Monthly Archives: May 2011

Journal of a UFO Investigator

Journal of a UFO Investigator by David Halperin
Viking / On Sale: February 3, 2011 

“The UFO fell from the sky on the night of December 20, 1962, the week of my thirteenth birthday.  The event itself, after more than three years, I recall with perfect clarity.  Many of its circumstances, however, have blurred in my mind …”  So begins David Halperin’s enthralling debut novel: JOURNAL OF A UFO INVESTIGATOR (Viking / On-Sale: February 3, 2011 / ISBN: 9780670022458/ 304pgs./ $25.95).

Set against the backdrop of the troubled 60’s, the novel weaves together compelling psychological drama and vivid outer space fantasy.  Danny Shapiro, an awkward, lonely teen with a terminally ill mother and a hostile father, turns to an imaginative universe to escape his crumbling home life.   He enters the world of UFOs when a glowing red disk tumbles down upon him from the night sky, and his home is mysteriously burglarized not long afterward.  He becomes drawn into the “Super-Science Society,” a group of intellectually and sexually precocious adolescents who have as their emblem the trisected angle.  Soon he’s fallen for one of the “Super-Scientists,” the beautiful, seductive Rochelle.

Praise for JOURNAL OF A UFO INVESTIGATOR

“A thrilling romp through the domain of aliens and spacecraft, Halperin’s highly entertaining coming-of-age tale poses questions about the real and the imagined and suggests that fusing the two might be the only way to survive adolescence.”
—Booklist

“Set in the mid-1960s, religious studies professor Halperin’s gripping debut is less about aliens than alienation. . . .[T]his heartbreaking coming-of-age story of a boy losing and finding his way in this and other worlds will resonate with many readers.”
—Publishers Weekly

For More Information:
Press Release
Cover Image for Download
Author’s Website 

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Deep Down True

Deep Down True by Juliette Fay
Penguin Paperback Original / On Sale: January 25, 2011 

Juliette Fay’s second novel, DEEP DOWN TRUE: A Novel (Penguin Paperback Original / On-Sale: January 25, 2011 / ISBN: 978-0-143-11851-0 / $15.00 / 432 pgs) is the story of Dana Stellgarten, a quintessential good girl whose unfailing “niceness” is acquiring a surprising edge.

DEEP DOWN TRUE is a novel about having your heart in the right place when everything else – from husbands to loyalties to jeans size – isn’t.

New York Times bestselling author Emily Giffin calls DEEP DOWN TRUE “sincere, powerful and heartfelt,” with “a ‘me, too’ moment on every page, right down to the satisfying finish.”

“Fay grants them their flaws as generously as she celebrates their daily decencies, their persistent hopefulness, their moments of personal grace,” says New York Times bestselling author Marisa De Los Santos.

Praise for DEEP DOWN TRUE

“Fay imbues Dana with the smarts and insecurities that war within most of us. . . .Highly recommended for fans of women’s fiction featuring resilient heroines.”
—Library Journal

“Fay. . .gives readers a believe able cast, from the daughter struggling with the wolf-pack mentality of middle school to Dana’s sometimes obnoxious yet fiercely loving sister. It expertly walks a heavily trodden path.”
—Publishers Weekly

For More Information:
Press Release
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A Guided Tour Through the Museum of Communism

A Guided Tour Through the Museum of Communism: Fables from a Mouse, a Parrot, a Bear, a Cat, a Mole, a Pig, a Dog, and a Raven
by Slavenka Drakulic

Penguin Paperback Original / On Sale: February 22, 2011 

“Ms Drakulic’s words are not easily forgotten.”
The Economist

In A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE MUSEUM OF COMMUNISM: Fables from a Mouse, a Parrot, a Bear, a Cat, a Mole, a Pig, a Dog, and a Raven(Penguin Paperback Original / On-Sale: February 22, 2011 / ISBN: 978-0-143-11863-3 / 208pages / $14.00), Slavenka Drakulić, who The Washington Post calls “a perceptive and amusing social critic,” takes readers on a journey through eight former Eastern Bloc countries, twenty years after the fall of the Communism.A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE MUSEUM OF COMMUNISM is a biting and brilliant critique of communism narrated by an array of unlikely characters: a mouse in Prague, a parrot from the former Yugoslavia, a Bulgarian bear, a cat in Warsaw, a mole from East Germany, a Hungarian pig, a dog in Bucharest, and an Albanian raven. Told in the first person, these astute animals offer the readers their own stories of life under the former communist regimes and what came after their demise. These sharp-witted observers wonder—in their own particular ways—whether democracy and capitalism were a change for the better and ask big questions: has the idea of social justice been lost forever? What are we to do with our past?

About the Author
Slavenka Drakulić was born in Croatia in 1949. Her nonfiction books include a trilogy on communism: How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed, a feminist critique of communism that brought her to the attention of the public in the West, Café Europa: Life After Communism (Penguin).

She also wrote a trilogy about the war in the Balkans: The Balkan Express: Fragments from the Other Side of the War, a personal eyewitness account of the war in her homeland and They Would Never Hurt a Fly (Penguin) about trials of war criminals in The Hague. The third part, a novel  S. (Penguin), has  been made into a major motion picture under the title As if I am Not There.

