Jamaica, Japan, Dubai, Sierra Leone, the U.K. The settings of our top 10 fall Literary Fiction titles are far ranging, from rainy backwater towns to lush desert oases. And that’s not even mentioning the books set in our own backyard.
No book this fall is more impressive than A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James, whose last book, The Book of Night Women, won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. His latest is a 700-page epic spanning three decades of turbulent Jamaican history. The centerpiece is the 1976 attempted assassination of Bob Marley, and James’s polyphonic narrative features assassins, drug dealers, former girlfriends, government agents, and even ghosts.
The quiet life of a young train specialist is the focus of Haruki Murakami’s Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, the author’s follow-up to 1Q84. Tazaki, a throwback Murakami protagonist, is out to discover why his group of childhood friends refused to continue seeing him years ago.
PW’s starred review of Joseph O’Neill’s The Dog called it “a beautifully crafted narrative about a man undone by a soulless society.” The society in question is in Dubai, where a former lawyer has retreated from America and found refuge as a “family officer” for a wealthy family. O’Neill’s story of alienation and vulnerability is not to be missed.
Having already tackled America’s discontent and Vietnam, Denis Johnson has written a “post-9/11 literary spy thriller” set in Freetown, Sierra Leone, among other places in Africa, titled The Laughing Monsters. Roland Nair, a Scandinavian, finds himself wrapped up in betrayal, kidnapping, smuggling, and war after returning to the African country where he once made his fortune.
Fresh off winning the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction (formerly the Orange Prize), Eimear McBride will see her debut published stateside in September, when Coffee House releases A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing. Set in rural Ireland, the novel is told in a fragmented stream-of-consciousness style from the perspective of a young woman living in the shadow of sexual abuse and her brother’s brain tumor.
Back-to-back Man Booker winner Hilary Mantel also has a book out in September, her first since Bring Up the Bodies; it’s a story collection titled The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher. Readers can rest assured that her short stories, spotlighting what modern England has become, have all the magnetism of her Cromwell epics.
And then there’s David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks, a globe-trotting, time-bending epic that touches down in, among other places, England, Switzerland, Iraq, and Australia. The less said about the plot the better, but fans of Mitchell’s books will be thrilled, and may even bump into a few characters they’ve met before.
And if all that traveling has worn you out, rest assured there are strong books set in the States as well. Readers who have come to feel like the town of Gilead, Iowa, is a real place they’ve visited will be happy to return there in Marilynne Robinson’s Lila, the third of three novels set in the fictional plains town, after Gilead and Home.
Another master chronicler of American life, Richard Ford, brings back Frank Bascombe (The Sportswriter) for a journey through the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Ford’s new book, Let Me Be Frank with You, is divided into four novellas.
Finally, in an epic debut novel PW starred and called “powerful and significant,” Matthew Thomas traces one woman’s life in We Are Not Ourselves. The book begins in the 1940s in Woodside, Queens, and ends six decades later.
PW’s Top 10: Literary Fiction
The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher. Hilary Mantel. Holt, Sept. 30
The Bone Clocks. David Mitchell. Random, Sept. 2
A Brief History of Seven Killings. Marlon James. Riverhead, Oct. 2
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage. Haruki Murakami. Knopf, Aug. 12
The Dog. Joseph O’Neill. Pantheon, Sept. 9
A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing. Eimear McBride. Coffee House, Sept. 9
The Laughing Monsters. Denis Johnson. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Nov. 4
Let Me Be Frank with You. Richard Ford. Ecco, Nov. 4
Lila. Marilynne Robinson. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Oct. 7
We Are Not Ourselves. Matthew Thomas. Simon & Schuster, Aug. 19
Tehran at Twilight by Salar Abdoh (Oct. 7, paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1617752926). Against a backdrop of corrupt mullahs, shady fixers, political repression, and the ever-present threat of violence, Abdoh offers a telling glimpse into contemporary Tehran. Friendship, betrayal, and international intrigue populate this brilliant novel in the tradition of Graham Greene and John le Carré.
The High Divide by Lin Enger (Sept. 23, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-1616203757). Set in the American West in the 1880s, this family saga chronicles the journey of two boys in search of their father, a man coming to terms with his secret past. 35,000-copy announced first printing.
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Ready to Burst by Franketienne, trans. by Kaiama L. Glover (Oct. 14, paper, $18, ISBN 978-1935744788) follows the lives of two young men and their individual attempts to make sense of the deeply troubled Haitian society surrounding them; translated into English for the first time. The New York Times called it a novel from “Haiti’s most important writer: and “the father of Haitian letters.”
