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19 Books You Should Read This September

Has a single Tuesday ever been responsible for more great books than September 12, 2017? This is the longest monthly preview I’ve ever compiled for the CHIRB, thanks to the sheer number of exciting titles hitting the shelves over the next four weeks. We’ve got household names and debuts, epic novels and slim chapbooks, horror and humor. I hope you’ve got some cash tucked away for your next trip to the bookstore.


9781496201324_75729Glory Days
By Melissa Fraterrigo
University of Nebraska Press, September 1

“The small plains town of Ingleside, Nebraska, is populated by down-on-their-luck ranchers and new money, ghosts and seers, drugs and greed, the haves and the have-nots. Lives ripple through each other to surprising effect, though the connections fluctuate between divisive gulfs and the most intimate closeness. At the center of this novel is the story of Teensy and his daughter, Luann, who face the loss of their land even as they mourn the death of Luann’s mother. On the other end of the spectrum, some townspeople find enormous wealth when developers begin buying up acreages. When Glory Days—an amusement park—is erected, past and present collide, the attachment to the land is fully severed, and the invading culture ushers in even darker times.”


9780399592805_06283The Golden House
By Salman Rushdie
Random House, September 5

“When the aristocratic Golden family moves into a self contained pocket of New York City, a park in Greenwich Village called “The Gardens,” their past is an absolute mystery. They seem to be hiding in plain sight: Nero Golden, the powerful but shady patriarch, and his sons Petya, a high functioning autistic and recluse; Apu, the successful artist who may or may not be profound; and D, the enchanting youngest son whose gender confusion mirrors the confusion – and possibilities – of the world around him. And finally there is Vasilisa, the Russian beauty who seduces the patriarch to shape their American stories. Our fearless narrator is an aspiring filmmaker who decides the Golden family will be his subject. He gains the trust of this strange family, even as their secrets gradually unfold – love affairs and betrayals, questions of belonging and identity, a murder, an apocalyptic terror attack, a magical, stolen baby, all set against a whirling background in which an insane Presidential Candidate known as only The Joker grows stronger and stronger, and America itself grows mad. And yet The Golden House is a hopeful story, even an inspiring one – a story about the hope that surrounds, and is made brighter by, even the darkest of situations.”


9780374203108_48aa2Sourdough
By Robin Sloan
MCD x FSG, September 5

“Lois Clary is a software engineer at General Dexterity, a San Francisco robotics company with world-changing ambitions. She codes all day and collapses at night, her human contact limited to the two brothers who run the neighborhood hole-in-the-wall from which she orders dinner every evening. Then, disaster! Visa issues. The brothers close up shop, and fast. But they have one last delivery for Lois: their culture, the sourdough starter used to bake their bread. She must keep it alive, they tell her—feed it daily, play it music, and learn to bake with it. Lois is no baker, but she could use a roommate, even if it is a needy colony of microorganisms. Soon, not only is she eating her own homemade bread, she’s providing loaves daily to the General Dexterity cafeteria. The company chef urges her to take her product to the farmer’s market, and a whole new world opens up. When Lois comes before the jury that decides who sells what at Bay Area markets, she encounters a close-knit club with no appetite for new members. But then, an alternative emerges: a secret market that aims to fuse food and technology. But who are these people, exactly?”


9781571314956_d87b2I Know Your Kind: Poems
By William Brewer
Milkweed Editions, September 5

“In West Virginia, fatal overdoses on opioids have spiked to three times the national average. In these poems, William Brewer demonstrates an immersive, devastating empathy for both the lost and the bereaved, the enabled and the enabler, the addict who knocks late at night and the brother who closes the door. Underneath and among this multiplicity of voices runs the Appalachian landscape—a location, like the experience of drug addiction itself, of stark contrasts: beauty and ruin, nature and industry, love and despair. Uncanny, heartbreaking, and often surreal, I Know Your Kind is an unforgettable elegy for the people and places that have been lost to opioids.”
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9781608468560_dcc17Electric Arches
By Eve Ewing
Haymarket Books, September 12

