Fall Fiction Preview 2015: The Season of Big Books

Fall Fiction Preview 2015: The Season of Big Books

Okay, Bookish readers: Get ready for our heftiest fiction preview ever. The reason? Well, there are a lot of big books coming out this season. We’ve been drooling over the publishing house catalogs for months, and now we finally get to share our excitement with you. Whether you’re in the mood for some Franzen, Ferrante, Rushdie, Eco, Cunningham, or Irving, we’ve got the biggest books of the season right here, and we’re just dying to chat. So pull up a chair, and pour a cup of tea or a glass of wine. You’ve got some reading to do.



Are you my father?

He’s back. No matter how you feel about the polarizing literary heavyweight Jonathan Franzen, his newest novel, Purity, is sure to receive a lot of attention in the coming months. Purity follows the story of a young woman named Pip Tyler who wants to know more about her father. Her mother, for her part, isn’t willing to point Pip in the right direction, so Pip sets off on her own in search of answers. What follows is a story that is massive in scope: From Berlin to Bolivia, Franzen spins a tale about a WikiLeaks-like website, some seriously big lies, and a gruesome murder. The buzz around this book has been considerable; only time will tell if it was warranted.

On shelves: September 1


The Story of the Lost Child

The end of the road

Knausgaard or Ferrante?” asked a headline on The New Yorker’s website earlier this year. With all due respect to The New Yorker, we have to say we love them both. The Story of the Lost Child, the final installment in Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels, continues to tell the story of the friendship between Elena and Lila. Set in Naples, this novel will continue to ask questions about how people deal with their pasts, and how long-term friendships inform the people we become. The end is here, Neapolitan novel fans, and Ferrante makes this one count.

On shelves: September 1


Did You Ever Have a Family

And then there was one

This novel from Bill Clegg has already been long-listed for the 2015 Man Booker Prize, and has garnered a huge amount of buzz on the internet prior to its release. June Reid’s life falls apart in a few heartbreaking instants when, the night before her daughter’s wedding, her daughter, would-be son-in-law, ex-husband, and boyfriend all tragically die in a fire. June, shocked by their sudden deaths, must find a way to put the pieces of her life back together. The result is a moving testament to the power of hope. This will likely end in tears, but we think it’s worth it.

On shelves: September 1


Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights

1,001 nights

A storm strikes New York City, and afterwards, everything gets weird. Salman Rushdie (whose literary reputation precedes him) is, according to Kirkus, “at his best” in this novel that draws its title from One Thousand and One Nights. Fans of magical realism, you’re in for a treat. Rushdie’s novel quickly turns to stories of the jinn–supernatural mythological beings–and becomes a literary fairy tale that will delight existing fans and surely convert new ones, too. Early reviews indicate that this novel will be rewarding to the careful reader; the tale is complex, but the payoff is substantial.

On shelves: September 8


Beauty Is a Wound

Magical realism

You may not have heard of Eka Kurniawan yet, but odds are that he’ll be well-known shortly. With two novels garnering comparisons to Mark Twain, Gabriel García Márquez, and Salman Rushdie, his name is certainly making an impression on American audiences. Originally published in Indonesia, Beauty is a Wound will soon grace stateside readers with the tale of a stunning prostitute named Dewi Ayu and her four daughters. Colonialism, communism, murder, and rape are all themes in this dark novel, but Kurniawan’s prose also captures levity and wit.

On shelves: September 8


Gold Fame Citrus

California, California…

You may know Claire Vaye Watkins as the author of Battleborn, but Gold Fame Citrus is an exciting piece of fiction in its own right. The place is California, and the time is the not-so-distant future when a water shortage forces evacuations of the Southwest. Ray and Luz work to nurture their love in the once-luxurious abandoned home of a celebrity who has fled Southern California for greener pastures. But as the situation worsens, the two begin a journey east themselves. The ensuing trek might remind some readers of The Road.

On shelves: September 29


The Mountain Shadow

At long last

It’s been a solid decade-plus since Shantaram came out, but fans of Gregory David Roberts (and there are LOTS of them) haven’t forgotten his spellbinding first novel, and they have been waiting with bated breath for the sequel ever since. Well, the wait is finally over. Reconnect with Lin, the hero of Roberts’ series, who is employed by the Bombay mafia, and re-immerse yourself in his vibrant and captivating world of love, friendship, and danger. Shantaram is, in the minds of many, a classic, and it seems certain that Roberts’ latest will take readers on an adventure just as epic in scope and feeling.

