Nine New Books We Can’t Wait To Read This Fall | Literature
I was working as a literary arts coordinator when the pandemic hit, and a lot of the work was recommending books to clients and working with small newspaper publishers to make sure their work wasn’t being pushed to margin.
Readers, even the most avid, suddenly had a shorter attention span for books. They wanted light, hopeful, or educational content. Stress and despair almost numbed them to great literature.
On the marketing side, that meant pushing the news into book clubs under labels such as “Short books for short attention spans.” Of course, reading interests change seasonally. I mean, no one brings Tolstoy to the beach! But it was something quite different. And, if I’m being honest, I was also in the throes of stagnation.
How do you get numb minds, including yours, to reopen a book?
My personal tips for finding amazing new works that inspire are: Pay attention to specific publishers, find works that established authors you revere talk about, and look for books by authors who will be visiting Rochester in the months to come.
Let’s hit it:
Adrienne Maree Brown’s “Grievers” (September 7)
The number of Rochester readers devouring the works of Adrienne Maree Brown is staggering – and I’m thrilled with the love publisher AK Press receives by default.
Now the author of “Pleasure Activism”, “Emergent Strategy” and “We Will Not Cancel Us” has a new book – but it will be something different.
“Grievers” is Brown’s debut novel and launches the new press speculative fiction series, “Black Dawn”.
American Book Award winner Tananarive Due calls Brown “one of our most important voices in Afrofuturism and real world building and says of her latest work: Towards Hope in a Future Detroit.” Each paragraph is lovingly crafted, a story in itself, blending into a tapestry no reader will soon forget.
“The luminous novel” by Mario Levrero, translated by Annie McDermott
Just as moviegoers trust production companies that regularly release award-winning films, some readers trust a small niche publisher with a solid reputation. I would definitely recommend subscribing to a small press like And Other Stories, which published Mario Levrero’s “The Luminous Novel” in August.
It’s easy to see why the book won an English Pen Award. I found myself laughing out loud while reading it in public. The Uruguayan author masters the hilarious and light nonsense, especially the defeatist diary entries of a writer trying to finish a novel after receiving a Guggenheim Fellowship.
And Other Stories says: “Insomniacs, romantics and anyone who has ever written (or failed to write) will fall in love with this fascinating masterpiece told by a true original, with all its infuriating flaws, her charming wit and intriguing reflections.
Colson Whitehead’s “Harlem Shuffle” (September 14)
This fall’s next bestselling novel will likely be Colson Whitehead’s “Harlem Shuffle,” the sequel to his 2019 novel “The Nickel Boys,” which earned him his second Pulitzer Prize for fiction.
Whitehead’s countless accomplishments and awards make it such a simple and obvious recommendation. I would suggest having a book club for a pre-pub date.
The editor writes: “The ingenious story of Harlem Shuffle is set in a beautifully recreated New York City from the early 1960s. It’s a family saga disguised as a detective story, a hilarious morality play, a social romance about race. and power, and finally a love letter to Harlem.
“Tenderness” by Derrick Austin (September 21)
I always keep an eye on BOA Editions, a small press based in Rochester which is very popular, especially when it comes to poetry.
“Trouble the Water,” a collection of poems capturing the queer black experience, previously published by Derrick Austin, won the A. Poulin Jr. Prize for Poetry. His new collection, “Tenderness,” won the Isabella Prize for Poetry Gardner 2021.
The editor calls the new poems lush and meditative, and says they “examine the tense nature of privacy in a nation poisoned by anti-darkness and homophobia.
“Even in the midst of heartbreak and pain, ‘Tenderness’ elevates common spaces as sites of resistance and healing, marvels at the restorative powers of erotic art and love, and celebrates the ability to friendship.”
“Foucault in Warsaw” by Remigiusz Ryzinski
Another gem of the Rochester small press is the University of Rochester’s Open Letter Books. Open Letter mainly publishes literature in translation and has brought countless foreign authors and poets to our city. This is exactly what I’m talking about when I say you should subscribe to a little press that won’t disappoint.
“Foucault in Warsaw”, published in June, is an adventurous and philosophical account of the life of Michael Foucault in Poland in the late 1950s, when he became involved in the gay community and was then confronted with the police. secretive and forced to leave.
As the first page says, “The hero of this book is Michel Foucault. But not just him. Warsaw is too.
“In pursuit of Homer” by László Krasznahorkai (November 2)
The New Directions Press is the kiss of the leader of contemporary avant-garde literature in translation, with gorgeous covers to boot. But the master of melancholy, the Hungarian author László Kraznahorkai, is perhaps, without doubt, one of the greatest literary giants of our time.
He has a cult – a cult that I am a part of – that is ready to drink the punch. He is perhaps best known for his novel “Sátántangó”, which Hungarian director Béla Tarr has adapted into a seven-and-a-half-hour film. (Fun fact: The Dryden played the entire adaptation in 2019, with no intermission, which almost never happens.)
“Chasing Homer” seems to have its own rhythm. The publisher describes it as “a classic escape nightmare. . . accelerated not only by the characteristic velocity of Krasznahorkai, but also by a unique musical score and intense illustrations. Buckle up.
“The interim” by Wolfgang Hilbig (November 2)
If we were looking for the broken and tormented 21st century writer, with all the vices of the trope on top, it’s Hilbig.
Hilbig has five novels published by Two Lines and “The Interim”, set in post-war Germany, is his supposed masterpiece. The novel follows C., a renowned East German writer who frequents bars and brothels and travels between two Germans both literally and metaphorically on an expired visa.
If you’re one of those aforementioned numb readers, C.’s frustrations with diminished intellectual curiosity and blunt creativity will speak to you.
“All names given” by Raymond Antrobus (November 9)
Did you know we had a Tin House editor hanging out in Rochester last year?
Elizabeth DeMeo, deputy editor-in-chief of the famous publishing house, was the first person to tell me about Raymond Antrobus. I fell in love with his collection of lyrical poems “Perseverance”, which won the Ted Hughes Prize, the Rathbones Folio Prize and the Somerset Maugham Prize, and was shortlisted for so many others.
So I was delighted to have got my hands on an advanced reader copy of “All Names Given”. Antrobus takes us around the world, from England, South Africa, Jamaica and the southern United States, as it considers its own ancestry, conflicting racial and cultural identities, and recounts the damage of colonialism.
Rachel Cusk’s “Second Place”
I fell in love with Rachel Cusks’ “Outline” trilogy last year, but recommending it gets tricky when people ask, “What is it? This is because it is brilliantly without intrigue.
“Second Place,” which released in May but is a perfect fall read, isn’t exactly without intrigue. M is a young mother in search of freedom and autonomy – as we do, sigh – who invites a famous artist to her guesthouse and comes to believe that her vision could unravel the mystery of her life.
Cusk grabs you with his first line and doesn’t let go: “I told you once, Jeffers, about the time I met the devil on a train leaving Paris, and how after that encounter the evil that Usually found undisturbed beneath the surface things have risen and disgorged in every part of life.
Rachel Crawford is a literary collaborator for CITY. Comments on this story can be directed to Rebecca Rafferty, Editor-in-Chief of CITY, at [email protected]