This fall’s literary nonfiction disproves, or at least complicates, the notion that the writer’s life is a lonely one. Collections of correspondence capture authors in conversation with family members, publishers, and each other, while literary histories reveal the relationships that nurtured classic books on the way to publication.

Top 10

Albert Murray: Collected Essays & Memoirs

Albert Murray, edited by Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Paul Devlin. Library of America, Oct. 18

Marking the centenary of the groundbreaking essayist and jazz critic’s birth, this is the most complete collection of Murray’s nonfiction yet published.

Dear Mr. Beckett—Letters from the Publisher: The Samuel Beckett File

Barney Rosset, edited by Lois Oppenheim. Opus, Oct. 13

Through letters, interviews, contracts, photos, and memorabilia—most never before made public—readers witness the relationship between Samuel Beckett and Barney Rosset.

The Feud: Vladimir Nabokov, Edmund Wilson, and the End of a Beautiful Friendship

Alex Beam. Pantheon, Dec. 6

Beam traces a famous literary friendship from its beginning, soon after Nabokov ‘s arrival in America, to its stormy end, after Nabokov’s fame had eclipsed Wilson’s.

Home and Away

Karl Ove Knausgaard and Fredrik Ekelund. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Jan. 10

Two world-class writers reveal themselves as ultimate soccer fans in this collection of correspondence.

Lara: The Untold Love Story and the Inspiration for ‘Doctor Zhivago’

Anna Pasternak. Ecco, Jan. 24

The great-niece of Boris Pasternak reveals the real-life love story upon which he drew while writing Doctor Zhivago.

Looking for ‘The Stranger’: Albert Camus and the Life of a Literary Classic

Alice Kaplan. Univ. of Chicago, Sept. 22

Kaplan relates how a young, first-time writer produced one of the greatest works of 20th-century French literature.

Love from Boy: Roald Dahl’s Letters to His Mother

Edited by Donald Sturrock. Penguin/Blue Rider, Sept. 6

This collection of Roald Dahl’s letters to his mother, Sofie Magdalene, covers much of the legendary author’s early life and career.

Soul at the White Heat: Inspiration, Obsession, and the Writing Life

Joyce Carol Oates. Ecco, Sept. 20

Oates undertakes an imaginative exploration of the writing life, and all its attendant anxieties, joys, and futilities, in this collection of essays and criticism.

Thrill Me: Essays on Fiction

Benjamin Percy. Graywolf, Oct. 18

In his first book of nonfiction, Percy challenges the perception that literary and genre fiction are mutually exclusive.

Words Are My Matter: Writings About Life and Books, 2000–2015, with a Journal of a Writer’s Week

Ursula K. Le Guin. Small Beer, Oct. 11

One of our best and most thoughtful writers presents a wide-ranging collection of essays, reviews, and talks.

Essays & Literary Criticism Listings


A Literary Tour of Italy by Tim Parks (Nov. 29, trade paper, $17, ISBN 978-1-84688-391-0) contains a selection of the acclaimed novelist and short story writer’s essays on the literature of his adopted country, from Boccaccio and Machiavelli to Moravia and Tabucchi.


Books to Die For: The World’s Greatest Mystery Writers on the World’s Greatest Mystery Novels, edited by John Connolly and Declan Burke (Oct. 25, trade paper, $17, ISBN 978-1-4767-1036-5). The world’s best mystery writers celebrate their favorite mystery novels in a collection featuring essays by Michael Connelly, Kathy Reichs, and Ian Rankin, among others.

Black Dog & Leventhal

Literary Wonderlands: A Journey Through the Greatest Fictional Worlds Ever Created, edited by Laura Miller (Nov. 1, hardcover, $29.99, ISBN 978-0-316-31638-5), is a fully illustrated collection that delves deep into the inception, influences, and

historical underpinnings of nearly 100 distinctive fictional realms. 30,000-copy announced first printing.


Am I Alone Here? Notes on Living to Read and Reading to Live by Peter Orner (Nov. 1, trade paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-1-936787-25-8) collects pieces by the fiction writer about various writers, including Isaac Babel, Zora Neale Hurston, Franz Kafka, and Robert Walser, as well as his eccentric late father.

Coffee House

I’ll Tell You in Person by Chloe Caldwell (Oct. 4, trade paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-1-56689-453-1). Caldwell (Legs Get Led Astray) presents disarmingly frank essays on such topics as sexuality, celebrity, TJ Maxx, acne, off-brand chocolate, almost-little-sisters, Craigslist, and wanting to write.

