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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

Republican consultant Karl Rove once said that Americans
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

In 2007, the author traveled Damascus to write
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

Suburbia has long been a favorite literary subject,
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)

'LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE', by Celeste Ng

In his 20th novel, Long Island's thriller king
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

The winner of a National Book Award and
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 New Yorker magazine cartoonist has a style
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

Coates' bestselling reflection on black bodies and racial
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

Hot on the heels last year's
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)

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