Third International Book of the Month Selection Is 'A Blade of Grass' by Lewis Desoto
South African Born Author Wrestles with Legacy of
Imperialism and Receives International Praise
NEW YORK, Nov. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- What is the price of imperialism? Recognizing the crucial role that literature plays in answering this question, "A Blade of Grass" by South African-born writer, Lewis DeSoto, has been selected as the next International Book of the Month by the DirectGroup division of Bertelsmann AG, co-owners of Bookspan's Book-of-the-Month Club. "A Blade of Grass," DeSoto's acclaimed debut novel, is a story of race, friendship, and betrayal set against the beleaguered African landscape. It is the story of two women -- one white, one black -- and their interlinked destinies at the time of a brutal territorial war. "A Blade of Grass" was published by HarperCollins Canada and under the Ecco imprint in the United States. The International Book of the Month is the first-ever global program of the DirectGroup to provide club members with one pre-selected title that has been chosen by the editors of clubs in the United States, Europe, Asia and Australia. Brigitte Weeks, Senior Vice President and Editorial Director of Bookspan, said, "'A Blade of Grass' is the quintessential International Book of the Month selection. It is distinguished by its subject matter, its prose, and its absorbing narrative. The fact that it is a first novel makes it all the more impressive." "Only every few years does a first novel come along as assured and beautifully executed as 'A Blade of Grass.' This is an outstanding literary debut that invokes a landscape and a relationship with the power of a seasoned novelist," said Daniel Halpern, Senior Vice President and Editorial Director at Ecco. "'A Blade of Grass' is a mesmerizing novel that casts an immediate spell over readers. When I read the first page, I was hooked," adds colleague Phyllis Bruce, Publisher, Phyllis Bruce Books, HarperCollins Canada. DirectGroup division of Bertelsmann owns and operates book and music clubs worldwide. Several times annually, many of the book clubs in the DirectGroup division agree on the selection of a single title to be offered as a Main or Featured Selection to club members. "A Blade of Grass" will be published in France, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Holland, Italy, Germany, and Poland, among others. The novel will be published in the native language of each country "A Blade of Grass" begins with Marit, a young bride who comes to the borderlands to farm with her new husband. When Marit's husband is suddenly killed, she has no one to turn to except her housemaid, Tembi. Both women are without family and estranged from their communities. An alliance -- and even a friendship -- begins to develop. Tragically, Marit finds herself shunned by other whites who reject her kinship with Tembi, and Joshua, the overseer of the farm, has his own plans for the land, plans that could be linked to the long-brewing native rebellion. As civil war seeps across the border, Marit and Tembi are left to fend for themselves amid the desolation of the surrounding veldt, an uphill battle that will threaten their very lives, and pit them not only against Afrikaaners and blacks, but each other. Markus Wilhelm, Bookspan's Chief Executive Officer, said, "DeSoto treats race and colonialism with the courage and unflinching honesty that such timely issues require. As an artist, his ability to convey the psychological and emotional complexities of a certain time and place is astounding. 'A Blade of Grass' is a novel with universal resonance-truly worthy of the International Book of the Month distinction." Ewald Walgenbach, DirectGroup Chief Executive Officer and member of the executive board of Bertelsmann, said, "DirectGroup Bertelsmann continues working with the publishing industry to discover and promote new and talented authors. We provide the authors the chance to reach a potential community of 35 million readers in our international clubs. This is unique in the book industry. The International Book of the Month program is strategically sound since it combines the greatest strength of the book clubs -- editorial discovery as well as our relationships with members and authors." Lewis DeSoto, who was born in Bloemfontain, South Africa to a family that arrived from Europe in the 18th century, said, "these (characters) arose out of the depths of my memory, out of emotions that had been lodged in my soul, still there after countless years, after departure, after exile, after the creation of another life in another country. The tragedy that Marit carried with her and the yearning that was on Tembi's face were in my heart too." The previous International Book of the Month selections were "No Second Chance" by Harlan Coben and "A Faint Cold Fear" by Karin Slaughter. About DirectGroup Bertelsmann DirectGroup Bertelsmann integrates Bertelsmann's global media direct-to- customer businesses. Approximately 55 million customer relationships secure DirectGroup's position among the largest enterprises in media commerce. Cornerstone of this success are Book Clubs in 20 countries with brands such as Book-of-the-Month Club, France Loisurs, De Club and Circulo de Lectores. Since August 2002, DirectGroup is headed by Ewald Walgenbach. DirectGroup is a division of Bertelsmann AG.
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