This fall’s fiction presents a mix of the everyday and the seismic. From deathbed confessions and earthquakes to family portraits and a total reimagining of the Underground Railroad, life’s moments, from smallest to largest, are explored. Links to reviews are included when available.
Jacqueline Woodson. Amistad, Aug. 9
In her first adult novel in 20 years, Woodson combines grit and beauty in a series of vignettes, painting a mural of what it was like to grow up African-American in Brooklyn during the 1970s.
Ann Patchett. Harper, Sept. 13
Patchett’s family portrait is a collage of parents, children, and stepchildren, showing how alliances and animosities ebb and flow over time, and how a fatal accident changes the family for good.
Jonathan Safran Foer. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Sept. 6
Unfolding over four tumultuous weeks in present-day Washington, D.C., Foer’s first novel in 11 years is the story of a fracturing family in a moment of crisis.
Alan Moore. Norton/Liveright, Sept. 13
Ten years in the making and 1,280 pages long, this is the most ambitious work to date from the author of Watchmen.
The Man Who Shot Out My Eye Is Dead
Chanelle Benz. Ecco, Jan. 17
Among the stories in this debut collection, a young woman escapes her life as a diplomat’s daughter and eventually finds herself captive in Beirut; a black poet in 19th-century Louisiana finds that due to deliberate neglect on the part of her employer, she has become a slave.
Michael Chabon. Harper, Nov. 22
Chabon’s novel unfolds as the deathbed confession of a man referred to only as “my grandfather”—a tale of madness, war, adventure, sex, desire, love, existential doubt, and model rocketry.
Brit Bennett. Riverhead, Oct. 11
This debut novel begins with 17-year-old Nadia Turner’s pregnancy (the father is the local pastor’s son), and the subsequent cover-up. Years later, living in debt, the characters are haunted by what might have happened if they had made different decisions.
Zadie Smith. Penguin Press, Nov. 15
Two girls dream of being dancers—but only one, Tracey, has talent. The other has ideas: about rhythm and time, about black bodies and black music, and about what constitutes a tribe and what makes a person truly free. The friendship ends abruptly, never to be revisited, but never quite forgotten.
Today Will Be Different
Maria Semple. Little, Brown, Oct. 4
A day in the life of Eleanor Flood, forced to abandon small ambitions and awake to a strange, new future as an encounter with a former colleague threatens to reveal a buried family secret.
Colson Whitehead. Doubleday, Sept. 13
A young slave makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South, on a literal Underground Railroad, with engineers and conductors operating a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath Southern soil.
Literary Fiction Listings
The Game Don’t Change by Mazaradi Fox (Nov. 1, trade paper, $12.95, ISBN 978-1-61775-482-1) is the only novel from deceased legendary Queens rapper Mazaradi Fox, a member of 50 Cent’s G-Unit crew.
The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers (Jan. 10, hardcover, $25.95, ISBN 978-1-61620-581-2). When Maj. Gryffth Hockaday is called to the front lines of the Civil War, his new bride is left to care for her husband’s farm and infant son. By the time he returns two years later, Placidia is bound for jail, accused of having borne a child in his absence and murdering it. What really happened in the two years he was away?
Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson (Aug. 9, hardcover, $22.99, ISBN 978-0-06-235998-8). In her first adult novel in 20 years, Woodson combines grit and beauty in a series of stunning vignettes, painting a vivid mural of what it was like to grow up African-American in Brooklyn during the 1970s. 50,000-copy announced first printing.
Public Library and Other Stories by Ali Smith (Oct. 4, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-101-97304-2) offers 12 stories that celebrate the power of books: their ability to challenge us, comfort us, and illuminate our view of the world.
More by Hakan Günday (Oct. 18, hardcover, $24.99, ISBN 978-1-62872-707-4). In this novel by Turkish author Günday, Gaza lives on the shores of the Aegean Sea. At the age of nine he becomes a human trafficker, like his father. They help smuggle desperate “illegals” by giving them shelter, food, and water before they attempt the crossing to Greece. 20,000-copy announced first printing.
