There’s a chill in the air, the leaves are beginning to change, and our favorite pumpkin products are beginning to pop up. It must be fall! In addition to all of these delightful seasonal markers, autumn also brings with it an exciting bunch must-read fall fiction. Whether you’ve been waiting for the new Gary Shteyngart novel or are interested in Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s extremely buzzy debut, there’s a book here for every reader. Get cozy in your favorite reading spot: You’re going to be busy this fall.
It’s been seven long years since the world has enjoyed a new novel from Gary Shteyngart, and we suspect many, many fans are thrilled that the wait is finally over. In Lake Success, Shteyngart introduces readers to Barry Cohen, a hedge fund manager who runs away from his career, autistic son Shiva, and wife Seema, to find his former girlfriend. Readers will also step into the day-to-day life of Seema, who remains in New York with Shiva and pursues a new relationship of her own. You’ll laugh; you’ll shake your head; you’ll hope it doesn’t take Shteyngart seven years to write his next novel.
On shelves: September 4
It’s the summer of 1988, and love is in the air on Cape Cod. That’s where college student Sarah meets soon-to-be high school senior Nina in an acting class. It doesn’t take long for sparks to fly between the two. Nina was supposed to be spending the summer hanging out with her best friend Titch, but this new romance scrambles her plans and leaves her relationship with Titch hanging in the balance. Tamsen Wolff’s novel portrays the relationships between women (including those that are romantic in nature and those that are not) with nuance. Readers won’t want to miss this exciting debut.
On shelves: September 4
Wayétu Moore’s debut is certainly one of the buzziest books to come out this season. She Would Be King is a story based on the history of Liberia, told through the stories of three characters whose paths cross in what will eventually become Liberia’s capital city, Monrovia. Readers will meet Gbessa, a young girl who was left for dead; Norman, who is able to disappear; and June Dey, the son of a slave in Virginia. Publishers Weekly raved: “Moore uses an accomplished, penetrating style––with clever swerves into fantasy––to build effective critiques of tribal misogyny, colonial abuse, and racism.”
On shelves: September 11
My Struggle: Book Six by Karl Ove Knausgaard
The final installment in Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle series of autobiographical novels is here, and it delivers one last large helping of Knausgaard’s musings on life, the passage of time, and the meaning of his work. On the page, Knausgaard unpacks the ways in which the series has changed his life and the lives of his friends and family who appear as characters in the books. The sixth volume is divided into three main chunks: the first is set around the publication of book one, the second piece considers Mein Kampf and nationalism, and the third is set during the publication of books in the middle of the series. At a whopping 1160 pages, this one seems likely to keep readers happily busy for quite some time.
On shelves: September 18
Washington Black by Esi Edugyan
Esi Edugyan’s novel tells the story of a pre-teen field slave in Barbados named George Washington Black. Washington Black opens in 1830, where Wash (as he is known) is given to an Englishman named Christopher Wilde, who is the brother of the owner of the plantation where Wash is forced to work. But Wash’s life with Titch (as Christopher is called) is not what he anticipated. Titch is less cruel than his brother, and Wash begins to work as a research assistant for Titch’s big project: a hot air balloon. But then, one of Titchs’ relatives dies, and it looks like blame for the death might fall squarely on Wash, with lethal consequences. This novel will keep readers in its grip until the final page.
On shelves: September 18
Kate Atkinson is the bestselling author of beloved novels Life After Life and A God in Ruins, among others. Now, she’s back with a work of historical fiction about an 18-year-old woman named Juliet Armstrong who works as a spy with MI5 during World War II. The work is intense and after the war is over, Juliet is ready to leave those times behind her and she settles into a new career in radio working on children’s programming for the BBC. But the war continues to loom over Juliet’s life. Someone, it seems, remembers Juliet and her work for MI5 during the war, and they aren’t ready to move on.
On shelves: September 25
Eden Malcom was driving a Humvee during a tour of duty in Iraq when an explosion changed his life forever. Now, he is dying in a hospital in San Antonio were his wife Mary sits with him each day. Eden is not conscious: He cannot speak to her, and he cannot interact with his three-year-old daughter (whom he has never met). Then, on Christmas Day, Mary doesn’t come to the hospital, and alone in his bed, Eden begins to regain consciousness. This unusual novel is narrated by a soldier who died in the same explosion that nearly killed Eden. We predict this will be one of the fall’s most talked-about titles.
On shelves: September 25
Therese Anne Fowler wowed readers in 2013 with her novel Z, which imagined what it might be like to be Zelda Fitzgerald. Now Fowler is back to breathe new life into the story of another famous woman: Alva Vanderbilt Belmont. Alva was born in 1853 and lived until early 1933. Over the course of her life, she married into the Vanderbilt clan (which, at the time, was not a well-respected family), built extremely large homes, founded the Metropolitan Opera, and navigated complicated social and family dynamics. Readers will be riveted by the yarn Fowler spins, and may never think about the Vanderbilt family the same way again.
On shelves: October 9
Barbara Kingsolver’s reputation precedes her, so we know readers will be thrilled to pick up her latest effort, Unsheltered. This novel follows two timelines: one near the present, and one in the 1880s. The more current timeline follows Willa Knox, a professionally struggling middle-aged woman who inherits a ramshackle home. The 1880s timeline follows a science teacher named Thatcher Greenwood, who lived in the very same home and fought to teach Charles Darwin’s findings in schools. Readers will love seeing the resonance between the two storylines as both Thatcher’s story and Willa’s unfold.
On shelves: October 16
Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s debut collection has garnered glowing praise and enthusiastic blurbs from the likes of Roxane Gay and George Saunders. Friday Black’s subject is race, and the stories take on prejudice, racism, and American culture at large in a vivid and memorable way. In one, readers will visit a horrifically racist theme park. In another, holiday shopping takes a violent twist. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly wrote: “Adjei-Brenyah has put readers on notice: His remarkable range, ingenious premises, and unflagging, momentous voice make this a first-rate collection.” We are confident you’ll agree.
On shelves: October 23
Lucia Berlin passed away in 2004, but when Farrar Straus and Giroux released her collection A Manual for Cleaning Women in 2015, it caused quite a stir. Now, there’s a new book of 22 more stories from Berlin. In one of them, a mother homeschools her children in a remote location to help her husband stay away from the temptation of drugs. In another, a teenage girl goes to visit the rural home of a former ambassador because her parents are not able to attend as planned. An appendix in this volume will point out the similarities between Lucia Berlin’s own life and the lives of her characters. This is a fascinating collection from a beloved writer.
On shelves: November 8
Man Booker Prize nominee Anuradha Roy is back with a new novel about World War II-era India and the relationship between a mother and son. The narrator is Myshkin Chand Rozario, and when the story begins in 1937, he is abandoned by his mother, Gayatri Rozario. Decades later, in his 60s, Myshkin looks back on his life with his mother and tries to understand why she left. HIstorical details make this work truly shine, and readers will become deeply invested in the Rozario family.
On shelves: November 20