Drakulić is the author of the novels Holograms of Fear, which was a bestseller in Yugoslavia and was short-listed for The Best Foreign Book Award by the Independent (UK), Marble Skin, and The Taste of a Man (Penguin), as well as Frida’s Bed, a novel about Frida Kahlo.

Her books are translated in over twenty languages

She is a contributing editor to The Nation, and her articles appeared in The New Republic, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Germany), Dagens Nyherter (Sweden), La Stampa (Italy), The Guardian (UK), as well as many other magazines and newspapers. She now divides her time between Sweden and Croatia.

For More Information:
Press Release
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A Palace in the Old Village

A Palace in the Old Village by Tahar ben Jelloun
Penguin Paperback Original / On Sale: January 25, 2011

“Jelloun’s haunting novel reads like a timeless fable, while taking on the oh-so-timely challenges of the immigrant experience. Poignant meditation on the enduring lure of home and the cost of being left behind.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“Subtle, well-paced . . . Ben Jelloun has created a fine character study and touching family drama well worth reading.”
Publishers Weekly

“Lovers of literary fiction should take note of this affecting novel.”
—Booklist

“Beautifully and concisely written and well translated, this novel is a superb addition to the genre of ‘exile literature.’”
—Library Journal

“With this novel, Ben Jelloun, a native of Morocco, gives us an unvarnished look at a Muslim’s life in the West, and reminds us that literature can help us understand one another.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune

A heartbreaking novel about parents and children, A PALACE IN THE OLD VILLAGE (Penguin Paperback Original / On-Sale: January 25, 2011 / ISBN: 9780143118473 / 192pgs. / $15.00) by Tahar Ben Jelloun captures the sometimes stark contrasts between old- and new-world values, and an immigrant’s abiding pursuit of home.

A PALACE IN THE OLD VILLAGE is a novel about returning to one’s place of origin with hopes of rekindling family relationships and a sense of self; it’s about an individual’s journey back to the important things in life.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
TAHAR BEN JELLOUN was born in 1944 in Fez, Morocco, and emigrated to France in 1961. A novelist, essayist, critic, and poet, he is a regular contributor to Le Monde, La Répubblica, El País, and Panorama. His novels include The Sacred Night (winner of the 1987 Prix Goncourt), Corruption, The Last Friend, and Leaving Tangier. Ben Jelloun won the 1994 Prix Maghreb, and in 2004 he won the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for This Blinding Absence of Light.

ABOUT THE TRANSLATOR:
LINDA COVERDALE (translator) has translated more than sixty books including Tahar Ben Jelloun’s award-winning novel This Blinding Absence of Light. A Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, she won the 2006 Scott Moncrieff Prize and the 1997 and 2008 French-American Foundation Translation Prize. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

For More Information:
Press Release
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Filed under Fiction, Literary, Paperback Original, Translated

What Technology Wants

What Technology Wats by Kevin Kelly
Viking / On Sale: October 14, 2010 (Hardcover Edition)

How is technology like a living system?
Today no technology can stand alone. Each piece made is dependent on hundreds of other technologies, in either its manufacture or operation. The incredibly complex interdependencies between modern technologies resemble a rainforest more than a machine. Engineers create new technologies by recombining old technologies, much like sexual reproduction in genes. Innovations follow a pattern of improvement that is almost identical to natural evolution. Our technological system as a whole exhibits emergent behaviors and tendencies, just like all living systems do.

What does it “want”?  Where is technology taking us?
The emergent tendencies of interacting technologies tend to favor the very things life favors. High tech industries demand pure water, as animals do. Over time technologies tend toward energy efficiency, as living organisms do. Technologies begin as generalists (a simple camera) and evolve toward specialists (a panoramic camera, an underwater camera, a spy camera, an infrared digital camera) just as natural evolution does. Technology is taking us more towards life, or rather a more extreme form of life.

Is a modern life full of technology natural?  Is it good?
Every since we left Africa, we humans have been remaking ourselves. We long ago invented the technology of cooking, which serves as an external stomach, and has allowed our teeth and jaws to shrink, and altered our body chemistry. Without technology of any sort, humans would die in a few months. We are naturally technological because we are, in part, our own inventions.

You say technology is a positive force, yet people are constantly talking about how gadgets and the Internet are dumbing down culture – how do you reconcile those two viewpoints?
Both views are true. We are slaves to our own inventions. Complex modern inventions are self-inflating; they tend to make the world friendlier to more technology. For instance, TV is a device to sell more devices. We have to guard against that tyrannical tendency in our own personal lives by occasionally saying “no” to new stuff. (No Twitter for me!) At the same time technology’s self-enlargement keeps bringing us many new choices and endless possibilities. Progress is founded on these increased choices.

Many people say that every new possibility for good developed by technology is cancelled by a corresponding new possibility for harm, and therefore technology is simply neutral. But they forget that that the very choice between good and harm birthed by a new invention is itself a good, and that tiny unexpected advantage tips the balance – just a wee bit – away from neutral toward the good overall. Turns out that a wee bit is all you need. If you create just 1 percent more possibilities than you destroy, then that tiny advantage, compounded over centuries, is enough to make civilization and to reveal technology as the most positive force in the world.

For More Information:
Press Release (hardcover only)
Cover Image (hardcover only)
Author Q&A
Author’s Website

Please note: For paperback edition details and images (Penguin Paperback / On Sale: September 27, 2011), please contact Yen.Cheong [at] us.penguingroup.com

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