Fall 2022 is a blockbuster season for fiction, with new releases from such heavy-hitters as Ian McEwan, Barbara Kingsolver and Celeste Ng. Discover the 21 novels we’re most excited to read.
Afterlives by Abdulrazak Gurnah
Riverhead | August 23
Prior to being awarded the 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature, Tanzanian British novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah was little known in the U.S. and his masterpieces nearly impossible to find. For readers who’ve waited ever so patiently, Afterlives will deliver an expert examination of postcolonial survival, a deft decentering of European history and a tender portrayal of the trauma of warfare. Spanning decades over the turn of the 19th century, it’s an epic novel that follows the lives of three young people after Germany’s colonization of east Africa.
Haven by Emma Donoghue
Little, Brown | August 23
Irish Canadian author Emma Donoghue dives into early Christianity for a novel that sounds perfect for readers who loved Lauren Groff’s Matrix. Set in 7th-century Ireland and imbued with descriptions of illuminated manuscripts and ancient parables, it’s the story of a priest and two monks who head out by boat in search of a place to build a monastery, and they end up on the island known today as Skellig Michael.
The House of Fortune by Jessie Burton
Bloomsbury | August 30
On the (relatively short) list of novels that immediately demand a sequel, Jessie Burton’s 2014 breakout debut, The Miniaturist (which was adapted into a PBS miniseries in 2017, starring Anya Taylor-Joy), ranks high. We have questions that have never been answered, so we’re queued up for The House of Fortune, a standalone companion novel that picks up the story 18 years later. In 1705 Amsterdam, young Thea lives with her patchwork family (all returning characters): her aunt, the widow Nella; Thea’s father, Otto; and the family’s longtime cook and maid, Cordelia. Money is hard to come by, so brokering a marriage for Thea could solve some financial woes—but Thea only has eyes for a handsome set painter at the local theater. And then the miniaturist makes a return.
The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell
Knopf | September 6
Maggie O’Farrell’s brilliant, bestselling novel Hamnet, about the death of William Shakespeare’s son from the bubonic plague, was high on our list of the Best Books of 2020. For some of us sheltering in lockdown during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, her novel hit a little too close to home; for others, it was exactly what we needed. Her next novel, The Marriage Portrait, arrives with a similar sense of doom as Hamnet: It’s set in 16th-century Europe amid the Italian Renaissance, and we know on the outset that young duchess Lucrezia de’Medici will die, likely murdered at the hand of her husband. Give us ducal intrigue and dial it up to 11, please.
On the Rooftop by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton
Ecco | September 6
The joyful third novel from the award-winning author of A Kind of Freedom and The Revisioners is a historical tale set in 1950s San Francisco, within a Black cultural and musical hub known as the Fillmore District. A novel of resilience and ambition that was loosely inspired by Fiddler on the Roof, it revolves around a mother and her three singing daughters who are on the cusp of stardom. No doubt you’ll fall in love with the neighborhood at the novel’s heart, where jazz clubs line the streets, and where dreamers share the stage with legends.
Bliss Montage by Ling Ma
FSG | September 13
Little did Ling Ma know when she wrote her debut novel, Severance, that it would be so prescient about life in 2020. With this story of a young woman living through an apocalyptic pandemic, Ming put her finger on the very heartbeat of what it’s like to clock in for work amid a global disaster. Severance was one of the first great millennial novels, so Ma’s upcoming story collection (which includes eight tales) is well deserving of your attention. And what a title: “Bliss montage” evokes one of those gauzy series of scenes as a movie’s tragic protagonist remembers a former love. We can already hear the bittersweet Debussy.
People Person by Candice Carty-Williams
Scout | September 13
The titular lead character of Candice Carty-Williams’ 2019 debut novel, Queenie, was funny, sharp and a total individual as she navigated the ups and downs of life as a single Black woman in London. In Queenie’s story, we witnessed the kind of characterization that makes a hero feel real, and that’s what we’re looking forward to most in Carty-Williams’ second novel. The scope of People Person is broader than Queenie, with five half-siblings who share the same absent father coming together in adulthood after a dramatic event. We’re expecting a family drama with bite.
Lessons by Ian McEwan
Knopf | September 13
Admit it: Fans of Ian McEwan are gluttons for emotional punishment, because no one devastates quite like he does. His next novel is an epic one, spanning the life of Roland Baines across decades. Historical events such as the disaster at Chernobyl and the falling of the Berlin Wall align with moments from Roland’s life, including traumatic early relationships, his wife’s disappearance and more. The publisher has claimed that it’s “inspired” by McEwan’s own life, and while McEwan has made clear it’s not completely autobiographical, he has said that he’s “raided” elements of his own history.
The Book of Goose by Yiyun Li
FSG | September 20
We’re treated to the quiet, devastating brilliance of Yiyun Li once more, this time in a new novel that winds from the French countryside to Pennsylvania, where a woman, after the death of her childhood friend, finally feels free to tell her story. Li is the author of six works of fiction and the memoir Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life, and she’s received a whole heap of awards, including a PEN/Hemingway Award and a MacArthur Fellowship.
Less Is Lost by Andrew Sean Greer
Little, Brown | September 20
The ending of Andrew Sean Greer’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Less, did not demand a sequel—it ended so perfectly—but lucky us, we’re getting one anyway. Beloved Arthur Less, once again fleeing his problems, accepts invitations to a bunch of literary events and heads out on the road. This time, he’s traveling throughout the United States. As he proved with Less, Greer excels at pinpointing the funniest parts of the writerly life, and we expect him to return to this winning comic realm.