On shelves: October 13


City on Fire

Lights out

This may be one of the year’s biggest books in more ways than one; at a hefty 944 pages, Garth Risk Hallberg’s debut is certainly tipping the scales. But the heavy dose of anticipation is warranted: Hallberg’s first novel is a vibrant look at New York City in 1977 leading up to the July 13th blackout that rocked the city to its core. Various characters’ lives first appear to be quite separate, but they are all brought into closer proximity when the lights go out. This book is gritty, sprawling, and paints a complicated portrait of a city that so many of us know and love.

On shelves: October 13


Food Whore

Kitchens of the great… Big Apple

According to Kirkus, “The Devil Wears Prada goes gourmet in this debut novel,” and frankly, that caught our attention. If you eagerly devoured Kitchens of the Great Midwest earlier this summer and have been hungering for more good, foodie fiction, then Jessica Tom is serving up just the thing. Tia Monroe has set her sights on making a splash in the NYC food-writing scene, and gets drawn into an unusual and secret agreement with a legendary food critic who is losing his sense of taste. But will Tia be able to balance her glamorous new job with the rest of her responsibilities, á la Andy from The Devil Wears Prada? You’ll have to read to find out.

On shelves: October 27


Slade House

Spooky postmodern fun

Slade House is a ghost story. But this isn’t your average spooktacular read about things that go bump in the night. Those “things” are Jonah and Norah Grayer, who inhabit Slade House. Maybe these twins are vampires, maybe they’re aliens… whatever they are, they’re causing problems for anyone who enters into their lair. This book takes place in the same universe as The Bone Clocks, and will be a mind-bending and highly entertaining read for fans of David Mitchell’s work and newcomers alike.

On shelves: October 27


The Mare

A horse, of course

Maybe you were surprised when you heard Mary Gaitskill was writing a book about a horse. But in this moving tale, Gaitskill spins an affecting story about a young girl named Velvet and a horse that others call “Fugly Girl.” The two build a relationship that transcends both of their difficult circumstances, and enriches life for both of them. Gaitskill has already been a National Book Award finalist, and it seems she may be headed for even more critical acclaim with this affecting tale.

On shelves: November 3


Avenue of Mysteries

The world according to John

If you’ve been obsessed with John Irving since The World According to Garp, then you certainly aren’t alone. While early reviews aren’t putting Avenue of Mysteries on quite the same level as Irving’s prior blockbusters, no fan should pass up the opportunity to immerse him- or herself in this engrossing saga. Familiar themes of sex and death permeate this tale about a writer named Juan Diego, who has journeyed far and wide to find success, and must grapple with his own impending end. Viagra, lust, and music abound in John Irving’s latest.

On shelves: November 3


Numero Zero

Conspiracy theories

The famed Italian novelist Umberto Eco is back with this new novel, translated into English by Richard Dixon. A struggling ghostwriter is living in Italy in the summer of 1992, and trying to make ends meet despite some professional hiccups. Then, an opportunity presents itself: He is hired to ghostwrite a memoir for a journalist who is editing a newsmagazine that will never be published. If this sounds fishy to you, then you’re thinking what we’re thinking. To unravel the mystery, you’ll have to give this a read. If you haven’t been able to stop thinking about The Name of the Rose, then you won’t want to miss this one.

On shelves: November 3

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A Wild Swan

A sorta fairy tale

A new Michael Cunningham book? Yes please. We love this Pulitzer winner here at Bookish, and are particularly excited about this volume of fairy tale retellings. Cunningham is no stranger to the art of the retelling, as he is best known for his reworking of Mrs. Dalloway called The Hours, which won much critical acclaim. Better still, this book is accented with stunning illustrations by Yuko Shimizu. These tales are dark and certainly not recommended as bedtime reading for small children (nightmares, etc.), but we are excited to see Cunningham jumping on the fairy tale retelling bandwagon.

On shelves: November 10


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