Friday, May 25, 2012


The journal Nature has just released a wonderful review of Mark Anderson's THE DAY THE WORLD DISCOVERED THE SUN.  Owen Gingerich, Professor Emeritus of Astronomy and the History of Science at Harvard University, reviewed the book as part of a two-page feature.  You can find the article on Nature's website here, but we've also included an excerpt below:

Journalist Mark Anderson's arresting THE DAY THE WORLD DISCOVERED THE SUN begins with the 1761 transit, but concentrates on the three most significant journeys of the 1769 event.  These were Captain James Cook's voyage to Tahiti; the Hungarian Jesuit Maximilian Hell's frigid journey to Vardo, above the Arctic Circle in Norway; and French astronomer Jean-Baptiste Chappe d'Auteroche's sweaty and insect-ridden expedition to San Jose del Cabo in Baja California, present-day Mexico. 
Anderson serves up a rich broth of details--such as that British sailors did not have soap in their rations until the 1780s, or that Cook's small ship Endeavour had more than 90 people on board, in part because it was expected that half the crew on a round-the-world trip would die of scurvy.  (In the event, Cook engaged in a medical experiment with a diet of sauerkraut for the crew, and not a single sailor was lost to the condition.) 
Both Wulf [author of CHASING VENUS] and Anderson give much attention to Chappe, the only observer to time the entrance and exit of Venus on both transits.  Chappe wrote vivid and extensive travel notes...His wide-ranging interests would have made him, thinks Anderson, the French Benjamin Franklin.

Anderson was also recently interviewed by the radio magazine Viewpoints.  You can listen to the full interview by following this link and navigating to the May 20th podcast entitled "The Transit of Venus: What It Is and Why It's Still Important."

Nature and Viewpoints both call attention to the intriguing details Anderson includes in his narrative, particularly the medical experiment Cook conducted on scurvy during his voyage.  However, Viewpoints goes a step further by highlighting how Cook's scurvy-and-sauerkraut experiment unwittingly spurred the invention of carbonated water and thus the $370 billion soft drink industry.

The diet Cook imposed upon his men, heavy in sauerkraut and vegetables, precluded scurvy from affecting a single sailor on board his ship.  A chemist named Joseph Priestly noticed that the diet also had the curious effect of causing Cook's men to belch far more often than normal.  Priestly postulated that, perhaps, it was the act of belching itself that cured scurvy.  He invented a way to carbonate water and thus compel the drinkers of his new beverage to belch. 

Unfortunately for Priestly, belching was not in fact the cure for scurvy; we know, today, that scurvy is caused by a vitamin deficiency that a diet of sauerkraut and fresh vegetables can help prevent.  Yet Priestly's invention did allow the soft drink industry to become "an unlikely distant cousin to the Venus transit missions," in the words of Anderson in THE DAY THE WORLD DISCOVERED THE SUN.

You can read more about Anderson and his book through previous posts on our blog here, through Anderson's Tumblr page here, and through his Facebook page here.

Da Capo Press, May 2012

Friday, May 18, 2012

IF JACK'S IN LOVE named Willie Morris Award winner

IF JACK'S IN LOVE by Stephen Wetta has just won the 2011 Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction! 

The award, given annually to a fiction novel set in the South (IF JACK'S IN LOVE is set in Virginia), was established in honor of award-winning author Willie Morris in 2007.  According to the award's website, the winning novel is selected for its embodiment of that which Willie Morris himself praised: "hope for belonging, for belief in a people's better nature, for steadfastness against all that is hollow or crass or rootless or destructive."  Furthermore, the novel is selected based on "the quality of its prose, its originality, its sense of place and period, and the appeal of its characters."

The award ceremony will take place in October at The New York Yacht Club, where Wetta will receive the award and speak about the book.

IF JACK'S IN LOVE has received glowing praise since its release in September 2011.  Just in case you've missed them before, a sampling of some of the book's excellent reviews are below.  To read more of our posts on Wetta and his debut book, follow this link

"A wonderfully written marvel of a book: a work both gripping and hilarious, joyous and heartbreakingly bittersweet." --The Wall Street Journal, named a top 10 title for 2011

"Populated with richly realistic characters, Wetta's first novel of 1960s backdrops and prejudices is propulsive...Jack is a charming narrator...and, with a lot of truth and even a little magic, his supporting cast sparks restrainedly." --Booklist

"Wetta has written a coming-of-age novel set in 1967 that is at once dark, witty, and charming." --Shelf Awareness

"Deftly, Wetta illuminates the gulf between the innocence of age 12 and the realizations that arise at 13...At turns unsparing, tender, and disturbing when it comes to rivalry and the nuances of love versus obligation, this is no typical bildungsroman...Intelligently, wonderfully conceived." --Publishers Weekly, starred review

"An auspicious debut...A moving portrait of a specific time, family, and town, but also a universal story of growing up and coming to terms with the people--and places--that raise us, told with all the humor, truth, and urgency of its teenage hero." --BookPage

"A debut novel not to miss...IF JACK'S IN LOVE has that spark of a writer who fully invests himself and writes with a startlingly bittersweet humor, infusing his first novel with a tinge of something special.", named a top 10 book of 2011

"The real emotion--the book's raw and complicated heart--is actually hidden inside the Witcher home...[Jack] is vulnerable and victimized by an identity he should be able to disavow but cannot.  Even so, Wetta allows us to see Jack's potential--the person he could and should become, if only he'd embrace it.  Whether he does is what keeps us gripped until the end." --The Daily Beast, listed as a Great Weekend Read