Dance on the Volcano by Marie Vieux-Chauvet, trans. by Kaiama L. Glover (Nov. 8, trade paper, $18, ISBN 978-0-914671-57-2). In this novel that depicts the seeds and fruition of the Haitian Revolution, two sisters grow up in a culture that swings heavily between decadence and poverty, sensuality and depravity. One sister, because of her singing ability, is able to enter into the white colonial society otherwise off-limits to people of color.
The Angel of History by Rabih Alameddine (Oct. 4, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-8021-2576-7). The new novel by the National Book Award finalist is about an Arab-American poet whose adult life in San Francisco spans the AIDS decades, and his struggle to remember and forget the events of an astonishing life.
Perfume River by Robert Olen Butler (Sept. 6, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-0-8021-2575-0). From the Pulitzer Prize–winning author comes a novel about how the Vietnam War divided families, a layered portrayal of marriage, brotherhood, and the sum of a life.
Mr. Eternity by Aaron Thier (Aug. 9, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-63286-093-4). An ambitious genre-bender spans 1,000 years of high-seas adventure, environmental and cultural catastrophe, and enduring love.
Nine Island by Jane Alison (Sept. 13, trade paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-1-936787-12-8). An intimate autobiographical novel is told by J, a middle-aged woman living in a glass tower on one of Miami Beach’s lush Venetian Islands as she tries to decide whether to withdraw forever from romantic love.
The Revolutionaries Try Again by Mauro Javier Cardenas (Sept. 6, trade paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-1-56689-446-3). Three childhood friends reunite to transform Ecuador only to find their idealism has succumbed to the cynicism of their fathers.
Another Place You’ve Never Been by Rebecca Kauffman (Oct. 11, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-1-59376-656-6). In her mid-30s and living in Buffalo, N.Y., Tracy spends most days at the restaurant where she works as a hostess, despite her aspirations of a career that would use her creative talents. A novel in linked short stories illuminates the ways in which families are created by being destroyed.
The Mortifications by Derek Palacio (Oct. 4, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-1-101-90569-2). In 1980, during the traumatic Mariel boatlift, a small Cuban family suffers irreparable damage. Uxbal Encarnación—father, husband, political insurgent—refuses to give up the revolutionary ideals and lush tomato farms of his sun-soaked homeland. Soledad takes young Isabel and Ulises and flees with them to America, leaving behind Uxbal for the promise of a better life.
A Gambler’s Anatomy by Jonathan Lethem (Oct. 18, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-0-385-53990-6). The author of Motherless Brooklyn returns with a novel about an international backgammon hustler who thinks he’s psychic. Too bad about the tumor in his face.
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (Sept. 13, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-0-385-53703-2). In Whitehead’s conception chronicling a young slave’s journey as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor—engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath Southern soil.
Nutshell by Ian McEwan (Sept. 13, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-0-385-54207-4). From the bestselling author of Atonement, this is a classic story of murder and deceit, told by a narrator with a unique perspective and voice.
The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis (Aug. 23, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-101-98499-4). Davis’s debut novel pulls readers into the world of New York City’s glamorous Barbizon Hotel for Women, where a present-day journalist living in the renovated and renamed condo becomes consumed with uncovering a dark secret buried deep within the Barbizon’s glitzy past.
The Man Who Shot Out My Eye Is Dead by Chanelle Benz (Jan. 17, hardcover, $24.99, ISBN 978-0-06-249075-9). Among the stories in this debut collection, a young woman escapes the suffocating atmosphere of her life as a diplomat’s daughter and eventually finds herself captive in Beirut, in way over her head; and a black poet in 19th-century Louisiana finds that by deliberate neglect on the part of her employer, she has become a slave. 30,000-copy announced first printing.
Perfect Little World by Kevin Wilson (Jan. 24, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-0-06-245032-6). Isabelle Poole accepts a space in the Infinite Family Project, in a spacious compound in Tennessee, joining nine other couples, all with children the same age as her newborn son, to raise their children as one extended family. 75,000-copy announced first printing.
