Qian Julie Wang is an Ivy League trained litigator and managing partner of New York City’s prestigious Gottlieb & Wang LLP – a law firm specializing in advocacy for immigrants and people of color. As an undocumented child of struggling Chinese émigrés, Wang had ample reasons to believe her future would not be so bright. During her formative years, the family’s “illegal” status took a toll on everything: their housing stability, her parents’ marriage and health, as well as Wang’s own self- worth and identity. These childhood trials and traumas form the basis of Wang’s anticipated debut Beautiful Country – a heartrending memoir drafted almost entirely on her iPhone while she commuted to and from her Brooklyn law office. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly raves: “While the author’s story of pursuing the American dream is undoubtedly timeless, it’s her family’s triumph in the face of xenophobia and intolerance that makes it feel especially relevant today.” Beautiful Country hits shelves in September.
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Angeline Boulley is a member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, and former director of the Office of Indian Education at the US. Department of Education. Her upbringing and first-hand knowledge of Native life inform Boulley’s blockbuster YA debut Firekeeper’s Daughter. The instant #1 New York Times bestseller centers around Daunis Fontaine, a biracial Anishinaabe teenager described by the author as “an Indigenous Nancy Drew.” Fontaine finds herself part of an undercover FBI operation to root out the source of a lethal narcotic ravaging the Ojibwe reservations in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. In a starred review, Publisher’s Weekly praises the novel for its treatment of “hard issues such as citizenship, language revitalization, and the corrosive presence of drugs on Native communities.” Higher Ground – the production company of Barack and Michelle Obama – is currently adapting Firekeeper’s Daughter for a series on Netflix. Boulley’s debut is also one of 2021’s young adult picks for Reese Witherspoon’s popular Hello Sunshine Book Club.
Mystery phenom Rachell Howzell Hall is the pen behind the four-volume Elouise “Lou” Norton series. Readers and critics laud Hall’s intrepid and memorable lead as “a strong and likeable African American detective… with few equals” (Library Journal). Hall’s hometown of Los Angeles serves as the backdrop for the series – as well as most of her standalone works. These include book club favorite And Now She’s Gone (2020), which put Hall in contention for three of the genre’s coveted accolades: the Anthony, Barry, and Shamus awards. Hall is also known for co-authoring the page-turning novella The Good Sister, published in 2017 as part of James Patterson’s bestselling anthology The Family Lawyer. Hall’s latest thriller, These Toxic Things, hits shelves on September 1, 2021. In this “refreshing take on the serial killer theme” (Publishers Weekly), a young freelance artist unexpectedly comes into possession of a former client’s curios collection – and soon discovers that these trinkets are not as innocuous as they first seemed.
Ian Manuel is a name well known to legal and criminal justice reform advocates. Sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for a crime committed at the age of 13, Manuel languished in prison for 26 years. Thanks to a coalition of supporters, including renowned activist Bryan Stevenson and the woman shot by Manuel in 1990, Manuel received a fair resentencing from the Florida Court of Appeal in 2010. His story is told in Stevenson’s #1 New York Times bestseller Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption (2014), as well as in two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Nicholas Kristof’s Tightrope: Americans Reach for Hope (2020). Manuel finally tells the story in his own words in My Time Will Come: A Memoir of Crime, Punishment, Hope, and Redemption, one of the most anticipated memoirs of 2021. In it, the author candidly chronicles his turbulent childhood in Tampa, harrowing experiences in prison (including 18 years in solitary confinement), and his continual search for self-improvement, atonement, and – above all – justice.
Michelle Zauner is a darling of the modern indie music scene, better known by fans under her solo project alias Japanese Breakfast. Zauner’s family moved to the United States from South Korea when she was just months old. She spent her formative years as one of only a handful of Asian American students in her Eugene, Oregon neighborhood and school. The young songwriter grappled with her own “sense of Koreanness” then – and continued her journey of self-discovery while attending college and finding her footing in the East Coast music scene. Zauner fronted the Philadelphia-based rock band Little Big League from 2011-2014, before her mother’s unexpected cancer diagnosis compelled her to return home to Oregon. During this time, Zauner began to compose and record solo music, including the acclaimed album Psychopomp. She shared her story in 2018 in a viral New Yorker essay. Zauner’s unflinching, book-length memoir, titled Crying in H Mart, hit shelves April 20.
