CONFESSIONS OF A WALL STREET SHOESHINE BOY
By Doug Stumpf (HarperCollins; July 3)
The Précis: Vanity Fair deputy editor’s novel about a Brazilian shoe-shiner to downtown businessmen who stumbles on an insider-trading scheme.
Pros: Film rights already picked up by Warner Bros. with Blood Diamond’s Charles Leavitt adapting it. And Graydon should come through with a kick-ass book party.
Cons: May be too colorful and serious to work as a best-selling thriller, and too clunky and contrived to live up to Tom Wolfe—or even Dana Vachon.
THE HEADMASTER RITUAL
By Taylor Antrim (Houghton Mifflin; July 9)
The Précis: Hypereducated (Stanford, Oxford) freelancer’s novel about a tony boarding school with a sinister headmaster.
Pros: Antrim’s preppy good looks and big-time blurbs might just help him slip into the Sittenfeldian prep-school niche.
Cons: Was changed from hardcover to paperback original—booksellers said they’d sell more copies that way. But the print run is still low, and advance reviews are mixed.
THE TENDERNESS OF WOLVES
By Stef Penney (Simon & Schuster; July 10)
The Précis: The 38-year-old’s Jack London–style tale is set in nineteenth-century northern Canada—a highbrow, atmospheric murder mystery.
Pros: The debut has already won the Costa Prize in England—not only the “debut” category but the general prize (an unusual feat).
Cons: Wolves? The northern territories? The Costa Prize? A 25,000 print run seems just about right; this is probably headed for the midlist.
By Eugene Drucker (Simon & Schuster; July 17)
The Précis: A lead violinist from the Emerson String Quartet writes about a young violinist forced to play for dying concentration-camp inmates.
Pros: Any music lover worth his Philharmonic season tickets would want to have it on the shelf, or buy it as an impressively thoughtful gift.
Cons: Probably too much of a downer to draw huge numbers, and how many non-season-ticket-holders know Drucker’s résumé?
THE SEPTEMBERS OF SHIRAZ
By Dalia Sofer (Ecco; August 1)
The Précis: Jewish-Iranian immigrant’s fictionalization of the fate of Jews in the early days of the Iranian Revolution.
Pros: Interest in Iran isn’t going away, and Sofer’s angle is bound to entice readers. Heavily marketed and a natural for book clubs.
Cons: The soft-focus title and easy topical appeal might turn some critics off, along with its slightly stiff dialogue.
By Patricia Wood (Putnam; August 2)
The Précis: Ph.D. candidate who lives on a sailboat in Hawaii wrote Lottery on the advice of mentor Paul Theroux. A retarded man wins the Washington State lottery.
Pros: Wood has a backstory to sell, about her lottery-winner father and a brother-in-law with Down syndrome. Theroux’s blurb doesn’t hurt.
Cons: Comparisons to Forrest Gump and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, fair or not, are inevitable.
By Nancy Horan (Ballantine; August 7)
The Précis: Former resident of Frank Lloyd Wright territory (Oak Park, Illinois) fictionalizes the architect’s scandalous affair with the wife of a client.
Pros: Maybe the buzziest serious novel of the summer—including a coveted spot on BookExpo’s “Buzz Panel.”
Cons: The bar has been set high—a 75,000-copy printing is a lot for a debut. Critics will have one eye on the hype, the other on historical accuracy.
THE CHICAGO WAY
By Michael Harvey (Knopf; August 21)
The Précis: The executive producer of A&E’s Cold Case Files tries his hand at a Chicago-based thriller about—what else?—a cold case that turns red-hot.
Pros: Harvey got six figures for a two-book deal, acquired by Knopf’s eagle-eyed Jordan Pavlin. The prestige house’s big shot at a summer best seller.
Cons: The marketing push could backfire when people find out Cold Case Files is a poor relation of a network show.
By Nikita Lalwani (Random House; September 11)
The Précis: An Indian-Welsh former BBC director invents a genius child whose overbearing immigrant parents try to get her into Oxford at age 14.
Pros: Less showy than the immigrant-oddball-genius subject would suggest. Deserves (and will probably get) a slow but steady ascent.
Cons: Note the topical similarities to Kaavya Viswanathan’s (plagiaristic) novel. It’s one thing to be late to a trend, another to follow a class act like that.
MAYNARD AND JENNICA
By Rudolph Delson (Houghton Mifflin; September 18)
The Précis: A former lawyer writes a sort of fictional oral history— with a huge cast of narrators—about a meet-cute love affair set in post-9/11 New York.
Pros: Scott Rudin has already optioned it—and with endearing, witty, chatty characters, it’s easy to see why.
Cons: That Rudin movie could look like a Zach Braff concoction—beloved by some, tedious for others, too strange for many. Ditto the book.