Fall is for snuggling up with a hot beverage and a cracking read! Like every year, this fall is also jam-packed with buzzed-about books from heavyweights like Jeffrey Eugenides, Celeste Ng, Louise Eridrich, and Ta-Nehisi Coates. Be sure to add these books to your TBR pile, there’s something for every reader!
Dinner at the Center of the Earth by Nathan Englander
Knopf, September 5
A prisoner in a secret cell. The guard who has watched over him a dozen years. An American waitress in Paris. A young Palestinian man in Berlin who strikes up an odd friendship with a wealthy Canadian businessman. And The General, Israel’s most controversial leader, who lies dying in a hospital, the only man who knows of the prisoner’s existence. Nathan weaves a powerful plotline around these characters which questions the cruel divide between Israel and Palestinians.
Sisters by Lily Tuck
Atlantic Monthly Press, September 5
Tuck’s unnamed narrator lives with her new husband, his two teenagers, and the unbanishable presence of his first wife―known only as she. Obsessed with her, our narrator moves through her days presided over by the all-too-real ghost of the first marriage, fantasizing about how the first wife lives her life. Will the narrator ever equal she intellectually, or ever forget the betrayal that lies between them? This artful novel exposes the intricacies and scandals of a new marriage sprung from betrayal.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Penguin Press, September 12
Ng took the lit world by storm with her debut novel, Everything I Never Told You, a quiet murder mystery that explored familial, racial, and class tensions in suburban Ohio. Her follow-up, Little Fires Everywhere, returns to familiar territory: Ng’s real-life hometown, Shaker Heights, Ohio, an affluent, planned community on the outskirts of Cleveland, where another mystery needs solving, and another family (actually, two of them) needs a catharsis.
Electric Arches by Eve Ewing
Haymarket Books, September 12
A groundbreaking collection of poetry, short fiction, and art from one of Chicago’s cultural icons. Adam Morgan says: “This might sound like hyperbole, but I’m being 100% honest when I say: ‘Electric Arches’ will go down as one of the best and most iconic poetry books about Chicago…ever. You have never seen Chicago this way before, and regardless of where you live, it’ll change your perspective. Can’t recommend enough.”
The Doll’s Alphabet by Camilla Grudova
Coffee House Press, September 18
The sinister and surreal stories in this collection features dark fairytales and feminist allegories. Reminiscent of the work of Angela Carter and David Lynch, these stories feature women that can unstitch themselves and deformed babies. Grudova’s method of storytelling is highly imaginative and incredibly ambitious.
Return to the Dark Valley by Santiago Gamboa
Europa Editions, September 19
From one of Colombia’s most exciting young writers comes this gritty and complex noir about contemporary life. The characters in this story are constantly on the move and through their story arcs, Gamboa brilliantly depicts the dislocation and hostility of our world.
Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor
Catapult, October 3
This book is getting a lot of buzz since being longlisted for the Man Booker, but as a long time fan of McGregor, I can assure you that this book deserves to be read on its own merit. Reservoir 13 is a gorgeously written story of the disappearance of a girl and how this event affects the community. McGregor has a way of flawlessly intertwining different storylines, something which is evident in this subtle yet artfully complex novel. This intricately woven and free-flowing will stay with you long after you have read it.
We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates
OneWorld Publications, October 3
The brilliant Atlantic columnist is back with another powerful book after Between the World and Me changed the cultural conversation in 2015. This time, he offers the first true retrospective of the Obama era with a personal, memoirish touch, gathering some of his most notable essays published between 2008 and 2016.
Fresh Complaint: Stories by Jeffrey Eugenides
FSG, October 3
This is the first short story collection from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jeffrey Eugenides. The stories mostly focus on people facing a personal crisis or a bizzare dilemma. Mildly reflective, amusing and somber, this book brilliantly displays the craftsmanship of Eugenides as a storyteller.
Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
Graywolf Press, October 3
This wildly inventive debut collection features stories which portrays everyday women crises with supernatural and speculative twists. Earthy and otherworldly, antic and sexy, comic and deadly serious, the writing is daringly original.
Ferocity by Nicola Lagioia
Translated by Antony Shugaar
Europa Editions, October 10
This is hands down the best novel I have read this year. Already garnering comparisons to Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl and Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, it is a meaty and incredibly layered family saga. Set against the crumbling social and political fabric of a society, Ferocity features penetrating character portraits as well as a kaleidoscopic view of family dynamics and relationships.
The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao by Martha Batalha
Translated by Eric M. B. Becker
OneWorld Publications, October 12
Euridice is young, beautiful and ambitious, but when her rebellious sister Guida elopes, she sets her own aspirations aside and vows to settle down as a model wife and daughter. And yet as her husband’s professional success grows, so does Euridice’s feeling of restlessness. She embarks on a series of secret projects from creating recipe books to becoming the most sought-after seamstress in town ― but each is doomed to failure. This book vividly describes the lives of two rebellious sisters in 1940s who refuse to abide by the misogynist culture. Humorous and exuberant, this book is a rare treat!
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter
By Erika L. Sanchez
Knopf Books for Young Readers, October 17
Chicago lost one of its best poets this year when Sanchez moved to Princeton for a teaching position. Her debut novel is a contemporary YA story about a young woman on the brink of adulthood not far from Sanchez’s old neighborhood in Chicago.
Belladonna by Daša Drndrić
Translated by Celia Hawkesworth
New Directions, October 31
Andreas Ban is a writer and a psychologist, an intellectual proper, but his world has been falling apart for years. When he retires with a miserable pension and finds out that he is ill, he gains a new perspective on the debris of his life and the lives of his friends. Belladonna is a fierce, reflective novel about history, memory and illness which effortlessly blends fiction and reality.
Heather, The Totality by Matthew Weiner
Little, Brown and Company, November 7
A collision course between a privileged family and a dangerous young man, Heather, The Totality is a chilling debut novel by the creator of Mad Men, Matthew Weiner. Fans of stimulating fiction will relish this story of lingering dark menace. This dark yet sharply written novel needs to be devoured in one chilling session.
Who Reads Poetry
Edited by Fred Sasaki and Don Share
University of Chicago Press, November
For the past 50 years, Chicago’s own Poetry magazine has been asking non-poets to contribute essays about what poetry means to them. This anthology compiles some of the best, including contributions from Neko Case, Roger Ebert, Roxane Gay, Aleksandar Hemon, Natalie Moore, Anders Nilsen, Fernando Perez, Rhymefest, Alex Ross, Mary Schmich, Lili Taylor, and Ai Weiwei.
The Future Home of the Living God
By Louise Erdrich
Harper, November 14
Erdrich is back with another novel this fall, an apocalyptic tale about a mother fighting for her life — and the life of her unborn child — in a world where all women are giving birth to babies that resemble primitive species of humans from the distant past. Sign me up (for the book, not the reality).
The World Goes On by László Krasznahorkai
Translated by George Szirtes, Ottilie Mulzet, and John Batki
New Directions, November 28
This mesmerizing short story collection from the Man Booker International winning Hungarian writer is a dazzling masterpiece. As László Krasznahoraki himself explains: “Each text is about drawing our attention away from this world, speeding our body toward annihilation, and immersing ourselves in a current of thought or a narrative…”
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A Karachi-based critic, bylines in Book Riot, Vol1Brooklyn, Brooklyn Mag, The Spectator, Irish Times and elsewhere. Can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org