“Blending stark realism with the surreal and fantastic, Eve L. Ewing’s narrative takes us from the streets of 1990s Chicago to an unspecified future, deftly navigating the boundaries of space, time, and reality. Ewing imagines familiar figures in magical circumstances—blues legend Koko Taylor is a tall-tale hero; LeBron James travels through time and encounters his teenage self. She identifies everyday objects—hair moisturizer, a spiral notebook—as precious icons. Her visual art is spare, playful, and poignant—a cereal box decoder ring that allows the wearer to understand what Black girls are saying; a teacher’s angry, subversive message scrawled on the chalkboard. Electric Arches invites fresh conversations about race, gender, the city, identity, and the joy and pain of growing up.”


9780735224292_315bfLittle Fires Everywhere
By Celeste Ng
Penguin Press, September 12

“In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is meticulously planned—from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principal is playing by the rules. Enter Mia Warren- an enigmatic artist and single mother- who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the alluring mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community. When the Richardsons’ friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town and puts Mia and Mrs. Richardson on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Mrs. Richardson becomes determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs to her own family—and Mia’s.”


9781944700188_6f513After the Flare
By Deji Bryce Olukotun
Unnamed Press, September 12

“After a solar flare knocks Earth off line, Nigeria has the only operating space program and the future depends on engineer Kwesi Bracket and his team A catastrophic solar flare reshapes our world order as we know it – in an instant, electricity grids are crippled, followed by devastating cyberattacks that paralyze all communication. With America in chaos, former NASA employee Kwesi Bracket works at the only functioning space program in the world, which just happens to be in Nigeria. With Europe, Asia, and the U.S. knocked off-line, and thousands of dead satellites about to plummet to Earth, the planet’s only hope rests with the Nigerian Space Program’s plan to launch a daring rescue mission to the International Space Station. Bracket and his team are already up against a serious deadline, but life on the ground is just as disastrous after the flare. Nigeria has been flooded with advanced biohacking technologies, and the scramble for space supremacy has attracted dangerous peoples from all over Africa. What’s more: the militant Islamic group Boko Haram is slowly encroaching on the spaceport, leaving a trail of destruction, while a group of nomads has discovered an ancient technology more powerful than anything Bracket’s ever imagined. With the clock ticking down, Bracket – helped by a brilliant scientist from India and an eccentric lunar geologist – must confront the looming threats to the spaceport in order to launch a harrowing rescue mission into space. In this sequel to Nigerians in Space, Deji Bryce Olukotun poses deep questions about technology, international ambition, identity, and space exploration in the 21st century.”


9780062430991_22e1fThe Forest Dark
By Nicole Krauss
Harper, September 12

“Jules Epstein, a man whose drive, avidity, and outsized personality have, for sixty-eight years, been a force to be reckoned with, is undergoing a metamorphosis. In the wake of his parents’ deaths, his divorce from his wife of more than thirty years, and his retirement from the New York legal firm where he was a partner, he’s felt an irresistible need to give away his possessions, alarming his children and perplexing the executor of his estate. With the last of his wealth, he travels to Israel, with a nebulous plan to do something to honor his parents. In Tel Aviv, he is sidetracked by a charismatic American rabbi planning a reunion for the descendants of King David who insists that Epstein is part of that storied dynastic line. He also meets the rabbi’s beautiful daughter who convinces Epstein to become involved in her own project—a film about the life of David being shot in the desert—with life-changing consequences. But Epstein isn’t the only seeker embarking on a metaphysical journey that dissolves his sense of self, place, and history. Leaving her family in Brooklyn, a young, well-known novelist arrives at the Tel Aviv Hilton where she has stayed every year since birth. Troubled by writer’s block and a failing marriage, she hopes that the hotel can unlock a dimension of reality—and her own perception of life—that has been closed off to her. But when she meets a retired literature professor who proposes a project she can’t turn down, she’s drawn into a mystery that alters her life in ways she could never have imagined.”