The Terranauts by T.C. Boyle (Oct. 25, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-0-06-234940-8). A deep-dive into human behavior through the eyes of eight young Terranauts, four men and four women voluntarily sealed inside a glass enclosure designed to serve as a prototype for a possible off-Earth colony, who become entangled in much more than the game of survival. 150,000-copy announced first printing.
Shelter in Place by Alexander Maksik (Sept. 13, trade paper, $18, ISBN 978-1-60945-364-0). The life of Joseph March, a 21-year-old working-class kid from Seattle, implodes when he starts to suffer the symptoms of bipolar disorder, and, not long after, his mother kills a man she’s doesn’t know with a hammer.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
By Gaslight by Steven Price (Oct. 4, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-374-16053-1). William Pinkerton is already famous, the son of the notorious detective, when he descends into the underworld of Victorian London in pursuit of the fabled con Edward Shade. William’s father died without ever finding Shade, but William is determined to drag the thief out of the shadows.
Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer (Sept. 6, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-374-28002-4). Unfolding over four tumultuous weeks in present-day Washington, D.C., Foer’s first novel in 11 years is the story of a fracturing family in a moment of crisis.
Pull Me Under by Kelly Luce (Nov. 1, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-374-23858-2). Rio is the Japanese-American daughter of the revered violinist Hiro Akitani, whom Rio hasn’t spoken to since she left her home country for the United States (and a new identity) after a violent crime she committed. Her father’s death, along with a mysterious package that arrives on her doorstep in Colorado, spurs her return to Japan for the first time in 20 years.
The Story of a Brief Marriage by Anuk Arudpragasam (Sept. 6, hardcover, $24.99, ISBN 978-1-250-07240-5). A debut novel set over the course of one day near the end of the Sri Lankan civil war, as a newly married couple explores the possibility of intimacy in a place of profound trauma.
The Orphan Mother by Robert Hicks (Sept. 13, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-446-58176-9). In the years following the Civil War, former slave Mariah Reddick has quietly built a new life for herself as a midwife to the women of Franklin, Tenn. But when her ambitious, politically minded grown son, Theopolis, is murdered, Mariah—no stranger to loss—finds her world once more breaking apart. 100,000-copy announced first printing.
All That Man Is by David Szalay (Oct. 4, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-1-55597-753-5). Nine men, each at a different stage in life, each away from home, and each striving—in the suburbs of Prague, in an overdeveloped Alpine village, beside a Belgian motorway, in a dingy Cyprus hotel—to understand what it means to be alive, here and now.
Valiant Gentlemen by Sabina Murray (Nov. 1, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0-8021-2545-3). In an epic novel of friendship and betrayal set across four continents and 40 years, Murray reimagines the lives and intimate friendships of humanitarian and Irish patriot Roger Casement; his closest friend, Herbert Ward; and Ward’s extraordinary wife, the Argentinian-American heiress Sarita Sanford.
Commonwealth by Ann Patchett (Sept. 13, hardcover, $27.99, ISBN 978-0-06-249179-4). Patchett’s family portrait—a collage of parents, children, stepchildren, siblings, and stepsiblings— shows how alliances and animosities ebb and flow over time, and how a fatal accident changes the family for good. 500,000-copy announced first printing.
Moonglow by Michael Chabon (Nov. 22, hardcover, $28.99, ISBN 978-0-06-222555-9) unfolds as a deathbed confession made to his grandson by a man the narrator refers to only as “my grandfather.” It is a tale of madness, war, adventure, sex, desire, ordinary love, existential doubt, and model rocketry. 350,000-copy announced first printing.
Human Acts by Han Kang, trans. by Deborah Smith (Jan. 17, hardcover, $21, ISBN 978-1-101-90672-9). In the midst of a violent student uprising in South Korea, a young boy named Dong-ho is killed. The story of this tragic episode unfolds in a sequence of interconnected chapters as the victims and the bereaved encounter suppression, denial, and the echoing agony of the massacre; from the Man Booker International winner for The Vegetarian.
