10 Great Reasons to Read Fiction in October 2022 

As the days get chillier and the nights get longer, time to curl up with a good book! Here are ten wonderful works of fiction arriving this month.

Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng
A new novel from the beloved and award-winning author of Everything I Never Told You (2014) and Little Fires Everywhere (2017). In a chillingly repressive future America, twelve-year-old Bird Gardner searches for Margaret, a censored Chinese American poet and the mother who disappeared three years ago. “From the very first page of this thoroughly engrossing and deeply moving novel, Bird’s story takes wing. Taut and terrifying, Ng’s cautionary tale transports us into an American tomorrow that is all too easy to imagine—and persuasively posits that the antidotes to fear and suspicion are empathy and love. Underscores that the stories we tell about our lives and those of others can change hearts, minds, and history.” (Kirkus Reviews) 

LIBERATION DAY by George Saunders
Although he’s best known as a short story writer-- Saunders’ stories have appeared regularly in The New Yorker since 1992--his most recent books were a novel (Man Booker winner Lincoln in the Bardo, 2017) and a work of criticism (A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, 2021). Now he returns with his first story collection in a decade. “Saunders’ vision of diabolically intrusive tyranny undermining democracy possesses the keen absurdity of Kurt Vonnegut, while his more subtle stories align with the gothic edge of Shirley Jackson, acutely attuned in every situation to the complexities of emotions and the tentacles of society. Saunders is also caustically funny, mischievously romantic, and profoundly compassionate, and each of these flawless fables inspires reflection on the fragility of freedom and the valor of the human spirit... Audacious, caring, and brilliant.” (Booklist) 

BLOOD RED by Gabriela Ponce, translated by Sarah Booker
Ecuadorian author Ponce makes her English-language debut with this this raw, stream-of-consciousness novel, in which a woman endures the failure of her marriage with an intense affair, late-night partying, and bouts of trypophobia—an obsession with holes. “Ponce’s prose is rich and atmospheric, and almost every scene operates on multiple emotional layers... Ponce masterfully shows how despair and desire collide within one person, creating an entire universe of deeply felt emotional consequences... Dark, beautiful, and a little disturbing.” (Kirkus Reviews)  

A MINOR CHORUS by Billy-Ray Belcourt
Poet, memoirist and Lamba Literary Award winner Belcourt offers his first work of fiction, in which a 24-year-old queer indigenous student abandons his doctoral program in Edmonton, Alberta and returns home to write a novel. “An achingly gorgeous debut novel of Indigenous survival... delivers incendiary reflections on the costs, scars, and power of history and community. This is a breathtaking and hypnotic achievement.” (Publishers Weekly) 

The latest story collection from a three-time O. Henry winner revolves around the lives of farmworkers and their descendants in California’s Central Valley in the 80s. “Deeply affecting... By making subtle connections between the stories, Muñoz adds texture to characters even if they’re not at the center, and throughout, Muñoz delivers breathtaking views into his characters’ hardscrabble world, and evokes the heat of their yearning. This packs a hell of a punch.” (Publishers Weekly) 

WHEN WE WERE SISTERS by Fatimah Asghar
Following the murder of their father and the long ago loss of their mother, orphans Noreen, Aisha and Kausar are taken by an uncle to a new home where they are both neglected and bullied with harsh rules. “Caught between American culture and their family's Pakistani background with little guidance, the girls turn to each other for support. But as they grow up and become teenagers, cracks develop in their bonds of love. Kausar’s compelling voice, sometimes lyrical, sometimes heartbreaking, is skillfully crafted, changing subtly as she grows... the sisters’ story is a moving journey.” (Kirkus Reviews) This debut novel has been nominated for this year's National Book Award. 

THE COLOR LINE by Igiaba Scego, translated by John Cullen and Gregory Conti
In the late 19th century, Lafanu Brown is a Chippewa Haitian American who fought great odds to make an independent life for herself as an artist in Rome. Her life provides inspiration decades later to present day Somali Italian art curator Leila. “Lyrical... Lafanu’s scenes are rich and layered, and Leila’s voice is clear and contemporary. The art of the story feels real and is central to each character's journey. Read the fascinating afterword for more on Scego’s inspiration.” (Booklist) 

JACKAL by Erin E. Adams
32-year-old Liz Rocher returns to her hometown in Pennsylvania for her best friend’s wedding, but festivities turn sour when the bride’s 9-year-old daughter disappears. Liz’s attempts to find the child leads her to the discovery of years of murders of Black girls in the surrounding woods. “This novel is an artfully crafted genre-blender, combining a formidable amount of suspense and horror with a true mystery at its core, and bearing a stinging social indictment. It is a mighty exploration of where the metaphorical meets the real, an important work from a new voice, a first-generation Haitian American. There is some unsettling graphic content, but it is never gratuitous; in fact, it is completely necessary to convey the urgency of Adams’ powerful message.” (Booklist) 

Reed is a student at Columbia University, but he’s considering leaving school for full time activism. On a trip home to Los Angeles to visit his ailing grandmother, his fervor for Black Lives Matter is not impressing his parents—one a labor activist and the other a co-founder of a Black-Korean Coalition. “Wong’s main characters are wonderfully crafted and deeply human in their fallibility. At times, Reed’s youthful earnestness and desire to do and be good shine through. At other times, he’s unbearably sanctimonious and unwittingly comical in his know-it-all pretensions... at its best, which it frequently is, ‘Which Side Are You On’ bears the distinction of telling a story for and of our times, asking difficult but necessary questions of its narrator, and readers alongside him.” (Washington Post) 

Xuan Trung is a former beauty queen and refugee who has used the Vietnamese zodiac to guide her life and the lives of the daughters she raised in New Orleans. Now her daughters are young women, and their stories unfold along with the long past stories of previous generations of the Trung lineage. “Tran writes fluidly as she introduces each character, loosely stringing together their stories with the revelation and meaning of their lunar zodiac signs; identifiable tales of prejudice and strife are unraveled among various ages, genders, and cultures throughout... Tran's debut is an engrossing story of the ties among mothers, daughters, and sisters, sprinkled with humor and intrigue.” (Library Journal)