Fall is the season when publishers present their biggest, shiniest and most important books. This year is a doozy with titles from literary rock stars like Margaret Atwood, Zadie Smith, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Ann Patchett. We’ve weeded through a very tall stack of fall fiction and selected seven buzzy, must-reads for your reading pleasure. So, get ready to turn off Netflix and binge on some good books instead!
— Holly Parmelee
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The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
The wait is finally over for Atwood’s sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale! This much-anticipated follow up takes place 15 years after we were left wondering what happened to Offred — freedom, prison, or death? Atwood gained a slew of new fans from the Hulu’s production of the show so expect this novel to rocket straight to the top of the bestseller lists.
Akin by Emma Donoghue
The author of the international bestseller Room returns with a beautiful novel that’s a blend of historical mystery, family saga, and odd couple travelogue. A retired chemistry professor journeys from New York to the French Riviera with his 11-year-old great-nephew to look into his mother’s wartime past. As the unlikely duo travel together, they not only discover secrets about their family but develop an unexpected bond.
The Dutch House: A Novel by Ann Patchett
Ann Patchett follows up her prize-winning 2016 novel Commonwealth with another epic family saga. A newly minted real estate investor’s purchase of a stately mansion after World War II kicks off this dark fairy tale. The Dutch House tells the story of two siblings exiled from the house they grew up in by their stepmother, and forced to return to the poverty of their youth. Told over the course of 50 years, this novel beautifully explores themes of family, inheritance, love, and forgiveness.
Grand Union: Stories by Zadie Smith
Zadie Smith, one of the most iconic writers of her generation, presents her first short story collection of ten new and unpublished stories, as well as some of her best-loved pieces from The New Yorker and elsewhere. Grand Union explores a wide range of subjects from post-Brexit Brits vacationing in Spain, to a recovering opioid addict attempting to put his life back together, to a drag queen trying to buy a new corset. Smith’s stories deal with race, class, relationships, and gender roles in a world that feels increasingly divided.
The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Coates’s first-ever work of fiction, after the National Book Award-winning Between the World and Me, is set in mid-19th-century Virginia and tells the dramatic story of Hiram, a slave born into bondage whose mother has been. Hiram develops a mysterious power after nearly drowning that gives him the courage to escape from slavery. His decision results in him joining the Underground Railroad and fighting for freedom, restoration, and the family he from which he was separated.
Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout
Over a decade later (and after winning a Pulitzer), Elizabeth Strout delivers more of the unforgettable Olive Kitteridge character in Olive, Again. A collection of related stories about the lives of the residents of Crosby, Maine, Strout writes beautifully about a teenager who’s lost her father, a pregnant woman about to have her baby, a high school crush revealed,and more — all seen through Olive’s unique perspective.
The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott
Taking place at the height of the Cold War, two secretaries at the CIA are turned into spies and given the assignment of a lifetime - to smuggle “Doctor Zhivago” in its original Russian, into the Soviet Union. The goal of this actual CIA plot was that this cultural “weapon” would help to destabilize the post-Stalin regime. Filled with dangerous missions, Secret Police, a banned book, and two beautiful love stories — this enthralling, debut novel has it all!