The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride (Sept. 20, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-101-90348-3). The author of A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing relates a tale of an 18-year-old Irish girl arriving in London to begin as a drama student, with all the hopes of any young actress searching for the fame she’s always dreamed of. Then she meets an attractive older man, and the inevitable clamorous relationship that ensues is one that will change her dramatically.
4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster (Jan. 31, hardcover, $32, ISBN 978-1-62779-446-6). Nearly two weeks early, Archibald Isaac Ferguson, the only child of Rose and Stanley Ferguson, is born on March 3, 1947, in the maternity ward of Beth Israel Hospital in Newark, N.J. From that single beginning, Ferguson’s life will take four simultaneous and independent fictional paths.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
The Fortunes by Peter Ho Davies (Sept. 6, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0-544-26370-3). Four lives—a railroad baron’s valet who unwittingly ignites an explosion in Chinese labor, Hollywood’s first Chinese movie star, a hate-crime victim whose death mobilizes Asian-Americans, and a biracial writer visiting China for an adoption—illuminate United States history through the experiences of Chinese-Americans. 40,000-copy announced first printing.
The Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang (Oct. 4, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-544-73409-8). Charles Wang, an immigrant businessman who built a cosmetics empire and made a
fortune, has just been ruined by the financial crisis. Now all Charles wants is to get his kids into a safe place so that he can go to China and attempt to reclaim his family’s ancestral lands—and his pride. 75,000-copy announced first printing.
A Change of Heart by Sonali Dev (Sept. 27, trade paper, $15, ISBN 978-1-4967-0574-7). Dr. Nikhil “Nic” Joshi has it all—marriage, career, purpose. Until, while working for Doctors Without Borders in a Mumbai slum, his wife, Jen, discovers a black market organ transplant ring, and tragedy sets his life on a different course.
The Nix by Nathan Hill (Aug. 30, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-1-101-94661-9). In a debut novel about a son and the mother who left him as a child, his search to uncover the secrets of her life leads him to reclaim his own. 100,000-copy announced first printing.
Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple (Oct. 4, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0-316-40343-6). In a day in the life of Eleanor Flood, she is forced to abandon her small ambitions and awake to a strange, new future as an encounter with a former colleague threatens to reveal a buried family secret. 200,000-copy announced first printing.
The Wonder by Emma Donoghue (Sept. 20, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0-316-39387-4). In the 19th century, an English nurse brought to a small Irish village to observe what appears to be a miracle—a girl said to have survived without food for months—soon finds herself fighting to save the child’s life. 150,000-copy announced first printing.
Mischling by Affinity Konar (Sept. 6, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0-316-30810-6). It’s 1944 when twin sisters Pearl and Stasha arrive at Auschwitz and are placed among the experimental population of twins known as Mengele’s Zoo. Later, the camp is liberated by the Red Army, and Pearl disappears. 150,000-copy announced first printing.
We Are Unprepared by Meg Little Reilly (Aug. 30, trade paper, $15.99, ISBN 978-0-7783-1943-6). Ash and Pia’s move from Brooklyn to the bucolic hills of Vermont was supposed to be a fresh start—a picturesque farmhouse, mindful lifestyle, maybe even children. But just three months in, news breaks of a devastating superstorm expected in the coming months. 100,000-copy announced first printing.
Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down by Anne Valente (Oct. 4, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-0-06-242911-7). The lives of four teenagers are capsized by a shocking school shooting and its aftermath. 100,000-copy announced first printing.
The Last Wolf & Herman by László Krasznahorkai, trans. by George Szirtes (Sept. 6, hardcover, $15.95, ISBN 978-0-8112-2608-0). In “The Last Wolf,” told in a single sentence, a man is hired to write (by mistake, by a glitch of fate) the true tale of the last wolf of Extremadura, a barren stretch of Spain. In “Herman,” a man is asked to clear a forest’s last “noxious beasts.”
