22 Brilliant New Books You Should Read This Autumn
Required reading in October and November. UK release dates.
It's The Boy Who Lived as you've never seen him with this brand-new edition of the beloved modern classic, fully illustrated by acclaimed artist Jim Kay (pictured).
2. A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James – Out now
The 2015 Man Booker Prize-winning novel is a fictional account of the 1976 attempt to kill Bob Marley (here referred to as "the singer") in Jamaica. Set over the course of three decades, A Brief History of Seven Killings is told through the eyes of 75 separate narrators, including slum kids, one-night stands, drug lords, girlfriends, gunmen, journalists, and the CIA, jumping between them to weave an epic tale of murder, drugs, politics, and the history of Jamaica itself.
3. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell – Out now
Based on characters featured in Rowell's acclaimed fourth novel, Fangirl, Carry On follows Simon Snow, the world's most powerful magician and the "worst chosen one ever chosen", as he enters his last year at the Watford School of Magicks. If it sounds familiar it should, so expect plenty of knowing winks and affectionate nudges toward the Harry Potter series, along with all the kissing and talking you'd expect from a Rainbow Rowell story. Just with more monsters.
4. City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg – Out now
New York City, 1976. Regan and William Hamilton-Sweeney, estranged heirs to one of the city’s great fortunes; Keith and Mercer, the men who, for better or worse, love them; Charlie and Samantha, two suburban teenagers seduced by Downtown’s punk scene; an obsessive magazine reporter and his idealistic neighbour – and the detective trying to figure out what any of them have to do with a shooting in Central Park on New Year’s Eve. When the blackout of 13 July 1977 plunges this world into darkness, each of these lives will be changed forever.
5. Lila by Marilynne Robinson – Out now
A follow-up to the Pulitzer prize-winning Gilead and the Orange prize-winning Home, Lila follows the titular character as she transitions from homelessness to romance to a life as the wife of a minister and widower, John Ames, while trying to make sense of the suffering that preceded her newfound security.
A collection of stories from black and minority ethnic British authors, thematically united by unexpected endings. Featuring stories from Monica Ali, Dinesh Angelo Allirajah, Muli Amaye, Lynne E. Blackwood, Judith Bryan, Tariq Mehmood, Karen Onojaife, Leone Ross, Seni Seneviratne, Ayesha Siddiqi, and many others.
7. The Reflection by Hugo Wilcken – Out now
When psychiatrist David Manne is asked by a detective friend to consult on an unusual case, the patient cries conspiracy and tells David that he's not who the police say he is. David slowly begins to believe it may be true, and when he suddenly finds himself mistaken for his patient, he decides on a risky course that seems his only way out: to change his identity, and enter even deeper into the conspiracy, if he's to find out how to escape it.
8. Ghostly, edited by Audrey Niffenegger – Out now
A collection of spooky stories curated by Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveller's Wife and Her Fearful Symmetry, who also provides new illustrations for each tale. The collection features Edgar Allen Poe, Edith Wharton, P.G. Wodehouse, Neil Gaiman, Rudyard Kipling, A.S. Byatt, and Ray Bradbury, along with a story of Niffenegger's own, Secret Life, With Cats.
"Dead is the most alone you can be."
– Audrey Niffenegger
9. Blackass by A. Igoni Barrett – Out now
Furo Wariboko – born and bred in Lagos – wakes up one morning to discover he has turned into a white man. As he hits the city streets running, still reeling from his newfound condition, Furo finds the dead ends of his life open out before him. As a white man in Nigeria, the world is seemingly his oyster – except for one thing: despite his radical transformation, Furo's ass remains robustly black...
10. The Uninvited by Cat Winters – Out now
Twenty-five-year-old Ivy Rowan rises from her bed after being struck by the flu, only to discover the world has been torn apart in just a few short days. But Ivy’s life-long gift – or curse – remains: She sees the uninvited ones – ghosts of loved ones who appear to her, unasked, unwelcomed, for they always herald impending death. As her "uninvited guests" begin to appear to her more often, she knows her life will be torn apart once more, but she has no inkling of the otherworldly revelations yet to unfold.
11. No More Heroes by Stephen Thompson – Out now
7 July 2005. Simon Weekes is travelling on the London underground. Shortly into the journey, the carriage is wrecked by a massive bomb blast. Virtually everyone is killed and almost all the survivors are severely injured. Simon is among the lucky few to have escaped relatively unharmed, and leads rescue efforts to free trapped survivors. In the days following the bombing, word of his heroics get out and he becomes an overnight celebrity, hounded for interviews and stopped in the street. The only thing is, he doesn't want all the attention. He can't afford it. He has too much to lose.
12. Slade House by David Mitchell – Out now
Born out of a short story Mitchell published on Twitter last year, this unnerving tale begins in 1979 and reaches its turbulent conclusion around Halloween 2015. Because every nine years, on the last Saturday of October, a "guest" is summoned to Slade House. But why has that person been chosen, by whom, and for what purpose? The answers lie waiting in the long attic, at the top of the stairs...
