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Books: The Twenty

Our most anticipated fiction and nonfiction of fall.


1. Our Tragic Universe
by Scarlett Thomas (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
It would be tempting—but unfair—to call the British author’s eighth novel metaphysical chick lit. Ostensibly the story of a writer adrift in her career and relationship, the book quickly becomes, via the female protagonist’s whip-smart digressions, a meditation on the question of whether life and books are better off plotless. Sept. 1.

2. Zero History
by William Gibson (Putnam)
The god of speculative fiction, who invented the term “cyberspace,” comes up with another paranoid, high-tech dystopian thriller. What’s new is an unlikely fixation on the links between fashion and the military-industrial complex. Sept. 7.

3. The Hilliker Curse: My Pursuit of Women
by James Ellroy (Knopf)
The writer of politically intertwined meta-crime novels like The Black Dahlia reveals his very complicated relationship with women throughout the decades—which he traces back to the murder of his mother when he was a child. Sept. 7.

4. Ape House
by Sara Gruen (Random House)
The fourth novel from the author of Water for Elephants furthers her preoccupation with intelligent animals and amorous humans. The stars are a troupe of bonobos—the chimps known for their liberal sexual attitudes. Sept. 7.

5. C
by Tom McCarthy (Knopf)
“C” is for the precocious and strange hero, Serge Carrafax, the son of an eccentric inventor—and for many other incidental bit players (cocaine, the myth of Ceres) in this hall-of-mirrors picaresque. Sept. 7.

6. Storyteller: The Authorized Biography of Roald Dahl
by Donald Sturrock (Simon & Schuster)
The artistic director of the Roald Dahl Foundation manages a balanced and juicy treatment of his idol, running through Dahl’s years spying for the Brits and bedding a slew of Americans as well as the tensions, setbacks, and depressive jags that gave his work its texture. Sept. 14.

7. Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self
by Danielle Evans (Riverhead)
With polished short stories plumbing the intersection of adolescence, race, hormones, and emotional instability, the twentysomething Iowa-workshop graduate threatens to become the season’s hot young MFA discovery. Sept. 23.

8. Madame Bovary
by Gustave Flaubert, trans. Lydia Davis (Viking)
The writer of spare short stories has a special talent for translations—like her take on Proust’s Swann’s Way—and is already being praised for bringing out the subtleties in Flaubert’s style. No wonder she won a French Insignia from the Order of Arts and Letters. Sept. 23.

9. Untitled on the Obama Administration
by Bob Woodward (Simon & Schuster)
Woodward turns to a new president in a closely reported account—still under wraps—that focuses on Obama’s commander-in-chief duties, particularly his handling of Iraq, Afghanistan, and the constant threat of terrorism. Sept. 27.

10. By Nightfall
by Michael Cunningham (FSG)
The author of such genre-bending books as The Hours and Specimen Days shifts to more stripped-down narrative territory in a novel about a Soho art dealer who begins to doubt everything he’s believed in. Sept. 28.

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