Do you like celebrity biographies and memoirs? Top-notch literary fiction? Thoughtful explorations of science and history? Suspenseful thrillers and fun mysteries? You’re in luck: This fall has it all.
It’s difficult to choose the most noteworthy among the fantastic upcoming novels, but the list has to include The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell, who has already proven her mastery of the genre with last year’s Hamnet, a fictionalized story about Shakespeare’s family and winner of the National Book Critics Award for Fiction. This one is set in 16th-century Italy, where the young duchess Lucrezia de Medici is wed to the mercurial ruler of another region for political purposes. It’s soon clear the marriage won’t end well. Like Hamnet, it’s richly detailed and totally absorbing (Sept. 6).
Another wonderful historical novel is Shrines of Gaiety by Kate Atkinson, author of acclaimed books such as 2013’s Life After Life and the Jackson Brodie detective series. Her entertaining latest takes readers to 1920s London, a city full of postwar corruption and excess, where a crime-prone family oversees a string of glamorous nightclubs. They have their enemies, as well as a police detective and a cool young woman-turned-spy on their tail (Sept. 27).
Also look forward to Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver, focused on a young man in Appalachia (Oct. 18); The Last Chairlift by John Irving, author of The World According to Garp, among many others (Oct. 18); and The Winners by Fredrik Backman, known for his huge best seller A Man Called Ove. This is the third in the Swedish writer’s series that began with Beartown and Us Against You (Sept. 27). In Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng (Little Fires Everywhere), 12-year-old Bird lives with his father in a dystopian America whose dictatorial leadership has eliminated all dissent and banned books deemed unpatriotic. The audiobook version is narrated by actress Lucy Liu (Oct. 4). The Passenger by Cormac McCarthy is the first of a pair of linked novels coming from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Road (Oct. 25). McCarthy’s Stella Maris arrives in December.
And Lucy Barton is back! Lucy by the Sea by Elizabeth Strout returns to the kind, somewhat lost Lucy we last saw in 2021’s Oh William! As COVID begins to threaten in 2020, she and her ex-husband William head up to isolate in Maine, where their relationship begins to evolve, as the pandemic progresses to affect family and friends. Strout is a beautiful writer who portrays the experience of aging and the emotions of daily life with uncommon empathy and warmth (Sept. 20).
How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water by Angie Cruz, author of the 2019 novel Dominicana, brings us Cara Romero, a Spanish-speaking immigrant in her mid-50s who’s lost her factory job. Over 12 sessions with her job counselor she recounts her poignant story, with humor (Sept. 13).
Lessons by Ian McEwan (Atonement) is a lengthy novel about an unsuccessful poet wrestling with, among other challenges, the sudden departure of his wife to pursue her dreams and a disturbing long-ago sexual experience with an older woman (Sept. 13).
The Lemon by S.E. Boyd is a winner, the creation of three writers — journalists Kevin Alexander and Joe Keohane, and editor Alessandra Lusardi — that’s packed with dark humor (despite its grim-sounding premise) and hilariously self-centered characters out to make a buck and find their 15 minutes of fame. Their paths cross after celebrity chef John Doe, a troubled Anthony Bourdain–like traveling foodie, dies in a particularly embarrassing way that needs to be covered up to protect his brand (Nov. 8).
Also keep an eye out for a debut novel getting early praise, When We Were Sisters by Fatimah Asghar, which has been long-listed for the Center for Fiction 2022 First Novel Prize (Oct. 18).
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Mysteries and thrillers
In Fairy Tale by Stephen King, the suspense master’s terrifying new supernatural tale, 17-year-old Charlie Reade is hired to do odd jobs for a recluse who lives in a big house with a mysterious locked shed out back. When the man dies, he leaves Charlie a tape revealing the shed’s secret: It’s a portal to another world (Sept. 6).
More blockbuster books by big-name writers in the pipeline: Blowback by James Patterson, a standalone thriller from the absurdly prolific Patterson about an American president who goes insane (Sept.12); The Boys From Biloxi by John Grisham (Oct. 18); the 29th Stephanie Plum book, Going Rogue by Janet Evanovich (Nov. 1); Suspect by Scott Turow, the latest legal thriller from the Presumed Innocent author (Sept. 27); and The Rising Tide by Ann Cleeves, the tenth in her Vera Stanhope series (Sept. 6).
Anywhere You Run by Wanda M. Morris, author of last year’s thriller All Her Little Secrets, follows two Black sisters on the run in Jim Crow Mississippi (Oct. 25).
Later in the fall, Harry Bosch devotees get their next fix with Desert Star by Michael Connelly, where Bosch and LAPD detective Renee Ballard team up to hunt down a killer (Nov. 8), while fans of Chief Inspector Armand Gamache await A World of Curiosities by Louise Penny, the 18th in the Canadian writer’s beloved series set in the quaint, if murder-prone, Quebec village of Three Pines (Nov. 29).