Commentary Magazine

Literary Blog

Looking Forward to the Fall

The Book Case has winnowed out the 25 most anticipated books from publishers’ fall lists. Why these 25 is never explained, but one week in October is especially worth waiting for—new novels by Jeffrey Eugenides (author of the brilliant Middlesex), Colson Whitehead, and Ha Jin (author of War Trash) will all be published within seven days of one another. Here are 38 other entrants in the skirmish of literature that may or may not be worth watching for. You decide:

Harlem Renaissance Novels: Five Novels of the 1920s (Library of America, September 1). Includes Jean Toomer’s Cane, Claude McKay’s Home to Harlem, Nella Larsen’s Quicksand, Jessie Redmon Fauset’s Plum Bun, and Wallace Thurman’s Blacker the Berry.

Harlem Renaissance: Four Novels of the 1930s (Library of America, September 1). Includes Langston Hughes’s Not Without Laughter, George S. Schuyler’s Black No More, Rudolph Fisher’s Conjure-Man Dies, and Arna Bontemps’s Black Thunder.

• W. P. Kinsella, Butterfly Winter. Enfield & Wizenty (September 1). First novel in 13 years by Canadian who wrote Shoeless Joe and The Iowa Baseball Confederacy opens with twins playing catch in the womb.

• Nikolai Grozni, Wunderkind. Free Press (September 6). A 15-year-old pianist in Communist-era Bulgaria.

• Lily Tuck, I Married You for Happiness. Atlantic Monthly Press (September 6). A novel that combines marriage, mathematics, and the probability of an afterlife by the 2004 winner of the National Book Award.

• Sebastian Barry, On Canaan’s Side. Viking (September 8). Forced to flee her native land at the end of the First World War, an Irishwoman spends the next seven decades in America, and recalls her life over seventeen days.

• Bruce Jay Friedman, Lucky Bruce: A Memoir. Biblioasis (September 13). The American Jewish novelist (Stern, A Mother’s Kisses) writes a comic version of his life.

• Mary McGarry Morris, Light from a Distant Star. Crown (September 13). Seventh novel by author of Vanished (a National Book Award finalist) and Songs in Ordinary Time (an Ophrah’s Book Club selection): a coming-of-age story.

• Ali Smith, There But for The. Pantheon (September 13). A man suddenly leaves the table midway through a dinner party, locks himself in an upstairs room, and refuses to leave.

• Ernest Hebert, Never Back Down. David R. Godine (September 15). A promising high school baseball player from the mill town of Keene, New Hampshire, devises a code of stubborn passivity to live by.

• David Lodge, A Man of Parts. Random House (September 15). A novel about H. G. Wells.

The Letters of Ernest Hemingway: Volume 1, 1907–1922. Cambridge University Press (September 20). Love him or hate him, he was one of the great novelists. A detailed introduction, notes, chronology, illustrations, and index are included.

• Aravid Ardiga, Last Man in Tower. Knopf (September 20). Winner of Man Booker Prize in 2008 returns with a new novel about the new India—a showdown between a real estate developer and a retired schoolteacher.

• Russell Banks, Lost Memory of Skin. Ecco (September 27). On probation for child molestation, a young man takes up residence under a south Florida causeway along with other convicted sex offenders.

• Charles Frazier, Nightwoods. Random House (September 27). In the latest novel by the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Cold Mountain, a young woman must end her Appalachian solitude when her children are born.

• Héctor Tobar, The Barbarian Nurseries. Farrar, Straus & Giroux (September 27). A live-in Mexican maid in L.A. must track down two children’s grandfather.

• William Kennedy, Chango’s Beads and Two-Tone Shoes. Viking (September 29). First novel in nine years by Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the “Albany cycle” takes place there during political unrest in 1968.

• Philip Roth, The American Trilogy (Library of America, September 29). American Pastoral, I Married a Communist, and The Human Stain—at least two of the best novels written by an American in the past 20 years—collected in one attractive volume.

• Anne Enright, The Forgotten Waltz. W. W. Norton (October 3). Enright’s first novel since winning the Man Booker Prize in 2007 is about the memories of a love affair on a snowy day in Dublin.

• Jim Harrison, The Great Leader. Grove (October 4). A detective investigates a hedonistic cult near his home in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

• Chuck Klosterman, The Visible Man. Scribner (October 4). A therapist in Austin becomes obsessed with a patient and his disturbing tales, threatening her career and marriage.

• Meir Shalev, My Russian Grandmother and Her American Vacuum Cleaner: A Family Memoir. Shocken (October 4). The Israeli novelist tells the story of his grandmother Tonia, who came to Palestine by boat from Russia in 1923.

• Helen DeWitt, Lightning Rods. New Directions (October 5). A satire of the corporate life by the author of The Last Samurai.

• Aharon Appelfeld, Until the Dawn’s Light. Schocken (October 11). In the early years of the 20th century, a young Austrian Jew falls in love with a Christian and converts for his sake. Almost immediately, things go wrong.

• John Barth, Every Third Thought: A Novel in Five Seasons. Counterpoint (October 11). A man experiences five serial visions, each appearing to him on the first day of the ensuing seasons, and each corresponding to a pivotal event in that season of his life.

• Martin Fletcher, The List. Thomas Dunne (October 11). After the Second World War, anti-Semitism sweeps through London even as the world learns of the atrocities of the Holocaust.

• Victor Davis Hanson, The End of Sparta. Bloomsbury (October 11). At the Battle of Leuktra, the Thebans crush the army of Sparta, which had enslaved its neighbors for two centuries.

• Alan Hollinghurst, The Stranger’s Child. Knopf (October 11). Long-listed for the 2011 Man Booker Prize. Years after the First World War, a poet’s biographer threatens to expose a family’s secrets.

• David Rowell, The Train of Small Mercies. Putnam (October 13). Robert Kennedy’s funeral train makes its way from New York to Washington.

• David Guterson, Ed King. Knopf (October 18). A retelling of Oedipus Rex.

• Amos Oz, Scenes from Village Life. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (October 18). Novel in stories about fictional Israeli town of Tel Ilan.

• Chuck Palahniuk, Damned. Doubleday (October 18). The afterlife, according to the “transgressional” author of Fight Club and Snuff.

• Adam Kirsch, Why Trilling Matters. Yale University Press (October 25). The case for the liberal anti-Communist critic.

• Hugh Nissenson, The Pilgrim. Sourcebooks Landmark (November 1). After the death of his wife, a Puritan loses his faith and must journey to recover it.

• Michael Murray, Jacques Barzun: Portrait of a Mind. Frederic C. Beil (November 10). The career and ideas of one of the 20th century’s leading intellectuals.

• Don DeLillo, The Angel Esmeralda: Nine Stories. Scribner (November 15). Stories set in Greece, the Caribbean, Manhattan, a white collar prison, and outer space, about nuns, astronauts, athletes, terrorists, and travelers.

• Ian Davidson, Ben Jonson: A Life. Oxford University Press (December 1). A biography of Shakespeare’s greatest rival, drawing upon newly discovered writings.

• Anita Desai, The Artist of Disappearance. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (December 6). Three novellas that evoke a vanishing India.

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