Fall 2019, take us away. From Margaret Atwood to Stephen King, Ta-Nehisi Coates to Erin Morgenstern, these are the 20 most anticipated works of literary fiction coming this season.
Tidelands by Philippa Gregory
Atria | August 20
The superstar author of The Other Boleyn Girl, inspired by the fact that most people’s family histories can be traced to inglorious beginnings “in a muddy field somewhere,” kicks off an epic new series with a tale set during the English Civil War in 1648. Despite being about normal people instead of Gregory's typical decadent royal subjects, the novel is full of juicy hints of witchcraft and a fascinating social history—a midwife who lives with her children in the marshy region along England’s southern coast takes center stage.
The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri
Ballantine | August 27
Lefteri’s own backstory is doing some heavy lifting in drawing attention to her debut: She’s the daughter of Cypriot refugees, and her novel was born out of her experiences working as a volunteer at a refugee center in Athens, Greece, and from the stories told by her Arabic tutor, a Syrian refugee. But the novel stands on its own as well. It’s the story of a beekeeper and his wife who are forced to flee Aleppo and journey through Turkey and Greece toward Britain.
A Door in the Earth by Amy Waldman
Little, Brown | August 27
Former New York Times reporter Waldman left an indelible imprint on readers with her her literary debut, The Submission, which examined the fallout of 9/11 at Ground Zero. Eight years later, Waldman returns with an even more ambitious tome, which proves to be as politically provocative and challenging as its predecessor. It’s a multifaceted examination of not just the situation in Afghanistan but also the complex consequences of awakening the sleeping giant that is America and receiving its attention.
Cantoras by Carolina De Robertis
Knopf | September 3
Freedom—its presence and absence, the longing for it—colors every page of De Robertis’ masterful, passionate and at times painful new novel set in 1970s Uruguay. It tells the story of five women who must navigate a country and a society in the grips of overwhelming oppression, at a time when being a woman who loves other women carries a sentence of at best ostracization and at worst obliteration.
Quichotte by Salman Rushdie
Random House | September 3
It’s difficult to write an open homage to one of the most famous and influential works of literature in human history, but in his insightful and wickedly funny way, Rushdie pulls it off with his new novel, a retelling of Cervantes’ Don Quixote. He explores a world obsessed with everything from reality TV to hacktivism with a tragicomic metanarrative, as the story of a daytime TV star, who has renamed himself “Quichotte,” is being told by novelist who goes by the pen name Sam DuChamp.
The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott
Knopf | September 3
Lara Prescott’s first name was inspired by her mother’s love of Doctor Zhivago, both the epic David Lean film and the 1957 Russian novel by Boris Pasternak, a love story about Dr. Yuri Zhivago and Lara Antipova that spans the Russian Revolution and World War II. Prescott always felt a connection to the tale, and she’s written an absolutely thrilling debut: a fictional account of how Pasternak wrote his Nobel Prize-winner—and how the CIA used it as political propaganda during the Cold War.
The Institute by Stephen King
Scribner | September 10
Whether King is chasing “Stranger Things” or “Stranger Things” is chasing King, the result is the same: shocking suspense and hallmark thrills, as a ragtag collection of adolescents band together against a shady organization set on exploiting children for their unique “gifts.”
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
Nan A. Talese | September 10
Atwood’s highly anticipated (and highly embargoed) sequel picks up 15 years after the events of The Handmaid’s Tale. Let’s find out what’s really going on in Gilead these days.
Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson
Riverhead | September 17
Woodson, who is completing her stint as National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, returns to her beloved Brooklyn for her second novel for adults, this one about an unplanned pregnancy and its effects on an African American family. Kin and community have always been of primary concern to Woodson (as in her National Book Award-winning memoir, Brown Girl Dreaming), and she masterfully combines her characters’ lives with the sounds, sights and especially music of their surroundings, creating fiction that’s deeply personal and remarkably universal.
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
Harper | September 24
The cover of Patchett’s newest is simply gorgeous (it’s a painting by Nashville artist Noah Saterstrom), and the story within is perfect for readers who love family dramas and the houses at their center. Set over the course of five decades, her latest novel follows siblings Danny and Maeve, who are exiled from their family’s estate, the Dutch House, by their father’s new wife. Patchett’s characters’ voices are on point, and the pages keep turning—proving, once again, that she simply cannot write a bad book.
