Whew! Book Expo America — the book industry’s biggest book event — took over New York City last month, and we’re still recovering from the barrage of parties, signings, readings and more parties — did we mention the parties?

But seriously, we’ve overwhelmed by all the amazing books coming out this fall from publishers large and small. Here’s a quick recap of the Lambda-relevant books that were the most buzzed about at BEA 2011.

Justin Torres

Hands down, one of the most talked about books on the BEA floor was We Are Animals (HMH) by our very own Lambda Fellow, Justin Torres.

And the major critics agree. Barbara Chai for the Wall Street Journal’s Speak Easy blog writes:

I had received an advanced reader copy of “We the Animals” a couple weeks prior to BEA, and am already halfway through. It is a slim novel with brief chapters, each a vignette. It’s the kind of book I like to take my time with, because otherwise it will be over too soon. Aside from “The Art of Fielding,” this novel may be the most buzzed-about book of all the others on the panel. Jenna Johnson, senior editor at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, accurately described it as “visceral,” memorable for how it makes you feel rather than what happens.

New York Magazine also chimed in:

A much smaller book than the first two, Torres’s autobiographical coming-of-age novel about a Brooklyn boy with a Puerto Rican father and a white mother promises to be a New York favorite at the very least. It doesn’t hurt that Torres’s backstory involves both an Iowa Workshop MFA and a stint in a mental hospital.

Christopher Bollen

The most glamorous launch party during BEA was for Christopher Bollen’s Lighting People (Counterpoint) at the Top of the Standard Hotel. Sponsored by Moet Chandon and overlooking a gorgeous cityscape of Manhattan’s west side, guests included superstar agent, Bill Clegg, Visionaire founder Cecilia Dean, and Interview editor-in-chief, Stephen Mooallem. Pictured via.

Edmund White writes:

Lightning People is a spacious saga about America. It is centered on New York and the lives of people about to be no longer young, a generation marked by 9/11 and a sense of doom or at least diminished expectations. This is a big book that speaks to and for a whole generation and that draws in dozens of portraits in the crispest, blackest ink.”

Jane Lynch

Jane Lynch gave a remarkable reading of her upcoming memoir, Happy Accidents (Grand Central) on Thursday.

According to PW:

Happy Accidents focuses on her professional career, because she says, at age 50, she has “finally reached a happy place” in her life. She’s got the beautiful family, a life in sunny California, and now, after decades of supporting roles and guest spots, a career that’s finally taken off. “

Read more in PW.

Erin McHugh

Ok. Ok. This book came out earlier this year, but we couldn’t resist, a quick plug for our friend Erin McHugh’s book, The L Life (Stewart, Tabori & Chang) which includes photos by Jennifer May. Above, Colleen Linsday of BookCountry chats with McHugh on the BEA floor.

Brian Selznick

This video features Brian Selznick, #1 New York Times bestselling author/illustrator of the Caldecott Medal-winning novel and upcoming major motion picture The Invention of Hugo Cabret at the 2011 Children’s Breakfast — one of the “hot” ticketed events of the week. Brian’s Wonderstruck — both a novel and a fully illustrated picture book in one — is highly anticipated from Scholastic.

According to our source Scholastic gave out 4,000 of these Wonderstruck tote bags (pictured via) during BEA — if that doesn’t scream “highly-anticipated”, I’m not sure what does.

Here’s an image from the inside of the book.


Judith Halberstam

Queer Art of Failure

Karen Schechner, of the American Booksellers Association, recommends Judith Halberstam’s The Queer Art of Failure (Duke):

I’m excited about this book. It applauds questioning conventional ideas of success and questioning in general. It also recommends getting lost as a route to the unexpected. I didn’t get to walk the floor all that much, but there seems to be a willingness to try new ideas and business models, but without as much fear of the unknown as last year. So maybe Halberstam’s book will be a good guide for what’s to come.

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