From J.K. Rowling to Michael Chabon, fall season seems to be a winner

Posted Sept. 02, 2012, at 2:05 p.m.

Publishers have a tantalizing pile of books coming out this fall, the traditional season for some of the year’s biggest titles.

The Pulitzer Prize committee surprised readers earlier this year by declining to award a fiction prize to a 2011 title. We’re hoping they won’t have to pull the same stunt next spring, with new books arriving soon from Michael Chabon, Barbara Kingsolver, Junot Diaz and many others.

September titles destined for the best-seller list include J.K. Rowling’s first novel written specifically for adults (“The Casual Vacancy”), Justin Cronin’s vampire apocalypse (“The Twelve”) and the World War II years of Ken Follett’s five-family saga (“Winter of the World”).

High-interest nonfiction will include Bob Woodward’s look at President Barack Obama (“The Price of Power”) and Mark Owen’s eyewitness account of the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden, “No Easy Day.”

Also look for books by and about David Foster Wallace, a memoir of Salman Rushdie’s years in hiding and at least two biographies involving Thomas Jefferson. Not every book will turn out to be as good as advertised, but with all of the big name authors and topics, it won’t be hard to jump into new fall titles.

Here are summaries of some of the many upcoming releases, with information culled from publishers and Publishers Weekly magazine. Publication dates are subject to change. They are organized by month of publication and alphabetized by title.

September

Fiction

“The Casual Vacancy” by J.K. Rowling. The pressure’s on for Harry Potter’s creator, whose new novel sounds like a traditional English mystery involving a pretty town with secrets. But let’s withhold judgment until Sept. 27.

“John Saturnall’s Feast” by Lawrence Norfolk. Sensuous story of a 17th-century English orphan who goes to work in a manor house kitchen.

“May We Be Forgiven” by A.M. Homes. Darkly comic novel begins with a suburban Thanksgiving that goes more wrong than usual (violence rather than lumpy potatoes).

“NW” by Zadie Smith. It’s been several years since Smith’s last novel (“On Beauty”) and this tangled story of four Londoners may be overly confusing, Kirkus Reviews hints.

“The People of Forever Are Not Afraid” by Shani Boianjiu. First novel by promising young author is about women coming of age in the Israeli military.

“San Miguel” by T.C. Boyle. Historical novel about two families on a desolate California island.

“Sutton” by J.R. Moehringer. Moehringer follows his memoir “The Tender Bar” with a lively novel about a real-life bank robber.

“Telegraph Avenue” by Michael Chabon. A megastore tycoon wants to take over space occupied by an indie record store in this latest contemporary comedy by the author of “The Yiddish Policeman’s Union.”

“This Is How You Lose Her” by Junot Diaz. Stories of love and heartbreak by the prize-winning author of “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.”

“The Twelve” by Justin Cronin. A literary author who created a vampirish, apocalyptic world with “The Passage,” Cronin now follows surviving humans as they hunt the 12 original “virals.”

“The Yellow Birds” by Kevin Powers. The poet (and Army veteran) writes about U.S. soldiers in Iraq for his first novel.

“A Wanted Man” by Lee Child. Popular suspense writer Child involves his unkempt hero Jack Reacher in a dangerous conspiracy.

“Wilderness” by Lance Weller. Lauded first novel about a Civil War vet’s rugged journey over the Olympic Mountains.

“Winter of the World” by Ken Follett. Part 2 of Follett’s Century Trilogy follows five families through the dramatic years of World War II.

Nonfiction

“Bill and Hillary” by William H. Chafe. Duke University historian says that to understand the Clintons, it’s essential to understand their personal relationship.

“Boss Rove” by Craig Unger. Karl Rove is no longer in the White House, but this book looks at how he remains a powerful political operative who will influence the coming election.

“The Endgame” by Michael R. Gordon and Gen. Bernard E. Trainor. An 800-page “inside story” about the war in Iraq.

“Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story” by D.T. Max. Max writes about the life, depression and suicide of writer David Foster Wallace. (On-sale date is Aug. 30.)

“The Great Partnership” by Jonathan Sacks. The British rabbi argues that science and religion complement each other, and that the world needs both.

“Joseph Anton” by Salman Rushdie. In 1989, the novelist was told Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini had put a bounty on his head for writing “The Satanic Verses.” This book is Rushdie’s memoir of his famous years in hiding.

“No Easy Day” by Mark Owen. Owen is the pseudonym of a Navy SEAL who gives his eyewitness account of the killing of Osama bin Laden.

“The Oath” by Jeffrey Toobin. Billed as a story of conflict between the Obama White House and Supreme Court. No hint on how Toobin portrays his flub on CNN when the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act.

“One Last Strike” by Tony La Russa and Rick Hummel. Last year’s dramatic World Series provides the backdrop for a memoir that encompasses more than 30 years in Major League Baseball. The official on-sale date is Sept. 25.

“The Price of Politics” by Bob Woodward. The venerable reporter’s look at how the Obama White House tried to deal with the Great Recession.

“Seward” by Walter Stahr. Lincoln’s secretary of state was so important that he was also targeted for assassination. This biography reminds Americans of a figure whose “folly” was part of an important legacy.

“The Voice is All” by Joyce Johnson. How Jack Kerouac (“On the Road”) found his literary voice.