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The Business of Naming Things by Michael Coffey (Jan. 13, paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-1934137864). The first work of fiction from PW’s own Michael Coffey offers evocative stories of fathers and sons rooted in Coffey’s experiences with adoption, marriage, and fatherhood.
Black Balloon Publishing
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Fat Man and Little Boy by Mike Meginnis (Oct. 14, paper, $16, ISBN 978-1936787203). Grounded in history but animated by magical realism, this debut novel personifies the atomic bombs dropped on Japan.
Fives and Twenty-Fives by Michael Pitre (Aug. 26, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-1620407547) is a heart-stopping debut novel about war and its aftermath by an Iraq War veteran—and an essential examination of the United States’ role in the world.
The Penguin’s Song by Hassan Daoud, trans. by Marilyn Booth (Nov. 11, paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-0872866232). A family in exile from their home in old Beirut contend with claustrophobic conditions, recriminations, and unrealizable dreams of return.
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A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride (Sept. 9, hardcover, $24, ISBN 978-1566893688) tells the story of a young woman’s relationship with her brother and the long shadow cast by his childhood brain tumor, touching on everything from family violence to sexuality and the personal struggle to remain intact in times of intense trauma. PW calls this debut “unforgettable.” 10,000-copy announced first printing.
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The Palace of Illusions by Kim Addonizio (Sept. 9, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-1593765422). These stories by a National Book Award finalist straddle the line between the real and the imaginary, and feature half-vampires, illusionists, and carnies.
Stone Mattress: Nine Tales by Margaret Atwood (Sept. 16, hardcover, $25.95, ISBN 978-0385539128). A collection of highly imaginative short pieces that speak to our times with deadly accuracy, these examples of vintage Atwood are filled with creativity, intelligence, and humor.
The Children Act by Ian McEwan (Sept. 9, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-0385539708) is an emotionally wrenching new novel from the author of Atonement about a respected High Court judge in London with a troubled personal life.
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The Old Reactor by David Ohle (Sept. 9, paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-1936873562). This follow-up to Ohle’s cult classic, Motorman, is a strange and twisted tale of two imaginary cities of the future.
Let Me Be Frank with You by Richard Ford (Nov. 4, hardcover, $27.99, ISBN 978-0061692062). Pulitzer Prize–winner Ford details the life of his famous character, Frank Bascombe (The Sportswriter), in four narratives set in Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath. 100,000-copy announced first printing.
Rooms by Lauren Oliver (Sept. 23, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-0062223197). In the first adult novel from YA sensation Oliver, ghosts move about a dusty country house and interfere with the lives of the living inhabitants.
Above the Waterfall by Ron Rash (Nov. 18, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-0062349316). The New York Times bestselling author of Serena—the basis of the fall 2014 movie starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper—illuminates lives shaped by violence and passion in contemporary Appalachia. 75,000-copy announced first printing
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
The Emerald Light in the Air: Stories by Donald Antrim (Sept. 2, hardcover, $22, ISBN 978-0374280932) is a heartbreaking and hilarious collection from the MacArthur fellow.
The Laughing Monsters by Denis Johnson (Nov. 4, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-0374280598). A post-9/11 literary spy thriller leads three people through Sierra Leone, Uganda, and Congo, land abandoned by the future; from the National Book Award–winning author of Tree of Smoke.
Lila by Marilynne Robinson (Oct. 7, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0374187613). This third of three novels set in the fictional plains town of Gilead, Iowa, follows Gilead and Home; it’s called “a masterpiece of prose” by PW.
FSG/Faber & Faber
10:04 by Ben Lerner (Sept. 2, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-0865478107), from the author of Leaving the Atocha Station, is a novel about making art, love, and children at a time when the future is in doubt.
Reunion by Hannah Pittard (Oct. 7, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-1455553617). The author of the acclaimed The Fates Will Find Their Way returns with a novel about a far-flung family reunited for one weekend by their father’s death. 35,000-copy announced first printing.
Tesla: A Portrait with Masks by Vladimir Pistalo, trans. by Bogdan Rakic and John Jeffries (Jan. 6, paper, $16, ISBN 978-1555976972). An electric novel of the extraordinary life of one of the 20th-century’s most prodigious and colorful inventors.
The Undertaking by Audrey Magee (Sept. 2, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-0802122452). Longlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction and sold in seven countries, the much anticipated debut centers around a whirlwind WWII romance. A German soldier returns from the Eastern front and finds his young family mired in Nazi high society just as Berlin falls.
Menagerie by Rachel Vincent (Dec. 30, paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-0778316053). When Delilah Marlow visits a famous traveling carnival, Metzger’s Menagerie, she is an ordinary woman in a not-quite-ordinary world. But under the macabre circus black-top, she discovers a fierce, sharp-clawed creature lurking just beneath her human veneer.
