Friday, May 08, 2015

Historical fiction picks at BEA 2015

As in previous years, I’m compiling a guide to the historical novels being promoted at the upcoming BookExpo America (BEA) show, to be held at the Javits Center in New York on May 27-29. The following list is based on BEA’s own list of traditional and in-booth autographing, Publishers Weekly’s “galleys to grab” list, Library Journal's 2015 galley guide, and announcements from publishers. I've added blurbs, booth numbers, etc., to make the list more user-friendly.  Good news: the HF picks are plentiful this year!

For authors with historical novels at BEA who aren't yet included, or to provide corrections, please leave a note in the comments or drop me an email. As always, I recommend cross-checking these dates/times with the BEA site or your program book beforehand to avoid possible disappointment.

This page will be updated as more information is made available.  New listings are indicated with ~new~.  I’ve tried not to cross-list titles, so if an author is doing a galley signing, it will be listed in the 2nd section below, under Author Signings.

Last updated: Sat 5/23, 1pm.

~Galleys to Grab~

Europa Editions (booth 3124):

Chantel Acevedo, The Distant Marvels - political and family saga set in 20th-c Cuba. Author signing TBA.

Graywolf Press (booth 3064):

Paul Kingsnorth, The Wake - resistance against the Norman invaders in 11th-c England; written in a re-created version of Old English.

~new~ Grove Atlantic (booth 939A):

George MacDonald Fraser, Captain in Calico - standalone novel (his first, per the LJ guide) from the late author of the Flashman series, starring 18th-c Caribbean pirate Captain Jack Rackham.

Hachette (booth 2918-9):

Oscar Hijuelos, Twain and Stanley Enter Paradise - lengthy posthumous novel about the friendship between Mark Twain and explorer Henry Morton Stanley.

HarperCollins (booth 2038):

Parnaz Foroutan, The Girl from the Garden - family saga of Persian Jews in early 20th-c Iran.

Adriana Trigiani, All the Stars in the Heavens - Loretta Young in ‘30s Hollywood. Excerpt galleys, also signing on Fri 5/29 at 2pm.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (booth 2541):

~new~ Alexander Chee, The Queen of the Night - a woman "from courtesan to diva" in Paris during the Second Empire

Clare Clark, We That Are Left - two sisters during WWI.

Macmillan (booth 3056):

H. S. Cross, Wilberforce (galley giveaway 5/29, 9am) - adolescent longing in 1926 England.

Elsa Hart, Jade Dragon Mountain (galley giveaway 5/27, 4:30pm) - an exiled Chinese librarian investigates a murder in the 18th century.

Benjamin Johncock, The Last Pilot (galley giveaway 5/28, 10:30am) - marriage and family life at the time of the Space Race.

Penguin Random House (booth 3119):

Alexandra Curry, The Courtesan - Qing dynasty courtesan Sai Jinhua in the late 19th century.

Ottessa Moshfegh, Eileen - crime in early ‘60s Boston area.

Natasha Solomons, The Song of Hartgrove Hall - love, grief, and treachery on an English estate, 1946 and 50 years later.

Simon & Schuster (booth 2620-1):

~new~ Susan Barker, Incarnations - literary speculative fiction; a Beijing taxi driver revisits his past lives, set at various periods in Chinese history.

Lynn Cullen, Twain’s End - the personal life of the famous author.

~new~ Soho Press (booth 3240):
David Downing, One Man's Rag - WWI spy novel featuring Jack McColl

Ruth Galm, Into the Valley - poetic novel about a woman caught between generations in California's Central Valley in the '60s

Sourcebooks (booth 3039):

Kelli Estes, The Girl Who Wrote in Silk (galley giveaway 5/28, 11am) - a modern woman, a Chinese girl from 100 years earlier, and a silk scarf that links them.

Susan Higginbotham, Hanging Mary (galley giveaway 5/28, 2pm) - Mary Surratt and a scheme to save the dying Confederacy.

