2012 BEA Yearbook Awards

The 2012 Book Expo of America (BEA) took place last week at the Javitz Center in NYC.  This was my third year attending.   I plan to intersperse BEA stories in posts about specific books in the months to come, but for now here are some highlights you might be interested in checking out on your own:

  • Best Blogger Best-ie - No surprises here.  Lori @TNBBC was my designated driver for BEA 2012, showing up at promptly 5:30 AM every morning with an extra DD Mocha Latte in the cup holder.  She was wonderful.  No.  Really.  SHE WAS WONDERFUL!  She kept us focused, made me attend events I totally would have missed out on otherwise, and was my touchstone throughout the entire conference.  At one point another blogger said to me - Every time I see you you’re together.  Which made me feel incredibly lucky.  Because even though we did in fact split up quite a bit – I’m fortunate to have a friend who is never boring, with whom I always have tons to discuss, and doesn’t take offense when I get cranky and give a low growl of warning.   Best of all:  she did an incredible re-cap of a bunch of stuff we did together which means I don’t have to!

Of course, she had some tough competition this year.  We spent a goodly amount of time with The Picky Girl, Amy Reads, Alex who reviews at Romance Books Forum and Sally from The Insatiable BookSluts.   These ladies (and their knowledge of Brooklyn ice cream parlors) took my BEA to the next level. *waves*

  • Favorite Small Presses – There’s no one winner in this category!  Being new to the translation/international lit market, I still get a thrill from quizzing publishers on their new releases.  Sadly a lot of the Indie publishers – who in my opinion lead the industry in making international authors and translations available to the rest of us – were not in attendance this year.  Europa, New Directions, Two Dollar Radio and PEN (obviously not a publisher, but too important to the category not to mention) didn’t have booths. Fortunately, the University presses were still there in full force, as were perennial favorites Soho, Soft Skull, Tin House, Red Hen and Other Presses.  Coach House, a Canadian Publisher I first encountered a few years ago at the Brooklyn Book Festival made their BEA debut this year as well.
  • Prettiest Book – University of Minnesota is distributing these stunning Univocal paperback letterpress editions of various philosophers.  The books displayed featured translations into English, amongst them philosophers who I believe are fairly contemporary (but don’t quote me on that).  Philosophy, I’m embarrassed to say, is a category I neglect.  But these beautiful books make me not care whether or not I understand what’s inside them.  And you can see the craftmanship that is put into each one in the video below.

Actually, University of Minnesota was a winner overall for me.  They’re also publishing an intriguing Japanese author – Kawamati Chiaki – who I’ll have more to say about in the weeks to come.

  • Most Likely To Win A Literary Award (Actually, I think it already has…) - Tin House has a French translation coming out in October – Beside the Sea by Véronique Olmi – which I’ll be moving to the front of my TBR queue.  At 119 pages I should have no problem fitting it in.  Here’s the publisher’s haunting description:

A single mother takes her two sons on a trip to the seaside.  They stay in a hotel, drink hot chocolate, and go to the carnival.  She wants to protect them from an uncaring and uncomprehending world.  She knows that it will be the last trip for her boys.

With language as captivating as the story that unfolds, Véronique Olmi creates an intimate portrait of madness and despair…

  • Person I’d Most Like to Have Coffee With – Che Guevara’s widow Aleida March has written a memoir with her daughter entitled Remembering Che:  My Life with Che Guevara.  It has taken over 10 years to convince her to tell her version of events.  The book marks the first time she is speaking publicly about her life with Che.  Aleida March is a fascinating person in her own right – she and her husband met as fellow guerrillas in the Cuban revolution.  Better yet, the book came out in April so there’s no need to wait for my review.
  • Book I Camped Out For – That would be Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s The Prisoner of Heaven.  By fangirl standards, it was in no way as hectic as I thought it would be. I was there 1-1/2 hours ahead of time, but the line didn’t start forming until a 1/2 hour before.  I love the cover… and while I know that each of these books can be read as a stand alone, I think I’ll need to go back and read the other two again to refresh my memory.  Poor me.
  • Most Likely to Be Overlooked -  Russia was the featured nation – which in typical BEA fashion wasn’t really ‘featured’.  There were panels to attend, but the actual booth was allllllll the way off to the side of the main floor, next to the e-readers.  (I passed by on my way to the McSweeney’s and Red Hen booths). Which is a shame, as Overlook Press put together a wonderful Anthology entitled READ RUSSIA! specifically, I think, for BEA (If anyone knows if there are  plans to sell it in stores please leave a comment).  There were stacks for the taking all around the Russia booths, but how many people knew about them?

