Autumn Highlights Preview
Earlier in the year we previewed the fiction highlights of the spring. Now it's the turn of the autumn lists, which are positively bursting with entertaining and stimulating reads in every category, from fiction to non-fiction and children's books.
The autumn season is traditionally the one for which publishers save their 'big' books, the titles that they're most excited about or which they think have great gift appeal, and this year is no different. I've previewed the highlights here, regretfully omitting many other deserving titles, which we'll make sure to tell you about as they're published. I know August isn't actually autumn - even if it feels like it sometimes - but there were too many good things published in the last week of this month to leave out, and it means you'll be able to start reading almost immediately. All the books can be pre-ordered now.
My Absolute Darling - Gabriel Tallent
A stunning and powerful debut, beautifully written, about a 14 year-old girl’s bid for freedom from her oppressive family set-up. Look out for our exclusive interview.
He – John Connolly
This represents a departure for the crime and thriller writer as he takes on the Golden Age of Hollywood through the story of Stan Laurel of Laurel & Hardy fame, exploring the tension between commercial demands and artistic integrity.
Forest Dark – Nicole Krauss
Complex and beautifully crafted, this tells the parallel stories of an older man and a young novelist each of whom travel to the Middle East on what turns out to be a life-changing journey. Like Krauss’s earlier novels, this is provocative, thoughtful and eminently readable. Read our exclusive interview, coming soon.
Madness is Better than Defeat – Ned Beauman
Chronicles a bizarre adventure in the Honduras jungle that opens in 1938 as two rival groups search for a lost Mayan temple for very different reasons – and are still there 20 years later. All the intelligence and originality you’d come to expect from this author.
I Am, I Am, I Am – Maggie O’Farrell
An unusual memoir, about the novelist’s 17 brushes with death which will make you think about your own mortality and how you deal with key moments in your life and the lives of those close to you. Look out for our exclusive interview.
Autumn – Karl Ove Knausgaard
The first of four planned volumes which started life as a letter to the author’s unborn daughter, with a different piece added each day about an aspect of the material and natural world. Winter follows in November.
The Worm and the Bird – Coralie Bickford Smith
From the author of The Fox and the Star, this is another gorgeously illustrated picture book about searching and hoping, and how the smallest moment can be beautiful.
Also out at the end of this month: What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah; The Scandal by Fredrik Backman; Did You See Melody? by Sophie Hannah; The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz; Lovers and Strangers by Claire Wills
Munich – Robert Harris
September 1938 and former friends Hugh Legat, one of Chamberlain's private secretaries, and Paul Hartmann a German diplomat and member of the anti-Hitler resistance, are about to meet again as Europe teeters on the brink of war….
A Legacy of Spies – John le Carre
The much anticipated return of George Smiley after more than 25 years, this promises to be one of not just autumn’s but the entire year’s must-reads.
The Wardrobe Mistress – Patrick McGrath
The war may be over but in the cold London winter of 1947, a wardrobe mistress discovers that her recently dead husband was among those who did not accept its outcome. Brilliantly atmospheric and evocative. Check back in September for our interview with Patrick.
American War – Omar El Akkad
Conjures up a post-apocalyptic America in which the characters are trying to survive in the wake of the Second American Civil War of 2074. Powerful and harrowing and a remarkably accomplished debut. Look out for our exclusive interview.
The Golden House – Salman Rushdie
Rushdie’s latest chronicles the rise and fall of the Golden family as they move to Manhattan, charting through this trajectory the state of American culture and politics over the last eight years.
Sleeping Beauties – Stephen and Owen King
A collaboration between Stephen King and his son Owen as they speculate about what would happen if women disappeared from the world, fallen into the deepest sleep only to become feral and violent if disturbed from the cocoon-like covering that enshrouds them. Sounds great!
