Fiction lovers are about to ride a delicious wave of fine reading this fall. Some big names are releasing big new books, exquisitely written, with deep, endlessly engrossing tales and characters.
Big is the operative word for nonfiction, too, with big biographies (Bill Cosby, Pope Francis), big topics (world order), and big problems (global warming).
Below are just a few of the most promising titles out there for the reading.
Colorless: Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, by Haruki Murakami (Knopf, August). The unclassifiable Murakami has become a world phenomenon. Here, Tazaki travels all the way to Finland to figure out why he's fallen from grace with a bunch of his old schoolmates.
nolead begins nolead ends The Bone Clocks nolead ends , by David Mitchell (Random House, September). If you liked Cloud Atlas, the sprawling, multigenre techno-thriller, you're going to love The Bone Clocks, which stretches further - with a huge cast, including a few familiar characters - across place and possibility.
nolead begins nolead ends The Children Act nolead ends , by Ian McEwan (Nan A. Talese, September). A religious boy and his family don't want him treated for a likely fatal illness - and a court judge must visit him and decide whether the state should overrule their wishes.
nolead begins nolead ends Stone Mattress: Nine Tales nolead ends , by Margaret Atwood (Nan A. Talese, September). Atwood is as famous for her stories as for her poems and novels. Several of the tales in Stone Mattress focus on a disease, abnormality, scientific entity, or topical issue. The title tale shows both Atwood's wit and her perverse fatalism.
nolead begins nolead ends The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher: Stories nolead begins nolead ends , by Hillary Mantel (Henry Holt, September). It will be interesting to see how readers react to the short fiction of a writer whose long, tart retakes on history have made her world-famous. All these tales are set in the United Kingdom of right this moment.
nolead begins nolead ends A Brief History of Seven Killings nolead ends , by Marlon James. (Riverhead, October). Bob Marley was nearly assassinated in the political unrest of 1976 Jamaica. From this kernel, James cultivates a fictional epic, a three-decades-spanning novel, examining instability around the world.
nolead begins nolead ends Nora Webster nolead begins nolead ends , by Colm Tóibín (Scribner, October). This Irish novelist, a master at portraying women we must work to understand, depicts a bereaved mother of four working hard to keep it together in an Irish town that's by turns smothering and nurturing.
nolead begins nolead ends Lila nolead ends , by Marilynne Robinson (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, October). The long-awaited new one by Robinson, an author increasingly on a roll, revisits Gilead, Iowa, to examine the love and marriage of Lila and John. And the profound meanings flow.
nolead begins nolead ends Some Luck nolead begins nolead ends , by Jane Smiley (Knopf, October). Starting from a farm in Denby, Iowa, the Langdon family know growth, diaspora, heartbreak, and passion over three decades. It's breathtaking to realize that this novel is the first of a trilogy!
nolead begins nolead ends The Complete Cosmicomics nolead ends , by Italo Calvino (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, September). What triggered the Big Bang? An Italian mother, of course, crying, "Oh, if I only had some room, how I'd like to make some noodles for you boys!" Postmodernist comic master Calvino published these whimsical sci-fantasy tales in various places. All draw from, or play with, the creation of the universe. This book has them all, plus four never before in English.
nolead begins nolead ends Let Me Be Frank with You nolead begins nolead ends , by Richard Ford (Ecco, November). The celebrated U.S. novelist returns to his frequent protagonist Frank Bascombe. Frank, indeed, is Frank with us, in four narratives that feature, among other characters, superstorm Sandy.
nolead begins nolead ends The Laughing Monsters nolead ends , by Denis Johnson (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, November). A spy thriller grafted on to Heart of Darkness, this web of secrets follows a strange trio on a very dark journey through central Africa.
Elsa Schiaparelli: A Biography, by Meryle Secrest (Knopf, October). The iconic couturier elevated fashion design to an art form, creating clothes for women's new role in the workplace between the world wars.
This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, by Naomi Klein (Simon & Schuster, September) Once a climate change denier herself, journalist Naomi Klein now argues that we face a future of environmental disasters but still have time to change and "avert the worst."
Empire of Sin: A Story of Sex, Jazz, Murder, and the Battle for Modern New Orleans, by Gary Krist (Crown, October) The Big Easy was a battleground in the early years of the 20th century, with the forces of respectablility laboring mightily to rein in the city's colorful cast of hookers, gangsters, killers, and pols on the take.
Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson, by S.C. Gwynne (Scribner, September) His nickname has become an American codeword for steadfastness, but when the Civil War began, Thomas J. Jackson was an eccentric, unpopular professor at the Virginia Military Academy. Then came the First Battle of Bull Run, where Jackson stood like a stone wall and his ascension into military legend began.
The Copernicus Complex: Our Cosmic Significance in a Universe of Planets and Probabilities, by Caleb Scharf (Scientic American/Farrar, Straus and Giroux, September) That Copernicus really undercut our special place in the universe with his discovery that Earth isn't the center of the universe. Or did he? Astrophysicist Scharf argues that we need to think more deeply about our significance in the cosmos. We may not be at the center of it all, but we occupy a pretty interesting place.
Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She's "Learned," by Lena Dunham (Random House, September) What Lena Dunham has learned is what we all learn: that growing up is a confusing, frustrating, sometimes lonely business. What the creator of the HBO series Girls has done to justify her huge advance is turn her experiences into frank, funny, and nimble essays on being young and female.
World Order, by Henry Kissinger (Penguin, September) The former Secretary of State goes global to examine the way the community of nations functions - or, more accurately, fails to function. The daunting challenge is to get every nation to play by the same rules.
The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope, by Austen Ivereigh (Henry Holt, November) English journalist Ivereigh, author of an Oxford University doctoral dissertation on the Church and politics in Argentina, examines the forces - Argentine nationalism, Jesuit spirituality, widespread poverty - that shaped Pope Francis.
Cosby: His Life and Times, by Mark Whitaker (Simon & Schuster, September) Hey, hey, hey, former Newsweek and CNN editor Whitaker has written an exhaustive biography of the Cos, the kid from the Philly projects who rose to fame as a comedian and became, as Cliff Huxtable, a role model for American fathers.