By Carole Reedy
Though falling leaves and dropping temperatures bring our thoughts to the end of another year, ironically autumn signals a beginning for many events: the school year, the opera, symphony, theater seasons and the award seasons. It’s also the season when new books begin appearing on lists everywhere, perhaps in anticipation of the Pulitzer Prize and the Man Booker and National Book awards. In 2015, we hit the jackpot, with a world of new choices for fall reading. The top writers of our time have outdone themselves. Here’s a sampling of fall titles.
PURITY by Jonathan Franzen
This popular and well-known American writer has received accolades for his previous novels, The Corrections and Freedom. This new novel, Purity, moves away from his family saga format to something new. Without giving away the story, Franzen, in interviews, has revealed that this book is more plot-driven than his previous story-driven novels. It even includes a murder. THE
BLUE GUITAR by John Banville
Irish writer Banville, the author of 16 novels and numerous awards including the Man Booker, brings us a confessional narrative by a painter and thief.
THE STORY OF A LOST CHILD by Elena Ferrante
Those who have read the previous three novels in the Neapolitan series (My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, and Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay) can jump for joy on September 1, when Ferrante’s novel appears in English on bookshelves in the US and on Kindle. The adventures of Lila and Elena continue…as does the mystery of the true identity of Elena Ferrante, who says “I believe books, once they are written, have no need of their authors.” She has previously published three other novels of note: Days of Abandonment, Troubling Love, and The Lost Child, each worthy of your time and attention. All of Ferrante’s books have as background the author’s native Italy, specifically Naples.
THE LOST LANDSCAPE by Joyce Carol Oates Oates,
winner of the National Book Award among other prestigious prizes, hasn’t added to her dozens of published novels or short stories with this book. It is, however, another of her personal memoirs, this one exploring her formative years as a child on a farm in Upstate New York. Her last memoir, A Widow’s Story, was written after her long-time husband’s death. It will be interesting to read about her childhood since many of her novels take place in this place and time, somewhat unknown to many of us.
TWO YEARS EIGHT MONTHS AND TWENTY EIGHT NIGHTS by Salman Rushdie
Sure to be another Rushdie masterpiece. If you haven’t read his novel Joseph Anton, based on his experiences during the years he lived under the threat of a fatwah, do so! It’s difficult to describe Rushdie’s genius in a few sentences. Read an excerpt from his new novel from the June 1, 2015, issue of The New Yorker.
THE STORY OF MY TEETH by Valeria Luiselli
I include this book in these listings because Luiselli is a new young Mexican writer who received recognition in 2013 from the National Book Foundation’s “Five Under 35” award for her novel Faces in the Crowd, about the Spanish-speaking diaspora in New York. Her second book, set in Mexico City, is a novel of the stories of the narrator and traveling auctioneer Gustavo Sanchez. She has also published a book of essays called Sidewalks. Luiselli, just 23 years of age, has been called one of the “youngest and most talented” figures in Mexican literature.
Due in October
THE MOUNTAIN SHADOW by Gregory David Roberts
The sequel to Australian Roberts’ 2003 best selling Shantaram is due out on October 13 while anticipation rises for the promised prequel and second sequel to Shantaram. If you’ve been living in a cave since 2003, you may not know about Shantaram, the fascinating story of Roberts’ life after his escape from an Australian prison after being convicted of bank robbery. Fate takes him to India, specifically Mumbai, where he lives in slums and prisons, and where his life changes dramatically. Mountain Shadow takes place two years later upon his return from a smuggling trip.
SLADE HOUSE by David Mitchell
Pulitzer-prize winning writer Anthony Doerr (All the Light We Cannot See) bluntly states: “I gulped down this novel in a single evening–it is a reminder how much fun fiction can be.” Mitchell is the author of other “fun” novels: Cloud Atlas and The Bone Clocks.
M TRAIN by Patti Smith
Smith was the winner of the National Book Award in 2010 for Just Me, a memoir about her friendship with Robert Mapplethorpe in 1960s New York. But this new book is not about the past. Rather, it is about her and the present.
THE EARLY STORIES OF TRUMAN CAPOTE
Here are 17 stories written during Capote’s teenage years (14 to 17). Capote started writing at the ripe old age of 11. The stories were discovered in the Capote collection at the New York Public Library by Peter Haag, owner of Zurich-based publisher Kein and Aber, and journalist Anuschka Roshani. Gerald Clarke, the author of Capote’s biography, says, “even at 15 he had mastered the storyteller’s art of creating suspense and building character. He makes the reader want to turn the page and go on, which I can’t say about a lot of more experienced writers, then or now.”
A BANQUET OF CONSEQUENCES by Elizabeth George
The 20th Lynley and Havers mystery arrives October 27, eagerly awaited by Elizabeth George fans. A pre-review calls the novel “flawless. Elizabeth George has gone back to her roots and written a complex and nuanced character-driven book that is plausible and heartfelt.”
Due in November
THE GIVENNESS OF THINGS by Marilynne Robinson
Robinson is the recipient of several honorary degrees from prestigious universities, as well as the Orange Prize for her novel Home, the Pulitzer Prize for Gilead, and the PEN Hemingway Award for Housekeeping. Her most recent book Lila appears on the longlist for this year’s Man Booker Prize. (A shortlist of six will be announced on September 15, and the winner on October 13.) Lila also won the National Book Critics Circle fiction prize. Her latest book is a compilation of essays concerning our contemporary society, focusing on who and what we are.
AVENUE OF MYSTERIES by John Irving
A favorite writer for many years, this is John Irving’s 14th novel. It takes place in Mexico, the place of the protagonist’s birth, and later in the Philippines where his past haunts him.
Due in December
NUMERO ZERO by Umberto Eco
Eco, another favorite Italian writer, has graced us with fine literature including The Name of the Rose and Foucault’s Pendulum. This new novel moves back and forth from 1945 and 1992, following Benito Mussolini, his death, conspiracy theories, etc. Numero Zero takes us into the dark doings of conspiracy, media politics, and murder. Gustave Flaubert once said, “Do not read, as children do, to amuse yourself, or like the ambitious, for the purpose of instruction. No, read in order to live” The fall selection of books gives us plenty of fuel for the task at hand.