Man v. Nature: Stories by Diane Cook (Oct. 7, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-0062333100). A refreshingly imaginative, daring debut collection of stories that illuminates with audacious wit the complexity of human behavior, seen through the lens of the natural world. 20,000-copy announced first printing.
The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher: Stories by Hilary Mantel (Sept. 30, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-1627792103). The repeat Booker winner delivers a collection of contemporary short stories that demonstrate what modern England has become.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
The Complete Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino, trans by William Weaver, Tim Parks, and Martin McLaughlin (Sept. 16, hardcover, $24, ISBN 978-0544146440). The definitive edition of Calvino’s cosmicomics, bringing together all of these enchanting stories—including some never before translated—in one volume for the first time.
Florence Gordon by Brian Morton (Sept. 23, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-0544309869). A wise and entertaining novel about a woman who has lived life on her own terms for 75 defiant and determined years, only to find herself suddenly thrust to the center of several family catastrophes. 25,000-copy announced first printing.
The Zone of Interest: A Novel by Martin Amis (Sept. 30, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-0385353496). The author of Lionel Asbo provides a searing portrait of life—and, surprisingly, love—in a concentration camp. 50,000-copy announced first printing.
Adultery: A Novel by Paulo Coelho, trans. by Margaret Jull Costa and Zoë Perry (Aug. 19, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-1101874080). A woman attempts to overcome midlife ennui by rediscovering herself in a passionate relationship with a man who had been a friend in her youth. 150,000-copy announced first printing.
Family Furnishings: Selected Stories, 1995–2014 by Alice Munro (Nov. 11, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-1101874103). From the recipient of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature comes a new selection of short fiction, gathered from the collections of the past two decades, and a companion volume to Selected Stories (1968–1994). 100,000-copy announced first printing.
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage: A Novel by Haruki Murakami, trans. by Philip Gabriel (Aug. 12, hardcover, $25.95, ISBN 978-0385352109). In his first novel since 1Q84, Murakami follows the life of a loner years after his group of best friends told him they didn’t want to see him any longer—and reveals the secrets of their entwined pasts. 250,000-copy announced first printing.
The Betrayers: A Novel by David Bezmozgis (Sept. 23, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0316284332). The author of Natasha and The Free World focuses on one fraught, momentous day in the life of Baruch Kotler, a Soviet Jewish dissident who now finds himself a disgraced Israeli politician. 50,000-copy announced first printing.
Sweetness #9 by Stephan Eirik Clark (Aug. 19, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0316278751). Fast Food Nation meets The Corrections in a debut about how science and humanity are altered by an artificial sweetener. 25,000-copy announced first printing.
Neverhome by Laird Hunt (Sept. 9, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0316370134) reveals a woman who disguises herself as a man and goes off to fight for the Union in the Civil War. 50,000-copy announced first printing.
Little A/New Harvest
Expo 58 by Jonathan Coe (Sept. 2, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-0544343764) is a tale of Cold War love and intrigue a writer Nick Hornby has called “probably the best English novelist of his generation.” 10,000-copy announced first printing.
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Everlasting Lane by Andrew Lovett (Jan. 13, hardcover, $25.95, ISBN 978-1612193809). A coming-of-age story about what happens when nine-year-old Peter’s father dies and his mother moves the family from the city to a house in the countryside, for what seem to Peter to be mysterious reasons.
A Little Lumpen Novelita by Roberto Bolaño (Sept. 16, hardcover, $19.95, ISBN 978-0811223362). The final book to be translated into English from the Chilean author is called “a small, glittering gem” by PW.
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Noontide Toll: Stories by Romesh Gunesekera (Sept. 2, hardcover, $21.95, ISBN 978-1620970201) is a collection of stories set in the aftermath of the Sri Lankan civil war, from the Booker Prize–nominated “master storyteller,” wrote the New York Times.
New York Review Books
You’ll Enjoy It When You Get There: The Selected Stories of Elizabeth Taylor by Elizabeth Taylor (Sept. 16, paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-1590177273). In the novels A Game of Hide and Seek and Angel, Elizabeth Taylor calmly noted the motivations, rash decisions, illusions, desires, and unwilling actions of her characters. She continues mapping the minds of her characters in short stories, a format well-suited for literary psychological excavation.
Three Bargains by Tania Malik (Aug. 11, hardcover, $25.95, ISBN 978-0393063400). Set in northern India, this rags to riches epic is for fans of The Kite Runner and Slumdog Millionaire.
