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.