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Do you feel it? There's a nip in the air when you step out the door in the morning. Sometimes there's frost caught in the spiderwebs in the bushes. Fall will be here before we know it, and with it comes a crop of tantalizing new books. The staff of BookPage share what they’re especially looking forward to curling up with once the days turn crisp and golden.


Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
Bloomsbury | September 15 | Literary fiction

It’s been 20 years since Susanna Clarke became an international sensation for her fantasy masterwork, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, and her literary return is triumphant in its own right, made all the more exciting by Piranesi’s wonderfully opaque premise. The titular character (whose name references this 18th-century Italian printmaker who etched massive, fictitious prisons) exists in a many-roomed, partially flooded House that is also the World, where the only other person is called the Other. Clarke’s depiction of a young man who makes his home within a restricted situation—much like a person seeking refuge in the labyrinth of their mind, or perhaps a person confined at home during a pandemic—may once again rupture the worlds of fantasy and literary fiction.

Cat, Deputy Editor


Legendborn by Tracy Deonn
Margaret K. McElderry | September 15 | Young adult fantasy

Oh, how I love being swept up into an enormous fantasy novel, turning the pages almost unconsciously as the real world around me falls away. Tracy Deonn’s Legendborn, the story of a girl who discovers a secret society of people who claim to be descendants of King Arthur and his court, does this better than any other YA fantasy being published this fall. It displays such a deep understanding of the power of magic and myth that you’ll be astonished to learn that it’s the author’s debut. If you loved Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments books, Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle or Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, prepare to be obsessed.

Stephanie, Associate Editor


A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik
Del Rey | September 29 | Fantasy

One of the best and worst things about working at BookPage is being inundated with great authors and books you haven’t read yet, constantly being forced to add to a never-ending, constantly growing TBR list. Naomi Novik is one of those authors for me. For years I’ve seen people in raptures over her work, a frenzy that only increased when Uprooted and Spinning Silver were released. So I've been looking forward to finally joining the fray with A Deadly Education. Novik’s latest follows El, a powerful and destructive sorceress trying to survive and thrive in a hilariously dangerous magical school. Sidebar: Between this and Tamsyn Muir’s Locked Tomb trilogy, are we on the cusp of a golden age of gothic SFF? Please let it be so.

Savanna, Associate Editor


Girls Against God by Jenny Hval
Verso | October 6 | Horror

It’s time for the musician-author to make a comeback. Nick Cave, Patti Smith, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits: all artists who not only knew the power of words but also knew when those words needed to be sung and when they needed to be read. Jenny Hval’s music has always been strange, a mix of floaty pop melodies and horror soundtracks that she's been making and growing for almost 20 years. This book promises deeper explorations of themes she's frequently returned to, exploring the outer reaches of feminism and sexuality. Marketed as a “horror novel/feminist manifesto,” this novel is sure to be a blur of magic and emotion, as Hval has always delivered with her music and writing. Wherever Hval is concerned, expect your ears, mind, and heart to come out twisted.

Eric, Editorial Intern


Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam
Ecco | October 6 | Thriller

There are a handful of notable catastrophic and apocalyptic novels coming soon (Don DeLillo’s and Jonathan Lethem’s are two big ones for fall), and I’m sure the number will only increase in the coming months, but this is my pick. If you’ve read Rumaan Alam’s previous works of fiction, which center on family relationships and female friendships, you know that his prose has always been a little bit dipped in arsenic. His wickedly smart voice may have found its perfect story, as two couples—white and Black, home-renters and homeowners—shelter together on Long Island during an unknown disaster. The TV and internet are dead, but something is very, very wrong. I’m ready for a book that meets my fears where they’re at, that tells a story where there are few answers and help may not be coming.

