This fall’s fiction has works by bestsellers and debut novelists alike, and includes undercover agents, a mermaid specimen, and an island surrounded by barbed wire. Links to reviews are included when available.
The Clockmaker’s Daughter
Kate Morton. Atria, Oct. 9
In 1862, a group of artists journeys to a rural Oxfordshire manor. The trip results in a murder and a disappearance. A century later, a London archivist may have the clues to solve the mystery.
Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah. Mariner, Oct. 23
Adjei-Brenyah’s debut story collection features innovative, sometimes fantastical takes on weighty issues: an amusement park lets participants enter an augmented reality to hunt terrorists or shoot intruders played by minority actors, and a school shooting results in both the victim and gunman stuck in a shared purgatory.
Haruki Murakami, trans. by Philip Gabriel and Ted Goossen. Knopf, Oct. 9
Murakami’s first novel since 2014’s Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is, according to the publisher, “a loving homage to The Great Gatsby.”
Imogen Hermes Gowar. Harper, Sept. 11
In this historical debut, shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction and set in 1780s London, merchant Jonah Hancock discovers overnight notoriety when he obtains a purported mermaid specimen.
Karl Ove Knausgaard, trans. by Don Bartlett and Martin Aitken. Archipelago, Sept. 4
The final volume of Knausgaard’s epic My Struggle series.
A Spark of Light
Jodi Picoult. Ballantine, Oct. 2
After a gunman takes hostages at a women’s reproductive health clinic, police hostage negotiator Hugh McElroy rushes to the scene—only to discover that his daughter is inside.
Kate Atkinson. Little, Brown, Sept. 25
In the latest from Atkinson (Life After Life), Juliet Armstrong is swept up in dangerous assignments as an undercover agent for MI5 during WWII and finds her past coming back to haunt her years after the war.
Barbara Kingsolver. Harper, Oct. 16
Bestseller Kingsolver’s new novel finds Willa Knox investigating the history of the house she has inherited in Vineland, N.J., and locating a kindred spirit in the past.
The Water Cure
Sophie Mackintosh. Doubleday, Jan. 8
In this high-concept, genre-bending debut, three sisters live on an isolated island that’s surrounded by barbed wire, where they are raised to fear men. Their lives are disrupted when their father disappears and three strange men wash ashore.
A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts
Therese Anne Fowler. St. Martin’s, Oct. 16
Fowler (Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald) follows Alva Vanderbilt and her family as they preside over Gilded Age New York.
Literary Fiction Listings
Other People’s Love Affairs: Stories of Glass by D. Wystan Owen (Aug. 21, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-61620-705-2). The 10 stories in Owen’s debut revolve around the town of Glass on the English coast: a nurse meets a vagrant who may know what happened to her missing mother; a widower returns to a theater that was the site of a fateful tryst; a woman discovers the surprising secret life of the woman she loved.
My Struggle: Book Six by Karl Ove Knausgaard, trans. by Don Bartlett and Martin Aitken (Sept. 4, hardcover, $34, ISBN 978-0-914671-99-2). The final volume of Knausgaard’s My Struggle series, which straddles the line between public and private, includes a long essay on Hitler and Mein Kampf. 15,000-copy announced first printing.
John Woman by Walter Mosley (Sept. 4, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-8021-2841-6). An unassuming boy named Cornelius Jones, son of an Italian-American woman and a black man, transforms into history professor John Woman at an unorthodox southwestern university—while the reverberations of a crime threaten to disrupt his life.
The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton (Oct. 9, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-1-4516-4939-0). A group of young artists arrives at Birchwood Manor in rural Oxfordshire in the summer of 1862, planning to use the seclusion for artistic inspiration. By the end of the summer, one of them is dead and another has disappeared. Over a century later, a London archivist discovers a leather satchel with connections to Birchwood Manor.
A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult (Oct. 2, hardcover, $28.99, ISBN 978-0-345-54498-8). From the bestselling Picoult: a gunman bursts into a women’s reproductive health clinic and opens fire, taking all inside hostage. Police hostage negotiator Hugh McElroy rushes to the scene—and discovers that his 15-year-old daughter, Wren, is inside the clinic.
Vox by Christina Dalcher (Aug. 21, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-440-00078-5). In a near-future U.S., women are only allowed to speak 100 words per day or face painful consequences. When the president’s brother suffers an accident that affects his brain’s speech centers, cognitive linguist Jean McClellan may be able to leverage her expertise to restore her status and voice.