Unbearable Splendor by Sun Yung Shin (Oct. 11, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-56689-451-7). The author moves ideas—of identity (Korean, American, adoptee, mother, Catholic, Buddhist) and interests (mythology, science fiction, Sophocles)—around like building blocks, forming and reforming new constructions of what it means to be at home.

Curbside Splendor

Everything We Don’t Know: Essays by Aaron Gilbreath (Nov. 8, trade paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-1-940430-83-6) marks the debut of an essayist whose subjects include the ocean-bound debris from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster, quitting smoking, the etymology of the word “radical,” and pursuing a meaningful life in contemporary America.

Duke Univ.

Love, H: The Letters of Helene Dorn and Hettie Jones by Hettie Jones

(Oct. 14, hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-0-8223-6146-6) is an intimate selection of letters from the 40-year correspondence between writer Hettie Jones and painter and sculptor Helene Dorn, from the bohemia of the 1960s to their successful subsequent careers.


Lara: The Untold Love Story and the Inspiration for Doctor Zhivago by Anna Pasternak (Jan. 24, hardcover, $27.99, ISBN 978-0-06-243934-5). The great-niece of Boris Pasternak reveals the love affair that he drew on while writing Doctor Zhivago. 20,000-copy announced first printing.

Soul at the White Heat: Inspiration, Obsession, and the Writing Life by Joyce Carol Oates (Sept. 20, hardcover, $27.99, ISBN 978-0-06-256450-4). Oates undertakes an imaginative exploration of the writing life and its attendant anxieties, joys, and futilities in this new collection of essays and criticism. 20,000-copy announced first printing.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

The Correspondence: Essays by J.D. Daniels (Jan. 3, hardcover, $20, ISBN 978-0-374-53594-0) is the first collection from a Whiting Writers’ Award winner whose work has become a fixture of the Paris Review and n+1.

Home and Away by Karl Ove Knausgaard and Fredrik Ekelund (Jan. 10, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-0-374-27983-7). Two world-class writers reveal themselves as the ultimate soccer fans in this collection of correspondence, which uses the World Cup in Brazil as the arena for reflections on life and death, art and politics, and class and literature.

Naming Thy Name: Cross Talk in Shakespeare’s Sonnets by Elaine Scarry (Nov. 29, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0-374-27993-6) makes a fascinating case for the identity of the beautiful young man in Shakespeare’s sonnets, the most enigmatic and enduring love poems written in English.

Senior Moments: Looking Back, Looking Ahead by Willard Spiegelman (Sept. 6, hardcover, $24, ISBN 978-0-374-261-22-1). Drawing on more than six decades’ worth of lessons from Spiegelman’s storied career as a writer and professor, this is a thoughtful collection of essays on aging and happiness.

Fordham Univ.

The Muses on Their Lunch Hour by Marjorie Garber (Dec. 1, trade paper, $22.95, ISBN 978-0-8232-7373-7) assembles witty, shrewd, and imaginative essays on interdisciplinary topics that range widely from Shakespeare to psychoanalysis, and the practice of higher education today.


The Needle’s Eye: Passing Through Youth by Fanny Howe (Nov. 1, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-55597-756-6). The acclaimed poet presents a sequence of essays, short tales, and lyrics that defy traditional narrative chronology and focus on the theme of youth, doomed or saved.

Thrill Me: Essays on Fiction by Benjamin Percy (Oct. 18, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-55597-759-7). Percy’s first nonfiction book challenges the notion that literary and genre fiction are mutually exclusive. The title essay is an ode to the kind of books that make many readers fall in love with fiction: SF, fantasy, mysteries, and horror.

Harvard Univ.

Marvellous Thieves: Secret Authors of the Arabian Nights by Paulo Lemos Horta (Jan. 16, hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-0-674-54505-2). Ranging from the coffeehouses of Aleppo to the salons of Paris, from Calcutta to London, Horta introduces the poets, scholars, pilgrims, and charlatans who made largely unacknowledged contributions to the Arabian Nights.

The Untold Story of the Talking Book by Matthew Rubery (Nov. 30, hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-0-674-54544-1). Histories of the book often move straight from the codex to the digital screen. Left out is nearly 150 years of audio recordings. Rubery uncovers this story, from Edison to today’s billion-dollar audiobook industry.


The Poem Is You: Sixty Contemporary American Poems and How to Read Them by Stephen Burt (Sept. 12, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-0-674-73787-7). Recognizing that the variety of contemporary American poetry overwhelms many readers, critic and poet Stephen Burt presents 60 poems written since the early 1980s, along with original essays explaining how each poem works and why it matters.