The final verdict: BEA 2012 was a blast!  It’s always nice to be in the midst of bookish folk.

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11-ish Things I Learned at BEA 2011

In no particularly order -

  • The HarperCollins team is just as awesome in real life as they are in emails & on twitter. They publish great books AND they throw a hell of a party.  What more can you ask for?
  • Have you seen the vlog, Books Are My Boyfriends? If not, you need to!  Kit is exactly like that in real life. Super friendly, super upbeat and a lot of fun to be around.
  • Margaret Atwood’s agent, a  sweet woman who has worked with Ms. Atwood for decades, calls her “Peggy”.
  • If you get a tattoo of the Two Dollar Radio logo – which is a nifty, retro line drawing of a radio – they give you their entire collection of books for free. F-R-E-E. That’s their entire backlist, plus all the new books they publish as long as the company is in business. But you need to provide proof. Two Dollar Radio, you’ll be hearing from me soon…
  • Greg Olear, author of Totally KillerFather-Mucker (coming out in October) and Senior Editor at The Nervous Breakdown is almost as obsessed with Stephen Colbert as I am. He may disagree. We’ll be arm wrestling BEA 2012 to determine who loves Stephen more. That is, unless one of us can produce an actual restraining order with both Stephen and your name on it (might as well clarify the rules up front) before then.
  • Chuck Palahniuk may be the nicest person on the planet. Seriously. He signed 175 galleys of his new book (as reported by @andrewtshaffer), all personalized, had something nice to say to everyone, never stopped smiling AND posed for pictures. Don’t think that makes him nice?  Imagine how many times he probably had to listen to “The first rule of BEA…”

    "I'm so glad you loved CHOKE.... here, have a seed packet"

  • Speaking of lines. When Random House organizes a line, they ORGANIZE a line. And nobody f#@!$ with the Random House line…. *low and menacing voice*no-body.
  • You need to be following Kim from Sophisticated Dorkiness & Anastasia from Birdbrain(ed) Book Blog.  They’re amazing.  Kim is my go-to girl for Non-Fiction. Anastasia is a YA guru.
  • Less than 400 translations are published yearly in the U.S., including technical manuals. That’s right, the instructions for your cell phone and the pictograph telling you how to put together your IKEA LACK table are part of that number.
  • Romance authors get slightly offended when you tell them you don’t review romances, particularly if you mention your blog is named BookSexy Review.
  •  Levi Asher & I cornered Evil Wylie  (O.K., so he didn’t look all that cornered. In fact he looked quite comfortable, smiling and with a drink in hand. He even gave me a button.) and questioned him on why Simone de Beauvoir & Jean Paul Sartre made it into Andrew Shaffer’s new book on Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love. He makes a strong and convincing case on why they belong there, despite what those French Canadians say.
  • Levi Asher is now publishing the equivalent to small chapbooks on the Amazon Kindle. I just bought Why Ayn Rand is Wrong (& Why It Matters). His blog Literary Kicks is probably the oldest literary blog in the country and Levi is my personal blogger icon. If you are looking for a smart discussion of literature & philosophy (& who isn’t?) Litkicks is the place to be.
  • Did you hear about my amazing reunion with Lori from The Next Best Book Blog… all thanks to Book Expo 2011 & Random House?  That’s right, they’re not just “Bringing you the best in fiction, nonfiction & children’s books”... they’re bringing people together. (Hallmark, watch out!)
  • Rachel from A Home Between Pages and I had an incredibly awkward introduction/conversation at that same Random House party. But she eventually forgave me (I think).  In person, she is the Goddess of Snarkiness.  I will be following her like our parents followed The Grateful Dead.
  • The entire population of Iceland is now writing thrillers. Fortunately the entire population consists of only 318,452 people.
  • And, finally, I have seen the shy & elusive Reading Ape

from left to right: Books Are My Boyfriends, the fabulous Margaret Atwood & her lovely agent, The Next Best Book Blog (& Club, for you Goodreads fans), and BookSexy Review

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