~Author Signings~

Wednesday, May 27th (exhibit floor opens at 1pm)

~new~1:15-1:45pm, booth 2657 (Mystery Writers of America)
Lori Roy (author of Let Me Die in His Footsteps; title to be signed not given)

2:30-3:30pm, booth 1039 (Algonquin):
B. A. Shapiro, The Muralist - dual-period novel surrounding an artist’s disappearance on the eve of WWII.

2:30-3:30pm, booth 2541 (HMH):
Amy Stewart, Girl Waits with Gun - one of America’s first female deputy sheriffs, set in 1914.

Thursday, May 28th

~new~ 9-10am, booth 3119 (Random House)
Melanie Benjamin, The Swans of Fifth Avenue - friendship between Truman Capote and Babe Paley in '50s NYC.
~new~ 10-10:30am, booth 2657 (Mystery Writers of America)
Lyndsay Faye (author of The Fatal Flame and other thrillers of 1840s NYC; specific titles to be signed not given)

10:30am, booth 3039 (Sourcebooks):
Charles Belfoure, House of Thieves - thriller set in Gilded Age NYC.

10:30-11am, booth 1921 (Norton):
Matthew Guinn, The Scribe - serial murderer in 1881 Atlanta.

10:45am, booth 2657 (Mystery Writers of America):
James R. Benn, The White Ghost - historical mystery, JFK and Billy Boyle in the South Pacific.

~new~ 11-11:30am, booth 3126 (Other Press)
Bruce Bauman, Broken Sleep - "Pynchonesque saga" about rock music, art, politics, and love between the '40s and the year 2020

11am-noon, table 12:
Emily Holleman, Cleopatra’s Shadows - Arsinoe, Cleopatra’s little-known younger sister.

~new~ 11:30-noon, booth 2657 (Mystery Writers of America)
Nancy Bilyeau, The Tapestry - historical thriller about Joanna Stafford, a Dominican novice in the turbulent court of Henry VIII; 3rd in series after The Crown and The Chalice.

Noon, booth 3240 (Soho Press):
James R. Benn, The White Ghost - see above at 10:45am.

1:30-2:30pm, booth 3319 (Penguin Random House):
Geraldine Brooks, The Secret Chord - the story of King David.

~new~ 2-3pm, table 6:
Julianna Baggott, Harriet Wolf's Seventh Book of Wonders -narrative of three women and a lost masterpiece that spans 20th-century history.

2:15pm, booth 649A (Akashic):
~new~ Barbara J. Taylor, Sing in the Morning, Cry at Night - debut novel about the aftermath of a family tragedy, set in an early 20th-c Pennsylvania mining community; wonderful book!

3-4pm, booth 3019 (Hachette):
Jami Attenberg, Saint Mazie - Mazie Phillips and her life in Jazz Age NYC.

~new~ 3-4pm, table 6:
Virginia Baily, Early One Morning - two women save a child during WWII, an action which reverberates even years later.

3:30-4:30pm, booth 3119 (Penguin Random House):
Rebecca Makkai, The Hundred-Year House - quirky “generational saga in reverse.”

3:30-4:30pm, booth 2908 (Harlequin):
Pam Jenoff, The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach - a young Italian woman’s journey and choices during the WWII years.

Friday, May 29th

10-11am, booth 2620-21 (Simon & Schuster):
Alice Hoffman, The Marriage of Opposites - impressionist painter Camille Pissarro’s Jewish mother, Rachel, set on St. Thomas in the 1800s.  Note conflicting info:  the LJ guide indicates Hoffman will be signing The Dovekeepers and Museum of Extraordinary Things instead.

~new~ 10-10:30am, booth 2657 (Mystery Writers of America):
Annamaria Alfieri (specific title to be signed not given)
M. J. Rose, The Witch of Painted Sorrows - art and gothic suspense in 1890s Belle Époque Paris.

