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Best fall books: Ron Chernow's 'Grant,' Celeste Ng's 'Little Fires Everywhere,' more

Ready or not, here comes fall. So you don’t miss a beat as you pivot from your summer reading, we’ve compiled a list of 12 upcoming books that should keep you happily turning pages through the end of the year. Six are fiction and six nonfiction, and they’re just a starter kit for readers during this season of literary abundance. 

'SING, UNBURIED, SING,' by Jesmyn Ward

Here's an author who feels vital in these
Photo Credit: Scribner

Here’s an author who feels vital in these times. Ward won a National Book Award for her first novel, “Salvage the Bones,” set on the Mississippi Gulf Coast during Katrina. She’s since published a memoir of black friends who died young (“Men We Reaped”) and edited an anthology of essays about race (“The Fire This Time”). Ward’s new novel takes readers on a Mississippi road trip as a boy and his mother drive to greet his white father when he’s released from the state penitentiary. (Scribner, Sept. 5)

'FANTASYLAND: How America Went Haywire — A 500-Year History,' by Kurt Andersen

Republican consultant Karl Rove once said that Americans
Photo Credit: Random House

Republican consultant Karl Rove once said that Americans in the “reality-based community” should realize “that’s not the way the world really works anymore . . . we create our own reality.” You can say that again. The host of “Studio 360” on public radio offers his own opinionated tour of America’s more fact-challenged moments, from the Salem Witch Trials and P.T. Barnum to belief in extraterrestrials and conspiracy theories. Andersen will discuss the book at Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington on Sept. 14. (Random House, Sept. 5) 

'A DISAPPEARANCE IN DAMASCUS: Friendship and Survival in the Shadow of War,' by Deborah Campbell

In 2007, the author traveled Damascus to write
Photo Credit: Picador

In 2007, the author traveled Damascus to write a magazine article about Iraqi refugees who had fled to Syria to escape political violence in their own country. Ahlam was the Iraqi woman who worked as her translator and “fixer” — and became her friend. But when Ahlam was abducted and disappeared, Campbell asked herself if she was partly to blame. This exploration of their relationship and Ahlam’s fate has already won a top nonfiction book prize in Campbell’s native Canada. (Picador, Sept. 5)


Suburbia has long been a favorite literary subject,
Photo Credit: Penguin Press

Suburbia has long been a favorite literary subject, from John Cheever to Tom Perrotta. In her new novel, Ng (“Everything I Never Told You”) cracks the staid surface of Shaker Heights, Ohio, where three families find their lives upended by the “little fires” of the title — fires both literal (courtesy of an underage arsonist) and metaphorical (the adoption of a Chinese baby by a white couple, which sparks a Jodi Picoult-style controversy in town). (Penguin Press, Sept. 12)

'THE CUBAN AFFAIR,' by Nelson DeMille

In his 20th novel, Long Island's thriller king
Photo Credit: Simon & Schuster

In his 20th novel, Long Island’s thriller king introduces a new character. Daniel “Mac” MacCormick is a 35-year-old Key West charterboat captain and Afghanistan vet who is asked to ferry three passengers to Cuba, ostensibly for a fishing tournament. Turns out that one of them — attractive Sara Ortega — is in search of $60 million that her grandfather stashed away when he fled the revolution. Count Mac in. DeMille will be at the Book Revue in Huntington on Sept. 21 and at Barnes & Noble in Carle Place Sept. 22. (Simon & Schuster, Sept. 19)

'THE NINTH HOUR,' by Alice McDermott

The winner of a National Book Award and
Photo Credit: FSG

The winner of a National Book Award and a three-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, McDermott chronicles Irish-Catholic life in Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island in gorgeous, finely observed novels. Her latest opens with the suicide of a Brooklyn trainman and follows his widow and daughter as they find consolation and community among the nuns of a local convent. McDermott will give a public talk about the novel at Sacred Heart Academy in Hempstead on Oct. 18. (FSG, Sept. 19) 

'THE FUTURE IS HISTORY: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia,' by Masha Gessen

The Russian journalist who has written previous books
Photo Credit: Riverhead

The Russian journalist who has written previous books on Vladimir Putin and the Boston Marathon bombers, here relates the stories of seven of her countrymen who have lived through Putin’s iron-fisted consolidation of power. “Russian citizens,” she writes in the book’s prologue, have been “losing rights and liberties for nearly two decades.” Why, she asks, did genuine democracy and freedom — so long desired in the U.S.S.R. — never come to pass? (Riverhead, Oct. 3)

'GOING INTO TOWN: A Love Letter to New York,' by Roz Chast

The New Yorker magazine cartoonist has a style
Photo Credit: Bloomsbury

The New Yorker magazine cartoonist has a style and sensibility like no one else’s. Here she employs it in a graphic memoir of and tribute to New York City. Though she now lives in the Connecticut suburbs, Chast grew up in Brooklyn (her parents’ aging and deaths are the subject of her last book, “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?”). As her own daughter prepared to move to the city for college, Chast compiled this volume that lets readers see New York through the artist’s eyes. (Bloomsbury, Oct. 3)

'MANHATTAN BEACH,' by Jennifer Egan

The last thing you'd expect from the wildly
Photo Credit: Scribner

The last thing you’d expect from the wildly inventive author of “Look at Me” and “A Visit from the Goon Squad” (winner of the Pulitzer Prize) is a historical novel. But that’s what Egan will deliver this fall — the story of Anna Kerrigan, a fictional female diver in the Brooklyn Navy Yard during World War II trying to unravel the mystery of her father’s disappearance 12 years earlier. You can be sure that it will crackle with Egan’s style, intelligence and heart. (Scribner, Oct. 3)

'WE WERE EIGHT YEARS IN POWER: An American Tragedy,' by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Coates' bestselling reflection on black bodies and racial
Photo Credit: One World

Coates’ bestselling reflection on black bodies and racial violence, “Between the World and Me,” won the National Book Award and climbed bestseller lists in 2015. In his new collection of essays, Coates reflects on the presidency of Barack Obama and the backlash that contributed to the election of Donald Trump, along with other issues of race in America. Readers of his earlier book know that Coates is fiercely passionate, intelligent and clear-eyed. (One World, Oct. 3)

'GRANT,' by Ron Chernow

You most likely know Chernow as the man
Photo Credit: Penguin Press

You most likely know Chernow as the man who wrote “Alexander Hamilton” — the biography that inspired a certain hit musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Could a musical about Ulysses S. Grant be next? You never know, but Chernow’s new book about the Civil War general and 18th president of the United States is required reading for history buffs. Chernow chronicles Grant’s hapless early life — dogged by alcoholism and money problems — then follows his remarkable ascent through the ranks of the Union Army and his scandal-plagued presidency. (Penguin Press, Oct. 10)


Hot on the heels last year's
Photo Credit: Harper

Hot on the heels last year’s “LaRose” (winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award), Erdrich is back with a surprising new work of speculative fiction that sounds like the book to read when you’re done with “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Its protagonist is 26-year-old Cedar Hawk Songmaker, “adopted child of Minneapolis liberals,” who is four months pregnant and sets out to find her Ojibwe birthparents. But a biological cataclysm has caused evolution to move in reverse, and the government wants to keep Cedar — and her presumably healthy fetus — under surveillance. (Harper, Nov. 14)

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