Cat, Deputy Editor


Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade
Avon | October 6 | Romance

I absolutely adored Olivia Dade’s Teach Me, to the point that I am ready and willing to read anything she writes from here on out. Imagine my joy upon realizing that Spoiler Alert will explore the world of fan fiction and internet fandom, via a fictional TV show that seems verrrrrrrrry similar to a certain enormous fantasy series that crashed and burned in its final seasons. Our hero is Marcus Caster-Rupp, an actor on said TV show and secret super fan of the books on which the show is based. Marcus spends his downtime writing fan fiction and talking to his internet best friend, April Whittier. April, of course, has no idea that the nice, funny guy she’s been swapping edits and jokes with is the lead actor on her problematic fave of a TV show. Flirting via fan fiction and dragging “Game of Thrones”? Words cannot express my delight.

Savanna, Associate Editor


The Man Who Ate Too Much by John Birdsall
Norton | October 6 | Biography

Ever since I encountered James Beard as a character in Julia Child’s My Life in France, I’ve been fascinated by this larger-than-life baron of American cuisine. John Birdsall’s new biography of Beard, the first one in 25 years, goes deeper than facts and foie gras to explore Beard’s conflicted personal life as a closeted gay man in the early 20th century and his outsized influence on how we talk about, write about and eat food today. Written with stylish prose and an eye toward Beard’s undervalued status as a queer icon, The Man Who Ate Too Much is equal parts timely, touching and tasty.

Christy, Associate Editor


The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton
Sourcebooks Landmark | October 6 | Historical thriller

A weird little quirk about me is that if anything is set on a ship, I will like it about 15% more. Maybe this quirk is left over from spending my early adolescence obsessing over Pirates of the Caribbean. (It absolutely is.) Add in a dash of Sherlock Holmes-esque deduction, and you have a book seemingly tailor-made for yours truly. Stuart Turton gleefully piles complication upon complication in this maritime murder mystery. There’s a detective on board, but he’s in chains, so his manservant has to look for clues in his stead. The lieutenant-governor of the territory from which the ship set sail is also on board—along with his wife, his child and his mistress. Oh, and the ship itself might be cursed.

Savanna, Associate Editor


A Measure of Belonging, edited by Cinelle Barnes
Hub City | October 6 | Essays

Growing up in Alabama, I chafed against the national narrative of the South as homogeneously ignorant, deep-fried and white. Jackson, Mississippi; Birmingham, Alabama; Memphis, Tennessee; Atlanta, Georgia: These cities are responsible for some of the most exceptional art in America, and the majority of their creators aren’t white. In truth, the South is intellectually, culturally and racially diverse, and literature from this region is evolving to reflect the South’s range. So I couldn’t wait to get my hands on A Measure of Belonging, a collection of essays by writers of color living south of the Mason-Dixon line about who the South belongs to and who belongs in the South. Kiese Laymon, Soniah Kamal, Tiana Clark, M. Evelina Galang, Natalia Sylvester . . . with so many brilliant voices in this collection, we can’t afford not to listen.

Christy, Associate Editor


The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow
Redhook | October 13 | Historical fiction

Alix E. Harrow’s utterly magical 2019 debut, The Ten Thousand Doors of January, is the sort of book that had me Googling the date of the author’s next release the minute I finished it. Learning that Harrow’s follow-up was about witches advocating for suffrage (but make it intersectional) was the icing on the cake. Bring on October.

Trisha, Publisher


All Thirteen by Christina Soontornvat
Candlewick | October 13 | Middle grade nonfiction

File Christina Soontornvat’s All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team under “books I never expected to make me ugly-cry—multiple times.” Soontornvat, a Thai American children’s author, has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and a master’s degree in science education, and All Thirteen reads like a book that only she could write. She juggles an enormous cast of characters and dives deep into culture, science and technology with ease, allowing you to understand why the rescue was so extraordinary. But what’s most impressive is that she takes a story that made headlines around the world—a story you already know the ending to—and makes it feel as uncertain, risky and miraculous as it really was.