The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste
Norton | September 24
Readers who love World War II novels, especially tales of female spies or the roles of women during the war, should consider this one necessary reading for the year. It’s set during Mussolini’s 1935 invasion of Ethiopia, often considered one of the primary events that paved the way to World War II, and explores the stories of female soldiers who stood against the Italian army.
The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates
One World | September 24
The National Book Award-winning author of Between the World and Me returns with an achingly intense adventure tale that was recently longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. It’s about a young enslaved man named Hiram Walker who nearly drowns but is saved by a strange blue light. As he joins an underground war against slavery, he discovers within himself his own magical powers.
The World That We Knew by Alice Hoffman
Simon & Schuster | September 24
Yes, it’s another World War II book, but this one has a golem—and so much more. The golem, Ava, is created in 1941 Berlin by a rabbi’s daughter to protect a 12-year-old Jewish girl. Both girls attempt to flee Germany, but their lives take very different paths. The story wends from a French convent that’s hiding Jews to a mountain village humming with the spirit of resistance. Love and loss, grief and motherhood—it’s all magic in Hoffman’s hands.
Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
Flatiron | October 1
Big-time fantasy author Bardugo, goddess of the Grishaverse, makes her adult debut with a ghostly story set among the Ivy-League elite. To begin with, the lead character’s name is Galaxy (aka Alex), and she is the sole survivor of an unsolved multiple homicide. While still in the hospital, Alex is offered a free ride to Yale—but why? And so begins a tale of secret societies, the occult and forbidden magic.
Frankissstein by Jeanette Winterson
Grove | October 1
The critically acclaimed author of Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? is back with an inventive, intelligent, bawdy novel that’s a bit like a literary playground. It has everything: Mary Shelley, A.I., sex dolls, cryogenics labs and some of the funniest writing we’ve come across this year. And of course, it’s a love story: The tale of Shelley at Lake Geneva runs parallel to that of a transgender doctor in Brexit Britain who has fallen in love with Professor Victor Stein.
The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
Pamela Dorman | October 8
To be frank, we were nervous about Moyes’ newest. Stories of the Horseback Librarians of Kentucky are, it should come as no surprise, some of our favorites, but what does a Brit like Moyes know about Depression-era Kentucky? Fortunately, Moyes centers her book on Alice Wright, a British woman who travels to small-town Kentucky with her new husband and eventually joins the traveling librarians. The result is a must-read fish-out-of-water tale that capably balances its real historical backdrop. Also, it’s been optioned for film by Universal Pictures, with Ol Parker (Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again) to direct.
Grand Union by Zadie Smith
Penguin Press | October 8
Smith’s novels have brilliantly and brutally observed the modern world, so her first story collection is a big deal. It includes 11 new and unpublished stories (more than half haven’t been published before) as well as several of her best loved tales from The New Yorker.
Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout
Random House | October 15
The best way we can describe our impatience for Strout’s follow-up to her Pulitzer Prize-winning Olive Kitteridge is like a click beetle desperately dancing itself across the kitchen floor while a cat tries to eat it. In short, we are ready. We need more Olive Kitteridge, and chances are, so do you. And if Strout proved anything with My Name Is Lucy Barton and its follow-up, Anything Is Possible, it’s that she knows how to continue a story with love and care.
Find Me by André Aciman
FSG | October 29
Aciman’s Call Me by Your Name, originally published in 2007, became an international bestseller due to the massive popularity of the 2017 film adaptation by Luca Guadagnino. Elio and Oliver’s story sparked an outpouring of love and heartbreak and things far more complicated, and with this new novel, readers are reunited with the two men many years later—and with Elio’s father, Samuel.
The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
Doubleday | November 5
The author of The Night Circus is back with a tale that is utterly enchanting, an acrobatic adventure story for lovers of words, narrative structure and hidden realms. At its heart is a young man named Zachary Ezra Rawlins, who discovers a book in the university library that holds many mysteries within it, including a chapter from Zachary’s own childhood. Soon, Zachary has followed clues to painted doorways, liminal libraries and layers upon layers of stories—about pirates and dollhouses, a starless sea and owls, the love between Fate and Time, and the conference of the moon and sun. It’s the most fun you’ll have with a book this year.