. I know this is the store's web site, and I'm therefore preaching to the choir, but it deserves to be said: There simply isn't a better bookstore anywhere in the country. At a tumultuous time in the book industry, one thing is very clear: Our culture absolutely needs independent bookstores to survive and thrive, for without them our communities would lose an irreplaceable anchor. I don't need to tell you how terrific Warwick's is. This holiday season, I would urge you to buy one or two extra books there than you might ordinarily purchase, and give them to someone deserving. The world will be a little better place for that."

-George Gibson, Publishing Director, Bloomsbury USA

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