Today in books and publishing: The woman at the center of the Polanski trial has a book deal; National Book Award finalists are announced; Dennis Lehane corrects a reviewer on a character's race; Amazon ranks authors.
Samantha Geimer on being the Polanski "Sex Victim Girl." Aside from being under house arrest in Switzerland until 2010, Roman Polanski has gotten off pretty easy for having sex with a drugged 13-year-old girl in 1977. He's gone on to direct Oscar-winning films and enjoy continuing critical praise. The girl at the center of the case hasn't fared so well. Samantha Geimer says that following the crime, she's been reduced to the tag "Sex Victim Girl" by the media. Now 47, Geimer plans to write a memoir to be published in the fall of 2013 by Atria Books titled The Girl: Emerging from the Shadow of Roman Polanski. "I offer my story now without rage, but with purpose," Geimer says. "To share a tale that in its detail will reclaim my identity. I have been dogged by tired thinking and easy tags nearly my entire life. I am not a stick figure. I know what it is like to be a woman and a victim in the realest possible way." [Wall Street Journal]
Finalists in the National Book Awards. Junot Diaz continues to have the best year ever. After lining his bank account with all that MacArthur grant loot, he now finds himself in the running for a National Book Award in fiction. His contenders in fiction include Dave Eggers, Louise Erdich, Ben Fountain, and Kevin Powers. For nonfiction, the National Book Foundation nominated Anthony Shadid posthumously for his memoir House of Stone. LBJ biographer Robert A. Caro, Behind the Beautiful Forevers author Katherine Boo, and Anne Applebaum and Domingo Martinez round out the category. Poets in the running for an NBA include David Ferry, Cynthia Huntington, Tim Seibles, Alan Shapiro, and Susan Wheeler. Finalists in the young adult category include William Alexander, Carrie Arcos, Eliot Schrefer, Patricia McCormick, and Steve Sheinkin. The winners will be announced on November 14 in a ceremony where Elmore Leonard will receive a medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters and New York Times publisher and chairman Arthur O. Sulzberger, Jr. will get the Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community. [The New York Times]
A white character can't be a "magical negro," says irate Dennis Lehane. Boston Globe reviewer Eugenia Williamson didn't like Dennis Lehane's novel Live by Night. She especially took issue with a character she thought fit the stereotype of "what Spike Lee would call a Magical Negro." In most cases it's unseemly for authors to respond to critics, but this time Lehane had good reason to take to Facebook (a first for this social media illiterate author) and criticize Williamson's review. The character she singled out couldn't have been a "Magical Negro," Lehane says, because he's white. The author writes that Williamson's review, "would be fair, I guess, if only Turner John were actually black. Instead, he’s, um, white … he is poor, runs moonshine and women, and speaks in dialect, character traits that led the reviewer to assume he was African American which is, ironically, a pretty racist assumption." The Globe review now bears this correction: "Because of a reporting error, an earlier version of this book review incorrectly described the race of the character Turner John. He is white." [Boston Daily]
BookShout unlocks e-books. If converting Nook and Kindle e-books into files accessible on iOS and Android platforms sounds like something you want to do, you better start using BookShout before Amazon and Barnes & Noble inevitably try to shut it down. The startup debuted its e-book unlocking product at the Frankfurt Book Fair, with support from Ingram Content Group CEO John R. Ingram and publishers including Random House, HarperCollins, Macmillan, and Wiley. BookShout claims not to break DRM on e-books, but the ability to migrate Nook and Kindle away from their original platforms will likely irk big retailers. "I’ll be interested to see what Amazon thinks," says BookShout founder and CEO Jason Illian. "My argument to them is, one, we’re not taking your sales, and, two, we’re not breaking any terms of service because we’re not taking any files from you." [paidContent]
Amazon's new "Author Rank" feature. Speaking of Amazon, the company just unveiled a new feature called Author Rank, which uses sales metrics to update the site's most popular authors every hour. Bared to You author Sylvia Day is No. 1, with E.L. James and James Patterson just below her. Names like J.K. Rowling, Nora Roberts, Stephen King, and George R.R. Martin make unsurprising appearances near the top. But one author in the top 10 seems not quite like the others: Though he's been dead for over 30 years, Philip K. Dick remains the 8th most popular author with Amazon readers as of this writing. [GalleyCat]