“We Have the War Upon Us” by William J. Cooper. A close look at events in the five months leading up to the Civil War.

October

Fiction

“Ancient Light” by John Banville. An aging actor delves into his lush memories of losing his virginity at 15 to a friend’s mother.

“Astray” by Emma Donoghue. Donoghue’s books are always a surprise. With this, she follows her best-selling “Room” with a collection of stories about wanderers.

“Back to Blood” by Tom Wolfe. Eight years after the disappointing “I Am Charlotte Simmons,” Wolfe has a new publisher and a novel set in the melting-pot of Miami.

“Blasphemy” by Sherman Alexie. A “sweeping anthology,” it includes 15 new stories along with 15 old ones.

“In Sunlight and in Shadow” by Mark Helprin. Romantic New York saga by the author of “Winter’s Tale.”

“Live by Night” by Dennis Lehane. An Irish-American gangster gains power in Prohibition-era Boston.

“The Middlesteins” by Jami Attenberg. Chicago family tries to cope with an obese mother’s obsessions, which drive her husband away and challenge everyone who remains.

“Phantom” by Jo Nesbo. Popular Norwegian writer sends his ex-police officer Harry Hole to Oslo to help a boy accused of murder.

“The Racketeer” by John Grisham. An imprisoned lawyer knows why a federal judge has been murdered.

“The Round House” by Louise Erdrich. Historical tale focusing a 13-year-old North Dakota boy, the son of characters in Erdrich’s “The Plague of Doves.”

“Silent House” by Orhan Pamuk. The Turkish writer’s second novel, the story of a family gathering before a 1980 military coup.

“Wild Girls” by Mary Stewart Atwell. Washington University grad’s first novel, an uneasy coming-of-age story punctuated by Appalachian magic.

Nonfiction

“Apocalyptic Planet” by Craig Childs. NPR commentator combines science and adventure to show that the Earth is constantly heading toward its end.

“Consider the Fork” by Bee Wilson. Subtitle says it: “A history of how we cook and eat.”

“The Dust Bowl” by Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns. There have been many books about the 1930s ecological disaster, but none so closely followed a punishing Midwestern summer. PBS show airs in November.

“The End of Your Life Book Club” by Will Schwalbe. A son becomes even closer to his mother as she is dying of pancreatic cancer.

“Killing Kennedy” by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard. Fast on the heels of his best-selling “Killing Lincoln,” O’Reilly takes on another dramatic presidential assassination.

“The Man Who Saved the Union” by H.W. Brands. Admiring assessment of Ulysses S. Grant — both as general and as president.

“Master of the Mountain: Thomas Jefferson and His Slaves” by Henry Wiencek. Historian takes a deep, and troubling, look at Jefferson’s attitude toward slavery and finds that the president found it pleasingly profitable.

“Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher” by Timothy Egan. Extraordinary life of photographer Edward Curtis, who obsessively documented vanishing Native American cultures in the early 20th century.

“Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic” by David Quammen. Respected science writer explores cases in which animal diseases jumped to humans.

“Waging Heavy Peace” by Neil Young. Rock ‘n’ roll legend writes his memoir.

November

Fiction

“The Black Box” by Michael Connolly. Ballistics evidence sends Harry Bosch on the track of a 20-year-old murder.

“Dear Life” by Alice Munro. Fourteen new selections by the short story master.

“Flight Behavior” by Barbara Kingsolver. A naive farm wife witnesses a strange biological event in Appalachia in this exploration of the tension between science and faith.

“Magnificence” by Lydia Millet. A widow inherits her uncle’s mansion and decides to restore its taxidermy collection.

“Notorious Nineteen” by Janet Evanovich. Stephanie Plum’s back again.

“Sweet Tooth” by Ian McEwan. A Cambridge student is recruited into the MI5 in a 1970s espionage story by the author of “Atonement.”

Nonfiction

“Both Flesh and Not” by David Foster Wallace. Fifteen essays never before collected in book form.

“Elsewhere” by Richard Russo. Russo is better known for his novels, but here he gives a funny personal account of growing up in Gloversville, N.Y.

“Hallucinations” by Oliver Sacks. Everyone has the potential to have hallucinations, says the best-selling doctor in his latest exploration of the mind’s tricks.

“In the House of the Interpreter” by Ngugi wa’Thiong’o. A memoir of his country’s turbulent years of 1955-59 by the Kenyan novelist.

“Leonardo and the Last Supper” by Ross King. In-depth look at the da Vinci’s famous painting.

“Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power” by Jon Meacham. Esteemed writer and Jefferson fan takes on the complexities of our third president.

“Venice” by Thomas F. Madden. A 2,000-year history of the Italian city.

December

Fiction

“Dogfight” by Calvin Trillin. A humorous narrative poem about this year’s presidential election.

“Two Graves” by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. An investigator’s wife is abducted and a string of murders seems to be connected to the kidnappers.

Nonfiction

“38 Nooses” by Scott W. Berg. A history of the Dakota War of 1862, and the “beginning of the frontier’s end.”

“The World Until Yesterday” by Jared Diamond. A personal look at primitive societies by the author of “Guns, Germs and Steel,” this book comes out on the final day of 2012.

©2012 St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Distributed by MCT Information Services

 

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