10:45-11:45am, booth 3156 (Bloomsbury):
William Boyd, Sweet Caress - life of a modern woman in England, from WWI through her time as a war photographer in WWII France.

~new~ 11:30am-noon, booth 2657 (Mystery Writers of America)
Laura Joh Rowland, author of mysteries of historical Japan (specific title not given)

11:30am-12:30pm, booth 3119 (Penguin Random House):
Annie Barrows, The Truth According to Us - family secrets are discovered while a young debutante works for the Federal Writers Project in '30s West Virginia.

12-12:30pm, table 15:
Kim van Alkemade, Orphan #8 - a girl is subjected to medical experiments in 1919 NYC; her choice between revenge and mercy years later.

2pm-3pm, booth 3119 (Penguin Random House):
Paula McLain, Circling the Sun - the life of aviator and memoirist Beryl Markham.

~new~ 2pm, booth 640A (Feminist Press at CUNY):
Sarah Schulman, The Cosmopolitans - "remake of Balzac's Cousin Bette" (per an author interview) set in 1958 Greenwich Village.

~new~  3-3:30, table 14:
Daniel Melnick, The Ash Tree - the marriage between an American woman and an Armenian genocide survivor.

3:30-4:30pm, booth 3119 (Penguin Random House):
Sara Donati, The Gilded Hour - epic of two women doctors in Gilded Age NYC.


  1. Some good stuff there to look forward to. Is it me, or is there quite a strong Chinese influence? I'd buy "The Secret Chord" just for the title alone, I think - Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" is one of my all-time favourite songs, especially as sung by Jeff Buckley :) Interesting post here about David's secret chord and the Jewish traditon of the psalmist.

    1. Thanks for sharing that post, Annis - I'm still reading through it, and it's fascinating. Jeff Buckley's version of "Hallelujah" is my preferred version too. (I've also heard it mangled on American Idol a couple of times :) You're right about the number of titles on Chinese subjects. There's also a good mix of "trendy" and not.

  2. You've given e a lovely list to check on. Thanks

    1. Pleased you found the list useful!

  3. Thanks so much for this list, Sarah. I am really looking forward to the new Geraldine Brook's novel and a few others you list.

    1. I plan to wait in line for The Secret Chord even if it's very long (I expect it will be!).

  4. The third volume of Ghosh's marvelous Ibis Trilogy, Flood of Fire, comes out in August. I wonder if MacMillan is featuring the book at BEA? I won't be there myself -- we're at a conference in NO that last week of May, though Publicist is staying an extra day, the day we come back, and meeting us for dinner.

    I think the Ghosh novels, along with Hild, have been the historical fictions that have most impressed me published in the last 20 years. I'm so looking forward to Flood of Fire.

    Love, C.

    1. My guess is ARCs won't be there because it's the last in a trilogy and aside from mysteries, most featured books are standalones. I have one already thanks to a friend, but need to read the first two. Likewise Hild. Happy conferencing in NO. It's the season for them - and they'll make it an eventful summer for me, between BEA and HNS, in contrast to the lack of activity around campus.

  5. Anonymous7:04 PM

    wow - this is a wonderful post! I often feel overwhelmed by the amount of things at BEA. This will be very helpful. I just read Circling the Sun and it was wonderful. I have The Truth According to Us on my kindle, too. And Geraldine Brooks -- almost TOO exciting!! Thanks again! -Beth of Beth's Book-Nook Blog

    1. Hi Beth, thanks for your comments and for mentioning your blog - I just started following it and look forward to reading more! Circling the Sun is one I'm especially looking forward to, and I have Truth According to Us on my Kindle also, after a recent NetGalley emailing. I'll be reviewing it later on.

  6. I'd love to catch up with you at BEA. I'll send you a note. :)

    1. Sounds great - I'll look forward to seeing you there!

  7. Have a wonderful time...books, books, books!