While most people look forward to summer as a time for a little light reading, those of us in publishing often find ourselves lugging heavy manuscripts through the sand with our coolers and sun block. Here's what we would be reading this summer, if only we could find the time.
Julie Grau, Publisher: On deck for my vacation is THE GREAT MAN by Kate Christensen, which comes emphatically recommended by my big sister--a great reader who turned me on to Edna O'Brien when I was thirteen and has been making great recommendations ever since. She says it's one of the best novels she's read in recent years.
Mya Spalter, Editorial Assistant: My next door neighbor has it in for me. She must have known what would happen when she gestured to the pile of black, glossy paperbacks. The TWILIGHT series sat stacked on her hall table. "You can take those if you want," she said. Her nonchalance was staggering. Never have seven deadlier words been spoken. I read the first three books over the course of a single week. I was transformed. I no longer needed to sleep or eat. My eyes took on a reddish hue. I spent sunny afternoons indoors. But alas, that lifestyle proved unsustainable-- by the end of book three I knew I had to postpone my enjoyment of the fourth if I hoped to hang on to some shred of humanity. It waits on my bedside table, coiled as if to strike.
Chris Jackson, Executive Editor: I met Chimamanda Adichie at a star-studded literary conference in Aspen a couple years back (Ngugi Wa'Thionga and Wole Soyinka were among the other attendees) and was awed by her grace and intelligence and wit. I read HALF OF A YELLOW SUN when I got back to New York and loved it - it told the tragedy of the Biafran War in a way that owed something to the post-colonial African masters, but also felt totally fresh in its rhythm and tone and sense of freedom. It wasn't burdened by any agit-prop obligations; its power was in its portrayal of the full humanity of its rotating narrators: heroism and folly and passive suffering, yes, but also humor and vanity and cowardice and desire and moral compromise. I'd love to read her new collection of stories, THE THING AROUND YOUR NECK, even though the title feels like an old drive-through horror movie from the '50s.