Riddance: Or: The Sybil Joines Vocational School for Ghost Speakers & Hearing-Mouth Children by Shelley Jackson (Oct. 16, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-936787-99-9). Eleven-year-old Jane Grandison arrives at the Sybil Joines Vocational School, which claims to cure students’ speech impediments, but secretly has pioneered the field of necrophysics by harnessing the students’ stutters to communicate with the dead.
One Part Woman by Perumal Murugan, trans. by Aniruddhan Vasudevan (Oct. 9, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-0-8021-2880-5). A couple named Kali and Ponna, living in India during British colonial rule, are unable to conceive. Running out of options, they turn to the annual chariot festival, which, on its 18th night, permits consensual sex between any man and woman.
Ultraviolet by Suzanne Matson (Sept. 4, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-936787-95-1). This saga about motherhood, marriage, and aging spans three generations of one family. Elsie is married to an authoritarian missionary in 1930s India; her daughter, Kathryn, has dreams of becoming a writer but feels stifled by her marriage; and Kathryn’s daughter, Samantha, leaves home to teach at a university.
After the Winter by Guadalupe Nettel, trans. by Rosalind Harvey (Sept. 4, trade paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-1-56689-525-5). Two parallel stories—that of Claudio and Cecilia—become entwined in this story of love and loss set in Havana, Paris, and New York City. 10,000-copy announced first printing.
The Wildlands by Abby Geni (Sept. 4, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-61902-234-8). Nine-year-old Cora gets swept up by her charismatic older brother, Tucker, who has been absent from the family for three years, but shows up to take Cora on a cross-country trip to wage war on American civilization.
The Taiga Syndrome by Cristina Rivera Garza, trans. by Suzanne Jill Levine and Aviva Kana (Oct. 1, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-0-9973666-7-9). An unnamed ex-detective brings along a translator as she searches for a couple in a snow-covered, inhospitable forest in which the senses are not to be trusted.
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite (Nov. 13, hardcover, $22.95, ISBN 978-0-385-54423-8). This satirical slasher centers on Korede, a Nigerian woman, whose beautiful and possibly sociopathic sister, Ayoola, has an inconvenient pattern of killing her boyfriends.
The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh (Jan. 8, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-0-385-54387-3). In this dystopic feminist revenge fantasy, three sisters live on an isolated island that’s surrounded by barbed wire, where they are brought up to fear men. Then their father disappears and three strange men wash ashore, launching a psychological and sexual cat-and-mouse game.
The Wonder That Was Ours by Alice Hatcher (Sept. 4, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-1-945814-60-0). Wynston Cleave, a black taxi driver on a small Caribbean island, reads literary classics to the cockroaches infesting his taxi. Wynston picks up two white Americans just booted from a cruise ship, which then reports a deadly viral outbreak. The island dissolves into riots and a devastating spiral of violence, and Wynston’s fate becomes tied to three strangers.
French Exit by Patrick DeWitt (Aug. 28, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-0-06-284692-1). DeWitt lampoons the 1% in this novel about wealthy widow Frances Price, who moves to Paris with her lovesick son, Malcolm, and her house cat, Small Frank, determined to spend every last penny. 100,000-copy announced first printing.
City of Crows by Chris Womersley (Sept. 18, trade paper, $17, ISBN 978-1-60945-470-8). In the 17th century, Charlotte Picot travels to Paris to search for her kidnapped son, Nicolas, enlisting the sharp-witted charlatan Adam Lesage to help. Paris, ravaged by years of plague, is also in the grip of dark magic, making Charlotte’s quest all the more challenging. 20,000-copy announced first printing.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Certain American States: Stories by Catherine Lacey (Aug. 7, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-374-26589-2). In Lacey’s first story collection, a neurotic ex-husband looks for himself in his ex-wife’s fiction, a depressed and impulsive woman attempts to meet her family’s expectations, and a life is laid bare in an internet quiz.
Evening in Paradise: More Stories by Lucia Berlin (Nov. 6, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-374-27948-6). A follow-up to A Manual for Cleaning Women, this collection includes previously uncompiled stories from Berlin.
The Third Hotel by Laura Van Den Berg (Aug. 7, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-0-374-16835-3). Clare, an elevator sales rep, travels to Havana after her horror-film scholar husband, Richard, is killed in a hit-and-run. The couple had planned to attend the Festival of New Latin American Cinema together, specifically to see Cuba’s first horror film. Shortly after arriving at the festival, Clare spies a man from afar who looks exactly like Richard.
