The summer beach read gets a lot of press. The season is associated with slowing down and taking a breather—often with an enthralling thriller or a paperback romantic comedy accompaniment. But your reading list shouldn’t end on Labor Day. Recall the back-to-school thrill of buying new books for the upcoming semester, browsing the stacks at the annual book fair or picking out a new title at the library. But in the place of Harry Potter and Pippi Longstocking, we now greet the characters of authors Sally Rooney and Chibundu Onuzo.
Say goodbye to the beach read and say hello to the autumn opus. This fall is slated with anticipated book releases from authors new and familiar.
Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney
Available September 7
From the Irish prodigy who brought us Normal People and Conversations With Friends comes a new novel on themes of worry, sex and miscommunication. Published by the Macmillan imprint Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Beautiful World, Where Are You is feverishly anticipated by Sally Rooney fans and literary fiends alike.
The novel will traverse the knotted mess of twenty-somethings Alice, Felix, Eileen and Simon’s friendships and romantic relationships, from Dublin to Rome. Expect a heavy dose of Rooney’s political agency and existentialist agony, laced with the inextricable impact of Irish history on the interpersonal relationship, as lauded in the writer’s previous works.
Consider shopping it at Books Are Magic, a Brooklyn bookstore founded by author Emma Straub.
Sankofa by Chibundu Onuzo
Available October 5
Nigerian author Chibundu Onuzo takes protagonist Anna on a quest for identity in her third novel, Sankofa, published by Catapult. Onuzo, who was the youngest author ever taken on by British publishing giant Faber & Faber and was shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize in 2021, considers one woman’s generational connections between West Africa and London.
The word sankofa translates to “retrieve” in the Ghanian Akan Twi and Fante languages, and is paired with the storied proverb, “It is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten.” Separated from her husband, with a grown daughter and recently deceased single mother, Anna’s solitude compels her to self-discovery through clues to her African father’s identity in her mother’s belongings. Anna embarks on a journey for her father, a man once involved in radical politics of 1970s London turned president (or, as suggested, dictator) of a small West African nation. Onuzo weaves a story of a woman experiencing her own sankofa, in a novel poised to be as moving as it is witty.
Consider shopping it at Parnassus Books, the iconic Nashville bookstore founded by bestselling author Ann Patchett.
Seeing Ghosts by Kat Chow
Available August 24
Kat Chow is no stranger to storytelling. A former NPR reporter and founder of its esteemed Code Switch podcast, Chow is adept at chronicling the complexities of race, gender and politics. And now, in her memoir Seeing Ghosts, she will tackle the most universal subject of all: grief.
Chow tells the story of the sudden death of her beloved mother—who often joked about a desire to be taxidermically stuffed and displayed in her daughter’s apartment—and the mourning that follows. Through the lens of loss and generational trauma, Chow develops a new form of contemplating the American family through three generations of her own Chinese-American family. The writer’s transition from journalism to memoir isn’t to be missed.
Consider shopping it at Skylight Books, a Los Angeles outfit full of light and greenery.
The Book of Mother: A Novel by Violaine Huisman
Available October 5
Originally published in French, Violaine Huisman’s debut novel The Book of Mother will be released by Simon & Schuster imprint Scribner this October. The text explores the intricacies and contradictions of a mother-daughter relationship marked by its extremes. Violaine, the author’s eponymous heroine, has a ferocious love for her “Maman,” Catherine, who matches that ferocity with her own mercurial extravagance.
But Maman’s breakdown-induced hospitalization quickly turns the tide of the familial dynamic, as her mood swings violently worsen. The book is set to test the boundaries of unconditional love and contemplate the traumas sometimes crafted by those we love most.
Consider shopping it at The Wild Detectives, a Dallas bookstore known for bringing community together with its conversational events.
Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead
Available September 14
Colson Whitehead launches his latest tale this September, Harlem Shuffle. The two-time Pulitzer Prize winner debuts Ray Carney, a protagonist balancing the worlds of a clean domestic life and one of crime. Money is tight for the Harlem hero, an upstanding furniture salesman, who occasionally dips his toes into selling the odd piece of jewelry stolen by his cousin. But when a heist of the “Waldorf of Harlem” goes awry, Ray is drawn into the underbelly of corrupt cops and local gangsters.
What ensues is a saga of living a double life, tinted by the realities of family, race and power in 1960s New York. Deemed a “love letter to Harlem” by its publisher, Penguin Random House, Harlem Shuffle takes on multiple lives, just like its protagonist, marrying comedy and tragedy in a highly anticipated novel.
Consider shopping it at Bookends & Beginnings, a cozy bookshop in the suburbs of Chicago.
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