10 Great Reasons to Read Fiction in September 2017

Presenting our monthly fiction picks, with great new books from some of our favorite authors!

Sing, Unburied, Sing
by Jesmyn Ward
The author of National Book Award-winning Salvage the Bones (2011) offers a brutal story of poverty and racism in the American South cut with moments of hope, tenderness, resilience and mystical power. Thirteen-year-old Jojo and his sister Kayla have been brought up mostly by their loving maternal grandparents. Their mother Leonie is a drug abuser who lacks any maternal instincts, their father Michael is incarcerated, and they’ve never even met their white paternal grandparents. When they learn that Michael is being released, Leonie piles the kids and best friend in her car to pick him up from prison, anticipating a joyous family reunion instead of the traumatic journey that unfolds. “The terrible beauty of life along the nation's lower margins is summoned in this bold, bright, and sharp-eyed road novel... As with the best and most meaningful American fiction these days, old truths are recast here in new realities rife with both peril and promise.” (Kirkus Reviews)

Little Fires Everywhere
by Celeste Ng
In the affluent suburb of Shaker Heights, Ohio, unconventional artist Mia Warren and her teenage daughter Pearl rent a house from the picture-perfect Richardson family. Despite their differences, the two families become far more connected than anyone would have imagined. Then they find themselves on opposing sides of a local controversy, creating a rift that leads to devastating consequences. “This novel from Ng (Everything I Never Told You, 2014) is both an intricate and captivating portrait of an eerily perfect suburban town with its dark undertones not-quite-hidden from view and a powerful and suspenseful novel about motherhood… Ng explores the complexities of adoption, surrogacy, abortion, privacy, and class, questioning all the while who earns, who claims, and who loses the right to be called a mother. This is an impressive accomplishment.” (Publishers Weekly)

Five-Carat Soul 
by James McBride
The beloved author of the bestselling memoir The Color of Water (1996) and the National Book Award-winning novel The Good Lord Bird (2013) offers his first short story collection. “There’s a good amount of humor here, but most of these pieces are deeply emotional. This is McBride at his A-list best… Realism with a touch of magical realism for readers who enjoy page-turners that don’t happen to be thrillers.” (Library Journal)

Golden House
by Salman Rushdie
Here’s the newest novel from the author of Midnight’s Children (1981) and winner of some of the most prestigious awards for fiction. A foreign real estate developer and his three adult sons move to New York City, where a filmmaker and neighbor wishes to turn his camera on them. Rushdie is “a canny observer whose imagination is fueled by anger, bemusement, and wonder over humankind’s delusions and destructiveness… There is a scorching immediacy and provocation to Rushdie’s commanding tragedy of the self-destruction of a family of ill-gotten wealth and sinister power, of ambition and revenge, and the rise of a mad, vulgar, avaricious demigod hawking “radical untruth” and seeding chaos. The Golden House is a headlines-stoked novel-on-fire sure to incite discussion. But it is also a ravishingly well-told, deeply knowledgeable, magnificently insightful, and righteously outraged epic that poses timeless questions about the human condition.” (Booklist)

Forest Dark
by Nicole Krauss
Retired Manhattan attorney Jules Epstein decides to give away his possessions and travel to Israel, where he meets a charismatic rabbi who believes Jules is one of King David’s descendants. Meanwhile, a successful Brooklyn author travels to the same part of the world, where she meets a retired literature professor who draws her into a mysterious project. Author of The History of Love (2005) and Great House (2010), Krauss is a National Book Award and Orange Prize finalist, Granta Best Young American Novelist, New Yorker Twenty Under Forty, and New York Times best-selling author. “Krauss’s elegant, provocative, and mesmerizing novel is her best yet. Rich in profound insights and emotional resonance, it follows two characters on their paths to self-realization… Vivid, intelligent, and often humorous, this novel is a fascinating tour de force.” (Publishers Weekly)

The World of Tomorrow
by Brendan Mathews
In Ireland in June 1939, Francis Dempsey is on leave from prison to attend his father’s funeral when he seizes an opportunity to steal a small fortune from the IRA and hatches a scheme to take a ship to New York with his brother, seminarian Michael. In New York they reunite with their eldest brother, aspiring jazz musician Martin, while an IRA assassin is dispatched to deal with them. “Despite its length, this novel is a remarkably fast and exhilarating read… Like a juggler keeping multiple balls in the air, Mathews regularly adds new characters and their complicated stories to the volatile mix, without losing track of the original ones. With the wit of a ’30s screwball comedy and the depth of a thoroughly researched historical novel, this one grabs the reader from the beginning to its suspenseful climax.” (Publishers Weekly)

Swallowing Mercury
by Wioletta Greg, translated by Eliza Marciniak
Longlisted for the 2017 Man Booker International Prize, this autobiographical novel depicts the coming of age of a young woman in rural Poland during the final years of Communism. “It is composed of short, vivid chapters that glisten and gleam, clicking one behind the other like pearls on a string… Greg's ability to describe moments of great historical, political, and cultural importance through the eyes of a child is wonderful… Greg's masterful first novel is charming, seductive, and sinister by turns.” (Kirkus)

Sourdough
by Robin Sloan
Lois is a San Francisco techie who’s working too hard to care about food--with the exception of the delicious take-out she gets from Clement Street Soup and Sourdough. Lois is dismayed when the proprietors are forced to close up shop and flee due to visa problems. On their way out of town, they offer her comfort in the form of a precious sourdough starter, which propels Lois into to the world of extreme foodie culture. Author of the acclaimed and extremely popular Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore (2012), Sloan offers “buoyant, touch-of-magic prose… A delightful and heartfelt read.” (Library Journal)

Affections
by Rodrigo Hasbún
One of Granta's Best of Young Spanish-Language Novelists, Bolivian author Hasbún fictionalizes the true story of the Ertl family in his English-language debut. Patriarch Hans Ertl was a prominent cinematographer for the Nazi party who fled Germany for Bolivia, where he became obsessed with the lost Inca city of Paitití and whose daughter grew up to be a Marxist guerilla. “Moody and spare… This is an inventive, powerful novel.” (Publishers Weekly)

Unforgivable Love
by Sophfronia Scott
Wealthy heiress Mae Malveaux and nightclub owner Valiant "Val" Jackson are allies in romantic conquests and schemes in this retelling of Les Liaisons Dangereuses set in 1940s Harlem. “A dazzlingly dark and engaging tale full of heartbreak, treachery, and surprise.” (Publishers Weekly)

 

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