6 March 14 | Chad W. Post | Comments

I was probably asleep at the wheel in years past, but I think it’s really cool that Publishers Weekly announced the names of the five finalists for 2014 Bookstore of the Year.

Here’s the list of the finalists with some commentary on why they should win:

Do you have any idea how many Open Letter books are on display in this store? Pets (in multiple places), High Tide (a staff favorite), and Elsewhere, were three of the first books I noticed when I walked in there last week. If Elliott Bay takes it, I think it’s because of the “More Open Letter Books = Great Store” hypothesis. Also, they get bonus points for being “The” Elliot Bay Book Company.

Stephen Fucking Sparks. Have you read this? With it’s BTBA judging pedigree and the fact that Green Apple once featured Vilnius Poker in a video they may just pull this out.

I’ve never been to McLean & Eakin, but as a Michigander, I spent a week every year from K through 5th Grade polishing Petoskey stones. So smooth and pretty! Given that Petoskey has a population of under 6,000 (although they do attract the tourists!), it would be kind of cool for McLean & Eakin to win. The real question: How many Open Letter books do they have already? I think they better stock up.

Prairie Lights is pretty much the only thing that people from the University of Iowa talk about. I’m pretty sure Iowa City consists of a river, this bookstore, and a bunch of mediocre football players. (GO MICHIGAN STATE!) It’s almost unfair that this city gets such a fantastic bookstore. Paul Ingram is wonderful to talk to (and my height, which is always a bonus), and this store is the quintessential charming small-town bookstore. They very well could win this.

Women & Children First is helping sell books at an upcoming Open Letter/Black Balloon event celebrating Bulgarian literature—for that alone, they’re probably going to receive this award. But seriously, this is a great store that does what it does better than any store in the country, and has succeeded for years. When I was working for Dalkey, one of my favorite buyers to visit was at WCF . . . She’s since left the store, but I’ll forever respect the hell out of this place.

The winning store will be announced by PW just before BEA, and will be featured in the pre-BEA issue.

....
Return to Killybegs
Return to Killybegs by Sorj Chalandon
Reviewed by Vincent Francone

The central concern of Sorj Chalandon’s novel Return to Killybegs appears to be explaining how a person of staunch political activism can be lead to betray his cause, his country, his people. Truth be told, the real theme of the. . .

Read More >

The Last Days
The Last Days by Laurent Seksik
Reviewed by Peter Biellp

Spoiler alert: acclaimed writer Stefan Zweig and his wife Lotte kill themselves at the end of Lauren Seksik’s 2010 novel, The Last Days.

It’s hard to avoid spoiling this mystery. Zweig’s suicide actually happened, in Brazil in 1942, and since then. . .

Read More >

Selected Stories
Selected Stories by Kjell Askildsen
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

To call Kjell Askildsen’s style sparse or terse would be to understate just how far he pushes his prose. Almost nothing is explained, elaborated on. In simple sentences, events occur, words are exchanged, narrators have brief thoughts. As often as. . .

Read More >

Letter from an Unknown Woman and Other Stories
Letter from an Unknown Woman and Other Stories by Stefan Zweig
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

After a mysterious woman confesses to an author simply known as “R” that she has loved him since she was a teenager, she offers the following explanation: “There is nothing on earth like the love of a child that passes. . .

Read More >

Colorless Tsukuru and His Years of Pilgrimage
Colorless Tsukuru and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami
Reviewed by Will Eells

Floating around the internet amid the hoopla of a new Haruki Murakami release, you may have come across a certain Murakami Bingo courtesy of Grant Snider. It is exactly what it sounds like, and it’s funny because it’s true,. . .

Read More >

The Matiushin Case
The Matiushin Case by Oleg Pavlov
Reviewed by Brandy Harrison

The publisher’s blurb for Oleg Pavlov’s The Matiushin Case promises the prospective reader “a Crime and Punishment for today,” the sort of comparison that is almost always guaranteed to do a disservice to both the legendary dead and the ambitious. . .

Read More >

Fear: A Novel of World War I
Fear: A Novel of World War I by Gabriel Chevallier
Reviewed by Paul Doyle

One hundred years have passed since the start of World War I and it is difficult to believe that there are still novels, considered classics in their own countries, that have never been published in English. Perhaps it was the. . .

Read More >