Fall Arts Preview: Top 10 Books

Joseph Anton: A Memoir

by Salman Rushdie

Random House, September 18

In 1989, Salman Rushdie was sentenced to death by the Ayatollah Khomeini for his fourth novel, The Satanic Verses, which the ayatollah claimed was anti-Islam; instead of enjoying his rise to global fame, he was sequestered to police details, moving from house to house. His new book recounts that experience. Its title refers to a pseudonym the police used for him—a composite of his beloved writers Joseph Conrad and Anton Chekhov.

The Silent House

by Orhan Pamuk

Knopf, October 9

The Nobel Prize winner’s second novel, published in Turkey in 1983 with the title Sessiz Ev and finally translated into English, is set in a town near Istanbul, about a month before the 1980 military coup. It follows three siblings with divergent political beliefs—one is a failed historian of the Ottoman Empire, another a leftist and the youngest an aspirant to life in America—making their annual visit to their grandmother.

The Miracle Cures of Dr. Aira

by Cesar Aira

New Directions, October 16

Argentine writer Cesar Aira has published some 80 novels in Spanish, and for six years now, New Directions has slowly been releasing these in English. The latest, written in 1996, follows a retired miracle doctor—who compares his practice to something like writing a novel—as he grimly attempts to reckon with past failures and defeats. All the while, his archnemesis—the hospital chief—attempts to trick him into performing one last miracle. Taken as either a sarcastic fairy tale or a bleak allegory for writing itself, Mr. Aira’s latest solidifies his reputation as one of the great living Latin American writers.

Back to Blood

by Tom Wolfe

Little, Brown, October 23

Tom Wolfe returns to fiction with a story about Cuban, French, Russian and Haitian immigrants in Miami. It’s Mr. Wolfe’s first novel for Little, Brown, which paid close to $7 million for it, according to The New York Times. Back to Blood has an ensemble cast that includes a 20-something  police chief, a sex-addiction psychiatrist (and nurse), a billionaire with a porn problem, a few misguided artists at Art Basel Miami Beach and a Cuban mayor.

Dear Life: Stories

by Alice Munro

Knopf, November 13

The title story from this collection, which first appeared in The New Yorker last year, is an autobiographical reflection on the writer’s childhood in Wingham, Ontario, just as Canada was preparing for war with Germany. The story culminates with the narrator not returning home for her mother’s funeral. It is a characteristic kind of story about a young girl coming to terms with her youth that feels more like Ms. Munro has perfected her craft than that she is copping it.

Sweet Tooth: A Novel

by Ian McEwan

Nan A. Talese, November 13

Sweet Tooth opens with Cambridge student Serena Frome (“rhymes with plume”), a math major with a passion for reading, being recruited by the British security service in 1972. What follows starts out as a kind of literary spy thriller, but turns gradually into a love story as Serena falls in love with the novelist meant to be the target of an MI5 scheme. Mr. McEwan’s 12th novel is dedicated to Christopher Hitchens.


by Larry McMurtry

Simon & Schuster, November 6

The king of the contemporary Western looks back on the battle of Little Bighorn and the failure of George Armstrong Custer, who lost his life along with all of his men in the attack during the Plains Indian War. The book is a kind of follow up to 2005’s Oh What a Slaughter, which looked at six Western frontier battles, though this new book casts Custer as a doomed tragic hero from a long-lost Greek tragedy.

Grace: A Memoir

by Grace Coddington

Random House, November 20

The longtime creative director at Vogue became something of a celebrity after the 2009 documentary about the publication, The September Issue, showed her as the only person more intimidating than Anna Wintour. Ms. Coddington started out as a model before becoming fashion editor at British Vogue at the end of the ’60s. In this new memoir, she dishes on modeling, divorce, designers and, of course, arguing ideas with Ms. Wintour.

Echo’s Bones

by Samuel Beckett

Grove Press, November 6

This story (not to be confused with Beckett’s poem of the same name) was originally intended as the final one in Beckett’s More Pricks Than Kicks collection, published in 1933 by Chatto & Windus, but the author’s editor rejected it. It is finally being brought into print by Grove Press, Beckett’s U.S. publisher since first publishing Waiting for Godot in 1954. The work has an introduction by Beckett scholar Mark Nixon, who argues that Echo’s Bones marked a key moment in the author’s early career.


by Lydia Millet

Norton, November 5

Magnificence is the third and final book in an ambitious trilogy that began with 2008’s How the Dead Dream and continued with last year’s Ghost Lights, in which a depraved employee of the IRS vanishes into the jungle. The new novel turns to Susan Linden, a woman who has just inherited her uncle’s estate in Pasadena and is attempting to guard it from a few other eager relatives and preserve the late uncle’s collection of taxidermied animals. Fall Arts Preview: Top 10 Books