Books to read this fall

Angela Haupt

THE WASHINGTON POST – After a disappointing summer, a new season brings new hopes – and new books. This fall offers a particularly rich bounty of big-name releases and debuts by future favorites. Here are some selections, across a variety of genres, to add to your list.

APPLES NEVER FALL, BY LIANE MORIARTY

Fans of Moriarty will almost certainly fall for Apples Never Fall, a new thriller that centres on the Delaneys, two married ageing tennis stars. When Mrs Delaney goes missing, her four children have to decide whether to tell the police – tricky, given that their father is the most likely culprit. Heyday Television has snapped up the TV rights.

CLOUD CUCKOO LAND, BY ANTHONY DOERR

This is Doerr’s first novel since 2014’s All the Light We Cannot See, and it’s ambitious and complex. “Cloud Cuckoo Land” transports readers to 15th-Century Constantinople, present-day Idaho, the Korean War and the future, as experienced in outer space. He weaves it all together beautifully.

SMILE: THE STORY OF A FACE, BY SARAH RUHL

Ruhl is a MacArthur genius and playwright known for such works as The Clean House and In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play), both Pulitzer finalists. In this intimate memoir, she describes living with Bell’s palsy – a sudden weakening of facial muscles that occurred after her high-risk pregnancy, causing an asymmetrical smile.

WHAT STORM, WHAT THUNDER, BY MYRIAM JA CHANCY

Chancy – whose novels include The Loneliness of Angels – has crafted a fictional account of the 2010 Haitian earthquake. It’s told by 10 people affected by the disaster, such as a drug trafficker, an emigrant musician and an old woman selling produce in a market. It’s a stunning commentary on racism, sexual violence, capitalism and the resilience required to rebuild a life.

THE BRIDES OF MARACOOR, BY GREGORY MAGUIRE

It’s just the time of year to crave a return to the world of Wicked. Maguire’s new trilogy, a spin-off of his Wicked Years series, centers on Elphaba’s green-skinned granddaughter, Rain, who is marooned on an island of women – or “brides”. Accompanied by her broom and a talking goose, she learns about the island’s culture, and gets caught up in its political tensions.

THE DONUT TRAP, BY JULIE TIEU

Talk about a sweet romance: In Tieu’s debut novel, a young woman returns home to work at her immigrant parents’ doughnut shop. As she struggles with post-college malaise – and the weight of her family’s expectations – an old crush reappears.

WIN ME SOMETHING, BY KYLE LUCIA WU

Wu’s debut novel is about Willa Chen, a half-Chinese, half-White young woman. When she begins nannying for a wealthy family in New York, she feels unmoored – neither a participant in this unfamiliar glamorous new world, nor fully an outsider. It’s a lovely coming-of-age story that will resonate with anyone who’s felt separate, or questioned where they belong.

WE ARE ALL WHALERS: THE PLIGHT OF WHALES AND OUR RESPONSIBILITY, BY MICHAEL J MOORE

Moore, a marine scientist and veterinarian, makes a compelling argument that whales’ survival depends on each of us – not just on those who venture out on ships, hunting whales for meat and blubber. It’s sobering to grapple with the ways we might unwittingly contribute to the mammals’ demise, like by eating commercially caught seafood. But Moore also offers reason to be hopeful, including new technologies for ropeless fishing.

FIVE TUESDAYS IN WINTER, BY LILY KING

King’s Writers & Lovers was a balm during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. She returns with a collection of 10 short stories – half of which have not been previously published. All feature relatable protagonists, like the single father afraid to confess his feelings for his daughter’s Spanish tutor and the teenage boy who bonds with a pair of college students.

THE 1619 PROJECT: A NEW ORIGIN STORY, BY NIKOLE HANNAH-JONES

The New York Times Magazine’s “1619 Project” fuelled a debate about the legacy of slavery – and snagged creator Hannah-Jones a Pulitzer Prize. This expansion is a combination of essays, poems and fiction featuring such thinkers as Ibram X Kendi, Matthew Desmond and Jesmyn Ward. Born on the Water, an illustrated edition for children, will be released the same day.

THESE PRECIOUS DAYS, BY ANN PATCHETT

This new collection is named for an essay Patchett published in Harper’s Magazine in late 2020 about her friendship with Tom Hanks’ assistant, Sooki Raphael, who died of cancer. It includes more than 20 additional essays packed with insight and emotion.

One is about the lightness Patchett felt as she parted ways with old belongings; another examines what she’s learned from Snoopy.

WISH YOU WERE HERE, BY JODI PICOULT

If you’re ready for pandemic-inspired fiction, perhaps you’ll enjoy Picoult’s new novel.

It’s about a young surgical resident in New York, Finn, and his soon-to-be fiancee, Diana, who are preparing for an island vacation.

When a dangerous virus engulfs the city and Finn is called in to work, he urges her to take the trip without him. Diana’s sea turtles are juxtaposed with Finn’s ventilators, as the world – and maybe their future – changes rapidly.

DAVA SHASTRI’S LAST DAY, BY KIRTHANA RAMISETTI

After being diagnosed with brain cancer, Dava – one of the world’s richest women – decides to take her legacy into her own hands.

She leaks the news of her “death” so that she can sit back, relax and enjoy the glowing obituaries. Presumably, anyone could have told her that this was a poor idea: Her scheme ends up revealing major secrets Dava thought she had buried long ago.