Mermaids in Paradise by Lydia Millet (Nov. 3, hardcover, $25.95, ISBN 978-0393245622) redefines “comedy of errors” in Millet’s genre-bending satire of a tropical honeymoon hijacked by mermaids, kidnappers, and mercenaries.
All Days Are Night by Peter Stamm, trans. by Michael Hoffman (Nov. 4, hardcover, $23.95, ISBN 978-1590516966). The latest novel from the Man Booker Prize–shortlisted author employs Stamm’s spare and unadorned prose to examine questions about beauty, pain, love, and reawakening with honesty and empathy. 20,000-copy announced first printing.
The Dog by Joseph O’Neill (Sept. 9, hardcover, $25.95, ISBN 978-0307378231). The author of Netherland, called “brilliant” and “profound” by PW, tells the story of an American man lost in Dubai.
The Ambassadors by George Lerner (Sept. 15, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-1605986203) . The Rwandan civil war is the backdrop for a family portrait of conflicting loyalties and a search for identity.
The Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes (Oct. 28, paper, $16, ISBN 978-0143126478). An earlier work from Moyes available in the U.S. for the first time, this is a post-WWII story of the war brides who crossed the seas by the thousands to face their unknown futures.
On the Edge by Edward St. Aubyn (Oct. 14, paper, $16, ISBN 978-1250046017). Sabine is the most mercurial woman Peter Thorpe has ever known. Such is his desire for her that he overturns his whole life and leaves everything behind, not caring that his lover is of no fixed address, or that his search for her will take him to the heart of the New Age in California; shortlisted for the Guardian Fiction Award.
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell (Sept. 2, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-1400065677). Channeling multiple lives and chance encounters, as in Cloud Atlas, Mitchell’s ambitious new novel is called “a thing of beauty” by PW.
The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber (Oct. 28, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0553418842). Faber, known for The Crimson Petal and the White and Under the Skin, returns with a meditation on the power of faith, the bonds of marriage, and the consequences of shirking responsibility to those we love.
Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas (Sept. 9, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0804138420) is a sweeping and affecting coming-of-age story of a gifted young Australian swimmer whose moment of violence haunts his life for decades; by the internationally award-winning and bestselling author of The Slap.
A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James (Oct. 2, hardcover, $28.95, ISBN 978-1594486005). From the author of The Book of Night Women comes an engrossing epic that explores the tumultuous world of Jamaica over three decades and the attempted assassination of Bob Marley in the late 1970s.
The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters (Sept. 16, hardcover, $28.95, ISBN 978-1594633119). The author of The Little Stranger presents a novel about a widow and her daughter who take a young couple into their home in 1920s London.
Nora Webster by Colm Tóibín (Oct. 7, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-1439138335). Set in Ireland, Tóibín’s latest is about a fiercely compelling young widow and mother of four navigating grief and fear, and struggling for hope.
Simon & Schuster
A Sudden Light by Garth Stein (Sept. 30, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-1439187036). The author of The Art of Racing in the Rain tells a coming-of-age ghost story set against the backdrop of the Pacific Northwest timber industry.
We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas (Aug. 19, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-1476756660). A sprawling, multigenerational portrait of the Irish-American Leary family. A debut novel PW says “comes close to a definitive portrait of American social dynamics in the 20th century.”
Rainey Royal by Dylan Landis (Sept. 9, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-1616954529). In 1970s Greenwich Village, 14-year-old Rainey Royal is fighting to figure out how to put back in place boundaries that no longer exist in her life, and more than that, struggling to learn how to be an artist and a person in a broken world. Fourteen narratives build into a powerful novel.
The Thing About December by Donal Ryan (Aug. 26, paper, $15, ISBN 978-1586422288). A dark and bittersweet tale, set during the economic boom of the Celtic Tiger, is a poignant reminder that we are surrounded in life by simple souls who are more insightful and wise than we realize, or can even imagine.
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Julia Paradise by Rod Jones, intro. by Emily Maguire (Aug. 12, paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-1922147127). Sex, lies, and psychotherapy—an imaginative interpretation of Freud is a controversial, challenging, and exciting novel set in Shanghai in 1927.
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The Search for Heinrich Schlögel by Martha Baillie (Sept. 9, paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1935639909). In July of 1980, 20-year-old Heinrich Schlögel sets off on a hiking trip into the Arctic wilderness of Canada’s Baffin Island. He emerges two weeks later to find that, although he has not aged, 30 years have elapsed in his absence.
West of Sunset by Stewart O’Nan (Jan. 13, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-0670785957) interprets the last years in the life of F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Frog by Mo Yan (Jan. 22, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-0525427988). The author of Red Sorghum and a controversial Chinese novelist returns with his first major publication since winning the Nobel Prize in 2012.