Stephanie, Associate Editor


She Come by It Natural by Sarah Smarsh
Scribner | October 13 | Essays

Whether or not you’re familiar with the breadth of Dolly Parton’s achievements, it’s hard to ignore her celebrity. Even though I grew up in her home state (Tennessee), my own awareness of Parton was admittedly more surface-level than substance: I knew her from local billboards advertising her theme park, Dollywood, rather than from her iconic body of work. However, that changed as I got older and became more interested in Parton as a musician, activist and icon. In She Come by It Natural, National Book Award finalist Sarah Smarsh provides a necessary and engaging cultural study of Parton that both illuminates her rags-to-riches career and explores the societal impact she’s made on generations of women. Originally published in 2017 as a series of essays in the music magazine No Depression, this slim book packs a powerful punch, rather like Parton herself.

Katherine, Subscriptions & Customer Relations


Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse
Saga | October 13 | Fantasy

Known for her post-apocalyptic tales of a Navajo monster hunter, Rebecca Roanhorse turns to full-on epic fantasy in Black Sun. Inspired by pre-Columbian America, Black Sun places the sly, down-to-earth humor and superb character work of Roanhorse’s earlier books within a sprawling new fantasy world. The first few chapters of this book had me laughing and gasping in equal measure, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Savanna, Associate Editor


Memorial by Bryan Washington
Riverhead | October 27 | Literary fiction

When I saw this book on Jia Tolentino’s bedside table (via Instagram), I knew something great was coming. After his Obama-acclaimed story collection, Lot, Bryan Washington’s debut novel has me anticipating what else he can do with his Gwendolyn Brooks-esque powers. Washington’s writing, his artistry and poignancy, makes me think we are witnessing the birth of a master. I recently interviewed him for BookPage’s upcoming November issue, and afterward I realized that he is among the few who are so finely attuned to the state of this nation that everything they write has the potential to shift the tide. His words speak to you, and everything they say hits home.

Eric, Editorial Intern


The Little Mermaid by Jerry Pinkney
Little, Brown | November 3 | Picture book

You’d be hard-pressed to find another picture book creator as acclaimed—or as deserving of acclaim—as Jerry Pinkney. My expectations for a new Pinkney book, particularly one he’s written as well as illustrated, are always high. The Little Mermaid might be my new favorite. His watercolor illustrations retain their signature delicacy and seem especially well suited for a tale that partially takes place underwater. Every generation reimagines fairy tales anew and re-creates them in their image. I’m almost envious of the young readers who’ll get to grow up with this Little Mermaid as their Little Mermaid.

Stephanie, Associate Editor


We Keep the Dead Close by Becky Cooper
Grand Central | November 10 | True crime

The more popular true crime becomes, the higher we set the bar. The crime should be titillating but never sensationalized, the investigation should never be exploitative, and the writer must be conscious of both their own role and the story’s larger ramifications. Bonus points if there’s a behemoth institution possibly pulling the strings of a cover-up. Enter Becky Cooper, whose book delves into the 1969 murder of a Harvard graduate student, who—legend has it—was bludgeoned to death by an archaeology professor who was her former lover. We Keep the Dead Close promises to reveal the sexism and misogyny of the male-dominated archaeology field, the wide-reaching power of Harvard University (whose school color is crimson red, after all) and the tenuousness of the investigative process itself.

Cat, Deputy Editor


The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans
Riverhead | November 10 | Short stories

It’s been an entire decade since Danielle Evans published her first story collection, Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self. That time has only further whetted my appetite for her second book, a collection of short stories and a novella that promises more of Evans’ wisdom and finely honed ability to tell distinct, compelling tales that also say something about larger issues.

Trisha, Publisher


A Cat’s Tale by Baba the Cat as dictated to Paul Koudounaris
Holt | November 10 | History

When I saw the cover of this book back in the spring, I said, “Wow, what is this book about? Actually, I don't think that matters! I already know I’m going to love it.” Dictated by Baba the Cat and recorded by his faithful owner, Paul Koudounaris, A Cat’s Tale chronicles the powerful and ancient influence of cats throughout (and upon) history. This is already a standout premise—but what elevates this book into the stratosphere of literary greatness are the dozens of portraits of Baba in elaborate historic regalia: Baba as a Catholic cardinal, Baba as French artillery commander, Baba as a mustachioed count. It will take me months to decide on a favorite image, and even longer to convince my own cats to let me dress them in anything half as dandy.

