Brace yourself, readers, for we are in the fall publishing season, and this year’s releases could keep you busy until next fall. The biggest titles — a new Stephen King, Margaret Atwood’s “The Testaments” — will be on everyone’s radar. Read them, but don’t ignore these promising books, which include fiction, memoir, biography and more.
‘Apple, Tree: Writers on Their Parents,’ by Lise Funderburg (Sept. 1)
Funderberg, who has explored her own parents and background in her memoir “Pig Candy,” here gathers pieces from writers about a trait they’ve inherited from a mother or father. Ann Patchett, Daniel Mendelsohn and Laura van den Berg, among others, meditate on how attributes both physical and spiritual tie us to and distance us from our elders.
‘Dominicana,’ by Angie Cruz (Sept. 3)
At 15 years old, Ana marries the much older Juan and moves to 1965 New York City so that her family back in the Dominican Republic might have a better life. Just when she’s having second thoughts about her new existence and loveless marriage, she begins forming a bond with Juan’s brother, Cesar. Cruz delves into the tough choices that follow in this beautiful literary debut.
‘The Divers’ Game,’ by Jesse Ball (Sept. 10)
Jesse Ball (“Census”) levels a steely gaze at the very concept of humanity in this three-part novel that introduces the lower-class “quads” and the rich “pats,” who treat those below them with impunity. When a group of pats conceals the grisly fate of a young quad girl behind an elaborate festival, you may start to wonder just how different this dystopian world is from our own.
‘Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know,’ by Malcolm Gladwell (Sept. 10)
We humans, Gladwell posits, are terrible at recognizing liars and lies. Is there a way to be trusting without being naive? Gladwell considers the possibilities with historical examples, from Neville Chamberlain’s misguided trust in Adolf Hitler to CIA Counterintelligence Chief James Jesus Angleton, whose distrust of everyone threw the agency into turmoil.
‘Sontag: Her Life and Work,’ by Benjamin Moser (Sept. 17)
It may be a curious choice for a man to write the definitive biography of a gay woman, but so be it. “Sontag” reads like an epic quest, offering a deep and thorough portrait of the intellectual giant that’s both dishy and enlightening.
‘Red at the Bone,’ by Jacqueline Woodson (Sept. 17)
Woodson’s fiction for adults, like her 2016 “Another Brooklyn,” often focuses on young adults (for whom she also writes). “Red at the Bone” jumps back and forth in time to tell the story of
16-year-old Melody, the product of a teen pregnancy that tore her family apart.
‘Sorted: Growing Up, Coming Out, and Finding My Place (A Transgender Memoir),’ by Jackson Bird (Sept. 24)
Bird lives as a man today, but his journey began with the assignment of “girl” at birth. His memoir details coming to terms with his gender confusion while growing up in 1990s Texas, from figuring out how to get a binder delivered to his college dorm to undergoing surgery before eventually becoming an advocate.
‘The Water Dancer,’ by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Sept. 24)
Coates has a gift for describing the crushing legacy of slavery, as he’s done through powerful essays for the Atlantic and his National Book Award-winning “Between the World and Me.” Now he does it in novel form, with the tale of Hiram Walker, a boy with a magical gift who is born into slavery but hatches a plan to escape.
‘The Dutch House,’ by Ann Patchett (Sept. 24)
If you’ve never read a Patchett novel, get ready for something wonderful. If you have read a Patchett novel, get ready for something wonderful — and completely different. “The Dutch House,” like 2016’s “Commonwealth,” is a family saga, though this one has an unusual mansion at its heart — a rich man’s folly that nevertheless cannot destroy his progeny.
‘Year of the Monkey: A Memoir,’ by Patti Smith (Sept. 24)
Unlike “Just Kids” and “M Train,” poet and performer Smith’s latest memoir zooms in tight, detailing the 12 months between 69 and 70 in which she lost two close friends: manager Sandy Pearlman and playwright Sam Shepard. “I noticed I looked young and old simultaneously,” Smith writes. Her willingness to look closely at life’s closing chapters makes for a magical book.
Bethanne Patrick is the editor, most recently, of “The Books That Changed My Life: Reflections by 100 Authors, Actors, Musicians and Other Remarkable People.”
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.