10 Great Reasons to Read Fiction in November 2022

Any room on your holds list? Here are some of the most tempting novels coming out this month.

The winner of this year’s Booker Prize (the UK’s most prestigious award for an English-language novel published in the United Kingdom or Ireland) is finally arriving in the U.S. This irreverent satire of Sri Lankan civil war circa 1990 features Maali Almeida, a war photographer with outsized appetites for gambling and sex who possesses a set of photos that could turn his country upside down. He is gay, atheist and dead—and has seven nights to solve his own murder. “There’s a tremendous comic energy to Karunatilaka’s bitter satire, and an effortless vigour to his characterisation, the riotous cast encompassing demons, ghouls, torturers, politicians and lovers. But though Maali is hard-bitten, he’s never cynical, especially as his new perspective on earthly events reveals his real priorities; you could even say death is the making of him. This is a novel that combines cosmic vision with down-to-earth humour and hard-won heart.” (The Guardian)

WHITE HORSE by Erika T. Wurth 
Kari’s mom left her when she was just two days old. More than three decades later, the pain of being abandoned lingers but she finds contentment in dive bars, heavy metal and Stephen King novels. But when her cousin gives her a bracelet that belonged to her mom, it summons haunting visions and a terrifying monster. “As Kari fumbles toward the truth about her family and faces off against a nightmarish entity, Wurth—who is of Apache/Chickasaw/Cherokee descent—paints a compelling portrait of friendship, love, and the quest for self-respect, offering a fierce and generous vision of contemporary Native American life. An engrossing modern horror story.” (Kirkus Reviews)

FOSTER by Claire Keegan
A little girl is sent to live with strangers. Her Irish Catholic farmer parents are poor and overwhelmed by too many children, but their distant relations, the Kinsellas, are willing to take her in. Their care and tenderness are almost too much to bear in comparison to the neglect she has received all her life. Keegan has a “keen sense of empathy, eye for the telling detail, and deep attunement to the moral issues raised by meanness and suffering for witnesses as well as the afflicted… More than most books four times its size, Foster does several of the things we ask of great literature: It expands our world, diverting our attention outward, and it opens up our hearts and minds. This is a small book with a miraculously outsized impact.” (NPR) Last year, Keegan’s Small Things Like These was shortlisted for the Booker Prize.

DR. NO by Percival Everett
Everett’s latest, following Booker-nominated The Trees (2022) is a book about… nothing. Wala Kitu is a brilliant mathematics professor who is an expert on nothing. His first name means nothing in Tagalog and his last name means nothing in Swahili. John Sill is a Bond-style villain who needs Wala Kitu’s help breaking into Fort Knox to steal a box of nothing. “A deadpan spoof of international thrillers, complete with a megalomaniacal supervillain, a killer robot, a damsel in distress, and math problems. One never knows what to expect from Everett, whose prolific fictional output over the last four decades includes Westerns (God’s Country, 1994), crime novels (Assumption, 2011), variations on Greek mythology (Frenzy, 1997), and inquiries into African American identity (I Am Not Sidney Poitier, 2009). This time, Everett brings his mordant wit, philosophic inclinations, and narrative mischief to the suspense genre… A good place to begin finding out why Everett has such a devoted cult.” (Kirkus Reviews)

SAHA by Cho Nam-joo, translated by Jamie Chang
In a corporate owned entity called Town, the residents of the rundown Saha Estates housing complex are denied citizenship, basic rights and resources, and are surveilled and used as scapegoats for any societal problems. And it only gets worse. “What is it called again when dystopian fiction seems too uncomfortably plausible: Horror? Speculative fiction? A wake-up call? Treading in territories visited over time by Dickens, Orwell, Atwood, Ishiguro, Squid Game, and Parasite, Cho recounts—in specific and painstaking detail—the miserable lives… This successor to Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 (2020), Cho’s chronicle of the misogynistic forces behind South Korea’s #MeToo movement—a finalist for the National Book Award—addresses another equally corrosive social horror.” (Kirkus Reviews)

SMALL GAME by Blair Braverman
Mara has the skills, knowledge and confidence to win Civilization, the reality game show where five contestants survive the wilderness and create a new community together. But she doesn’t expect to fall for her competitor Ashley. And no one expected the television crew to disappear. “Spellbinding… The author keeps up a terrific sense of suspense about whether the crew’s abandonment is intentional. Like the best TV, readers won’t want this to end.” (Publishers Weekly) Braverman is an arctic adventurer, dog sledder, journalist and author of the memoir Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube: Chasing Fear and Finding Home in the Great White North (2016)

SOMEDAY, MAYBE by Onyi Nwabineli
In present day London, Eve has been happily married to Quentin for ten years when she is blindsided by his suicide. Anchored by her tight-knit Nigerian family, her best friend, and pharmaceuticals, Eve tries to find her path forward. “Nwabineli credibly portrays Eve’s gut-deep grief and her reckoning with the fact that she’ll never know what darkness lay within her partner’s thoughts. The author also skillfully sets up a series of surprising turns. The genuine displays of emotion and sharp narrative will keep readers turning the pages.” (Publishers Weekly)

Winner of the World Fantasy Award (for Witchmark, 2018) Polk’s latest is about Helen Brandt, a magical PI who sold her soul to the devil ten years ago. She can win it back and spend the rest of her life with her true love Edith—but in exchange she must track down a demonic serial killer, and she only has three days to do it. “Combining the sensibilities of Raymond Chandler and Jim Butcher, with an achingly bittersweet tribute to the lesbian underground of the 1940s, this is a must-read for those who like their queer fantasy with a little grit and a lot of soul (pun intended).” (Booklist)

IDOL, BURNING by Rin Usami
In this Akutagawa Prize-winning novel, Akari is an intensely obsessed teenage superfan of J-Pop star Masaki Ueno. When Masaki he is accused of assaulting a fan Akari’s life goes into a tailspin. “Gut-wrenching... Usami’s unflinching depiction of a deeply alienated young woman makes for powerful commentary on the toxicity of social media and fan culture. This short novel packs a punch.” (Publishers Weekly)

In 1930s China, in the era of Mao’s rise to power, a shy orphan named Ping falls in love with his fellow platoon member Yong, a fervent Communist and excellent shot. They marry and have a baby on the eve of the Long March, and must leave their son with a family of strangers. “Wang, author of the acclaimed story collection Further News of Defeat (2020), explores themes of loyalty, courage, and loss with a particular interest in the dynamics of makeshift family groups formed in hard times... Wang’s simple, elegant prose may be the real revelation. Finely drawn details, such as the taste of wild peppercorn discovered by a mine-sweeper lost in the woods, coax poignancy from high-stakes moments.” (Booklist)