Of all the months on the publishing calendar, September might be the most pivotal of the year. Publishers are starting to put out their prestige titles, those works that editors and publicists feel have the best chance at the prizes that garner headlines and sales. On to the (many) highlights:
--While it’s impressive to have a big book for the fall, it’s even more impressive when the industry is already calling your title The Book of Fall before almost anyone has read it. Yet that is the case for The Testaments, Margaret Atwood’s follow up to 1986’s modern classic The Handmaid’s Tale. Of course, a boost from the recent Hulu series doesn’t hurt buzz, but The Testaments is getting acclaim on its own right already: the sequel, set fifteen years after the events of Tale, has already been longlisted for the UK’s Booker prize even though the book itself won’t be published until September 10. Speaking of Booker winners, another strong contender has made it to the list pre-pub. Salman Rushdie’s Quichotte, reimagines Cervantes’s knight as an ageing traveling salesman in romantic pursuit of a television star. Quichotte appears on shelves early in the month.
--A lot of familiar names are on the list for this month, but not necessarily with characteristic material. Ta-Nehisi Coates hit the bestseller list for his acclaimed nonfiction, but he turns his hand to fiction with The Water Dancer, set in antebellum Virginia. Coates cites Toni Morrison and E. L. Doctorow as inspiration, and early reviews call the comparison apt. The Water Dancer is on shelves late in September. Ann Cleeves is a must-read on many a mystery reader’s list; The Long Call marks the start of a new series for her, set on the north Devon coast and featuring Detective Matthew Venn. It’s out early September (watch MADreads for an upcoming review). Music fans will recognize the name Tegan and Sara; the sisters rose to fame in the late nineties and became icons of the indie pop scene. They’re releasing their memoir of their formative years, High School, on September 24. Author Jacqueline Woodson was best known as an acclaimed author for youth before the 2016 release of Another Brooklyn, a rare but memorable foray into the adult market. She returns to adult lists with Red at the Bone, a spare, poetic novel again set with a family in Brooklyn that Booklist calls ‘emotionally rich’ with ‘deeply true-feeling characters.’ It’s out September 17.
--And of course there are lots of familiar names writing what they do best. Stephen King is back with The Institute, an anticipated bestseller with a massive million book print run. And it’s likely a good bet for the publisher; Booklist mentions ‘abducted psychic teens [and] a black ops mission.’ Look for it September 10. William Kent Krueger takes a break from his Cork Corcoran mysteries for a standalone novel, This Tender Land; his previous standalone, Ordinary Grace, was a huge hit and won an Edgar Award. Speaking of Edgars, Attica Locke releases a follow up to her Edgar-winner Bluebird, Bluebird with Heaven, My Home. Texas Ranger Darren Matthews is on the track of white supremacists in East Texas while dealing with the fallout from his previous case; Booklist calls it another Edgar contender. Both Krueger and Locke titles come out the first part of September.
--But it’s not all just fiction this month. The curious can have their quirky questions satisfied with Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?: Big Questions from Tiny Mortals About Death from Caitlin Moran, or answered in Randall Monroe’s singular style with How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems. Political readers will have plenty to mull over with two books on the role of technology and mass communication in public discourse with controversial whistleblower Edward Snowdon’s memoir Permanent Record, and New York Times critic James Poniewozik’s Audience of One: Donald Trump, Television, and the Fracturing of America. Both are due out mid-month.
So much more to talk about, but click on through for the full list. Happy reading!