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fall arts preview

The great books are going to pile up like leaves

Isabelle cardinal for the boston globe


In Hoffa’s Shadow: A Stepfather, a Disappearance in Detroit, and My Search for the Truth,” Jack Goldsmith (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) Goldsmith, a Harvard Law professor and former assistant attorney general, reunites with his estranged stepfather, a one-time Jimmy Hoffa associate, to find out more about the labor leader and his famously unexplained 1975 disappearance. Out September 24.

Year of the Monkey,” Patti Smith (Knopf)

Rock singer and visual artist Patti Smith conquered a new arena when she won the 2010 National Book Award for Nonfiction for “Just Kids,” a memoir of her relationship with the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. In her latest, she chronicles the year she turned 70 and Donald Trump won the White House, ruminating on friendship, poetry, and mortality. Out September 24.


Plagued by Fire: The Dreams and Furies of Frank Lloyd Wright,” Paul Hendrickson (Knopf)

Hendrickson is one of our great stylists. A former Washington Post reporter, he is the author of “Sons of Mississippi,” winner of the 2003 National Book Critics Circle Award, and “Hemingway’s Boat.” In “Plagued by Fire,” he takes on the tumultuous life story of one of America’s most admired, and controversial, architects. Out October 1.

She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story that Helped Ignite a Movement,” Jodi Kantor & Megan Twohey (Penguin Press) and “Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators,” Ronan Farrow (Little, Brown and Company) The competition continues: The New York Times team of Kantor and Twohey and New Yorker writer Farrow give us deep dives on Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s alleged reign of sexual terror and the origins of the #MeToo movement. The Times and the New Yorker shared the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for their alternating investigative reporting scoops. Now the reporters promise new details on the victims, the perpetrators, and the obstacles on route to publication. Out October 15.


Me,” Elton John (Henry Holt) You’ve seen the movie (“Rocketman”), now read the book. The singer writes about his long and winding road through stardom and drug addiction to sobriety, philanthropy, love, and fatherhood. Out October 15.



The Dutch House,” by Ann Patchett (Harper)

While Patchett (“Bel Canto,” “Commonwealth,” “State of Wonder”) has never written anything less than an absorbing novel, she has written several brilliant ones. Her latest concerns a pair of wealthy Baby Boomers thrust into the self-same poverty that their real-estate mogul father had lucked his way out of. Out September 24.

The Topeka School,” Ben Lerner (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux)

Thus far, Lerner’s dazzling novels — “Leaving the Atocha Station” and 10:04” — have chronicled the tribulations of sad young literary men. In his third book, he takes on a whole family, one walloped by personal tragedy and the perils of living in an America barreling towards fascism. Out October 1.

False Bingo: Stories,” by Jac Jemc (MCD x FSG Originals)

Jemc’s Jamesian 2017 novel, “The Grip of It,” horrified homeowners (and aspiring ones) in a burst of short chapters about a couple who buys a preternaturally terrible place in the burbs. Her second story collection, an assemblage of seventeen sinister fables, is bound to unsettle. Out October 8.


The Factory,” Hiroko Oyamada, translated from the Japanese by David Boyd (New Directions)

The first book from the famous young Japanese novelist to be translated into English centers on the absurdities of late capitalism, a subject to which everyone the world over can relate. In it, three factory workers in an unnamed Japanese city are consumed by their increasingly surreal jobs. Out October 29.

The Revisioners,” Margaret Wilkerson Sexton (Counterpoint)

Sexton follows up her prizewinning debut, “A Kind of Freedom,” with another multi-generational saga about the treacherous grip of the past. When a black woman moves in with her white grandmother to get herself out of a jam, she finds herself enmeshed in a struggle eerily similar to that of her maternal ancestor, a former slave. Out November 5.



Heaven, My Home,”

Attica Locke (Mulholland)

In this sequel to the Edgar-winning “Bluebird, Bluebird,” African-American Texas Ranger Darren Matthews searches for the missing nine-year-old son of a white supremacist, all while dealing with the repercussions of an apparently justified murder by an old friend. With her usual aplomb, Locke tackles history and its all-too-real emotional fallout in this splendid follow-up. Out September 17.

The Stranger Inside,” Lisa Unger (Park Row)

When a murderer is the victim of an extrajudicial killing, protagonist Rain Winter — who survived an abduction in her youth — is drawn in by memory and by the similarities to her own case. Unger writes smart, chilling thrillers, and this outing – with its multiple points of view – bodes to be one of her best. Out September 17.


Your House Will Pay,” Steph Cha (Ecco)

Focusing on the lives of two Los Angelenos, Cha’s crime novel steps back from her usual superb P.I. books to go deeper, examining the tensions between the Korean-American and African-American communities through the eyes of two young people whose families have been scarred by violence and by their own secrets. Out October 15.

Get A Life, Chloe Brown,” Talia Hibbert (Avon)

A heroine struggling with chronic illness enlists a damaged, self-doubting artist in her search for fun. In the ever-witty hands of Black British romance/erotica queen Hibbert, this potential downer of a premise promises to be not only relatable but a hoot (and hot) as well. Out November 5.

Catfishing on CatNet,” Naomi Kritzer (Tor Teen)

Expanding on the premise of her charming Hugo-winning short story “Cat Pictures Please,” in which a benevolent artificial intelligence only wants snaps of your tabby, Kritzer gives the AI moderator of CatNet a young human champion, who could use some help of her own. Out November 19.



A Fortune for Your Disaster,” Hanif Abdurraqib (Tin House)

Abdurraqib’s stunning essays – especially his book-length homage “Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to A Tribe Called Quest” – have proven him one of his generation’s most essential cultural voices. And in this follow-up collection to 2016’s “The Crown Ain’t Worth Much,” he turns his keen critical eye on love, grief, family, and forgiveness. Out this week.


The Problem of the Many” (Wave Poetry)

The entire fall harvest at Wave is worth digging into, but if Donnelly’s singular surveys of contemporary culture aren’t on your radar yet, let his third collection make a belated introduction. His is a thrilling, all-encompassing, adventurous poetry where history (Prometheus and Alexander the Great) and modernity (protein shakes and breakfast flakes) seem to constantly be sizing each other up. Out October 1.

Bodega,” by Su Hwang (Milkweed Editions)

The anticipated debut collection from this Twin Cities poet (and co-founder of poetic activist group Poetry Asylum) centers on the everyday lives of immigrants through the eyes of a Korean girl growing up in her parents’ NYC bodega in the early ’90s. Don’t mistake this for a nostalgic trip, however; these poems feel right on time. Out October 8.

The Dolphin: Two Versions, 1972–1973,” Robert Lowell, edited by Saskia Hamilton (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

A Robert Lowell poem worth reading is one worth re-reading, and this return to the 1974 Pulitzer winning collection feels long overdue. Saskia Hamilton edits this new edition (which includes scans of Lowell’s original manuscript) as well as a companion collection, “The Dolphin Letters” – an epistolary portrait of Lowell and Elizabeth Hardwick in the last years of his life. Out December 10.

Dispatch,” Cameron Awkward-Rich (Persea)

A professor of trans/feminist/queer theory at UMass Amherst, Cameron Awkward-Rich is also one of the freshest and most daring young voices in American poetry. His second full-length collection turns his unsparing language toward a reckoning with America’s pervasive culture of violence. Out December 10.