Who: Nova Ren Suma, Melissa Albert
What: Book launch of A Room Away from the Wolves (Algonquin Young Readers, $18.95) by Nova Ren Suma
Where: McNally Jackson, 52 Prince St., 212-274-1160
When: Tuesday, September 4, free, 7:00
Why: Seven years ago, Nova Ren Suma gave the first public reading of her debut young adult novel, Imaginary Girls, at This Week in New York’s tenth anniversary party on the Lower East Side. Since then, Suma has become a YA superstar, earning numerous accolades and starred reviews for that book as well as 2013’s 17 & Gone and 2015’s The Walls Around Us, developing a reputation for her unique forays deep into the teen psyche, exploring a slightly twisted reality with more than a touch of the supernatural. For the launch of her fourth YA novel, A Room Away from the Wolves, Suma, who was raised primarily in and around the Hudson Valley and now lives in Philadelphia, will be back in Gotham on September 4 to celebrate the launch of the book at McNally Jackson on Prince St. “Living in New York City was my childhood dream and made my heart full for more than twenty years,” Suma, a former colleague, told me. “The last thing I did before I moved away was finish the final revision of this book, the first novel I ever wrote set in the city I love. I had to come home for the very first event — I couldn’t launch the book anywhere else.” The book itself was partly inspired by Suma’s “possible-maybe ghost sighting” at Yaddo and her use of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes’s writing studio.
Here’s the first paragraph to give you a taste of her immense skill and expert craftsmanship:
When the girl who lived in the room below mine disappeared into the darkness, she gave no warning, she showed no twitch of fear. She had her back to me, but I sensed her eyes were open, the city skyline bristling with attention, five stories above the street. It was how I imagined Catherine de Barra herself once stood at this edge almost a hundred years ago, when the smog was suffocating and the lights much more dim, when only one girl ever slept inside these walls of stacked red brick.
At McNally Jackson, Suma will be joined by BN.com managing editor Melissa Stewart, author of The Hazel Wood (Flatiron, January 2018, $16.99), for a reading, conversation, and signing. “When I read the opening pages of The Hazel Wood, I pretty much swooned,” said Suma, who also leads popular workshops, teaches in the MFA program at the Vermont College of Fine Arts, and recently started the online YA short-story anthology Foreshadow with Emily X. R. Pan. “The book is fantastically imaginative, gorgeously told, and deliciously dark — everything I love. I can’t wait to talk city fairy tales, mother/daughter stories, and embracing all things weird and wild with Melissa Albert.” If you can’t make it to the event, you can order a personalized, signed copy of A Room Away from the Wolves here.