9781619029569_f7cd0The People Are Going to Rise
Like the Waters Upon Your Shore
By Jared Yates Sexton
Counterpoint Press, September 12
(Correction: This books is already in stores)

“When he agreed to cover the 2016 election season, journalist Jared Yates Sexton didn’t know he was stepping into what would become–for both political parties–the most rageful and divisive political circus in U.S. history. His initial dispatches showed Democrats at war with their establishment, coming apart at the seams over the long-gestating ascendancy of Hillary Clinton and the upstart momentum of Bernie Sanders, whose grassroots campaign provoked uprisings of people desperate for change. Then, on June 14, Sexton attended a Donald Trump rally in Greensboro, North Carolina. One of the first journalists to witness these rallies and give mainstream readers an idea of the raw anger that occurred there, Sexton found himself in the center of a maelstrom. Following a series of tweets that saw his observations viewed well over 1 million times, his reporting was soon featured in The Washington Post, NPR, Bloomberg, and Mother Jones, and he would go on to write two pieces for The New York Times. Sexton gained more than 18,000 followers on Twitter in a matter of days, and received online harassments, campaigns to get him fired from his university professorship, and death threats that changed his life forever.”


9780865477766_512f8The Dharma of ‘The Princess Bride’
By Ethan Nichtern
FSG, September 12

“Friendship. Romance. Family. These are the three areas Ethan Nichtern delves into, taking as departure points the indelible characters—Westley, Fezzik, Vizzini, Count Rugen, Princess Buttercup, and others from Rob Reiner’s perennially popular film—as he also draws lessons from his own life and his work as a meditation teacher. Nicthern devotes the first section of the book to exploring the dynamics of friendship. Why do people become friends? What can we learn from the sufferings of Inigo Montoya and Fezzik? Next, he leads us through all the phases of illusion and disillusion we encounter in our romantic pursuits, providing a healthy dose of lightheartedness along the way by sharing his own Princess Buttercup List and the vicissitudes of his dating life as he ponders how we idealize and objectify romantic love. Finally, Nichtern draws upon the demands of his own family history and the film’s character the Grandson to explore the dynamics of “the last frontier of awakening,” a reference to his teacher Chogyam Trungpa’s claim that it’s possible to be enlightened everywhere except around your family.”


9780765397348_fd35aThe Twilight Pariah
By Jeffrey Ford
Tor.com Publishing, September 12

“Three friends go looking for treasure and find horror in Jeffrey Ford’s The Twilight Pariah. All Maggie, Russell, and Henry wanted out of their last college vacation was to get drunk and play archaeologist in an old house in the woods outside of town. When they excavate the mansion’s outhouse they find way more than they bargained for: a sealed bottle filled with a red liquid, along with the bizarre skeleton of a horned child Disturbing the skeleton throws each of their lives into a living hell. They feel followed wherever they go, their homes are ransacked by unknown intruders, and people they care about are brutally, horribly dismembered. The three friends awakened something, a creature that will stop at nothing to retrieve its child.”


Three Novels by Karen Tei Yamashita
Coffee House Press, September 12

Originally published in the ’90s, these re-releases from Coffee House Press are gorgeous, timely (again), and wildly inventive. “Irreverently juggling magical realism, film noir, hip-hop, and chicanismo, Tropic of Orange takes place in a Los Angeles where the homeless, gangsters, infant organ entrepreneurs, and Hollywood collide on a stretch of the Harbor Freeway.” Brazil-Maru is “the story of a band of Japanese immigrants who arrive in Brazil in 1925 to carve a utopia out of the jungle.” In Through the Arc of the Rainforest, “a Japanese man with a ball floating six inches in front of his head, an American ceo with three arms, and a Brazilian peasant who discovers the art of healing by tickling one’s earlobe rise to the heights of wealth and fame before arriving at disasters—both personal and ecological—that destroy the rain forest and all the birds of Brazil.”


9781941040751_4ee76Kiss Me Someone
By Karen Shepard
Tin House, September 12

“Bold and unapologetic, Karen Shepard’s Kiss Me Someone is inhabited by women who walk the line between various states: adolescence and adulthood, stability and uncertainty, selfishness and compassion. They navigate the obstacles that come with mixed-race identity and instabilities in social class, and they use their liminal positions to leverage power. They employ rage and tenderness and logic and sex, but for all of their rationality they’re drawn to self-destructive behavior. Shepard’s stories explore what we do to lessen our burdens of sadness and isolation; her characters, fiercely true to themselves, are caught between their desire to move beyond their isolation and a fear that it’s exactly where they belong.”


