Books

34 Works of Fiction to Read This Fall

September

Do You Remember Being Born?, by Sean Michaels

When an aging poet realizes that her critical acclaim hasn’t translated to financial stability, she agrees to train a poetry A.I. program named Charlotte at a tech company’s campus in California. Over the course of a week, she grapples with questions of art, family and connection.

Astra House, Sept. 5

The Fraud, by Zadie Smith

Smith’s new novel centers on a trial that divided Victorian England, in which a lower-class Australian butcher claimed the right to a huge estate. This roving work of historical fiction examines who has the right to tell a story, who is taken seriously and who is remembered.

Penguin Press, Sept. 5

Holly, by Stephen King

The private investigator Holly Gibney appeared in “The Outsider,” “Mr. Mercedes” and other novels, and King has said she “stole” his heart. Now, she takes center stage as she works to recover a missing girl and uncover the gruesome secret held by two retired professors.

Scribner, Sept. 5

Daughter, by Claudia Dey

Dey’s third novel follows Mona, whose father is a novelist. After he makes her complicit in an affair with his publicist, the other women in her family hold her responsible. Leaping between Mona’s narration and her family’s, Dey examines estrangement from multiple perspectives as decades of betrayal accumulate.

Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Sept. 12

A House for Alice, by Diana Evans

In the wake of the 2017 fire at Grenfell Tower, in London, and the death of her estranged husband, a woman named Alice considers returning to Nigeria in hopes of leaving behind the “disagreement of place” she feels with Britain.

Pantheon, Sept. 12

Normal Rules Don’t Apply: Stories, by Kate Atkinson

Atkinson’s first story collection in years features 11 related selections with the feel of fairy tales. They are populated by a recurring cast of characters: the rakish, aimless Franklin Fletcher; Princess Aoife; Dame Phoebe Hope-Waters; and a chorus of talking animals.

Doubleday, Sept. 12

Rouge, by Mona Awad

In this Gothic tale set in modern-day Los Angeles, a young woman grieves her beauty-obsessed mother and is saddled with her debts. Eventually, she becomes entangled with the cultlike spa that consumed her mother’s life.

Simon & Schuster/Marysue Rucci, Sept. 12

The Vaster Wilds, by Lauren Groff

Groff’s new novel is a wilderness epic about a servant girl who must survive a bitter winter after fleeing a colonial settlement in 1600s Virginia.

Riverhead, Sept. 12

The Young Man, by Annie Ernaux. Translated by Alison L. Strayer.

Ernaux received the Nobel Prize in Literature last year, becoming the first Frenchwoman to receive the prize. This book chronicles an affair she had when she was in her 50s with a much younger man, which led her to revisit how her own life unfolded: “With him I traveled through all the ages of life, my life.”

Seven Stories, Sept. 12

“Bright Young Women” is Jessica Knoll’s third novel.

Bright Young Women, by Jessica Knoll

The year is 1978, and the All-American Sex Killer, as the papers refer to the criminal, is on a murder spree. After a pair of young women go missing in Seattle and a student finds two of her sorority sisters dead in Tallahassee, two women linked by tragedy go on a shared mission to catch the culprit.

Simon & Schuster/Marysue Rucci, Sept. 19

Mr. Texas, by Lawrence Wright

Wright, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and longtime resident of Texas, spins a satirical story about his state’s politics. After Sonny’s heroic actions during a fire, a lobbyist approaches him about running for his district’s seat in the Texas state Legislature. As Sonny, who cares deeply about doing the right thing, ventures deeper into his campaign, he must decide how far he’s willing to go to get ahead and save his ranch (and his marriage).

Knopf, Sept. 19

Night Watch, by Jayne Anne Phillips

At the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in West Virginia — which operates under Dr. Thomas Story Kirkbride’s surprisingly progressive “moral treatment” principles — 12-year-old ConaLee and her mother take back their lives in the wake of the Civil War.

Knopf, Sept. 19

The Pole, by J.M. Coetzee

This new book by the Nobel laureate traces the constantly shifting power imbalance in a love affair between a Polish pianist, Wittold Walccyzkiecz, and his beloved, Beatriz, who is a married philanthropist.

Liveright, Sept. 19

Wellness, by Nathan Hill

Hill (known for his earlier book, “The Nix”) tells the story of Jack and Elizabeth’s marriage, from their courtship in the ’90s Chicago art scene to their life as parents decades later. According to Hill, the novel is most concerned with the question: “How much can something change before it’s no longer fundamentally itself?”

Knopf, Sept. 19

Land of Milk and Honey, by C Pam Zhang

In a version of the future where the world is blanketed in smog and everyday foods (even fresh strawberries) have become scarce, a young chef travels to a mountain colony on the Italian-French border to cook meals of rare ingredients for the ultrawealthy. There, she rediscovers the pleasures of food and forms a curious bond with her boss’s daughter.

Riverhead, Sept. 26

People Collide, by Isle McElroy

Eli and Elizabeth are a couple living in Bulgaria, but one day, Eli leaves the apartment to discover he’s in his wife’s body — and his wife, presumably in his body, is missing. As Eli searches for his wife across Europe, he re-examines his marriage, his lived experience and even the basic tenets of his identity.

HarperVia, Sept. 26

The Unsettled, by Ayana Mathis

Mathis follows three generations of a Black family in 1985. Ava Carson moves into a Philadelphia shelter after leaving an abusive marriage, along with her son, Toussaint. In Alabama, Ava’s estranged mother is a once-promising blues singer whose hometown is rapidly changing. But when Toussaint’s father, Cass — a Black Panther — returns to town with a vision of building a local health clinic and commune, he brings hope and a sense of danger.

