This year I decided I was going to try to read as many of the Whitney finalists as I can before the deadline for voting (April 23). I’m taking it in chunks-by-category, with the thought that this way, each category I complete is one more I get to vote for. Besides, this way I can post composite review/commentary posts like this one, where I talk briefly (or less briefly) about each book in turn, then make some general comments across the category. So here’s my first installment: general fiction.
Wm writes: Every year since 2000, Andrew Hall has put together a Year in Review for all of the major genres of Mormon letters. It is an amazingly detailed work that is both fun to read and important both as a bibliography and as a gauge of the state of Mormon literature. AMV is pleased to bring you Andrew’s Year in Review for 2008, beginning with a look at Mormon authors being published in the national market.
Andrew Hall’s Mormon Literature Year in Review — Part 1a: National market books
The publishing story of 2008 was a Mormon author, Stephenie Meyer. Meyer was one of three Mormon authors who reached the top of the New York Times Hardcover Fiction Bestseller list, the first Mormon authors to reach that position since 1995. In fact, there were more Mormon-authored novels on the best seller lists in 2008 than ever before. None of these best sellers contained openly Mormon characters or concepts, however. Vampires, romance, heart-warming tales of Christmas, and speculative fiction was what brought the Mormon authors to the top.
The world in 2008 was Stephenie Meyer’s. She is the biggest publishing phenomenon since J. K. Rowling. Little, Brown released her adult science fiction novel The Host in May, and it went to the top of the Times’ Hardcover list. By the end of the year it was still at #5 on that list. August saw the release of the fourth and final volume of her Twilight series, Breaking Dawn. The series has dominated the Times’ Children’s Series list for the last two years (the Times created the Children’s bestseller list in 2000 to clear all of the Harry Potter books off of the main hardcover and paperback lists, and the Children’s Series list in 2004 to consolidate each series into a single entry). At the end of the year the USA Today list, which is a single list for all fiction, hardcover and paperback, had the four Twilight books occupying 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 5th places, with The Host down at 22nd. Without a doubt Meyer was the best selling fiction author of 2008. Bookscan estimates her total at almost 15 million units sold in 2008. Also, the movie version of the first volume in the Twilight series was released in the fall, and was a box office success. Continue reading “Andrew’s Mormon Literature Year in Review: National Market 2008, Part Ia”