Pretty Things by Virginie Despentes, trans. by Emma Ramadan (Aug. 15, trade paper, $17.95, ISBN 978-1-936932-27-6). This novel about femininity and beauty centers on twin sisters Claudine and Pauline, who have a fraught relationship stemming from an abusive childhood. When Claudine commits suicide, Pauline decides to lie and inhabit the life of her sister, who dreamed of becoming famous.
She Would Be King by Wayétu Moore (Sept. 11, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-55597-817-4). Moore’s debut explores the complexities of Liberia’s tenuous 19th-century beginnings through three characters: Gbessa, who survives years of deprivation and a snake bite; June Dey, who restrains his rage until his mother’s brutal punishment on a Virginia plantation; and Norman Aragon, who inherits the ability to become invisible.
The Day the Sun Died by Yan Lianke, trans. by Carlos Rojas (Dec. 11, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-8021-2853-9). Fourteen-year-old Li Niannian and his parents operate a funeral parlor in a tiny village in the mountains. One night, he watches as the villagers “dreamwalk”: act out the desires they’ve resisted in the daytime. Things become increasingly chaotic, and Li Niannian and his parents must save the village before sunrise.
The Boy at the Keyhole by Stephen Giles (Sept. 4, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-1-335-65292-8). Nine-year-old Samuel Clay lives on his family’s estate in Cornwall with only the tyrannical housekeeper, Ruth. His mother is in America for her late husband’s business, but as her absence drags on, Samuel begins to suspect that something is wrong, and that Ruth might be involved. 80,000-copy announced first printing.
The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar (Sept. 11, hardcover, $28.99, ISBN 978-0-06-285995-2). In 1780s London, merchant Jonah Hancock finds overnight fame when he obtains a purported mermaid specimen. Catapulted into the drawing rooms of high society, he meets Angelica Neal, who dares him to bring her another mermaid.
The Next Person You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom (Oct. 16, hardcover, $23.99, ISBN 978-0-06-229444-9). In this sequel to The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Albom follows Eddie’s heavenly reunion with Annie—the little girl he saved on Earth—in a story about how lives and losses go hand-in-hand.
Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver (Oct. 16, hardcover, $29.99, ISBN 978-0-06-268456-1). Willa Knox arrives in middle age with little direction. She has inherited a house in Vineland, N.J., where her father-in-law and two adult children live. Willa begins investigating the history of the house and finds a kindred spirit in the past: Thatcher Greenwood, a science teacher in the late 19th century who found himself besieged by the town.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
The Kinship of Secrets by Eugenia Kim (Nov. 6, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-328-98782-2). In 1948, Najin and Calvin Cho travel with their daughter Miran to the U.S. from South Korea, seeking new opportunities, and leave their other daughter, Inja, with their extended family. Miran grows up in American suburbia while Inja faces the difficulties of war-ravaged Korea. 40,000-copy announced first printing.
The Sisters by Rosalind Noonan (Nov. 27, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-4967-0804-5). When she was only five, Ruby and her sister, Aurora, were abandoned by their mother, Glory. Now 16, Ruby loves her adoptive parents, but she decides to search for Glory, and what she finds changes how she thinks about her family’s past.
Hippie by Paulo Coelho (Sept. 25, hardcover, $25.95, ISBN 978-0-525-65561-9). Two young people—the Brazilian Paulo and the Dutch Karla—share a journey of self-discovery aboard the Magic Bus, traveling from Amsterdam to Kathmandu in 1970. 150,000-copy announced first printing.
Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami, trans. by Philip Gabriel and Ted Goossen (Oct. 9, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-525-52004-7). Murakami’s first novel since Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is, according to the publisher, a story of “love and loneliness, war and art—as well as a loving homage to The Great Gatsby.” 250,000-copy announced first printing.
Washington Black by Esi Edugyan (Sept. 18, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-0-525-52142-6). In the early 19th century, Washington Black leaves the Barbados plantation where he was born to be the manservant of Christopher Wilde, a naturalist and abolitionist who gives Wash a life of dignity and meaning, introducing him to flying machines. But when a bounty is placed on Wash’s head following a murder, Wilde travels with Wash across continents to save him. 35,000-copy announced first printing.
Transcription by Kate Atkinson (Sept. 25, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-316-17663-7). Initially recruited for her secretarial skills, Juliet Armstrong is drawn into dangerous assignments as an undercover agent for MI5 during WWII. A decade after the war, Juliet, now a radio producer, encounters figures from her past.
Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah (Oct. 23, trade paper, $14.99, ISBN 978-1-328-91124-7). In the stories of Adjei-Brenyah’s debut, an amusement park lets players enter augmented reality to hunt terrorists or shoot intruders played by minority actors, a school shooting results in both the victim and gunman stuck in a shared purgatory, and an author sells his soul to a many-tongued god.
The Golden State by Lydia Kiesling (Sept. 4, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-374-16483-6). Daphne Nilsen works for an Islamic Institute in San Francisco while raising her 16-month-old daughter, Honey, alone. Daphne’s Turkish husband has been denied reentry into the United States, and after Daphne brings Honey with her to Northern California’s high desert to take refuge in the house she inherited, things don’t quite go as planned.
Before We Were Strangers by Brenda Novak (Dec. 4, trade paper, $15.99, ISBN 978-0-7783-6994-3). When she was five, Sloane McBride’s mother disappeared. The official story is she left. But adult Sloane fears her domineering father isn’t just a difficult person, but something worse. Another traumatic loss makes Sloane realize she owes it to her mother to discover the truth. 80,000-copy announced first printing.
If You Leave Me by Crystal Hana Kim (Aug. 7, $26.99, ISBN 978-0-06-264517-3). Sixteen years old and living in a refugee camp in 1951 Busan, South Korea, Lee Haemi is not interested in marrying, but knows her plight might require it. Her decision to find a husband ripples through the lives of those around her, especially the cousins who compete for her affections: quiet, studious Yun Kyunghwan and loyal, clever Yun Jisoo.
The Governesses by Anne Serre, trans. by Mark Hutchinson (Sept. 25, trade paper, $13.95, ISBN 978-0-8112-2807-7). Serre’s U.S. debut is an erotic fairy tale set in a country house where three governesses, nominally educating a group of little boys, instead lie in wait for men to pass by the house. Meanwhile, they’re watched by the old man in the house opposite.
The Houseguest: And Other Stories by Amparo Dávila, trans. by Matthew Gleeson and Audrey Harris (Nov. 20, trade paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-0-8112-2821-3). Reminiscent of Kafka’s or Poe’s work, Dávila’s stories journey deep into the realms of desire, obsession, loneliness, and fear, and lay bare the nightmarish lurking behind the mundane.
New York Review Books
Anniversaries: From a Year in the Life of Gesine Cresspahl by Uwe Johnson, trans. by Damion Searls (Oct. 16, trade paper, $35, ISBN 978-1-68137-203-7). This 2,000-page novel documents one year in the life of Gesine Cresspahl, a German émigré living in Manhattan; she’s a translator and single mother to 10-year-old Marie. Each day, starting on Aug. 20, 1967, gets its own entry.
Gone So Long by Andre Dubus III (Oct. 2, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-0-393-24410-6). Susan is an adjunct professor and struggling writer, and her father, Danny Ahern, has just been released from prison for the murder of Susan’s mother, Linda, in a moment of jealous rage 40 years earlier. Danny is dying and hopes to find the daughter he hasn’t seen in decades, while Susan, newly pregnant, awaits their confrontation.
Evergreen Tidings from the Baumgartners by Gretchen Anthony (Oct. 16, trade paper, $16.99, ISBN 978-0-7783-0786-0). Set in the Midwest, this dysfunctional family dramedy follows a matriarch as she undertakes extreme efforts to win back control of her family. 100,000-copy announced first printing.
A Short Film About Disappointment by Joshua Mattson (Aug. 7, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-0-525-52284-3). A movie critic certain no one reads his reviews fills them with details of his personal life in this sharp, funny PW-starred debut set some time in the future, in America’s Central Hub.
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (Aug. 14, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-7352-1909-0). Set in 1969 in a small town on the North Carolina coast, this debut begins with a murder for which locals suspect Kya Clark, the “Marsh Girl,” who has survived in the marsh for years. Kya is drawn to two men in town—who are both enchanted by her—as the murder investigation plays out.
The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker (Jan. 15, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0-8129-9416-2). From the author of The Age of Miracles: one night at a college in Southern California, a student falls asleep—and can’t be wakened. More students suffer the same fate, and soon a quarantine is established. Those infected display strange levels of brain activity and it’s determined they’re dreaming—but of what?