Christy, Associate Editor


I Want to Be Where the Normal People Are by Rachel Bloom
Grand Central | November 17 | Humor

Celebrity memoirs are not usually my bag, but I’m making an exception for Rachel Bloom’s memoir-in-essays. Bloom, creator of the critically acclaimed TV show “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” is insightful, brilliant and flat-out hilarious, and seeing the world through her eyes should be a treat in any format.

Trisha, Publisher

Fall will be here before we know it, and with it comes a crop of tantalizing new books. The staff of BookPage share what they’re especially looking forward to curling up with once the days turn crisp and golden.

For the general reader with an interest in American history, but perhaps not enough devotion to plow through the 800-plus pages of Edmund Morris' fine volume on TR, there will soon be another option for learning about Roosevelt and the 41 other men who have held the presidency. Times Books, an imprint of Henry Holt, is launching a new series of brief and accessible biographies of the American presidents. The first volume, out this month, is Theodore Roosevelt by noted novelist and historian Louis Auchincloss. The series is edited by acclaimed historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. and will offer what the publisher describes as "penetrating, meditation-length biographic essays" on each president. Volumes due out later this year include James Madison by Garry Wills, Grover Cleveland by Henry Graff and John Quincy Adams by Robert V. Remini.
 
Auchincloss' portrait of Teddy Roosevelt is concise but thorough, giving a clear picture of the man who was known as much for his personal image as for his historical accomplishments. One chapter is devoted to excerpts from TR's presidential correspondence, and the letters offer a revealing glimpse of a man who was at once frank, judgmental, wise and tender.

For the general reader with an interest in American history, but perhaps not enough devotion to plow through the 800-plus pages of Edmund Morris' fine volume on TR, there will soon be another option for learning about Roosevelt and the 41 other men who have held the presidency. Times Books, an imprint of Henry Holt, […]

What would the holidays be without food and family? These elements are at the very heart of our celebrations, and no one does a better job of blending the two than Savannah's own Paula Deen. This holiday season, Deen's millions of fans can sample Christmas traditions, Southern style, in a beautifully designed gift book, Christmas with Paula Deen. This collection of recipes, family photos, gift ideas and Christmas stories would put even the Grinch in the mood for a holiday party. Deen took a few minutes from her whirlwind of media appearances to tell BookPage about the new book and her family's plans for the holidays.

You say in the book that when it comes to Christmas, anticipatin' is the best part. What are you most excited about this holiday season?
One word: Jack. He's my grandson who's now walkin', just gettin into a run actually. Just to watch him this Christmas, opening presents, will be the most fabulous gift I could ever have.

What's your favorite Christmas memory from your childhood?
My favorite memory from childhood would have to been when I was five years old. My brother Bubba wasn't born yet, so I was all alone, didn't have to share my parents or Christmas with anybody. Santa was at the top of his game, bringing all the toys I asked for including a baby doll that was just exquisite.

What holiday traditions did your husband Michael bring into the family? Has it been fun to blend your traditions with his?
To tell you the truth, Michael didn't have a lot of holiday traditions before we met. The poor fella was working so much, being off on a ship he just wasn't at home. But he sure gave me my favorite Christmas memory as an adult when he asked me to marry him. The way he surprised me, with the whole family around us, was perfect in the most romantic way.

Why is being home for the holidays so important to you?
I don't know if my Daddy once spent a Christmas away from us, but I remember very clearly that he would never allow us to be away from home at the holidays. And I'm sure that's why it's so very important to me.

Who will do the Christmas cooking for your family this year you or the boys?
I will. And the kids will probably help. But I'll be doing most of it.

What is the one thing you most enjoy cooking for the holidays?
Probably candies, because it's something I don't ordinarily make throughout the rest of the year. I make lots of cakes, pies and cookies throughout the year . . . but Christmas means candy!

Give us your real opinion on turducken: a crazy fad or worth the effort?
You know, actually a turducken is not hard! It would be impossible without a good butcher. The butcher does all the work. You just have to lay one on top of the other, fold it all back and it's ready to go. Now, it does take a long time to cook. But the flavors you get are delicious. My absolute favorite though, is still a fried turkey.