Dinner at the Centre of the Earth – Nathan Englander
How does a nice American Jewish boy from Long Island wind up as an Israeli spy working for Mossad, and later, a traitor to his adopted country? Pulitzer finalist Englander has produced an original and provocative thriller, spy novel and love story rolled into one.
The Growing Season - Helen Sedgwick
I was totally persuaded by the premise of this book, in which scientists develop a pouch that enables anyone to have a baby. Using this device, the author pulls together themes such as the role of science in our lives and the meaning of family into a satisfying yet provocative whole.
Tangleweed & Brine - Deirdre Sullivan
This gorgeously illustrated book presents thirteen dark, feminist retellings of traditional fairy tales in the tradition of Angela Carter. A compelling read with Christmas gift appeal.
Charles Darwin - A N Wilson
Wilson examines the man, the myths and the contradictions that surround Darwin in a study that is both sympathetic and critical, the writing of which caused the author to rethink much of what he thought he knew about the man and his career. Promises to be one of the non-fiction titles of the year.
Zoo Quest – Richard Attenborough
Perhaps the foremost of our national treasures, Attenborough recounts how he came to travel the world finding rare and elusive animals for London Zoo's collection, and to film the expeditions for the BBC’s Zoo Quest.
Queens of the Conquest – Alison Weir
Really looking forward to this new series on England’s medieval queens. This first volume looks at the life of Matilda of Flanders, who supported William the Conqueror in his invasion of England in 1066.
Sweet – Yotam Ottolenghi
Yes! More than 110 cake, cookie and desert recipes with the Ottolenghi spin. What’s not to like?!
The Inner Life of Animals – Peter Wohlleben
Promises to reveal the rich emotional life of animals, from a hedgehog that has nightmares to bees who plan for the future and horses that feel shame. Sounds fascinating.
Help – Simon Amstell
A first book from the angst-ridden comedian as he reveals all on the page, as he does on stage, in what he calls a ‘heroic act of self-annihilation’. Is it comedy, tragedy or therapy? Who cares, just enjoy!
The Poetry Pharmacy - William Sieghart
A sensitive and intelligently curated selection of poems for different occasions, this is based on the author’s travelling ‘pharmacy’ as he toured Britain prescribing the right poem at the moment when it was most needed. Look out for our exclusive interview.
Moonrise – Sarah Crossan
The incomparable Sarah Crossan delivers another important YA novel in her trademark blank verse, which explores the relationship between two brothers, one of whom is on death row and has just been given the date of his execution.
Also out in September: The Tiger’s Prey by Wilbur Smith; Damaged by Martina Cole; The Break by Marian Keyes; The Furthest Station by David Aaronovitch; Revolution by Peter Ackroyd; A Life of My Own by Claire Tomalin; At My Table by Nigella Lawson; The Last London by Iain Sinclair; The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell
Devil’s Day – Andrew Hurley
Can't wait to read the second novel from the author of The Loney, which won the Costa First Novel award. Nothing to read yet but we’re told to expect another equally haunting tale. Look out for our interview around publication and an evening with the author at Foyles, Charing Cross Road on 26th October:
Sugar Money – Jane Harris
A new novel by Jane Harris feels long overdue. This concerns a mission by two brothers living in Martinique in 1765, charged with returning to their sometime home in Granada to smuggle back 42 slaves claimed by English invaders. Based on a true story, this is historical fiction at its finest.
Manhattan Beach – Jennifer Egan
The first historical novel, a noir thriller, from the author of A Visit From the Goon Squad, this opens in Brooklyn during the Great Depression and follows Anna Kerrigan into adulthood as she seeks to establish the truth about her father’s death.
Belonging: The Story of the Jews II – Simon Schama
Picks up where the first volume left off, with the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, as far as the turn of the 20th century. Schama is a masterful and intelligent historian who brings alive the stories he tells and makes them relevant for our times.