Knopf, Sept. 26

October

Brooklyn Crime Novel, by Jonathan Lethem

Spanning nearly 100 years, Lethem’s latest work views the borough through a lens of the crimes — both literal and figurative — underpinning its gentrification.

Ecco, Oct. 3

The Maniac, by Benjamín Labatut

Labatut’s first novel written in English is a trio of stories about real-life geniuses and scientific breakthroughs that disrupted the fabric of human reality. His subjects include the Austrian physicist Paul Ehrenfest; Johnny von Neumann, who collaborated on the Manhattan Project; and Lee Sodol, a South Korean master of the game Go, who in 2016 retired after a defeat by artificial intelligence.

Penguin Press, Oct. 3

Blackouts, by Justin Torres

The unnamed narrator first met Juan while undergoing treatment at a psychiatric hospital. A decade later, Juan is dying, and the narrator has signed on to finish his research. Interspersed throughout the book are passages of a fictional biography, poems and playful references to queer art and literature.

Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Oct. 10

The Hive and the Honey, by Paul Yoon

Yoon’s haunting, evocative new collection centers on themes of migration, displacement, collective memory and the Korean diaspora.

Simon & Schuster/Marysue Rucci, Oct. 10

The Leftover Woman, by Jean Kwok

Jasmine arrives in the United States in search of her daughter, whom her abusive husband gave up for adoption. Soon, she learns the child was taken in by a wealthy New York publishing family. Balancing shifts as a cocktail waitress to pay down her debts to the human traffickers who brought her to America, she must field threats that could reveal her secret.

Morrow, Oct. 10

Normal Women, by Ainslie Hogarth

When Dani realizes that she and her daughter would be financially adrift without her husband’s income, she takes a job at the Temple — a local yoga center that might also be a brothel — under the guidance of its leader, Renata. But then Renata disappears, and it’s up to Dani to find her.

Vintage, Oct. 10

The Exchange, by John Grisham

This sequel to Grisham’s 1991 novel, “The Firm,” revisits the lawyer Mitch McDeere in the years since he and his wife, Abby, exposed a Memphis law firm’s ties to the criminal underworld. Now, 15 years later, Mitch is a partner at one of New York’s biggest law firms. After a friend is kidnapped in Libya, a hostage negotiation places him at the center of an international emergency.

Doubleday, Oct. 17

Tremor, by Teju Cole

Composed of vignettes, Cole’s new novel traces a weekend through the eyes of Tunde, a Nigerian photography professor, as he meditates on art, race and history.

Random House, Oct. 17

Vengeance Is Mine, by Marie NDiaye. Translated by Jordan Stump.

Maître Susane is a lawyer living quietly in Bordeaux, until a man approaches her with a request: Could she represent his wife, who has been accused of murdering their children? As the case threatens to upend her life, she puzzles over whether she knows this man from her past.

Knopf, Oct. 17

America Fantastica, by Tim O’Brien

This is the first novel in 20 years from O’Brien, a National Book Award winner, who is best known for his 1990 collection, “The Things They Carried.” The story is a madcap heist/road-trip starring a bank robber (who used to be a journalist) and his spitfire hostage, Angie. In hot pursuit are a bumbling private eye, a drug-fueled billionaire and a wannabe Charles Manson.

Mariner, Oct. 24

Let Us Descend, by Jesmyn Ward

Ward, the National Book Award-winning author of “Sing, Unburied, Sing,” and “Salvage the Bones,” returns with a story that riffs on Dante’s “Inferno,” following an enslaved teenager named Annis who is separated from her mother and sold by her white father. “It took years and multiple drafts to understand how Annis and enslaved people might have retained their sense of self, their sense of hope, in a time and place that attempted to negate both, day in and out,” Ward said of the book.

Scribner, Oct. 24

Absolution, by Alice McDermott

This new novel, from a National Book Award winner, unfolds in 1963 Saigon. After a miscarriage, Tricia joins Charlene’s efforts to help Vietnamese civilians. Decades later, when Charlene’s daughter reaches out to reconnect, Tricia reckons with the implications of her friend’s altruism, both for their lives and on a wider scale.

Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Oct. 31

A Shining, by Jon Fosse. Translated by Damion Searls.

Fosse, a Norwegian writer, has become something of a literary sensation after the popularity of his dark-horse Septology series. In his new novel, a man makes a series of wrong turns, gets out of his car, starts walking through the forest and becomes dazzled by the titular “shining” and other near-death hallucinations.

Transit Books, Oct. 31

November

Same Bed Different Dreams, by Ed Park

Park spent nine years working on his new surrealist novel, which imagines an alternate political reality. In this world, the Korean Provisional Government, a resistance organization formed in March 1919, is still working toward a unified Korea.

Random House, Nov. 7

The Vulnerables, by Sigrid Nunez

Set during the spring of 2020, an unnamed female narrator — similar to the narrator of Nunez’s National Book Award-winning novel, “The Friend” — contemplates the meaning of life, connection and self-mythology in pandemic-era New York.

Riverhead, Nov. 7

Random House will release “Day” on Nov. 14.

Day, by Michael Cunningham

Told over the course of three days — April 5 in 2019, 2020 and 2021 — this new novel explores how Dan, Isabel, their children and Isabel’s brother change over the course of a tumultuous period, which was profoundly shaped by Covid-19. Cunningham received a Pulitzer Prize for his novel “The Hours.”

Random House, Nov. 14

The New Naturals, by Gabriel Bump

In the wake of their child’s death, a couple founds a utopian society inside an abandoned restaurant in western Massachusetts, drawing a colorful group of members from all walks of life. But as with all counterculture experiments, the group soon wonders whether utopia is truly possible.

Algonquin, Nov. 14

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