Best of Friends by Kamila Shamsie
Riverhead | September 27
At first glance, the premise of Kamila Shamsie’s latest novel isn’t all that fresh: Two girls were friends; now as adults, they’re forced to look back on their friendship and reckon with their differences. That being said, it’s rare to come across positive depictions of great lifelong friendships in fiction, and Shamsie has promised that Best of Friends focuses on what holds us together, not what drives us apart. Plus, her previous novel, Home Fire, won the Women’s Prize for Fiction and was long-listed for the Booker Prize, so we know we’re in good hands.
Shrines of Gaiety by Kate Atkinson
Doubleday | September 27
British author Kate Atkinson has written some of our favorite works of historical fiction, deploying her stellar sense of pacing and phenomenal manipulation of plot. Her latest novel takes us to post-World War I London, where the Soho nightlife is hopping. Wherever there’s glam, there’s a dark underbelly, and no one knows this better than Nellie Coker. She’s made a place for herself at the top, and she’ll use her position to help her six kids move up in the world—no matter how many targets are on her back.
The Winners by Fredrik Backman
Atria | September 27
The author of A Man Called Ove brings his popular series, set within a small hockey town, to its much-anticipated finale. Beartown has been the backdrop to some of the darkest dramas of the human heart, but there are still more secrets, rivalries and resentments to contend with in this final installment.
Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng
Penguin Press | October 4
With her bestselling 2017 novel, Little Fires Everywhere (which was adapted by Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington for an Emmy-nominated Hulu series), Celeste Ng took a relatively familiar setup (escalating divisions within a privileged suburban bubble) to a whole new level, bringing an incredible depth of understanding to the situation. In Our Missing Hearts, she continues to track the growing divide between Americans through the intimate relationships of well-crafted characters, but as these rifts have escalated to a nationwide horror show of brazen xenophobia, racism and violence, her storytelling style has likewise amplified to contend with these dangers. Her third novel veers into dystopian territory, but as always, Ng brings deep compassion to her characters.
Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver
Harper | October 18
It’s apparently unnecessary to read Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield to enjoy the latest from bestselling, award-winning author Barbara Kingsolver. Dickens pulled from his own experiences with poverty to write his 1849 novel, which Kingsolver reportedly drew from to create her rural southern Appalachia-set world. In the hill country of southwestern Virginia (where Kingsolver lives), a boy is born to a teenage mother, and together they live in a single-wide trailer. His life will inevitably bring him through some of the greatest failures of the American experiment: foster care, derelict school systems and the feeling of being invisible to the wider world. Folks looking for a book that compassionately, realistically reflects rural Appalachian stories (or to be more honest, anyone who hated Hillbilly Elegy), this is the book to read next.
The Last Chairlift by John Irving
Simon & Schuster | October 18
There are few novels that need to be 900+ pages, but when you’re John Irving (The World According to Garp, The Cider House Rules) and you haven’t written a novel in seven years, you get to have all 912 pages. It’s a story of ghosts and skiing, beginning with a slalom skier who gets pregnant in Aspen, Colorado, in 1941, and then following her son during his own voyage to Aspen, where he seeks to make sense of the story of his conception.
Liberation Day by George Saunders
Random House | October 18
Whether he’s guiding us through the Russian literary greats (A Swim in a Pond in the Rain), getting spooky with Booker Prize-winning historical fiction (Lincoln in the Bardo) or writing short fiction for Chipotle’s to-go bags, George Saunders does marvelous, utterly original work. We have a special soft spot for his short stories, where his breadth of imagination and balance of ambition and restraint really shine. Liberation Day, his first collection in eight years (after Tenth of December, a finalist for the National Book Award), includes four new stories along with five tales previously published in The New Yorker.
Signal Fires by Dani Shapiro
Knopf | October 18
Dani Shapiro’s powers as a memoirist are well-known due to the power of such books as Inheritance and Devotion. However, you’d be forgiven for being unaware that she’s also a skilled novelist, as it’s been 15 years since her previous work of fiction. After the success of her memoirs, and with help from her podcast “Family Secrets,” Shapiro has become the queen of family secrets—or if not the queen, she’s at least sitting at the royal table. She undoubtedly will bring new insight to a popular setup: A car crash reverberates throughout several families, transforming a community for years to come.
The Passenger and Stella Maris by Cormac McCarthy
Knopf | October 25 and December 6
One of the most talked-about releases of the year is this one-two punch from The Road author Cormac McCarthy. This duology is reportedly the final work for the 87-year-old author, who has won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award and plenty other accolades, and who has seen several of his novels transformed into masterful films (All the Pretty Horses, No Country for Old Men). The premise of the two novels is an intriguing puzzle: The Passenger is a sprawling saga, while Stella Maris unfolds in dialogue, and together they create a story of a grieving brother and sister.
Now Is Not the Time to Panic by Kevin Wilson
Ecco | November 8
As we wait for the film adaptation of Nothing to See Here, we can turn to the next novel from bestselling author Kevin Wilson. Now Is Not the Time to Panic has a setup that just can’t be beat: Two young people find a romantic and creative connection during what was supposed to be a very lonely, miserable summer in Coalfield, Tennessee. Together they design a poster emblazoned with the phrase “The edge is a shantytown filled with gold seekers. We are fugitives, and the law is skinny with hunger for us,” and the posters soon take on a power of their own. In a note included with advanced editions of Now Is Not the Time to Panic, Wilson explains that “I’ve had recurring thoughts since I was a kid, which was diagnosed as Tourette syndrome as an adult,” and the novel’s phrase has been a mantra and source of comfort to the author for 25 years. It’s mentioned in the The Family Fang, but now it has finally found its place at the center of a novel about art, creativity, memory and nostalgia.