In this season in literary nonfiction, previously unknown works from the oeuvres of recognized masters mingle with introductory salvos from new voices and investigations into the origins and evolution of classic texts and of language itself.

Top 10

Busted in New York and Other Essays

Darryl Pinckney. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Nov. 12, $28, ISBN 978-0-374-11744-3

This collection, novelist Pinckney’s first book of essays since 2002’s Out There: Mavericks of Black Literature, looks at the sweep of African-American thought and art.

The Collector of Leftover Souls: Field Notes on Brazil’s Everyday Insurrections

Eliane Brum, trans. by Diane Grosklaus Whitty. Graywolf, Oct. 15, trade paper, $16,

ISBN 978-1-64445-005-5

After Brazil’s hard shift right under newly elected president Jair Bolsonaro, U.S. readers will be eager to hear Brazilian voices as candid and independent as that of acclaimed journalist Brum.

Elements of Fiction

Walter Mosley. Grove, Sept. 3, $23, ISBN 978-0-8021-4763-9

Crime novelist Mosley follows up 2007’s This Year You Write Your Novel with a guide to fiction writing of all kinds, sharing insights into plot, character, voice, and other essentials.

From Our Land to Our Land: Imaginings and Musings of a Native Xicanx Writer

Luis J. Rodriguez. Seven Stories, Dec. 24, trade paper, $18.95, ISBN 978-1-60980-972-0

A fiction writer, memoirist, and poet, as well as former L.A. poet laureate, Rodriguez looks at his own past, at the current moment, and at how the U.S. can move past its divisions.

Gilgamesh: The Life of a Poem

Michael Schmidt. Princeton Univ., Sept. 17, $24.95, ISBN 978-0-691-19524-7

Schmidt explores the still-ongoing process of translating and understanding an epic simultaneously universal in its meaning and deeply alien in its prebiblical origins.

Good Things Out of Nazareth: The Uncollected Letters of Flannery O’Connor and Friends

Edited by Ben Alexander. Convergent, Oct. 15, $26, ISBN 978-0-525-57506-1

This collection compiles unpublished letters from one of the 20th century’s most influential short story writers and from famous friends such as Walker Percy and Katherine Anne Porter.

Human Relations and Other Difficulties: Essays

Mary-Kay Wilmers. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Oct. 8, $27, ISBN 978-0-374-17349-4

Wilmers, cofounder and, since 1992, sole editor of the London Review of Books, shares considerations on literature, parenthood, and the fraught dynamics between men and women.

Incidental Inventions

Elena Ferrante, trans. by Ann Goldstein, illus. by Andrea Ucini. Europa, Nov. 19, $20, ISBN 978-1-60945-558-3

Ferrante’s many fans should be pleased to place this gift edition, which assembles a year’s worth of her columns for the Guardian, alongside her bestselling novels on their shelves.

On the Shoulders of Giants

Umberto Eco, trans. by Alastair McEwen. Harvard Univ., Oct. 22, $27.95, ISBN 978-0-674-24089-6

Drawn from the lectures given by Eco at Milan’s Milanesiana Festival over the last 15 years of his life, these previously unpublished essays explore perennial themes in his writing.

Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion

Jia Tolentino. Random House, Aug. 6, $27, ISBN 978-0-525-51054-3

Tolentino, who’s come to prominence in recent years as a New Yorker contributor, was praised by PW for making her debut with a “sharp, well-founded crackdown on the lies of self and culture.”


Abrams Press

In Search of the Color Purple: The Story of Alice Walker’s Masterpiece by Salamishah Tillet (Nov. 5, $26, ISBN 978-1-4197-3530-1). Academic and activist Tillet combines personal, cultural, and literary history to explore the 1982 Pulitzer and National Book Award–winning novel.


Have You Eaten Grandma? Or, the Life-Saving Importance of Correct Punctuation, Grammar, and Good English by Gyles Brandreth (Aug. 13, $26, ISBN 978-1-982127-40-4). Brandreth, popular in the U.K. for his discussions of grammar, weighs in on the necessity of mastering punctuation and other aspects of writing.


The Nothing That Is: Essays on Art, Literature and Being by Johanna Skibsrud (Oct. 1, trade paper, $20, ISBN 978-1-77166-526-1). Written over a period of more than a decade, Skibsrud’s collection focuses on the concept of nothingness via various contemporary works of art and literature.


H.P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life by Michel Houellebecq (Sept. 3, $19.95, ISBN 978-2-37495-084-6). The bestselling French novelist renders homage to the influential horror writer in this nonfiction debut, published in France in 1991 and appearing in the U.S. for the first time. Foreword by Stephen King.

Coffee House

Socialist Realism by Trisha Low (Aug. 13, trade paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-1-56689-551-4). After moving from New York to California, the author grapples with the values of her family and of America as a whole, delving into art criticism, radical politics, and her own memories.

Columbia Univ.

The Self-Help Compulsion: Searching for Advice in Modern Literature by Beth Blum (Jan. 14, $35, ISBN 978-0-231-19492-1). An assistant professor of English at Harvard traces the love-hate relationship between literature and the self-help industry. She notes both the skeptical attitude of literary authors, going back to Flaubert, and the reappropriation of literature by self-help authors.

Cornell Univ.

Thomas Mann’s War: Literature, Politics, and the World Republic of Letters by Tobias Boes (Nov. 15, $34.95, ISBN 978-1-5017-4499-0) looks at how the author of The Magic Mountain became one of America’s leading antifascists after fleeing from Nazi Germany in 1938 to the U.S., only to leave during the McCarthy era.

Europa Compass

A New Sublime: Ten Timeless Lessons on the Classics by Piero Boitani, trans. by Ann Goldstein (Aug. 6, trade paper, $18, ISBN 978-1-60945-537-8). Boitani celebrates classical literature, ranging in time from Homer through Sophocles to Tacitus, with many others in between, seeking to awaken today’s readers to the beauty and wisdom of ancient writing.

Faber & Faber

Faber & Faber: The Untold Story by Toby Faber (Aug. 13, $28, ISBN 978-0-571-33904-4). Marking Faber & Faber’s 90th anniversary, this account draws on material that includes memos, board minutes, and unpublished memoirs to lend a fresh perspective on how the publishing house has survived, evolved, and thrived while nurturing literary greats like T.S. Eliot, William Golding, and Sylvia Plath.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

The Dolphin Letters, edited by Saskia Hamilton (Nov. 19, $50, ISBN 978-0-374-14126-4), collects correspondence exchanged between a famous literary couple—Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Hardwick—along with their letters to such notable friends as Elizabeth Bishop, Mary McCarthy, and Adrienne Rich, during the last seven years of Lowell’s life, from 1970 to 1977.

Essays One by Lydia Davis (Oct. 22, $30, ISBN 978-0-374-14885-0). The short story writer presents her first nonfiction collection, gathering essays, commentaries, and lectures from the past 50 years that touch on such topics as John Ashbery’s translation of Rimbaud, the paintings of Alan Cote, and the Shepherd’s Psalm.


Erosion: Essays of Undoing by Terry Tempest Williams (Oct. 8, $27, ISBN 978-0-374-28006-2). A naturalist and activist as well as a noted writer, Williams takes on the theme of erosion, as it relates to both the land and the self.


Freeman’s: California, edited by John Freeman (Oct. 8, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-0-8021-4787-5). Freeman’s latest anthology delivers writing from prominent California authors, including Natalie Diaz on growing up in the desert, Rachel Kushner on car culture, and William T. Vollmann on wildfires.


Think, Write, Speak: Uncollected Essays, Reviews, Interviews, and Letters to the Editor by Vladimir Nabokov, edited by Brian Boyd and Anastasia Tolstoy (Nov. 12, $30, ISBN 978-1-101-87491-2), brings together previously uncollected Russian and English prose and interviews, beginning with a 1921 reflection on life at Cambridge and concluding with Nabokov’s final interviews in 1977.

Library of America

The American Canon: Literary Genius from Emerson to Le Guin by Harold Bloom, edited by David Mikics (Oct. 15, $32, ISBN 978-1-59853-640-9), is the first collection devoted to the literary critic’s work on American writers, expressing in five decades’ worth of work Bloom’s admiration for such masters as Dickinson, Melville, and Whitman, among others.

The Peanuts Papers: Charlie Brown, Snoopy & the Gang, and the Meaning of Life: A Library of America Special Publication, edited by Andrew Blauner (Oct. 22, $24.95, ISBN 978-1-59853-616-4). A group of artists and writers, including Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell, Jonathan Lethem, Ann Patchett, and Chris Ware, pay tribute to Charles Schulz’s Peanuts and the truth it contains about life.

Little a

Malaya: Essays on Freedom by Cinelle Barnes (Oct. 29, $24.95, ISBN 978-1-5420-9330-9). These essays from Barnes (Monsoon Mansion) shares her story of trying to survive as an undocumented teenager in New York City and of moving, after getting married, to the American South, where she discovers Southern hospitality’s downside.

Little, Brown

Little Weirds by Jenny Slate (Nov. 5, $27, ISBN 978-0-316-48534-0). The comedian and actress, known to many for the viral video Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, offers her first solo-authored book with this series of essays about, among other things, birth, divorce, heartbreak, and death.

New York Review Books

The Bad Side of Books: Selected Essays of D.H. Lawrence, edited by Geoff Dyer (Nov. 12, trade paper, $19.95, ISBN 978-1-68137-363-8). Dyer selects, and provides an introduction to, a new assemblage of pieces by Lawrence, chosen to showcase the variety of his essay writing.

Criminal Child: And Other Essays by Jean Genet, trans. by Jeffrey Zuckerman and Charlotte Mandell (Dec. 17, trade paper, $17.95, ISBN 978-1-68137-361-4), presents a mix of previously and newly translated essays from the novelist and playwright. The title selection, among those in English for the first time, is a look at the juvenile detention system.

Ecstasy and Terror: From the Greeks to Game of Thrones by Daniel Mendelsohn (Oct. 8, trade paper, $18.95, ISBN 978-1-68137-405-5). Critic Mendelsohn looks at a wide range of literature and pop culture, from Virgil to Karl Ove Knausgaard, while also offering personal reflections and selections from his boyhood correspondence with historical novelist Mary Renault.

I Used to Be Charming: The Rest of Eve Babitz by Eve Babitz (Oct. 1, trade paper, $17.95, ISBN 978-1-68137-379-9). Serving as a reminder that Babitz, in her heyday, was known more for her journalism than her fiction, this book brings together articles on Nicolas Cage, Jim Morrison, fashion, and tango dancing, as well as a never-before-published piece about the 1997 accident that burned half of her body.

New York Univ.

Avidly Reads Theory by Jordan Alexander Stein (Oct. 8, trade paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-1-4798-0100-8). In this entry into a new short book series from the online magazine Avidly, Stein, who teaches in Fordham’s English department and comparative literature program, recounts his experiences with theory and takes stock of its continuing influence, on himself and the world.


The Depositions: New and Selected Essays on Being and Ceasing to Be by Thomas Lynch (Nov. 26, $27.95, ISBN 978-1-324-00397-7). The poet, essayist, and small-town funeral director presents highlights from his four previous collections along with new essays, exploring themes of identity and mortality and the intersection between his different professions.

Oxford Univ.

The Life of Guy: Guy Fawkes, the Gunpowder Plot, and the Unlikely History of an Indispensable Word by Allan Metcalf (Sept. 2, $18.95, ISBN 978-0-19-066920-1) traces a now-ubiquitous word, beginning with its namesake, failed terrorist Guy Fawkes, and going on to its transformation via American culture and Fawkes’s unexpected cultural revival via V for Vendetta.

Tolkien’s Lost Chaucer by John M. Bowers (Dec. 1, $32.95, ISBN 978-0-19-884267-5). Delving into a never-published, heretofore unknown book by J.R.R. Tolkien, Bowers reveals how the pages of commentary Tolkien wrote for Selections from Chaucer’s Poetry and Prose illuminates his early thinking about language and storytelling.

Penguin Press

Vanity Fair’s Women on Women, edited by Radhika Jones and David Friend (Oct. 29, $30, ISBN 978-0-525-56214-6). This anthology shares 35 years’ worth of Vanity Fair stories on women, by women, displaying the magazine’s commitment to female voices with selections that include Gail Sheehy on Hillary Clinton, Leslie Bennetts on Michelle Obama, and Monica Lewinsky on her own story.


On the End of the World by Joseph Roth, trans. by Will Stone (Sept. 24, trade paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-1-78227-476-6). Writing on the eve of WWII, Roth looks ahead to the devastation shortly to be wrought by Adolf Hitler in this denunciation of nationalism and elegy for the more tolerant reign of the Hapsburgs, into which Roth was born.


Reading Backwards by John Crowley (Nov. 30, $40, ISBN 978-1-59606-946-6). Marking Crowley’s first nonfiction work since 2007’s In Other Words, this entry reflects his wide range of interests, in

literature and elsewhere. Subjects include tributes to the writers—both famed and little-known—who have influenced him, the Encyclopedia Britannica, Norman Bel Geddes’s utopian architecture, and the nature of time.


Peter Watts Is an Angry Sentient Tumor: Essays and Revenge Fantasies by Peter Watts (Nov. 15, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-61696-319-4). The Hugo Award–winning writer and former marine biologist offers a collection of acerbic essays that express a dystopian yet optimistic sensibility.

Ten Speed

The Little Book of Lost Words: Collywobbles, Snollygosters, and 86 Other Surprisingly Useful Terms Worth Resurrecting by Joe Gillard (Sept. 3, $14.99, ISBN 978-0-399-58267-7). The founder of the website History Hustle acquaints readers with now little-known yet surprisingly relevant terms from throughout the history of the English language. Choice examples include groke and dewdropper.

Torrey House

Virga & Bone: Essays from Dry Places by Craig Childs (Oct. 1, trade paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-1-948814-18-8) captures the author’s experience of the Southwestern desert in a series of vivid images—of a half-blind bighorn ram and of wisps of evaporating rain falling over Monument Valley, among others—while emphasizing a sense of nature’s overwhelming power.

Two Dollar Radio

Some of Us Are Very Hungry Now by Andre Perry (Nov. 12, trade paper, $15.99, ISBN 978-1-937512-83-5). In this debut collection, Perry discusses the search for identity, on both a personal and national level, in places that include Washington, D.C., Iowa City, and Hong Kong.

Univ. of Minnesota

South American Journals: January–July 1960 by Allen Ginsberg, edited by Michael Schumacher (Nov. 5, $25.95, ISBN 978-0-8166-9961-2), describes traveling through Chile and Peru, visiting Machu Picchu, and searching for a psychedelic substance, ayahuasca, recommended by William Burroughs. Far from a straightforward diary, Ginsberg’s accounts are accompanied by poems, recollected dreams, and spiritual musings.

Univ. of Nebraska

Apple, Tree: Writers on Their Parents, edited by Lise Funderburg (Sept. 1, $24.95, ISBN 978-1-4962-1209-2). Twenty-five contributors, among them Laura van den Berg, John Freeman, Mat Johnson, Kyoko Mori, and Sallie Tisdale, single out a trait inherited from one of their parents and reckon with how it has affected their lives.

Univ. of Pennsylvania

Shakespeare’s First Reader: The Paper Trails of Richard Stonley by Jason Scott-Warren (Aug. 30, $45, ISBN 978-0-8122-5145-6) profiles the first recorded purchaser of Shakespeare’s first publication, Venus and Adonis, who owned a then-staggering number of books, around 500, but died in prison, having built his library by embezzling funds, as a government clerk, from Mary I and Elizabeth I.

Univ. of Texas

America’s Most Alarming Writer: Essays on the Life and Work of Charles Bowden, edited by Bill Broyles and Bruce J. Dinges (Nov. 15, $29.95, ISBN 978-1-4773-1990-1), presents 50 essays on the career of journalist and nonfiction author Bowden (1945–2014) from his editors, collaborators, and fellow writers, discussing his investigative work on such topics as climate change, globalization, and the war on drugs.


Makers of Worlds, Readers of Signs by Kfir Cohen Lustig (Sept. 3, trade paper, $29.95, ISBN 978-1-78873-757-9) looks at world literature, from the 1940s to today, in terms of Palestinian and Israeli literature, relating the ways characters are shown making their way in the world to trends in neoliberalism and globalization; preface by Fredric Jameson.


Animal by Dorothea Lasky (Oct. 1, trade paper, $20, ISBN 978-1-940696-91-1). The poet devotes this excursion into prose to the central topics of ghosts, colors, animals, and bees, as an entry point to discussing poetic imagination; published in the Bagley Wright Lecture Series.

Wayne State Univ.

These Are Love(d) Letters by Ames Hawkins (Sept. 9, trade paper, $21.99, ISBN 978-0-8143-4726-3) investigates the form of the love letter, via those written by the author’s father to her mother over six weeks in 1966, while also weaving in Hawkins’s struggles with gender, sexuality, and art in relation to her parents’ divorce and her father’s death from AIDS-related complications.

Yale Univ.

Fabulous Monsters: Dracula, Alice, Superman, and Other Literary Friends by Alberto Manguel (Sept. 24, $19.95, ISBN 978-0-300-24738-1) explores how literary characters can shift identity over time and teach their readers about real life. Manguel singles out such personal favorites as Jim from Huckleberry Finn and Job and Jonah from the Bible.

Return to the main feature.

Correction: An earlier version of this article listed the incorrect publisher of Shakespeare's First Reader.