For the second year in a row, the Winter Institute will feature “One Institute, One Read,” an initiative that encourages booksellers to read and discuss a title chosen by the American Booksellers Association for its insight into the culture and character of the event’s locale. The title selected for Winter Institute 8 (Wi8) in Kansas City, Missouri, in February, is Alex George’s A Good American. All bookseller registrants will receive a copy in January, courtesy of Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam, an imprint of the Penguin Group.
A Good American is a multi-generational tale about starting a family and creating a home in a new place. After Fredrick and Jette flee Prussia in 1904, they end up in Beatrice, Missouri, by way of New Orleans. George’s novel introduces readers to a cast of unforgettable characters — a teenage boy trapped in the body of a giant, a pretty schoolteacher who helps the young men in town learn about a lot more than just music, a minister who believes he has witnessed the Second Coming of Christ, and a malevolent, bicycle-riding dwarf. The tale is narrated by Fredrick and Jette’s grandson, James, who, in telling his family’s story, wants to learn more about his own.
Alex George is an Englishman who lives, works, and writes in Missouri. He studied law at Oxford University and worked for eight years as a corporate lawyer in London and Paris before moving to the U.S. in 2003. His first novel, A Good American, was the #1 February 2012 Indie Next List Pick, a Midwest Connections Pick, and one of the “2012 Top Summer Reads” on NPR’s Morning Edition. The author is currently working on his next novel.
Booksellers are encouraged to discuss A Good American with fellow attendees throughout the Winter Institute, and they are invited to attend an interview and Q&A with George on Saturday, February 23.
A copy of A Good American will be shipped to all Winter Institute bookseller registrants in a dedicated mailing in early January 2013. Watch for a Q&A with Alex George in an upcoming edition of Bookselling This Week.
And a reminder: The Good American challenge issued by Rainy Day Books in Fairway, Kansas, is still ongoing. To demonstrate her store staff’s belief in the novel, in February Rainy Day co-owner Vivien Jennings announced that the store would award a scholarship to Winter Institute 8 to the ABA member bookstore that sells the most copies of A Good American between then and shortly before the publisher-sponsored Wi8 scholarships are announced in mid-November.