In the next sixth months new books will arrive from the likes of Junot Díaz, Michael Chabon, Barbara Kingsolver, Mark Helprin, and more U.K. writers than you could cram into a lorry, including Zadie Smith, Irvine Welsh, and Martin Amis.
Deciding on 10 titles to top any list is always painful. This time, I went with a mix of buzzed-about debuts, writers who deserve attention, and newsmakers who can’t be ignored.
Two noteworthy debuts by former Iraq War soldiers will be airdropped into bookstores this fall. I’m going with Fobbit by David Abrams, because he looked at the horror and had the same reaction that Stanley Kubrick had when trying to find the art in thermonuclear war. PW’s review called this “the Iraq War’s answer to Catch-22.”
Another writer with firsthand experience of war is Shani Boianjiu. When Boianjiu, who served in the Israeli Defense Forces, was chosen for the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35” honor, the 24-year-old became the youngest author ever named to the list. The fuss over her debut novel, The People of Forever Are Not Afraid, started at Frankfurt in 2011 and has been building steadily since.
There is also major buzz about A Working Theory of Love, the debut novel from Stegner fellow Scott Hutchins. It’s no surprise, given its fantastic premise: a son grapples with the grief over his father’s death by turning his dad’s journals into a sentient computer. Pop 2.0?
Jonathan Tropper has been compared to Tom Perrotta, and it’s only a matter of time before his name is just as familiar. One Last Thing Before I Go was bought, pre-pub, by Paramount Pictures for a reported $1 million, with JJ Abrams attached. According to the Internet Movie Database, all but one of Tropper’s novels is in film development, and his original series, Banshee, will hit Cinemax next year.
Pulitzer Prize–winning author Herman Wouk returns at the tender age of 96 with The Lawgiver, about the making of a Moses biopic. Ian McEwan, no stranger to a movie set, is back with Sweet Tooth, a novel set in the ’70s about a female MI5 agent. If Sweet Tooth the Big Fat Hollywood Movie doesn’t hit theaters by, say, Christmas 2014, I’ll fight Jason Bourne with nothing but a toothpick. Another Hollywood heavyweight has a new book coming out that is probably the biggest news that everyone already knows. The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults, and it’s creating an electric mix of anticipation and dread.
Though it hits well after Labor Day, Tom Wolfe will get his creamsicle suit out of the closet to promote Back to Blood, a panoramic novel set in a rotten slice of America perpetually giving Cuba the finger (geographically speaking, mostly). It features a muckraking journalist, a sex-addiction shrink, and a billionaire porn addict, among other upstanding Floridians. Another debut generating buzz is Amanda Coplin’s The Orchardist, a novel set in the untamed American West in the early 20th century. We think this well-crafted tale of a makeshift family whose lives are shaped by love, violence, and an indelible connection to the land is immensely affecting.
Most people in Hollywood know a thing or two about sin, but nobody knows sin like Satan. In Benjamin Percy’s signature PW review, he called Victor LaValle’s new literary horror novel, The Devil in Silver, “genuinely unsettling... think One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest meets Dante’s Inferno.” LaValle sets his tale in a mental hospital whose patients start seeing Satan roaming the halls in the guise of an old man with a bison’s head and the hooves of a horse. Crazy, right?
PW’s Top 10: Literary Fiction
Fobbit by David Abrams. Grove/Black Cat, Sept.
The People of Forever Are Not Afraid by Shani Boianjiu. Hogarth, Sept.
A Working Theory of Love by Scott Hutchins. Penguin Press, Oct.
One Last Thing Before I Go by Jonathan Tropper. Dutton, Aug.
The Lawgiver by Herman Wouk. Simon & Schuster, Oct.
Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan. Doubleday/Nan A. Talese, Nov.
The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling. Little, Brown, Sept.
Back to Blood by Tom Wolfe. Little, Brown, Oct.
The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin. Harper, Aug.
The Devil in Silver by Victor LaValle. Random/Spiegel & Grau, Aug.
Read and sort all our picks from this fall's upcoming fiction titles in the spreadsheet below: