Artificial intelligence, race, and the immigrant experience feature prominently in a season full of essay collections about contemporary concerns.
The Breaks: An Essay
Julietta Singh. Coffee House, Sept. 7 ($16.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-56689-616-0)
Singh, professor of English and gender studies, focuses this essay-length project on race, mothering, and the future, written in the form of a letter to her six-year-old daughter.
Lydia Davis. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Nov. 17 ($30, ISBN 978-0-374-14886-7)
Davis follows up 2019’s Essays One with a collection of reflections on literature, language, and translation, discussing what it was like to translate Proust and Flaubert, and her experiences in Arles, France.
Indigo: Arm Wrestling, Snake Saving, and Some Things In Between
Padgett Powell. Catapult, Nov. 9 ($16.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-64622-005-2)
Novelist Powell’s first essay collection spans decades and focuses on the American South, the art of fiction, and writers he’s befriended.
Letter to a Stranger: Essays to the Ones Who Haunt Us
Edited by Colleen Kinder. Algonquin, Oct. 5 ($19.95, ISBN 978-1-64375-124-5)
Sixty-five writers answer essayist Kinder’s call to “write a letter to a stranger who haunts you.” Lauren Groff, Elizabeth Kolbert, and Pico Iyer are among those featured, and the foreword is written by Leslie Jamison.
The Matter of Black Lives: Writing from the New Yorker
Edited by Jelani Cobb and David Remnick. Ecco, Sept. 28 ($35, ISBN 978-0-06-301759-7)
Works by Hilton Als, James Baldwin, Zadie Smith, and Rebecca West are collected in this compendium of New Yorker pieces on race in America.
Mothers, Fathers, and Others: Essays
Siri Hustvedt. Simon & Schuster, Dec. 7 ($26, ISBN 978-1-9821-7639-6)
Novelist Hustvedt tells stories of her mother and grandmother alongside a survey of such literary and artistic figures as Jane Austen and Louise Bourgeois in this collection addressing familial love.
On Freedom: Four Songs of Care and Constraint
Maggie Nelson. Graywolf, Sept. 7 ($27, ISBN 978-1-64445-062-8)
Nelson sets her sight on freedom in this work of criticism, ruminating on the concept as it relates to art, sex, drugs, and climate.
Tacky: Love Letters to the Worst Culture We Have to Offer
Rax King. Vintage, Nov. 2 ($15.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-0-593-31272-8)
King debuts with a collection on lowbrow pop culture and coming of age in the aughts; Jersey Shore, Guy Fieri, and the Cheesecake Factory are some of the topics covered.
Things I Have Withheld
Kei Miller. Grove, Sept. 14 ($26, ISBN 978-0-8021-5895-6)
These essays from novelist and poet Miller focus on silence: the interconnected pieces combine literary and cultural criticism as Miller sheds light on discrimination, art, love, and what it means to be a Black man in America.
Unfollow Me: Essays on Complicity
Jill Louise Busby. Bloomsbury, Sept. 7 ($26, ISBN 978-1-63557-711-2)
Busby, whose 2016 Instagram speech about racism went viral, debuts with a series of essays on privilege, tokenism, and viral fame.
Essays & Literary Criticism Listings
Unstrung: Rants and Stories of a Noise Guitarist by Marc Ribot (Aug. 3, $24.95, ISBN 978-1-61775-930-7). Musician Ribot debuts with a collection of essays (and some stories) about music and life on the road.
You Don’t Know Us Negroes and Other Essays by Zora Neale Hurston (Jan. 11, $28.99, ISBN 978-0-06-304385-5). More than three decades of Hurston’s writing come together in this collection, which features articles, essays, and works of criticism.
Between Certain Death and a Possible Future: Queer Writing on Growing Up with the AIDS Crisis, edited by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore (Oct. 5, $22.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-55152-850-2), gathers essays on the impact of HIV/AIDS on those who grew up queer amid the epidemic.
Greedy: Notes from a Bisexual Who Wants Too Much by Jen Winston (Oct. 5, $18 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-9821-7917-5). Winston, creator of the newsletter the Bi Monthly, explores gender and sexuality in this debut essay collection.
Long Players: Writers on the Albums That Shaped Them, edited by Tom Gatti (Aug. 3, $22, ISBN 978-1-5266-2578-6), sees 50 writers spotlighting the albums that changed their lives. George Saunders, Rachel Kushner, Patricia Lockwood, and Neil Gaiman are among the contributors.
My One Black Friend: Stories from the Community by Chris Rock (Nov. 2, $30, ISBN 978-1-250-61856-6) is the actor and comedian’s first essay collection since 1997’s Rock This!
The New York Times Book Review: 125 Years of Literary History, edited by Tina Jordan and Noor Qasim (Nov. 16, $50, ISBN 978-0-593-23461-7). NYTBR editor Jordan and fellow Qasim bring together the book review’s hits since its beginning in 1896.
100 Things We’ve Lost to the Internet by Pamela Paul (Oct. 26, $27, ISBN 978-0-593-13677-5). The editor of the New York Times Book Review covers in 100 short essays some of the many things the internet has made obsolete.
God, Human, Animal, Machine: Technology, Metaphor, and the Search for Meaning by Meghan O’Gieblyn (Aug. 24, $26.95, ISBN 978-0-385-54382-8) follows up Inter States with a meditation on language and being human in a world of artificial intelligence.
Sorry Not Sorry by Alyssa Milano (Oct. 26, $28, ISBN 978-0-593-18329-8). Actor Milano recounts her life, career, and activism.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
What About the Baby? Some Thoughts on the Art of Fiction by Alice McDermott (Aug. 17, $27, ISBN 978-0-374-13062-6) dispenses writing advice in a survey that, according to PW’s review, is “a master class in writing fiction.”
If You Lived Here You’d Be Famous by Now: True Stories from Calabasas by Via Bleidner (Aug. 10, $25.99, ISBN 978-1-250-75393-9) brings the author’s Gen-Z perspective to attending Calabasas High and growing up amid Hollywood’s elite.
12 Bytes: How We Got Here. Where We Might Go Next by Jeanette Winterson (Oct. 12, $27, ISBN 978-0-8021-5925-0) follows up 2020’s Hansel and Greta with a series of essays on artificial intelligence.
The Search for the Genuine: Selected Nonfiction by Jim Harrison (Nov. 9, $28, ISBN 978-0-8021-5721-8) brings together decades of Harrison’s previously published essays, and brings to light some unpublished ones, too.
A Modern Man: The Best of George Carlin by George Carlin (Oct. 5, $17.99 trade paper, ISBN 978-0-306-82709-9) is a collection of miscellanies from the late Grammy-winning comedian, with a foreword by Lewis Black.
These Precious Days: Essays by Ann Patchett (Nov. 23, $26.99, ISBN 978-0-06-309278-5). Novelist Patchett turns to nonfiction for this collection of reflections, primarily about friendship.
Horse Girls: Recovering, Aspiring, and Devoted Riders Redefine the Iconic Bond by Halimah Marcus (Aug. 3, $17 trade paper, ISBN 978-0-06-300925-7) collects 14 essays about the “horse girl” stereotype from such writers as Carmen Maria Machado, Jane Smiley, and Maggie Shipstead. PW gave this a starred review.
Alien Nation: True Tales of Immigration, edited by Sofija Stefanovic (Oct. 12, $25.99, ISBN 978-0-06-306204-7). Memoirist Stefanovic brings together 36 stories on the immigrant experience in America, featuring such well-known writers as Alexander Chee and a host of new voices.
Somewhere We Are Human: Authentic Voices on Migration, Survival, and New Beginnings, edited by Reyna Grande and Sonia Guiñansaca (Dec. 14, $25.99, ISBN 978-0-06-309577-9). In 35 essays, writers, artists, and activists share the often-harsh realities of being an undocumented citizen.
Murakami T: The T-Shirts I Love by Haruki Murakami, trans. by Philip Gabriel (Nov. 16, $25, ISBN 978-0-593-32042-6). Short essays accompany photos of Murakami’s huge T-shirt collection, offering some insight into the man behind the fiction.
What Just Happened by Charles Finch (Nov. 2, $28, ISBN 978-0-593-31907-9). Novelist and critic Finch reflects on 2020 in this meditation on modern crises and the ways he found distraction.
My Body by Emily Ratajkowski (Nov. 2, $27.99, ISBN 978-1-250-81786-0). The model’s debut collection focuses on feminism, the female body, and the male gaze.
Dear Memory: Letters on Writing, Silence, and Grief by Victoria Chang (Oct. 12, $25, ISBN 978-1-57131-392-8). Poet Chang muses on the power of memory in her first nonfiction effort, structured as a collection of letters.
We’ll Laugh About This (Someday): Essays on Taking Life a Smidge Too Seriously by Anna Lind Thomas (Sept. 14, $18.99 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-4002-2196-7), the writer’s debut, humorously surveys topics including hysteria, her epidural, and dating.
New York Univ.
Keeping It Unreal: Black Queer Fantasy and Superhero Comics by Darieck Scott (Jan. 4, $29 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-4798-2414-4) covers Black Panther, Storm, and Black Lightning, among other properties, to explore Black representation in fantasy and comics.
All of the Marvels: A Journey to the Ends of the Biggest Story Ever Told by Douglas Wolk (Oct. 5, $28, ISBN 978-0-7352-2216-8) surveys Marvel Comics’ output since 1961 (which amounts to more than 27,000 comics).
Around the World in 80 Books: A Literary Journey by David Damrosch (Nov. 9, $30, ISBN 978-0-593-29988-3). In response to Covid-19’s travel restrictions, Damrosch, founder of Harvard’s Institute for World Literature, considers both classic and modern novels from across the globe.
Dangerous Visions and New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction, 1950–1985, edited by Andrew Nette and Iain McIntyre (Oct. 21, $29.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-62963-883-6) examines how science fiction in the mid- and late-20th century was often a response to political and social resistance, spotlighting such authors as Octavia Butler, Philip K. Dick, and Ursula K. Le Guin.
Jane Austen, Early and Late by Freya Johnston (Sept. 14, $29.95, ISBN 978-0-691-19800-2). The St. Anne’s College lecturer takes a deep dive into Jane Austen’s unpublished writing.
An Editor’s Burial: Journals and Journalism from the New Yorker and Other Magazines, edited by David Brendel (Aug. 3, $16.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-78227-664-7), collects essays on the expat life in Paris—from such writers as James Baldwin, Joseph Mitchell, and Lillian Ross—that inspired Wes Anderson’s 2021 film, The French Dispatch.
The Collected Essays of Mary Butts, edited by Joel Hawkes (Sept. 28, $30 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-62054-032-9). English professor Hawkes collects 117 book reviews and 13 essays by the prolific Butts, spanning 1932–1937.
New Moons: Contemporary Writing by North American Muslims, edited by Kazim Ali (Nov. 16, $23.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-63628-006-6). Poet and novelist Ali brings together a wide variety of forms and perspectives in this consideration of contemporary Islam, including poetry, essay, and memoir.
Pop Culture Pioneers: The Women Who Transformed Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Horror by Cher Martinetti (Sept. 7, $25, ISBN 978-0-7624-9851-2). Forgotten Women of Genre podcaster Martinetti explores the contributions to literature made by such women as Karyn Kusama, Jenette Kahn, and Bonnie Erickson.
Savage Love from A to Z: Advice on Sex and Relationships, Dating and Mating, Exes and Extras by Dan Savage, illus. by Joe Newton (Sept. 21, $19.95, ISBN 978-1-63217-382-9) celebrates the 30th anniversary of Savage’s Savage Love column with new essays expanded from column pieces.
Simon & Schuster
Between the Lines: Stories from the Underground by Uli Beutter Cohen (Oct. 26, $24.99, ISBN 978-1-9821-4567-5). The creator of the Subway Book Review interview series collects more than 170 conversations with New Yorkers about what they read on the train—Jia Tolentino, Eileen Myles, and Min Jin Lee are among the straphangers featured.
Inter State: Essays from California by Jose Vadi (Sept. 14, $16.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-59376-695-5). Vadi debuts with a collection of essays on his time as a skateboarder, DJ, and tech worker, all against the backdrop of a rapidly changing California.
Please Don’t Sit on My Bed in Your Outside Clothes: Essays by Phoebe Robinson (Sept. 28, $27, ISBN 978-0-593-18490-5). Comedian Robinson follows Everything’s Trash, but It’s Okay with these takes on pop culture, her own life, and Black Lives Matter, among other topics.
Aftermath by Preti Taneja (Oct. 5, $15.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-945492-54-9). Activist and novelist Taneja recounts her time teaching fiction in prison and investigates the language and stories that surround trauma.
First Light: A Celebration of Alan Garner, edited by Erica Wagner (Nov. 9, $14.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-80018-031-4). Neil Gaiman, Elizabeth Garner, Robert Macfarlane, and others consider the life and work of fantasy writer Alan Garner.
Women on Nature, edited by Katharine Norbury (Oct. 12, $28.95, ISBN 978-1-80018-041-3), collects writings on nature from fiction, poetry, daily planners, and garden diaries—including those kept by Celia Fiennes and Emily Bronte, as well as contemporary writers.
Univ. of Chicago
Black Paper: Writing in a Dark Time by Teju Cole (Oct. 8, $22.50, ISBN 978-0-226-64135-5). Art historian and novelist Cole uses the color black as a jumping-off point for essays about art, writing, activism, and history.
The Nutmeg’s Curse: Parables for a Planet in Crisis by Amitav Ghosh (Oct. 4, $25, ISBN 978-0-226-81545-9) follows The Great Derangement with a series of essays that use the West’s trade of nutmeg as a parable for climate change.
Univ. of Minnesota
We Are Meant to Rise: Voices for Justice from Minneapolis to the World, edited by Carolyn Holbrook and David Mura (Sept. 28, $18.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-5179-1221-5). A slew of Minnesotan writers respond to the past year in an anthology that foregrounds indigenous writers and writers of color.
Univ. of Virginia
The Philip Roth We Don’t Know: Sex, Race, and Autobiography by Jacques Berlinerblau (Sept. 14, $29.95, ISBN 978-0-8139-4661-0) offers a post-#MeToo reading of Philip Roth’s life, work, and sexual politics.
Everything and Less: The Novel in the Age of Amazon by Mark McGurl (Nov. 2, $29.95, ISBN 978-1-83976-385-4). Literary critic McGurl explores how ecommerce giant Amazon has changed the novel and literary culture.
Of Solids and Surds: Notes for Noël Sturgeon, Marilyn Hacker, Josh Lukin, MIA Wolff, Bill Stribling, and Bob White by Samuel R. Delany (Sept. 14, $18, ISBN 978-0-300-25040-4). Delany looks back on five decades of his writing career, tracing along the way his experience as a Black gay man.