Summer is just getting started when we at Kirkus begin to plan our Fall Preview issue. It can be hard, in the carefree season of sun and sand, to cast our minds ahead to the chillier days of autumn. But the consolation—and it’s a major one for book lovers—is the profusion of riches on publishers’ fall lists. Alongside the promising debuts are new works by old favorites. Ian McEwan? Celeste Ng? Cormac McCarthy? Check, check, check. There’s almost too much to read.
That’s one reason we publish this issue: to help overwhelmed (but voracious) readers chart a course through the maze of new releases. Our editors have selected 150 titles—fiction, nonfiction, children’s, middle-grade, and young adult—that we feel are especially worthy of your time. We’ve also spoken with a range of authors, including Richard Osman, Nina Totenberg, Ruby Bridges, and Chloe Gong, about their new books and their own fall reading picks, among other things.
To kick things off, here are five titles (fiction and nonfiction) I’m eagerly anticipating.
Didn’t Nobody Give a Shit What Happened to Carlotta by James Hannaham (Little, Brown, Aug. 30): Already blessed with the best title of the fall season, this novel by the author of Delicious Foods has a gloriously outsized protagonist, too—a trans woman paroled from an upstate New York prison, returning to her Brooklyn neighborhood after two decades. “A brash, ambitious novel carried by an unforgettable narrator,” says our reviewer.
The Story of Russia by Orlando Figes (Metropolitan/Henry Holt, Sept, 20): Russian history is vast. So a concise narrative history, weighing in at just over 350 pages, is a welcome introduction for the generalist like me. Our reviewer calls this latest nonfiction work from the author of The Europeans a “lucid, astute text that unpacks the myths of Russian history to help explain present-day motivations and actions.”
Shrines of Gaiety by Kate Atkinson (Doubleday, Sept. 27): “Already one of the best writers working,” says our reviewer, “Atkinson just gets better and better.” No argument here. The latest from the author of Life After Life and other titles features a “Dickensian” cast of characters in the seamy world of 1920s London nightclubs. It sounds exactly like—I’d say my cup of tea, but perhaps gin is more apropos?
Stay True: A Memoir by Hua Hsu (Doubleday, Sept. 27): A New Yorker staff writer, the son of Taiwanese immigrants, recounts a formative friendship of his Bay Area youth, cut short by his friend’s death in a carjacking not quite three years after they meet. Our reviewer calls the book a “stunning, intricate memoir about friendship, grief, and memory.”
The Hero of This Book by Elizabeth McCracken (Ecco/HarperCollins, Oct. 4): “Novel? Memoir? Who cares. It’s a great story, beautifully told,” says our review of this slender book from the author of The Souvenir Museum and other books. The hero of the title is the narrator’s mother, a character our reviewer calls “brilliant, stubborn, bad with money, secretive, and oppositional. Yet she was more fun than anyone else her daughter knew.”
Tom Beer is the editor-in-chief.