Dear READERS:

What you have here is a debut novel that is the work of the first new writer I have taken on in a decade. To say I am excited about the novel and the writer is an understatement. Lili Wright is a mature woman who has travelled, lived, and thought a great deal about the worlds she has moved through. It shows in the power of her themes, in her sensitive understanding of her seriously flawed characters, and in her extraordinary grasp of the contradictions embedded in the Mexican culture.  She is that rare American who has thrown off her carapace of privilege to understand Mexico, whose deeply fatalistic people must manage to survive amid the ferocious drug wars and top-down corruption that are corroding the heart and soul of this bedeviled country. “Poor Mexico, so near Los Estados Unidos, so far from God.”

9780399175176Lili Wright has crafted a literary thriller: A novel of propulsive power, it is told in short chapters and many voices. At the center of the plot is the attempt to recover an artifact purported to be the death mask of Montezuma. It has been found by a looter, a meth-addicted American in the employ of a ruthless narco drug lord who wants that mask for his own collection.  But so do many others, including an expat American collector, a former Oaxacan museum director who now makes money providing (false) provenances for looted artifacts, the addled grave-robber himself,  and Anna Ramsay, a young American who knows that getting hold of the mask will save her father’s reputation as an expert, a reputation that has just been savaged in a report claiming  many of the masks in his collection are forgeries. The setting is ripe for multiple double-crosses. Even the secondary characters have secret agendas and how these play out is complex and unpredictable.

But what gives this novel its psychological power is its multifaceted exploration of how we hide ourselves in plain sight. The front we present to the world is just another mask.

As Reyes, the drug lord, says, “Everyone loves masks. Because everyone has something to hide.”  Indeed, he himself is such a master of disguise that no one can describe him. He is a shape shifter of outlandish proportions and would be a character in an opera buffa were he not a coldblooded killer. Just as chilling is the expat collector, Thomas Malone. “A man in a mask,” he says, “is above the law. He makes his own rules, his own moral code.” Wright is masterful in the way she slowly builds his psychopathology.

Anna herself says, “I’ve worn a mask most of my life. For years I thought wearing a mask was a way to start over, become someone new. Now I know better.”  Anna is a very wounded woman, but there is not an ounce of self-pity in her and it is Lili Wright’s extraordinary craft that makes us sympathetic to her even as we wait to find out the source of her emotional scarring. She is a heroine for the moment—think “Orange is the New Black,” think the female version of “Breaking Bad.”

Dancing with the Tiger is filled with a large and richly conceived cast, a mix of expats and Mexicans from all social strata. None of them are mere walk-ons, all are brought movingly to life in Wright’s talented hands. It is a highly sensual novel and also an erotic novel in the worst way, and it is sprinkled with very quotable one-liners and acid observations: black humor at its finest. (Anna thinks: “chastity, like abstinence, was a virtue best begun tomorrow.”) This is grown-up fiction: Always gripping, often frightening, yet oddly touching. You care about these people.

The debut writer I took on ten years ago was Olga Grushin, author of The Dream Life of Sukhanov, which earned her a place on Granta’s  Best Young American Novelists (2) in 2007, won her the NYPL Young Lion’s prize that same year, brought her a nomination for the LATimes First Novel award and made her one of three finalists for England’s Orange Prize. The thrill I felt on first reading that novel was just what happened when I read Dancing with the Tiger. I’m really excited about Lili and ready to run with the novel.

Marian Wood

Read More about DANCING WITH THE TIGER by Lili Wright!



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If you are a book lover, you probably love everything about the reading process: buying your next favorite book after hours of scoping out the latest selection at your local bookstore, hugging said book to your chest for a solid hour before finally diving in.

But if you’re also an Instagram fanatic, you are most likely a member of the bookstagram community. This means that you are probably overjoyed at the sight of a bookshelf shot, a coffee and book in a coffee shop, or just a gorgeous book stack. We are right there with you, but we want to know what your favorite thing about this amazing online community of book lovers is! Take our poll and let us know!

Don’t forget to follow us on #bookstagram for more awesome bookish posts!







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A note from Meg Leder, editor of THE WANDER SOCIETY by Keri Smith

In 2006, I had one of the most fortuitous lunches of my editing career with Faith Hamlin, an agent at Sanford Greenburger. We sat at the now-closed Steak Frites in Union Square and near the end of the lunch, she handed me a project in a manila envelope, telling me I should take a look at it when I was back at my desk.

That project was a one-of-a-kind Moleskine mockup of Keri Smith’s Wreck This Journal, a magnificently and quietly subversive little book that we bought three days later, and that went on to sell several million copies worldwide, leading to eight subsequent books and legions of devoted Keri Smith fans.