Amy Einhorn Books/Penguin, September 2011

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

THE DAY THE WORLD DISCOVERED THE SUN--"a scientific adventure tale"--out now

Mark Anderson's THE DAY THE WORLD DISCOVERED THE SUN has just been released!  Phenomenal reviews already abound for this book that chronicles the adventures of 18th century scientists traversing the globe to observe the Venus transit, or Venus's passage across the face of the sun.  (You can learn more details about the book from our previous blog posting here.)  THE DAY THE WORLD DISCOVERED THE SUN will be featured in the journal Nature, and it was recently featured in the magazine Discover.  Below is a sampling of the excellent reviews thus far:

"In this exciting tale--part detective story, part history of science--Anderson vividly recreates the torturous explorations and enthralling discovery of three peripatetic and insatiably curious explorers."  --Publishers Weekly

"A scientific adventure tale in which astronomers risk their lives, traveling the high seas in winter, trekking over ice-bound Siberia and facing deadly diseases...A lively, fitting tribute to 'mankind's first international "big science" project.'" --Kirkus

"Anderson has written an exciting chronicle...This is a fine combination of popular science and real-life adventure that will appeal to a broad spectrum of readers." --Booklist

"Read it...for an armchair travel adventure."  --The Roanoke Times

Anderson has given several interviews regarding the process of writing the book and the adventures of the scientists who made history.  Below is a video interview introducing the book:

Anderson was also interviewed for a podcast with IEEE Spectrum Magazine.  You can listen to the full podcast by following this link, but for a taste of what to look forward to, below is one of the questions Anderson was asked by the interviewer: 
This book...has more ups and downs than the Alps.  Besides ambitious astronomers and fortune-seeking horologists, it's got murderous banditos in New Spain, suspicious Russian villagers, Tahitian women trading views of their breasts for anything made of iron, and at least two actually mad, as in insane, European kings.  Did you know when you went into this research what a wild ride this story would be?
The last Venus transit of this century will occur on June 5, 2012.  Celebrate the event by reading the quintessential book for the moment, THE DAY THE WORLD DISCOVERED THE SUN!
Da Capo Press, May 2012

Thursday, May 3, 2012

THE VIEW FROM LAZY POINT named winner of the 2012 Orion Book Award!

The other week, we announced that Carl Safina's THE VIEW FROM LAZY POINT (Picador, January 2012) was among the finalists for the 2012 Orion Book Award.  Today, THE VIEW FROM LAZY POINT was named the winner!  View the announcement here.

Many congratulations go out to Carl for winning this award, which is given by Orion Magazine for the best book of the year addressing the relationship between humanity and nature.  Criteria for the award include that the book "deepens our connection to the natural world," "presents new ideas about our relationship with nature," and "achieves excellence in writing," according to Orion Magazine's website.

The award finalists include FIRE SEASON by Philip Connors (Ecco), OIL ON WATER by Helon Habila (W. W. Norton & Co.), SWAMPLANDIA! by Karen Russell (Vintage), and RAISING ELIJAH by Sandra Steingraber (Da Capo).

To read more about THE VIEW FROM LAZY POINT and the award, view our recent post below or at this link.

Pictured above: Carl Safina

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Paperback cover extravaganza!

Many of our books have just received beautiful new covers for their upcoming paperback releases, and we couldn't help ourselves from sharing!  Feast your eyes on the exciting covers below, and be sure to look out for the new editions in stores soon:

IF JACK'S IN LOVE by Stephen Wetta
Paperback: Berkley Trade, August 2012
Hardcover: Amy Einhorn Books, September 2011

"Deftly, Wetta illuminates the gulf between the innocence of age 12 and the realizations that arise at 13...At turns unsparing, tender, and disturbing...this is no typical bildungsroman....Intelligently, wonderfully conceived." --Publishers Weekly, starred review

Paperback: Unbridled Books, April 2012
Hardcover: Unbridled Books, April 2011

"Memorably narrated by octogenarian obit writer Essie Myles, this is a witty, sometimes profound story about media, mortality, and rash acts undertaken in the name of love." --People, four stars

GRACE IN THE CITY by Victoria Brown
Paperback: Hyperion Voice, September 2012
Hardcover: Hyperion Voice, April 2011 (formerly titled MINDING BEN)

"Part of the novel's appeal lies in Grace's spirited voice, but the fascinating insider details on the nanny life add an extra dimension...A social satire...also a moving immigrant story.  Brown vividly depicts the vibrant and diverse West Indian communities...Fascinating, tender, and heartbreaking." --Library Journal, starred review and Editor's Pick

Paperback: Sourcebooks Landmark, September 2012
Hardcover: Crown, June 2011

"A feast for the senses.  Readers will be swept back to the 1660s.  The atmosphere is electrifying, the liaisons are exhilarating, and the conversations and friendships are endlessly entertaining.  I was absorbed into the story on page one and couldn't put it down." --San Francisco Book Review

Paperback: Simon and Schuster Paperbacks, TBD 2012
Hardcover: Simon and Schuster, August 2011

"Hearst writes convincingly and engagingly of lupine behavior, and the interactions among wolves and wolfpacks never fail to captivate." --Publishers Weekly

THE ORACLE GLASS by Judith Merkle Riley
Paperback: Sourcebooks Landmark, November 2012
Hardcover: Viking, 1994

The publication of THE ORACLE GLASS marks the return to print of beloved and internationally bestselling author Judith Merkle Riley's popular historical novels!  Sourcebooks will next be republishing Riley's THE MASTER OF ALL DESIRES.

"Intelligent, witty, and elegantly written." --San Francisco Chronicle

"Once again Riley has written an outstanding historical novel of 17th-century France, permeated by a feminist consciousness that enlivens her work...Based on a real-life scandal...this tale is riveting from start to finish." --Library Journal