Heartbreaker by Claudia Dey (Aug. 21, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-525-51173-1). Billie Jean is the only outsider to arrive in the strange town whose residents think the year is 1985. When Billie Jean disappears and her husband and daughter frantically search for her, residents wonder if she is the first person to leave the town.
Lake Success by Gary Shteyngart (Sept. 4, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-8129-9741-5). This road trip novel opens with a very drunk Barry Cohen stumbling into New York’s Port Authority bus station. He thinks he’s embarking on a Kerouacesque journey to find himself, but he’s fleeing a failing marriage, a three-year-old autistic son, and a potential SEC investigation.
Flights by Olga Tokarczuk, trans. by Jennifer Croft (Aug. 14, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-525-53419-8). Winner of the Man Booker International Prize, Tokarczuk’s novel is written in a cacophony of voices and reminiscent of the works of W.G. Sebald. It begins in Croatia, where a tourist, Kunicki, waits for his wife and son to return from a short walk. Except they don’t.
Mouthful of Birds by Samanta Schweblin (Jan. 8, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-399-18462-8) is a story collection of deep unease, in which the line between the real and imagined blur; from the author of Fever Dream.
Foe by Iain Reid (Sept. 4, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-1-5011-2742-7). In this suspense novel, Junior and Henrietta live an isolated life on their farm. One day, a stranger arrives with terrifying news: Junior must leave, and someone has already arranged that Henrietta isn’t left alone on the farm.
His Favorites by Kate Walbert (Aug. 14, hardcover, $22, ISBN 978-1-4767-9939-1) is about one woman’s painful recollection of her sexual relationship at age 15 with her 34-year-old high school English teacher. The novel is a dissection of male-female relationships built on an imbalance of power.
Simon & Schuster
Ohio by Stephen Markley (Aug. 21, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-1-5011-7447-6). In Markley’s debut novel, four former high school classmates return to their Ohio hometown to make amends, where they discover the long-buried truth behind a horrifying town legend.
Insurrecto by Gina Apostol (Nov. 13, hardcover, $25.95, ISBN 978-1-61695-944-9). Two women, a Filipino translator and an American filmmaker, take a road trip through Duterte’s Philippines, clashing while writing a script about a massacre during the Philippine-American War.
The Only Woman in the Room by Marie Benedict (Jan. 8, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-1-4926-6686-8). Hedy Kiesler marries an Austrian arms dealer, which allows her to escape Nazi persecution despite her Jewish heritage. At a party in Vienna in 1937, she overhears the Third Reich’s plans and flees to Hollywood, where she becomes Hedy Lamarr. Also a scientist, she has an idea that might help her new country in the war effort.
The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain (Oct. 2, hardcover, $27.99, ISBN 978-1-250-08730-0). In 1970, Caroline Sears is devastated when she finds out her unborn baby has a heart defect. But her physicist brother-in-law, Hunter, tells her there might be a solution, which requires Caroline to take a mind-bending leap of faith.
A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts by Therese Anne Fowler (Oct. 16, hardcover, $27.99, ISBN 978-1-250-09547-3). Fowler, the author of Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, follows Alva Vanderbilt and her family as they preside over Gilded Age New York.
Two Dollar Radio
The Deeper the Water the Uglier the Fish by Katya Apekina (Sept. 18, trade paper, $16.99, ISBN 978-1-937512-75-0). Two sisters travel to New York City to stay with their father—whom they haven’t seen in years—after their mother attempts suicide in Louisiana. One sister, 14-year-old Mae, becomes more attached to their father, while 16-year-old Edie, remains vehemently loyal to their mother, causing the relationship between the sisters to deteriorate.
Univ. of Nebraska
Better Times: Short Stories by Sara Batkie (Sept. 1, trade paper, $17.95, ISBN 978-1-4962-0787-6). In Batkie’s debut, a girl in a home for “troubled women” imagines the first dog in space; a phantom breast haunts a woman after her mastectomy; a woman gives birth to eggs.
We Can Save Us All by Adam Nemett (Nov. 13, trade paper, $18.99, ISBN 978-1-944700-76-8). The Egg is a geodesic dome in which alienated Princeton students prepare for the end of days in the near future. As the final superstorm nears, its denizens, now with a cult-like following, toe the line between right and wrong.
Those Who Knew by Idra Novey (Nov. 6, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-525-56043-2). Lena suspects the powerful senator with whom she used to be involved is taking advantage of the young woman who introduces him at rallies. When the young woman is found dead, Lena, overcome by guilt, investigates her past, including her own victimhood.