I spent this past Friday and Saturday surrounded by books at the Southern Independent Booksellers Association (SIBA) trade show in Norfolk, Virginia. The show is meant to bring together booksellers, authors and sales representatives to share ideas and highlight upcoming titles. Though it is not open to the public, SIBA offers memberships to bloggers to attend and build positive relationships with the independent bookstore community.
I attended several panels and sessions while at SIBA, but was most impressed with the War Time Authors panel, which included Laird Hunt (Neverhome), Allegra Jordan (The End of Innocence), Olivia deBelle Byrd (Save My Place), Michael Pitre (Fives and Twenty-Fives) and was moderated by Paulette Livers (Cementville). I was so excited to hear Laird Hunt read from Neverhome and was blown away by the insight in Michael Pitre’s discussion of the Iraq War.
SIBA also has a show floor that is similar to a scaled-down version of BEA. I realized pretty quickly that I should take advantage of the reps and their knowledge in order to get some personal recommendations. I started telling them my specific preferences and ended up with some great upcoming picks. Many of these are looking pretty far ahead, but here are a few of the books I left most excited for.
Welcome to Braggsville by T. Geronimo Johnson (February 17th, 2015)
“Born and raised in the heart of old Dixie, D’aron Davenport finds himself in unfamiliar territory his freshman year at UC Berkeley. Two thousand miles and a world away from his childhood, he is a small-town fish floundering in the depths of a large, hyper-liberal pond. Caught between the prosaic values of his rural hometown and the intellectualized multicultural cosmopolitanism of Berzerkeley, the nineteen-year-old white kid is uncertain about his place until one disastrous party brings him three idiosyncratic best friends: Louis, a ‘kung-fu comedian’ from California; Candice, an earnest do-gooder claiming Native roots from Iowa; and Charlie, an introspective inner-city black teen from Chicago. They dub themselves the ‘4 Little Indians.'”
The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant (December 9th, 2014)
“Addie Baum is The Boston Girl, born in 1900 to immigrant parents who were unprepared for and suspicious of America and its effect on their three daughters. Growing up in the North End, then a teeming multicultural neighborhood, Addie’s intelligence and curiosity take her to a world her parents can’t imagine—a world of short skirts, movies, celebrity culture, and new opportunities for women.”
Where All Light Tends to Go by David Joy (March 3rd, 2015)
“The area surrounding Cashiers, North Carolina, is home to people of all kinds, but the world that Jacob McNeely lives in is crueler than most. His father runs a methodically organized meth ring, with local authorities on the dime to turn a blind eye to his dealings. Having dropped out of high school and cut himself off from his peers, Jacob has been working for this father for years, all on the promise that his payday will come eventually. The only joy he finds comes from reuniting with Maggie, his first love, and a girl clearly bound for bigger and better things than their hardscrabble town.”