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Sunday, December 3, 2023
Dec. 3, 2023

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Eleven must-read new books for fall


From the scores of new books arriving this fall, here are 11 that seem particularly intriguing.

Noteworthy novels

“The Fraud” by Zadie Smith (Penguin, out now): “Any writer who lives in England for any length of time will sooner or later find herself writing a historical novel, whether she wants to or not,” wrote Smith (“White Teeth,” “Swing Time”) in a delightful New Yorker essay about the writing of this book, set in Dickens-era London and based on a real-life imposture trial.

“Holly” by Stephen King (Scribner, out now): Private detective Holly Gibney, previously featured in King’s novels “Mr. Mercedes,” “Finders Keepers” and “The Outsider,” takes center stage here to help a woman find her missing daughter.

“Chenneville” by Paulette Jiles (William Morrow, out now): Jiles, whose “News of the World” hit the trifecta (an award winner, a bestseller and a movie adaptation), here presents what’s described on the cover as “a novel of murder, loss, and vengeance,” set in the post-Civil War frontier in Texas.

“Let Us Descend” by Jesmyn Ward (Scribner, Oct. 3): The two-time National Book Award winner (for “Sing, Unburied, Sing” and “Salvage the Bones”), known for her poetic imagery and powerful voice, centers her latest on an enslaved young woman in the pre-Civil War South.

“Absolution” by Alice McDermott (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Oct. 31): We’ve been waiting six years for a new McDermott novel (her last was 2017’s “The Ninth Hour”), so that she can slip us effortlessly into another world; this one takes place in the 1960s, from the point of view of two Vietnam War wives.

Scintillating stories

“Normal Rules Don’t Apply: Stories” by Kate Atkinson (Doubleday, out now): This is an event: The great Atkinson hasn’t released a collection of short fiction in nearly 20 years. She’s known for both brilliant historical novels (most recently “Shrines of Gaiety”) and addictive crime fiction (the Jackson Brodie series); I can’t wait to read this one.

“Roman Stories” by Jhumpa Lahiri (Knopf, Oct. 10): Lahiri, whose first collection of short stories (“Interpreter of Maladies”) won a Pulitzer Prize in 2000, has in recent years been writing solely in Italian. This collection, in which each story takes Rome as a character, was translated into English by Lahiri and editor Todd Portnowitz.

Seattle luminaries

“Father and Son: A Memoir” by Jonathan Raban (Knopf, out now): Raban, a British-born writer who made Seattle his home base for decades of adventurous travel writing, died early this year. His final book is a deeply personal one: an account of his own recovery from a massive stroke in 2011, interwoven with his own parents’ love story, taking place during his father’s time in the trenches in World War II.

“Menewood” by Nicola Griffith (MCD, Oct. 3): Ten years after her Washington State Book Award-winning “Hild,” about a king’s niece growing up in seventh-century Britain, Seattle resident Griffith returns with a sequel. On her website, Griffith offered this description: “If Hild was about a child relying on her agile mind and acute observations of nature and human behavior to stay one step ahead of the whims of a volatile king, then Menewood revolves around a young woman becoming herself—learning to live life on her own terms; to build, hold, and wield power—exploring and really inhabiting who she is.”

“Again and Again” by Jonathan Evison (Dutton, Nov. 7): The Bainbridge-based author of “Lawn Boy” and “The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving,” among others, returns with a story of a curmudgeonly man living out his last days in a nursing home — and insisting that he has lived multiple lives, in which he has spent a thousand years trying to find love.

Musician must-read

“Tupac Shakur: The Authorized Biography” by Staci Robinson (Crown, Oct. 24): Robinson, an author and screenwriter who knew Shakur from high school, was approved by the late musician’s estate to write the only authorized biography of his short life, a meteoric rise in the music world which ended with his 1996 killing at the age of 25.

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