Thomas Hardy: Half a Londoner by Mark Ford (Oct. 10, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-0-674-73789-1). Because Hardy’s fiction is so closely associated with rural English life, it is easy to forget that he was, in his own words, half a Londoner, moving between country and capital throughout his life. Ford traces this self-division throughout Hardy’s work.

Johns Hopkins Univ.

Distraction: Problems of Attention in Eighteenth-Century Literature by Natalie M. Phillips (Sept. 18, hardcover, $50, ISBN 978-1-4214-2012-7). One thinks of early novel reading typically as rapt readers in quiet rooms, but contemporary commentators described a fraught activity, occurring amid a distracting cacophony. Phillips shows how prominent Enlightenment authors—from Samuel Johnson to Jane Austen—explored the wandering mind.

Freedom Time: The Poetics and Politics of Black Experimental Writing by Anthony Reed (Nov. 1, trade paper, $24.95, ISBN 978-1-4214-2120-9) offers a theoretical reading of “black experimental writing” that presents the term both as a profound literary development and as a concept for analyzing how writing challenges us to rethink the relationships between race and literary techniques.

Transatlantic Aliens: Modernism, Exile, and Culture in Midcentury America by Will Norman (Nov. 27, hardcover, $45, ISBN 978-1-4214-2094-3) reorients our understanding of an important mid-20th-century phenomenon—the migration of European writers, intellectuals, and artists to the United States—too often seen narrowly as a clash between rarefied European modernism and debased American mass culture.


My Lost Poets: A Life in Poetry by Philip Levine (Nov. 8, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-0-451-49327-9). The essays, speeches, and journal entries of one of the U.S.’s most admired poets illuminates how he came to understand himself as a poet, the events and people that he wrote about, and the older poets who influenced him.

Library of America

Albert Murray: Collected Essays & Memoirs by Albert Murray, edited by Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Paul Devlin (Oct. 18, hardcover, $45, ISBN 978-1-59853-503-7), marks the centenary of the groundbreaking essayist and jazz critic with the most complete collection of his nonfiction yet published.

New Directions

The Ghosts of Birds by Eliot Weinberger (Oct. 4, trade paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-0-8112-2618-9) offers 35 essays: the first section continues the author’s linked serial-essay, An Elemental Thing; the second collects his widely varied writings, from a review of George W. Bush’s memoir, Decision Points, to an exploration of American Indophilia.


Dismembered: Selected Poems, Stories, and Essays by Bruce Boone, edited by Rob Halpern (Nov. 1, trade paper, $22.95, ISBN 978-1-937658-58-8), is a new collection, spanning the early 1970s to the present, from Boone, one of the founding writers

and theorists of the literary movement known as New Narrative.


One Toss of the Dice: The Incredible Story of How a Poem Made Us Modern by R. Howard Bloch (Nov. 1, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-0-87140-663-7). Stéphane Mallarmé’s poem “One Toss of the Dice,” published in 1897, launched modernism. Accompanied by a new translation of the poem by J.D. McClatchy, Bloch’s account reveals how a masterpiece shaped our perceptual world.

Michael O’Mara

Literary London by Eloise Millar and Sam Jordison (Nov. 1, hardcover, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-78243-504-4) is a snappy and informative guide that moves through time and genre, from Shakespeare to Amis, from tragedy to chick lit, showing just why—as another famous local writer put it—he who is tired of London is tired of life.


Dear Mr. Beckett—Letters from the Publisher: The Samuel Beckett File by Barney Rosset, edited by Lois Oppenheim, preface by Paul Auster, foreword by Edward Beckett (Oct. 13, trade paper, $28.95, ISBN 978-1-62316-070-8). Through letters, contracts, photos, interviews, and memorabilia—most never before made public—readers witness the relationship between Samuel Beckett and Barney Rosset.


The Feud: Vladimir Nabokov, Edmund Wilson, and the End of a Beautiful Friendship by Alex Beam (Dec. 6, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-1-101-87022-8). The Boston Globe columnist traces Nabokov and Wilson’s relationship, from 1940, when Nabokov was a near-penniless Russian exile and Wilson his powerful American sponsor, to Lolita’s blockbuster success and the pair’s subsequent falling-out.


Landmarks by Robert Macfarlane (Aug. 2, trade paper, $18, ISBN 978-0-241-96787-4). For decades, British author Macfarlane has been collecting obscure local words for aspects of landscape, nature, and weather. In this book, he uses his research to explore the literary and linguistic terrain of the British Isles.

Vanity Fair’s Writers on Writers, edited by Graydon Carter and David Friend (Oct. 25, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-0-14-311176-4), collects pieces from Vanity Fair, as well as essays that have never appeared in print, of authors on their favorite writers, including Martin Amis on Saul Bellow, Truman Capote on Willa Cather, and Salman Rushdie on Christopher Hitchens.