Does anyone in your family actually eat fruitcake?
No. Not a traditional fruitcake. My mama used to make a delicious Japanese fruitcake though. And I have an icebox fruitcake that is very good and the family enjoys.

What's the easiest Christmas cookie for a novice cook to attempt?
Slice and bake cookies from the grocery store (laughs)! Actually, traditional cookies like oatmeal or chocolate chip or peanut butter are all fairly easy to make. I wouldn't suggest a Magnolia Lace Trumpet cookie the first time, but the traditional cookies are easy and just great.

What do you want Santa to bring you this year?
Nothing. Unless maybe another grandchild (laughs). Michael and I enjoy our blended family so much. They've all come together, it's like we've always been together. So if I wished for something it would be another addition to this beautiful family.

When you count your blessings, what's at the top of the list?
My family and the fact that we're healthy and all able to work. God granted us good health and we're thankful for that.

What would the holidays be without food and family? These elements are at the very heart of our celebrations, and no one does a better job of blending the two than Savannah's own Paula Deen. This holiday season, Deen's millions of fans can sample Christmas traditions, Southern style, in a beautifully designed gift book, Christmas […]

There is something in the eyes of the animals featured in Shelter Dogs that draws the reader in and won't let go. Despite their ignoble surroundings (all the dogs were photographed while housed in shelters) the poodles, puppies, pit bulls and mutts on these pages project an uncanny air of dignity, usually peering directly into the camera of photographer Traer Scott with a calm, questioning gaze. After working at shelters herself, Scott began creating portraits of the resident dogs, some of whom never made it out alive. She includes more than 50 pictures in this collection, and none fails to tug at the heart. Perhaps Scott's beautiful book will inspire more animal lovers to head to their local shelter this holiday season and save some of these noble creatures from the fate that awaits them.

There is something in the eyes of the animals featured in Shelter Dogs that draws the reader in and won't let go. Despite their ignoble surroundings (all the dogs were photographed while housed in shelters) the poodles, puppies, pit bulls and mutts on these pages project an uncanny air of dignity, usually peering directly into […]

In a postscript to Bad Childhood, Good Life, Dr. Laura Schlessinger reveals that she became choked up immediately after writing the book's last line, something that hadn't happened with any of her previous eight books. Why did the subject of unhappy childhoods have such an emotional impact on the author? I was deeply moved by the courage and character displayed by people who have suffered significant pain at the hands of others they should have been able to trust and count on, she writes.

In what Dr. Laura describes as probably the most important book I've ever written, she offers advice to adults who were neglected, beaten, unloved, manipulated or betrayed as children. Judging from the many real-world examples she provides from her patients and radio listeners, this constitutes a very large group indeed. Many women find themselves unable to sustain a loving relationship because they expect all men to act like their cruel/alcoholic/deadbeat fathers. Some men limit their expectations for success in life because of the negative perceptions they absorbed from their super-critical mothers. Still others are mired in suffering and bitterness, unable to move beyond their past and on to what Dr. Laura calls the Good Life. Though she sympathizes with their agonizing struggles, the doctor delivers her usual no-nonsense solution get over it. A life locked in the past will never bring happiness. Instead, she urges readers to conquer their childhoods and become victors rather than victims. To accomplish this, she advocates both small, practical steps (keep a journal) and larger, bolder moves (write a kiss-off letter to the person who hurt you). Through it all, Dr. Laura advises, keep in mind that you alone are responsible for the life you live today.

In a postscript to Bad Childhood, Good Life, Dr. Laura Schlessinger reveals that she became choked up immediately after writing the book's last line, something that hadn't happened with any of her previous eight books. Why did the subject of unhappy childhoods have such an emotional impact on the author? I was deeply moved by […]

Adapting any book for the screen is a tricky process, but surely no material has presented a greater challenge than Arthur Golden's brilliant debut novel, Memoirs of a Geisha. First published in 1997, this dazzling first-person account of a geisha's life is filled with beautifully detailed descriptions of intricate Japanese rituals and traditions. Could any filmmaker capture the cultural nuances, the rich emotional lives and subtle conflicts so elegantly depicted in the novel? Moviegoers will find out on December 9 when director Rob Marshall's vision of Memoirs opens in theaters nationwide. Released by Columbia Pictures, the film was produced by Lucy Fisher, Douglas Wick (Gladiator) and Steven Spielberg, who was originally slated to direct but stepped aside when he couldn't fit the film into his demanding schedule.

