The 12 Best, New Fall Books
A reviewer shares her picks by authors like Ian McEwan, Stephen King and more
(This article previously appeared on Grandparents.com.)
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage
By Haruki Murakami
Japan’s greatest living novelist finally returns with his long-awaited new novel. Tsukuru Tazaki is a 36-year-old professional man with no discernible attachments. He’s inert and dissatisfied, but unlikely to take the necessary steps to change his situation. When he meets Sarah, a woman two years his senior, he opens up to her about an emotional breakdown he suffered in college after his dearest high school friends mutually and mysteriously decided never to speak to him again. Tsukuru’s wound has never healed. Sixteen years later, Sarah inspires Tsukuru to reconnect with his former group and discover what happened all those years ago. This is a visceral novel, both moody and elegant, in which Murakami masterfully returns to the emotionally murky terrain of youthful friendships. Highly recommended.
The Long Way Home: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel
By Louise Penny
In the 10th installment of Penny’s wildly popular Inspector Gamache series, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his wife are finally at peace on the edge of retirement in the cozy, picturesque pines of southern Quebec. But what happens when their neighbor, Clara, enlists Gamache to investigate the disappearance of her estranged husband, who failed to show up as promised, on the first anniversary of their separation? I won’t say anything more; just read this one. It’s thrilling.
This multigenerational debut novel about an Irish-American family is poised to be a modern-day classic. The story follows a young Eileen Tumulty from her humble roots in 1940’s Queens through six decades of aspirations, disappointments, victories and failures. The characters in this novel are so expertly depicted they’re sure to stay with the reader long after the last page is turned. At its core, We Are Not Ourselves is a book about learning the real value of love and appreciating what matters before it’s too late. Don’t forget the box of tissues.
A Brief History of Seven Killings
By Marlon James
Award-winning novelist Marlon James paints a remarkable portrait of modern Caribbean history in this 700-page epic spanning three decades of turbulent Jamaican life. The plot centers around the attempted assassination of Bob Marley in 1976 and cracks open a lyrical and hypnotizing story of corruption and is populated with assassins, government agents, drug dealers and even ghosts. Readers will relish this journey into a relatively unknown world where getting an education and being entertained aren’t mutually exclusive.
By Nancy Bilyeau
Author Nancy Bliyeau came onto the scene in 2012, when her book The Crown, a historical thriller set in Tudor England, catapulted to No. 1 on Amazon. Now Bilyeau has given us her follow-up, an equally delicious period mystery, The Chalice. In it, heroine Joanna Stafford, a nun in the time of religious unrest in Henry VIII's England, must try to unravel a mysterious prophecy with an ancient relic at the heart of it. Bilyeau paints an engrossing picture of 16th century England, the tension between religion and political power, and weaves a story that is equal parts entertaining and thought-provoking.
Fans of the best-selling Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies will not be disappointed by back-to-back Man Booker-winner Hilary Mantel’s newly published story collection. Intelligent, funny, thoughtful and unsparing, readers can rest assured that Mantel’s exploration into marriage, family, sex and class is every bit as satisfying as her beloved Cromwell series.
A Man Called Ove
By Fredrik Backman
The interior life of the elderly has a rich literary history. Fans of Helen Simonson, Stuart O’Nan, Penelope Lively and Barbara Pym will agree. A Man Called Ove, a Swedish bestseller, taps into this genre and peppers it with a humorous insouciance that’s nothing short of charming. Ove is the miserable neighborhood killjoy. He spends his days scrutinizing his community and criticizing others. After his handicapped wife dies and he is forced to retire from his job, Ove decides he’s ready to join her on “the other side.” The problem? Every time Ove tries to sign off, he’s interrupted by a lively cast of characters ranging from the boisterous new family next door to the mailman to the wife of Ove’s former best friend. Ove stalls his suicide from one day to the next until he finds himself living a life surrounded by new and unexpected pleasures. Ove’s story is by turns sad, funny, thoughtful and inspiring. I loved it.
The Children Act
By Ian McEwan
Nan A. Talese
A realistic take on marriage and middle age, McEwan has done it again in this slim but powerful novel about Fiona Maye, a 60-ish High Court judge and the family court cases she presides over. Her latest case involves a teenage boy with leukemia who wants to reject a life-saving blood transfusion due to his religious beliefs. Simultaneously, Fiona's husband Jack announces his wish to have an open marriage. Sure to be popular with book clubs, this thought-provoking novel tackles very touchy subjects that will have the reader questioning his or her own ethical and moral positions. McEwan spins a gripping tale, holding the reader tightly and expertly right through to the very last page.
The Stories of Jane Gardam
By Jane Gardam
If you haven’t read her Old Filth trilogy, do so immediately. Gardam is truly a master of storytelling and language. Once you’ve finished, you won’t hesitate to dive into the 28 short stories in this new and magnificent selection dating from 1977 to 2007. The full range of Gardam’s talents are on display here. Some of these stories are connected to her novels and it’s not without pure joy that readers are reunited with Edward Feathers, a retired British lawyer living in Dorset who spent his working years in Hong Kong. Other stories, like “Lunch with Ruth Sykes,” about a mother hell bent on helping her daughter mend a broken heart, or “Hetty Sleeping,” about a young English woman who encounters a former lover on vacation in Ireland, are equally enjoyable. Gardam captures the wistful longings of human nature like no other.
An Event in Autumn: A Kurt Wallander Mystery
By Henning Mankell
Vintage Crime/Black Lizard Original
An Event in Autumn is a welcome addition to the international best-selling Kurt Wallander series. This short novella, set in 2002, chronicles an episode in the life of Kurt Wallander, an aging Swedish homicide detective facing retirement. When he goes to look at a house in the country, he literally stumbles upon the remains of a human hand sticking up out of the brown clay soil. Being Wallander, he has to find out to whom the hand — and then full skeleton — belongs, and why it was buried there. Mankell is an elegant writer, a master craftsman, and a deeply poignant observer of the human heart at its very best and very worst.
The Bone Clocks
By David Mitchell
One of the most anticipated books of 2014, the best-selling author of Cloud Atlas does not disappoint with The Bone Clocks. This ambitious work is broken into distinct chapters, each covering a different character and progressing about a decade between each. At the heart of the novel is Holly Sykes who starts the novel in 1984 as a 15-year-old runaway teenager. Holly plays a pivotal role in the lives of the central character in each of the following chapters. From England to Shanghai to the Swiss Alps, Baghdad and Ireland, the ensuing sections move through the next six decades, and are each narrated from a different character’s point of view. David Mitchell takes readers on a mind-bending journey through this gritty, magical and superb novel.
By Stephen King
Is it possible that Stephen King is every bit as good today as he was in 1973 when he first published Carrie? I think so. In his latest crime thriller, ex-detective Bill Hodges is settling uneasily into his retirement when he receives a provoking letter from someone who claims to be The Mercedes Killer — the media’s name for the hit-and-run driver who, a year earlier, intentionally drove a stolen Mercedes into a crowd of unemployed people at a job fair — ruthlessly killing eight and injuring 15. And what’s worse? The letter writer claims to be planning an even greater attack, a plan that will kill thousands. Bill’s antagonist is Brady Hartsfield, a sociopath so chillingly harrowing only King could have thought him up. It’s a race against time as Hodges (and friends) work to stop Hartsfield before he strikes again.