Penguin Press

Upstream: Selected Essays by Mary Oliver (Oct. 11, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-59420-670-2) is a selection of essays that finds poet Oliver reflecting on her astonishment and admiration for the natural world and the craft of writing.

Penguin/Blue Rider

Love from Boy: Roald Dahl’s Letters to His Mother, edited by Donald Sturrock (Sept. 6, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-399-16846-8), assembles letters from the legendary children’s author to his mother, Sofie Magdalene, from early childhood through Dahl’s travels to Africa, adventures in the RAF, work in post-WWII Washington, D.C., and Hollywood, and rise to literary stardom.

Princeton Univ.

Ireland’s Immortals: A History of the Gods of Irish Myth by Mark Williams (Oct. 25, hardcover, $39.50, ISBN 978-0-691-15731-3) tells the story of one of the world’s great mythologies. Williams describes how Ireland’s pagan gods became literary characters under medieval Christianity—and then nationalist symbols during the Celtic Revival of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Small Beer

Words Are My Matter: Writings About Life and Books, 2000–2015, with a Journal of a Writer’s Week by Ursula K. Le Guin (Oct. 11, hardcover, $24, ISBN 978-1-61873-134-0) is a bright and wide-ranging collection of essays, reviews, talks, and more from one of our best and most thoughtful writers. 20,000-copy announced first printing.

Syracuse Univ.

Literary Awakenings: Personal Essays from the Hudson Review edited by Ronald Koury (Nov. 15, trade paper, $24.95, ISBN 978-0-8156-1078-6). Over the past three decades, the Hudson Review has become a home for accessible, personal writing that contrasts with the theoretical work produced in academe and other literary publications, exemplified by the 18 essays assembled here.

Tin House

Pieces of Soap: Essays by Stanley Elkin (Nov. 15, trade paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-1-941040-37-9). The novelist and essayist had a knack for wresting hilarity and heartbreak from the most unlikely of sources, as shown in this collection of his nonfiction, which takes readers on a tour of 20th-century American life.

Univ. of Chicago

Looking for “The Stranger”: Albert Camus and the Life of a Literary Classic by Alice Kaplan (Sept. 22, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-226-24167-8) tells the story of how Camus, who was still in his 20s and had never written a novel before, produced an enduring masterpiece.

Univ. of Pennsylvania

Our Emily Dickinsons: American Women Poets and the Intimacies of Difference by Vivian R. Pollak (Sept. 28, hardcover, $55, ISBN 978-0-8122-4844-9) situates Dickinson’s life and work within larger debates about gender, sexuality, and literary authority, while examining the poet’s influence on Marianne Moore, Sylvia Plath, Elizabeth Bishop, and others.

Shakespeare’s Schoolroom: Rhetoric, Discipline, Emotion by Lynn Enterline (Oct. 10, trade paper, $24.95, ISBN 978-0-8122-2371-2) places moments of emotional power in Shakespeare’s poetry—portraits of what his contemporaries called “the passions”—alongside the institution of 16-century English pedagogy.


The Kite and the String: How to Write with Spontaneity and Control—And Live to Tell the Tale by Alice Mattison (Aug. 16, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0-525-42854-1). Fiction writer Mattison provides a targeted and insightful guide to the different stages of writing a book.


Calamities by Renee Gladman (Sept. 13, trade paper, $18, ISBN 978-1-940696-27-0) collects linked essays from a strikingly original voice in contemporary literature that explore the life and mind of the working writer.

My Private Property by Mary Ruefle (Oct. 11, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-1-940696-38-6) is a new collection of exciting and vivacious prose poems, essays, and more from lauded poet Ruefle (Madness, Rack, and Honey) that display her sense of humor, imagination, mindfulness, and play.


In Search of Silence: The Journals of Samuel R. Delany, Vol. 1, 1957–1969 by Samuel R. Delany, edited by Kenneth R. James (Dec. 6, hardcover, $40, ISBN 978-0-8195-7089-5), presents more than a decade’s worth of Delany’s writings, beginning when he was still in high school and ending when he was on the verge of reconceiving his landmark novel Dhalgren.

Yale Univ.

The Letters of T.S. Eliot: Vol. 6: 1932–1933, edited by John Haffenden and Valerie Eliot (Aug. 23, hardcover, $85, ISBN 978-0-300-21180-1). Written largely during Eliot’s tour of Depression-era America, these letters show him resolving to end his disastrous first marriage and encountering F. Scott Fitzgerald, Edmund Wilson, Marianne Moore, and other notable figures.