In the ten years since, I’ve shared with Keri ideas and prompts for dream projects. However, in true subversive fashion, Keri always politely acknowledges them, then sends back completely different ideas that are more genuine and amazing than anything I could come up with on my own.

So it should have come as no surprise to me that when I asked Keri to consider writing a creativity manifesto—a way to share the integrity that drives her work—she came back to me with a manifesto actually written by someone else: a secret group called The Wander Society.

But it did surprise me, and in the most delightful ways imaginable. Because after signing up the book, I started receiving mysterious letters in the mail—strange musings typed on a real typewriter, an envelope of maple tree seeds, a small, badge with hand-embroidered with a lightning bolt.

The Wander Society was reaching out to me, inviting me to join—the lines between reader and editor and author and member starting to blur.

And so this summer I found myself on the shore of Lake Michigan, tying a small Wander Station filled with the society’s pamphlets around a tree. This fall, on my sabbatical in Paris and London, I left behind stickers of Walt Whitman, the patron saint of the Wander Society. A few weeks ago, I spent the afternoon wandering through the Lower East Side, ambling down streets I’d never explored before.

I don’t know who exactly The Wander Society is, but I know that Keri’s a member now, and I am too. I know that the regular practice of wandering has opened me up to the possibility of surprise, newness, and the joy that come from discovering new places.

Turns out, I really like the freedom of not knowing exactly where we’re going next—whether it’s a literal journey or a publishing one.

Find out more about THE WANDER SOCIETY by Keri Smith here.

Twitter: @WanderSpotters @PenguinPbks
Instagram: @PenguinBooks @WanderSpotters #TheWanderSociety



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Explore New York City with us this summer! In celebration of the 80th Anniversary of Penguin Books we have put together an 8-week scavenger hunt!

Each week we will post 3 clues to Instagram, one per day on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday pointing to a New York City location that is linked to one of the Penguin Books 80 Bestsellers! You will have until the Sunday of that week to decipher the clues and post a photo of the location. Each week one winner will be selected from all participants. All weekly participants will be entered into a grand prize drawing. Happy hunting!

Can you decipher the mystery NYC location from Week 5?

Clue 1:

Clue 2:

Clue 3:

To Enter:

  1. Follow @penguinusa on Instagram
  2. Decipher clues posted to the Penguin Instagram
  3. Post a photo of the mystery location on your Instagram account
  4. Geo-tag the location, use the hashtag #penguin80sweepstakes, and tag @penguinusa
  5. Repeat each week all summer long!

Can’t wait to get started? Sign-Up for our Newsletter to receive all 3 clues at once rather than waiting for them to be posted each day on Instagram!

 

Penguin 80th Anniversary Sweepstakes Official Rules

Enter for a chance to win: A copy of one of the following books, or the Grand Prize of all eight books, including A Discovery of WitchesThe Omnivore’s DilemmaThe Lords of FinanceDeath of a SalesmanThe Rules of CivilityIn the WoodsMoby-Dick and The Boys in the Boat (ARV = $14.00-$26.00 each or $145.00 for all). No purchase necessary. Entry is limited to U.S. or DC residents aged 18 and above and who have a public Instagram profile. Sweepstakes begins  July 6, 2015 and ends at 11:59:59 PM Eastern Time on August 31, 2015. Winners will be selected at random weekly and on September 3, 2015 for the Grand Prize. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited by law. For the Full Rules click here.


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Katherine Stewart is the Marketing Coordinator for Penguin Press. Being from Maine, she loves the outdoors and stays healthy by walking her dog and riding her horse!

 

 

 

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Moody Bitches by Julie Holland, M.D.

Women are meant to be moody—embrace it! In this book Julie Holland explains why moodiness can be a strength, not a weakness, which is so refreshing to hear. Her tips about hormones, medication, diet, exercise, and mood are helpful for women of ALL ages and will show you why you need to embrace your inner bitch. This can be an awkward topic but the frank/funny style of this book makes it so approachable.

 

 

 

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The Good Gut by Justin and Erica Sonnenburg

Gut bacteria sound disgusting, and while that may be true, they’re also very important! I didn’t realize how much they affect our health until I read Michael Pollan’s article “Some of My Best Friends Are Germs.” The article discusses the Sonnenburg’s work and how the microbes that reside in our gut affect everything from our immune response to our weight, allergic reactions, aging, and emotions. Who knew? While you may not be hungry after reading that, The Good Gut has delicious recipes that will encourage microbial health.

 

 

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Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer

My grandfather used to play a memory game with us. He would put 30 random objects on a tray and would give us one minute to look them over. Then he would cover them up and whoever could remember the most objects would win (I never did). My sister has a great memory and won every time. Moonwalking with Einstein will not only help you improve your memory, it also makes for a fascinating read. I’m betting that I’ll win next time we play!