13. Negroland: A Memoir by Margo Jefferson – Out now
Jefferson is no novice at spinning a splendid nonfiction yarn (she won the Pulitzer Prize for her cultural criticism back in 1995) and Negroland is no exception. It is a memoir and biography of sorts: her memories of an upper-middle-class Chicago childhood and the stories of her parents (a celebrated physician and a socialite), all seen through the peculiarly American cultural prism of race, class, and sex, spanning the decades of tumultuous interior and external life.
14. After Alice by Gregory Maguire – Out now
Ada, a friend mentioned briefly in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, sets out to visit Alice but, arriving a moment too late, tumbles down the rabbit hole herself. There she embarks on an odyssey to find Alice and bring her safely home, applying her own imperfect apprehension of cause and effect to this surreal world below the world. If Eurydice can ever be returned to the arms of Orpheus, or if Lazarus can be raised from the tomb, perhaps Alice can be returned to life...
15. Spectacles by Sue Perkins – Out now
"This, my first ever book, will answer questions such as 'Is Mary Berry real?', 'Is it true you wear a surgical truss?' and 'Is a non-spherically symmetric gravitational pull from outside the observable universe responsible for some of the observed motion of large objects such as galactic clusters in the universe?'
"Most of this book is true. I have, of course, amplified my more positive characteristics in an effort to make you like me."
– Sue Perkins
16. Little Sister Death by William Gay – Out now
The "lost" horror novel of the late southern gothic writer William Gay, Little Sister Death is inspired by the famous 19th-century Bell Witch haunting, and follows the unravelling life of David Binder, a writer who moves his young family to a haunted Tennessee farmstead to try and find inspiration for his faltering work.
17. The Little Red Chairs by Edna O'Brien – October 29
When a Balkan war criminal settles in a small Irish coastal village and sets up shop as a faith healer, the community are in thrall, and one woman, Fidelma McBride, falls under his spell. Closely based on the story of Radovan Karadzic, "the Butcher of Bosnia", The Little Red Chairs is a story of love and the seductive power of evil.
18. Public Library and Other Stories by Ali Smith – November 5
The stories in Ali Smith's new collection are about what we do with books and what they do with us: how they travel with us, how they shock us, change us, challenge us, and remind us to pay attention to the world we make. Public libraries are places of joy, freedom, community, and discovery – and they are under threat from funding cuts and widespread closures across the UK and further afield. With this collection, Ali Smith joins the campaign to save our public libraries and celebrate their true place in our culture and history.
19. A Ghost's Story by Lorna Gibb – November 5
Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, séances and spiritualist meetings grew in popularity, and one "ghost" appeared more than any other, a spirit named Katie King. A Ghost's Story presents the mysterious spirit writings and biographical outpourings of Katie King, as she, a ghost, tries to understand human faith, loss, and passion.
20. The Age of Reinvention by Karine Tuil – November 5
Manhattan attorney Sam Tahar appears to have it all: fame, fortune, a marriage to a prominent socialite. But his charmed life is built on a lie – he isn't the person he pretends to be. At law school, his friendship with Samuel Baron was torn apart when the irresistible Nina chose Samuel. Angry, Samir fled to America and assumed Samuel's identity, leaving his former friend trapped in a French suburb, a failed writer seething at Samir's triumphs. Years later, the three meet again and Samir's carefully constructed existence is blown apart with disastrous consequences.
21. Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein – November 5
Before punk stardom with Sleater-Kinney and comedy success with Portlandia, Carrie Brownstein was a girl with a turbulent family life growing up in the Pacific Northwest, just as it was becoming the setting for one of the most important movements in rock history. In her memoir, Brownstein chronicles the era's independent music subculture and recounts experiences that sowed the seeds for the observational satire of her popular television series years later.
22. Bird by Noy Holland – November 10
Bird puts her child on the bus for school and passes the day with her baby. It's a day infused with fear and longing, an exploration of the ways the past shapes and dislodges the present. In the present moment, Bird dutifully cares for her husband, infant, and older child. But as she inhabits this rehabilitated domestic life, she re-lives an unshakeable passion: Mickey, the lover she returns to with what feels like a migratory impulse.
The day begins. Nothing will stop it.
The phone rings in the dark. Word finds its way along—no matter how far out you live, no matter what you say.
For years now, Bird has said it, for all the years since she has seen Mickey, all the things she has thought to say. "I wish you'd stop," Bird says.
But this is Suzie. Newsy Suzie. Her voice high and bright, "It's me."
"Me too," Bird says. "I was sleeping. You have no fucking clue."
What Suzie has is the next word on Mickey. She has a new name to give Bird. She has had the names down the years, a trade sometimes. Beatrice. Once a dancer, Brigitte, a girl who painted. Rosemarie. Country girls, exotics. Clara, Angelina, Racine.
"That's enough," Bird tells her.
"Oh it isn't. I keep you posted. Early girl news. He moved."
Moved, moved again. He thought to marry. He'd marry another, think of that, just as Bird had.
"He'll never marry," Suzie says, "he's like me. She would have to swear to die in three months' time of an incommunicable disease. I don't care who—Racquel, Ruby Lou, Victorine. He's like me."
Suzie lives among the samplings. The saplings, and the fathery men. Men and boys and girls. Ship to shore; hand to mouth; bed to bed. Not for her: the leaky tit, the pilly slipper. The dread of the phone that rings in the dark: It's your turn next to suffer.
– Noy Holland