9781911508106_893e9Worlds From the Word’s End
By Joanna Walsh
And Other Stories, September 12

“An imagination bomb in the library of literature—Walsh’s playful and iconoclastic shorts bring a sharpness to the fiction of ideas. This collection cements Joanna Walsh’s reputation as one of the sharpest writers of this century. Wearing her learning lightly, Walsh’s stories make us see the world afresh, from a freewheeling story on cycling (and Freud), to a country in which words themselves fall out of fashion—something that will never happen wherever Walsh is read.”


9781590518762_d440dFor Two Thousand Years
By Mihail Sebastian
Translated by Philip Ó. Ceallaigh
Other Press, September 12

“Available in English for the first time, Mihail Sebastian’s classic 1934 novel delves into the mind of a Jewish student in Romania during the fraught years preceding World War II. This literary masterpiece revives the ideological debates of the interwar period through the journal of a Romanian Jewish student caught between anti-Semitism and Zionism. Although he endures persistent threats just to attend lectures, he feels disconnected from his Jewish peers and questions whether their activism will be worth the cost. Spending his days walking the streets and his nights drinking and conversing with revolutionaries, zealots, and libertines, he remains isolated, even from the women he loves. From Bucharest to Paris, he strives to make peace with himself in an increasingly hostile world. For Two Thousand Years echoes Mihail Sebastian’s struggles as the rise of fascism ended his career and turned his friends and colleagues against him. Born of the violence of relentless anti-Semitism, his searching, self-derisive work captures a defining moment in history and lights the way for generations to come—a prescient, heart-wrenching chronicle of resilience and despair, resistance and acceptance.”


9780765392077_2171cAutonomous
By Annalee Newitz
Tor Books, September 19

“The highly anticipated science fiction debut from a well-connected science/SF journalist and founder of io9, exploring themes of technology and culture in an accessible style Autonomous features a rakish pharmaceutical pirate named Jack who traverses the world in her own submarine. A notorious anti-patent scientist who has styled herself as a Robin Hood-style heroine fighting to bring cheap drugs to the poor, Jack’s latest drug is leaving a trail of lethal overdoses across what used to be North America. The drug compels people to become addicted to their work. On Jack’s trail are an unlikely pair: an emotionally shut-down military agent and his partner, Paladin, a military robot, who fall in love against all expectations. Autonomous alternates between the activities of Jack and her co-conspirators, and Joe and Paladin, as they all race to stop a bizarre drug epidemic that is tearing apart lives, causing trains to crash, and flooding New York City. The characters in Autonomous are dealing with a fundamental question: Is freedom possible in a culture where everything, even people, can be owned?”


9781609807832_830a7Passage
By Khary Lazarre-White
Seven Stories Press, September 26

Passage tells the story of Warrior, a young black man navigating the snowy winter streets of Harlem and Brooklyn in 1993. Warrior is surrounded by deep family love and a sustaining connection to his history, bonds that arm him as he confronts the urban forces that surround him—both supernatural and human—including some that seek his very destruction. For Warrior and his peers, the reminders that they, as black men, aren’t meant to be fully free, are everywhere. The high schools are filled with teachers who aren’t qualified and don’t care as much about their students’ welfare as that they pass the state exams. Getting from point A to point B usually means eluding violence, and possibly death, at the hands of the “blue soldiers” and your own brothers. Making it home means accepting that you may open the door to find that someone you love did not have the same good fortune. Warrior isn’t even safe in his own mind. He’s haunted by the spirits of ancestors and of the demons of the system of oppression. Though the story told in Passage takes place in 1993, there is a striking parallel between Warrior’s experience and the experiences of black male youth today, since nothing has really changed. Every memory in the novel is the memory of thousands of black families. Every conversation is a message both to those still in their youth and those who left their youth behind long ago. Passage is a novel for then and now.”

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