New York Review Books
Iza’s Ballad by Magda Szabo, trans. by George Szirtes (Oct. 18, trade paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-1-68137-034-7). When Ettie’s husband dies, her daughter, Iza, insists that she give up the family house in the countryside and move to Budapest. This is the story of a woman who loses her life’s companion and a mother trying to get close to a daughter whom she has never truly known; by the author of The Door.
Jerusalem by Alan Moore (Sept. 13, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-1-63149-134-4). Ten years in the making and 1,280 pages long, this is the most ambitious work to date by the author of Watchmen.
Gesell Dome by Guillermo Saccomanno, trans. by Andrea G. Labinger (Aug. 9, trade paper, $18.95, ISBN 978-1-940953-38-0). Opening with reports of a child-abuse scandal at an elementary school, then weaving its way through dozens of sordid story lines and characters—including various murders and the Nazi past of the city—Gesell Dome chronicles the dark underbelly of a popular resort town tensely awaiting the return of the tourist season.
The Senility of Vladimir P. by Michael Honig (Aug. 2, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-1-68177-156-4). Set 20-odd years from now, this novel opens on Patient Number One—Vladimir Putin, largely forgotten in his presidential dacha, serviced by a small coterie of house staff, drifting in and out of his memories of the past, in a satire and allegory of the fragility of goodness and the contagion of unchecked power.
Swing Time by Zadie Smith (Nov. 15, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-1-59420-398-5). Two girls dream of being dancers—but only one, Tracey, has talent. The other has ideas: about rhythm and time, about black bodies and black music, and about what constitutes a tribe and what makes a person truly free. Their complicated friendship ends abruptly, never to be revisited, but never quite forgotten.
Little Nothing by Marisa Silver (Sept. 13, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0-399-16792-8) relates the story of Pavla, a child scorned for her physical deformity, whose passion and salvation lie in her otherworldly ability to transform herself and the world around her.
The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker (Jan. 17, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0-8129-8928-1). In their first year of college, two young women, one from rural Florida, the other from rural Kentucky, both outsiders at their prestigious East Coast school, meet in Introduction to Sketch and become instant best friends, in a debut novel about two women’s transformative college friendship and artistic partnership over the years.
Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton (Aug. 9, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-8129-9889-4). A debut novel is set at the edges of civilization: a lonely scientist in the Arctic, and an astronaut returning from a long journey, each haunted by questions of love, memory, and regret, in the face of an uncertain future.
The Mothers by Brit Bennett (Oct. 11, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-399-18451-2). This debut novel begins with 17-year-old Nadia Turner’s pregnancy by the local pastor’s son, and the subsequent coverup. Years later, living in debt, the characters are haunted by what might have happened if they had made different decisions.
The Kid by Ron Hansen (Oct. 4, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-5011-2975-9). A new novel from the author of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, about a notorious American criminal of the Old West: legendary outlaw, Billy the Kid.
Simon & Schuster
Faithful by Alice Hoffman (Nov. 1, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-4767-9920-9). Growing up on Long Island, Shelby Richmond is an ordinary girl until one night an extraordinary tragedy changes her fate. Her best friend’s future is destroyed in an accident, while Shelby walks away with the burden of guilt.
The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict (Oct. 18, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-1-4926-3725-7). What secrets may have lurked in the shadows of Albert Einstein’s fame? His first wife, Mileva “Mitza” Mari, was more than the devoted mother of their three children—she was also a brilliant physicist in her own right, and her contributions to the special theory of relativity have been hotly debated for more than a century.
Univ. of North Carolina Wilmington/Lookout
We Show What We Have Learned by Clare Beams (Oct. 1, trade paper, $17.95, ISBN 978-1-940596-14-3). The literary, historic, and fantastic collide in these unsettling stories. From bewildering assemblies in school auditoriums to the murky waters of a Depression-era health resort, Beams’s landscapes are tinged with otherworldliness, and her characters’ desires stretch the limits of reality.
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (Sept. 6, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0-670-02619-7). In 1922, Count Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal and sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov must live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history unfold outside the hotel’s doors.