 

 

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SuperBetter by Jane McGonigal

Don’t hate me but this title isn’t coming out until September. Make sure it’s on your to-read list though because it’s amazing. You may remember Jane from her first book Reality is Broken but if not, she’s a game designer. In 2009, she suffered a severe concussion and had trouble healing.  Afraid of never recovering, she decided to turn healing into a game. I’m not a big fan of gaming (other than Mario Kart), but I’ll play SuperBetter any day. So far 400,000 people have played SuperBetter, including Oprah. Look out for this one in the Fall!

 

To find Health & Self-Improvement books, click here

See Staff Picks for all our categories!


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Andrea Lam is a Publicity Assistant at Viking / Penguin Books / Penguin Classics, where she is the in-house champion for tall ships, world mythology and folklore, and Anne Brontë.

 

 

 

 

north-and-south-by-elizabeth-gaskellNorth and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

Elizabeth Gaskell is one of my favorite Victorian novelists, and North and South is easily my favorite of her novels. Gaskell wrote candidly and compassionately about class differences in British society, particularly as they applied to the heavily industrial North of England. In North and South, Southern Margaret Hale is forced with her family to move up to Milton-Northern (modelled after Manchester), where she comes into repeated conflict with mill owner and native Northerner John Thornton. As Milton-Northern’s mill workers increasingly agitate for rights, Margaret and John must come to an understanding both personally and politically, but their path is far from smooth. A bonus: the 2004 BBC series based on the novel is a wonderful adaptation, and I recommend both to just about anyone who will stand still long enough to listen.

 

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Spunyarn by John Masefield

I usually credit my deep love for tall ships and the Age of Sail to having read the entire 20-book Aubrey-Maturin series by Patrick O’Brian when I was twelve years old, but I’m sure that I encountered John Masefield’s poetry some time before then. Though I know intellectually that I’d not survive the physical toil of daily life on a merchant mariner or naval warship, Masefield’s ‘Sea-Fever’ makes me long for the far-ranging view from the bow of a ship running free, and moves me like few other poems do each time I read it.

 

 

 

the-turnip-princess-and-other-newly-discovered-fairy-tales-by-franz-xaver-von-schonwerthThe Turnip Princess by Franz Xaver von Schönwerth and translated by Maria Tatar

I’ve been passionate about world mythology and folklore since I was very young, and when I read the news in 2012 that a cache of previously unseen German fairy tales had been discovered, I jumped to follow the story. Imagine my surprise two years later when, shortly after I started working for Penguin, I learned that not only was Penguin Classics publishing a selection of Franz Xaver von Schönwerth’s tales, the tales were to be translated by the inimitable Maria Tatar! I’ve long admired Tatar’s scholarship, and I’m so pleased that her translation of Schönwerth’s tales are now available to the reading public and fellow fairy tale enthusiasts like myself.

 

passing-by-nella-larsenPassing by Nella Larsen

Nella Larsen’s short novel Passing is a poignant, painful exploration of race and racism in the Harlem Renaissance that deals with issues of racial identity formation, cultural assimilation, and self-presentation. Irene Redfield and Clare Kendry’s respective struggles with life as mixed-race women in a racist, male-dominated society still ring true today. Larsen’s other novel Quicksand, published a year before Passing, deals with related issues and is also well worth reading.

 

 

 

the-tenant-of-wildfell-hall-by-anne-bronteThe Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë

Jane and Emily are both well and good, but Anne is my favorite of the Brontë sisters and—I feel—the most under appreciated. Anne published only two novels, the other being Agnes Grey, and in both her straightforward depiction of casual male chauvinism stands in contrast to that of her sisters’ in Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. For readers accustomed to the exploits of Edward Rochester and Heathcliff, Tenant’s Arthur Huntingdon may come as a shock. Given that popular culture through history has a deleterious tendency to gloss over abusive behavior, I appreciate Anne Brontë’s refusal to do the same.

 

 

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The Penguin Book of Witches edited by Katherine Howe

If you thought you know about witches, think again. The Penguin Book of Witches is a well-selected collection of historical accounts (all primary-source documents) of accused witches and witch-hunters in North America and England that ably demonstrates that the history of witches is the history of legalized persecution of marginalized groups. Katherine Howe’s explanatory essays and notes are both intelligent and accessible, and help to contextualize the varying time periods in which the documents were written. Witches are a popular trope in fiction for good reason, and The Penguin Book of Witches is a great look at the history behind the fiction.

 

Find more books on the Penguin Classics page!

See Staff Picks for all our categories!