Oscar-nominated director Marshall (Chicago) prepared for the project by reading the novel and setting off on a research trip to Japan with key members of his production team. The group scouted locations on the Sea of Japan and visited several sites in Kyoto, where much of the novel is set.

After an international search to fill the lead role, Chinese actress Ziyi Zhang was cast as Nitta Sayuri, a young woman who rises from an impoverished upbringing to become one of Kyoto's most accomplished geishas. Best known to American audiences for her roles in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Jackie Chan's Rush Hour 2, Zhang is a talented dancer as well as an actress, which gave her an edge for the part. Dance is the ultimate form of artistic expression in the geisha world, Marshall says, so it has a special place in our film. It was incredibly exciting for us to blend our vision as artists with the beautiful traditions of Japanese dance in telling Sayuri's story. When she read the novel, Zhang says she was struck by Golden's ability to capture the voice of a Japanese woman. I couldn't believe that a man wrote this book about the life of a woman, Zhang recalls. And I couldn't believe it was an American man writing with such detail about a little-known Japanese subculture. Playing her love interest in the film is Ken Watanabe, one of Japan's top actors and an Oscar nominee for his role in The Last Samurai. Two Asian film stars, Michelle Yeoh and Gong Li, take the roles of Sayuri's patron (Mameha) and bitter rival (the geisha Hatsumomo).

The movie was filmed on location in Japan and on several Hollywood soundstages. At Ventura Farms, a horse ranch near Los Angeles, a huge replica of Kyoto's geisha district was constructed, complete with a river running through the center of the set.

Ultimately, though, Marshall thinks it's the message of the movie, rather than its exotic setting, that will connect with moviegoers. This story lives in a very specific world, and yet the underlying theme of the triumph of the human spirit against all odds connects to any culture, he says. The fact that this one child, after being taken from her home and sold into slavery, can survive and ultimately find love is deeply moving to me. Especially when that love is forbidden to her. Golden, a native of Chattanooga and a member of the family that owns the New York Times, studied Japanese art and history at Harvard and Columbia before going to work in Tokyo, where a co-worker revealed that his mother had been a geisha. From that spark, the book was born, and Golden completed three drafts before he settled on the first-person voice that distinguishes the novel. His interviews with a real-life geisha, who allowed Golden to observe her rituals of dress and makeup, contributed to the book's authentic feel.

For those who haven't read the novel, several movie tie-in editions are newly available from Random House. A Vintage paperback, a mass-market paperback and two audio editions are among the new choices. There's also a Spanish movie tie-in edition, not surprising since the book found a worldwide audience and has been published in more than 30 countries. Fans of the book and the film will also want to check out an appealing coffee-table book from Newmarket Press, Memoirs of a Geisha: Portrait of a Film. Included are more than 100 full-color stills from the movie, along with essays on the film's costumes, choreography and production design. Arthur Golden contributes an introduction about the experience of stepping onto the movie set in California. Here in front me was something far too fully realized to have grown out of those murky images in my head, Golden writes. While writing the book I wasn't using the medium of stunning visual imagery but of language, and language is a poor vehicle for rendering the real world with any precision. Just how well the real world of Golden's imagination is captured in the film version of Memoirs will be judged by critics and fans in the weeks ahead.

 

 

Adapting any book for the screen is a tricky process, but surely no material has presented a greater challenge than Arthur Golden's brilliant debut novel, Memoirs of a Geisha. First published in 1997, this dazzling first-person account of a geisha's life is filled with beautifully detailed descriptions of intricate Japanese rituals and traditions. Could any […]

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