The Secret Life of Cows – Rosamund Young
Originally published 14 years ago, this fascinating account of the lives of cows (and sheep, pigs and hens) is being republished with a foreword by Alan Bennett, who can be credited with its renewed lease of life, having praised the book in a diary entry for 2006 which appeared in Keeping On Keeping On. He says, ‘it’s a book that alters the way one looks at the world.’ It’s a charming read and quirky in the way that the English do so well.
Ask an Astronaut – Tim Peake
This is a must-read for anyone interested in space and what it means to be an astronaut: Tim Peake discusses every aspect of life in space, based on his historic Principia mission, and answers some of the thousands of questions that have been submitted by the public. Complete with illustrations, diagrams and unseen photos.
An Infinite Monkey Cage: How to Build a Universe – Brian Cox
Professor Brian Cox and Robin Ince take the musings of the great and the good of British science, producing an insight into the multifaceted subjects involved in building a universe, with pearls of wisdom from leading scientists and comedians peppered throughout. Nothing to read yet but it sounds like a winning formula!
La Belle Sauvage – Philip Pullman
Short of an ‘undiscovered’ Harry Potter novel, it’s hard to imagine any book being more eagerly anticipated than Philip Pullman’s La Belle Sauvage, volume one in his 'The Book of Dust' series, which is set 10 years before Northern Lights and centres on the much-loved character, Lyra Belacqua. This ‘equel’ (neither sequel nor prequel) has been the subject of speculation for years and of frenzied excitement since publication was formally announced this February, but there’s not much longer to wait: mark your calendar now for October 19th and pre-order your copy today at half price so that you can be among the first to read what looks set to be the book of the year if not the decade.
Illegal – Eoin Colfer
This timely graphic novel for children, produced by the team behind the Artemis Fowl novels, tells the story of one boy's epic journey across Africa to Europe. A great read for thinking children everywhere.
Also out this month: Origin by Dan Brown; Mrs Osmond by John Banville; Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks; Fools and Mortals by Bernard Cornwell; The Sun and her Flowers by Rupi Kaur; The Rub of Time by Martin Amis; Jacob’s Room has too many Books by Susan Hill; The Letters of Sylvia Plath; Ascent by Chris Bonnington; Diaries of David Sedaris; Turtles all the Way Down by John Green; The River of Consciousness by Oliver Sacks;
The flood of new books slows down a little this month as all thoughts turn to Christmas, but publishers still have a few treats saved up.
Winter - Ali Smith
Really excited by this follow-up to Ali’s Autumn, one of my books of the year last year, and the second in a planned quartet. You can read my interview with Ali about the first book here. Nothing to read of this book yet – Ali is known to write up to the last minute, giving her writing a feeling of incredible immediacy and topicality.
The White Book - Han Kang
'Now I will give you white things,
White is white, though may yet be sullied;
Only white things will I give.'
This is Man Booker International Prize winner Han Kang's most personal fiction to date - at its heart is a meditation on the death of Kang's older sister as a new-born baby, but it is also a meditation on the colour white and the tenacity and fragility of the human spirit. There simply is no other writer like her.
Brolliology – Marion Rankine
I have to confess a personal bias here – Marion is our own head of promotions here at Foyles Charing Cross Road - but I like to think her fun, illustrated history of the umbrella's surprising place in life and literature would have made the cut anyway – it’s charming, quirky and deliciously provocative.
Mythos – Stephen Fry
Stephen Fry retells the Greek myths with all the wit, verve and erudition that have made him such a brilliant and much-loved storyteller.
Norse Myths – Kevin Crossley-Holland
Odin, Loki and the other gods of the Vikings from the Scandinavian myth cycle are brought to life in this illustrated anthology by Carnegie Medal-winning author Kevin Crossley-Holland and artist Jeffrey Alan Love.
Also out this month: My Italian Bulldozer by Alexander McCall Smith; The Midnight Line by Lee Child; Where the Past Begins by Amy Tan; Lucky Button by Michael Morpurgo.