It’s not just big names making big news in books this season. Here are five fall fiction debuts you’ll want to have around when the weather turns.
The Linesby Anthony Varallo(University of Iowa Press, Aug. 15):An American family falls apart against the backdrop of the 1979 energy crisis in this first novel from short story veteran Varallo (Everyone Was There, 2017, etc.). Shifting perspectives between the father, the mother, the boy, and the girl, The Lines highlights the alliances, face-offs, trade-offs, and fears that can arise when parents separate and bring new partners into their children’s lives. In a starred review, Kirkus calls it “a darkly cutting investigation of dysfunction in which the kids, more often than not, are way sharper than the parents.”
Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir (Tor, Sept. 10):Talented warrior Gideon Nav just wants to bust out of indentured necromantic servitude, join the imperial military, and split some skulls. But her nemesis and liege, Harrowhark Nonagesimus, won’t discharge her from the Ninth House without performing one last service. Muir’s violent, visceral, trash-talking debut—the first in a projected trilogy—is an irresistible, darkly comic blend of sci-fi, fantasy, horror, hell-raising, and reanimated corpses. Kirkus calls it “suspenseful and snarky with surprising emotional depths.”
Salt Slow by Julia Armfield (Flatiron Books, Oct. 8):The women in Armfield’s remarkable stories are refreshingly monstrous: A pubescent teen transforms into a praying mantis; a corpse reanimates and turns up on her girlfriend’s doorstep; and a woman forms an intense bond with her lupine stepsister. Anchored by 2018 White Review Short Story Prize winner “The Great Awake,” this collection is a provocative inquiry into the glory and gore of female bodies. Kirkus proclaims Armfield “a fresh new voice of magical realism.”
It Would Be Night in Caracas by Karina Sainz Borgo and translated by Elizabeth Bryer (HarperVia, Oct. 15):Adelaida Falcon grieves her beloved mother’s death while protestors clash in the streets of Caracas in this unflinching novel from Sainz Borgo, a former Venezuelan journalist who immigrated to Spain a decade ago. In a starred review, our reviewer writes, “Sainz Borgo renders the psychological and emotional toll of government collapse with both nuance and authority, thrusting the reader into Adelaida's struggle for existence and the stark choices before her.”
Older Brother by Mahir Guven and translated by Tina Kover (Europa Editions, Oct. 18): Two Franco Syrian brothers contend with anti-Muslim prejudice in suburban France and choose divergent paths to self-actualization in this winner of the 2017 Prix Goncourt du Premier Roman. Older brother, an Uber driver and part-time police informant, prickles at the injustice of his exploitation; younger brother, a nurse, absconds to the Middle East, raising suspicions of radicalization. By turns ironic and sincere, Older Brother “reveals the breadth of emotional disconnection that prejudice can stoke within a family,” our reviewer writes.
Megan Labrise is the editor at large and hosts the Fully Booked podcast.