Books

new england literary news | nina maclaughlin

Boston teen author fest; a thriller spills out a Harvard final club

Last year’s Boston Teen Author Festival drew its biggest number of attendees yet.
Last year’s Boston Teen Author Festival drew its biggest number of attendees yet.

Teen Author Fest grows

The Boston Teen Author Festival has grown each of its seven years of existence, from 50 attendees and 14 authors in 2012, to more than 600 attendees and 40 authors last year. And organizers are working to bring a more varied and diverse group of young-adult authors to the festival this year. 

The annual event takes place on Sept. 22 and offers a number of panels and a big session of book signing. Panels center around the art, craft, and business of writing. In “EmPOWERment,” Erin Cashman, Arvin Ahmadi, Sara Farizan, and Adrienne Kisner will discuss the challenges of gaining confidence. “Timey Wimey” will focus on rule-bending when it comes to non-linear storytelling with Sara Holland, Tiffany D. Jackson, Claire Legrand, Nova Ren Suma, and moderator Rebecca Wells.

Other panels address varying approaches to writing, writing about sibling relationships, fandom writing, honesty, stasis and change in fantasy, unlikability, and the publishing process. The free event takes place from 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Cambridge Public Library and Cambridge Rindge and Latin School. For more information visit bostonteenauthorfestival.com

Harvard thriller

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In his new thriller out this week,“The Ancient Nine’’ (St. Martin’s), Ian K. Smith mines his experience as a Harvard undergrad and member of the Delphic Club, one of Harvard’s storied all-male final club, to tell the story of Spenser Collins, a kid from Chicago who gets pulled into one of these final clubs and starts doing a little digging on its history, unearthing some sinister secrets about a student who disappeared in 1927, and a secret society within the secret society, the Ancient Nine. Smith, a physician best known for his books on health and diet, tells a taut and speedy story and gives access to an elite and hidden world of Ivy League privilege in Cambridge.

Poet Bajraj comes to Grolier

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Poet Xhevdet Bajraj was deported from Kosovo in 1999 and, through a program for persecuted writers, was granted asylum in Mexico City, where he has lived since. He writes in both Spanish and Albanian, and a new chapbook of his work, “We Fall Like Children’’ (Laertes), out this week, and the poems in Albanian were translated by Ani Gjika, an award-winning Albanian-born poet and translator who lives in Framingham. Bajraj’s lines are deceptively simple, and hold, just below the surface and between the lines, chasms of pain. Many center around displacement, about what it is to be unplugged from the socket of your life. “I’m not from here or from over there,” he writes in “Tortilla Chip.” The collection is one of deep longing, for place, for home, for a deliverance into the deepest sorts of returns. Bajraj will read and discuss his work for the first time in the United States, in conversation with Gjika, on Sept. 20 at 7 pm at the Grolier Poetry Book Shop in Cambridge. 

Coming out

The Governesses’’ by Anne Serre, translated from the French by Mark Hutchinson (New Directions)

When Rap Spoke Straight to God’’ by Erica Dawson (Tin House)

“Children of God’’ by Lars Petter Sveen, translated from the Norwegian by Guy Puzey (Graywolf)

Pick of the week

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Lorna at Wellesley Books recommends Malagash’’ by Joey Comeau (ECW): “Each family that faces a terminal illness travels its own unique path. This beautifully-written novel tells the story of a daughter who believes she has found a way to memorialize her father as he lays in the hospital dying of cancer. The poignant moments and the power of this family are beautiful things to behold.”

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Nina MacLaughlin is the author of “Hammer Head: The Making of a Carpenter.” She can be reached at nmaclaughlin@gmail.com.