Saturday, October 25, 2003

I had a blast at the NEBA trade show today. It was the best one I've been to; the last I attended was as long ago as 1998 or so. There were more publishers and they all seemed willing to part with their books. I made a few valuable contacts and talked with sales reps and marketing people, booksellers, and authors.

Trends? Internationalism or globalism seems to be hot these days. Memoirs, fiction, narrative journalism, and scholarly books focused on foreign affairs as well as books dealing with crises and wars in other lands past and present, the immigrant experience, especially the immigration of people to and from countries other than the U.S. This trend bodes well for my next book; in fact it may help me hone my subject. Another popular topic out there in bookdom explores the place that the U.S. and Americans occupy in the world. These titles ask the question, "How do others see us, and why?" This, too, is a fruitful angle for me to consider, especially regarding the role of Americans in Germany in the immediate postwar era.

Right now I'm moving toward writing a book about the experiences of young people aged 12-25? 30? in Germany 1944-1950, at a time when youth of many different nationalities and backgrounds roamed the country searching for food, shelter, family, a home. Jewish survivors of concentration camps, former laborers from countries east, north, south, and west of Germany who were forcibly "imported" by the Nazis to slave in their factories, German refugees from the eastern provinces seized by the Soviets at the end of the war, young "Volksdeutsche" or German-speaking youth living in Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and Poland, as well as young Germans orphaned by the war.

Back to NEBA, though. I can't believe my good fortune in the books that sales reps gave me. Secret Father by James Carroll (thank you, Houghton Mifflin!)--I've been dying to read it. Then I nearly passed out when a sales rep placed Almost French: Love and a New Life in Paris by Sarah Turnbull (Gotham Books, a Penguin imprint), a book about which there has been only great buzz. Another I've been wanting to read is Khassan Baiev's The Oath: A Surgeon Under Fire (Walker) about a doctor's experiences during the Russians' war with the Chechnyans. I was so interested to meet Dawn Clifton Tripp, author of Moon Tide (Random House), which is set in Westport, Mass. This is her first novel, she has not published before, and she managed to land an agent who sold it to Random. How often does this happen? She's not the graduate of any writing program. How unusual! Good for her!!!

I also got a number of readers' advanced copies of titles that will be published from December to next spring. I'll be reading those after I read the ones I've just mentioned.


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