Lawrence Wright is an acclaimed journalist, screenwriter and novelist. His impressive ten nonfiction titles to date include The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction. Wright also executive produced a 10-episode miniseries adapted from this 2006 exposé (starring Alec Baldwin and Jeff Daniels) for Hulu in 2018. His explosive follow-up, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief, likewise received the screen treatment. Wright co-produced a 2015 film adaptation that won three Emmys (including for Best Documentary), along with the prestigious Peabody Award. Wright’s recent fiction includes the eerily prescient novel The End of October, a 2020 medical thriller about a virus that originates in Asia before ravaging the globe. According to The New York Times Book Review, “Wright applies the magisterial force of his reporting skills, spinning a novel of pestilence, war and social collapse that – given the current pandemic – cuts exceedingly close to the bone.”
Food Network favorite Abby Jimenez is an award-winning pastry chef, and the owner of the world-famous Nadia Cakes cupcakery and custom cake studio. A self-taught baker, Jimenez won Food Network’s competitive Cupcake Wars in 2012. She parlayed her successes into her Minnesota-based small business, which now boasts outlets in Maple Grove, Woodbury, and Palmdale, California. Jimenez is also a USA Today bestselling romance writer. Publishers Weekly commended her debut, The Friend Zone, noting that “biting wit and laugh-out-loud moments take priority, but the novel remains subtle in its sentimentality and sneaks up on the reader with unanticipated depth.” Jimenez brings this same formula to Life’s Too Short, which hits shelves April 6. It follows a globe-trotting social media superstar whose carefree lifestyle hits a road bump when she unexpectedly comes into custody of her baby niece. In a glowing review, romance mainstay Katherine St. John praised Jimenez’s latest for “refreshingly real characters and compulsively readable prose… clear your schedule, because you won’t be able to put this delicious book down!”
Therese Anne Fowler is a perennial favorite among historical fiction readers. She is perhaps best known for Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald (2014). Z showcases the incredible life and historic times of Zelda Sayre, the reckless Southern belle who married and inspired literary superstar F. Scott Fitzgerald. Amazon Studios turned the book into a period drama, Z: The Beginning of Everything, starring Christina Ricci and co-produced by Fowler herself. Fowler’s next novel, the New York Times and USA Today bestseller A Well-Behaved Woman, profiles the iron-willed Alva Vanderbilt. Matriarch of one of the Gilded Age’s richest families, Vanderbilt gained a notoriety in her own right as an early and instrumental leader in the universal suffrage movement. Fowler’s latest novel, A Good Neighborhood, turns the spotlight from historic luminaries to everyday Americans. Set in modern times in a tight-knit suburban community, A Good Neighborhood “traverses the topics of love, race and class” and asks whether families with diametrically opposed worldviews can be authentically neighborly (Kirkus Reviews).
Robert Kolker is an established and esteemed investegative reporter. Long known in journalism circles for his exposés in New York Magazine and Bloomgberg News, Kolker became one of the nation’s most read nonfiction writers (almost overnight) after the April 2020 publication of Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family. Now a #1 New York Times bestseller, Hidden Valley Road centers around the 12-child Galvin family in post-WWII Colorado. Considered a paragon of domestic prosperity and bliss by friends and neighbors, the Galvins harbored dark secrets. Hereditary schizophrenia – diagnosed in six family members – eventually came to light as the culprit, but only after the Galvins’ story had confounded medical science for years. Oprah Winfrey recently selected Hidden Valley Road for her reimagined Oprah’s Book Club, bringing Kolker to a still wider audience. In 2020, Netflix released the feature film Lost Girls – based on Kolker’s 2013 book of the same name – which tracks the murder spree and clues trail of an as-yet-unidentified serial killer.
Chart-topping historian H.W. Brands is one of the foremost American Studies scholars writing today – and also one of the most prolific. With nearly 40 published books to date, his work spans more than three decades of dedicated scholarship and nearly every epoch of American history. Brands’ areas of speciality include economic history and global policy, as well as biographies on presidents and other change-makers who shaped our nation. He is a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, for The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin (2000) and Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (2008). Brands’ latest is The Zealot and the Emancipator: John Brown, Abraham Lincoln, and the Struggle for American Freedom. Brands’ incisive look at the abolition of slavery gained wide acclaim. Library Journal calls it “a fascinating and wonderfully readable portrayal of the tensions between fiery militancy and determined-but-measured devotion in working toward a goal.”