It’s hard to believe it’s already September, but here we are: it’s back to school time, autumn, fall, pumpkin spice season, or whatever moniker you choose to attach to these pre-winter months. Luckily for us readers, this season is notorious for bringing with it a slew of juicy new books, and this year’s lists prove no exception. Cozy up to your library hold list and add some of our highlights:
Beloved author Jonathan Safran Foer is back with his first novel in ten years with Here I Am (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), a contemporary work set in Washington, D.C. Maria Semple’s new novel Today Will be Different (Little, Brown and Company), promises plenty of the Arrested Development writer’s characteristic wit and humor. Ann Patchett writes about five decades of one family’s history in Commonwealth (Harper), and Emma Donoghue, author of Room, returns to historical fiction with The Wonder (Little, Brown and Company), which takes inspiration from the mystery of history’s “Fasting Girls.” Tana French continues the Dublin Murder Squad series with The Trespasser (Viking). And who could not be excited about new fiction from Zadie Smith—Swing Time (Penguin)? Anurhada Roy’s Man-Booker nominated Sleeping on Jupiter weaves together many characters’ stories against the backdrop of contemporary India.
Not all the buzz books are sophomore efforts, however. Debut novelist Brit Bennett’s The Mothers (Riverhead) is popping up left, right and center, and we can’t wait to get our hands on this novel set in a small community. Mauro Javier Cardenas’ debut, The Revolutionaries Try Again (Coffee House), is set in the politically charged landscape of South America.
Historical fiction is also looking particularly promising this season. Amor Towles’ second novel, A Gentleman in Moscow (Viking) brings readers back to 1920s Russia. Thomas Mullen’s Darktown (Atria) offers a complex police procedural set against the backdrop of 1948 Atlanta—post-war, pre-Civil Rights. Scottish author E.S. Thompson adds a touch of the supernatural to history with her novel Beloved Poison (Pegasus Books), set in a haunted asylum in Victorian London. In Mischling (Lee Boudreaux), novelist Affinity Konar imagines the experiences of twin sisters at Auschwitz.
If you’re itching for non-fiction, you won’t be disappointed, either. Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America, by Patrick Phillips (W.W. Norton) explores the harrowing history of racial violence in Forsyth County, Georgia, which remained “all white” until the 1990s. The exploration of racial tensions continues with Truevine: Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother’s Quest: A True Story of the Jim Crow South (Little, Brown and Company), the story of two young black boys kidnapped to perform as circus acts in 19th-century America.
In The New Better Off (, Seal Press) essayist extraordinaire Courtney Martin focuses on the shifting American Dream and what it means for the way we live today. Another Day in the Death of America (Nation) offers a timely, if heartbreaking, look at the stories of ten young lives lost to gun violence on one day in 2013. Sady Doyle takes a close look at why we are drawn to the stories of “the trainwreck” in her work of the same name, Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Fear, and Mock… and Why (Melville House). Arundhati Roy (author of The God of Small Things) and John Cusack (yes, that John Cusack) form an unlikely but intriguing partnership inThings That Can and Cannot Be Unsaid (Haymarket), a slim collection of essays reflecting on the pair’s meeting with Ed Snowden in Moscow.
And for the dreamers and wanderers among us, already planning next year’s summer vacations, get ready to revel in the pages of Atlas Obscura (Workman), which explores the “world’s hidden wonders” (both near and far).