This fall’s literary calendar is full. Hillsborough mainstays Lee Smith and Allan Gurganus make the rounds with new books. Gurganus’ Local Souls drops Sept. 23, while Smith’s Guests on Earth, a novel inspired by Zelda Fitzgerald’s stay in an Asheville mental hospital, comes out in October.
Another ubiquitous figure will be Wilton Barnhardt, who just got a glowing review in The New York Times Book Review for his novel Lookaway, Lookaway. Barnhardt will also appear on behalf of the latest compilation of local writing by Eno Publishers, 27 Views of Raleigh, for which he wrote the introduction.
Pat Conroy and Sharyn McCrumb are among the prominent authors due this fall. Also look for Russell Banks, a UNC-Chapel Hill graduate, whose new collection of stories, A Permanent Member of the Family, is due in November.
Here’s a survey of the most exciting new titles due in the coming months.
BEST OF THE LITERATI: There’s an embarrassment of riches with new works by Jhumpa Lahiri, Julian Barnes, Jonathan Lethem, David Eggers, Donna Tartt and Thomas Pynchon. What will be the best? We’re most excited by Lahiri’s The Lowland, due in September, which covers similar ground to her Pulitzer winner The Namesake, and Eggers’ The Circle, which drops in October. The latter release was a last-minute announcement by the McSweeney’s mastermind that appears to satirize the opulent-yet-isolated workplaces of such technology companies as Facebook and Google.
MUST BIOGRAPHY: Keep your tell-alls, we’re most excited about Wilson, Pulitzer Prize winner A. Scott Berg’s look at the 28th president, Woodrow Wilson. Berg spent more than a decade working on the book, which is due this month, and an excerpt published in July in Vanity Fair proved an enlightening look at how Wilson’s presidency paralleled Obama’s in some ways.
POTENTIALLY BEST SEQUELS/ SERIES: A Stephen King novel hardly needs promoting, but admit it, you’re curious about Doctor Sleep, his sequel to The Shining. On a similarly metaphysical note in October, there’s Chuck Palahniuk’s Doomed, taking up the tale of deceased Madison Spencer from Palahniuk’s Damned. For YA series, there’s the conclusion to Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy, Allegiant, which is due to become a very big movie series next year with Shailene Woodley (The Spectacular Now). We’re a little more interested in Nancy Farmer’s The Lord of Opium, a sequel to her 2002 National Book Award winner, The House of the Scorpion, a tale of the clone of a drug lord struggling to dismantle his master’s empire.
PICK FROM ALGONQUIN BOOKS: Lauren Grodstein (A Friend of the Family) has a new novel called The Explanation for Everything, which concerns a relationship between an evolutionary biologist and a student doing a study on intelligent design.
FAVORITE INEVITABLE GUILTY PLEASURE: The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell is a recounting of the making of Tommy Wiseau’s bizarre-yet-strangely-compelling boondoggle The Room.
BEST GRAPHIC NOVELS: The end of summer has already seen the arrival of the year’s best graphic novels, from Fantagraphics’ collection of Crockett Johnson’s rarely seen comic strip Barnaby to Top Shelf’s first volume of Rep. John Lewis’ autobiography, March. September sees a number of major releases, including new work from Dash Shaw (Bottomless Belly Button) and a one-volume color collection of Bone creator Jeff Smith’s reality-bending SF story Rasl, along with an English printing of Julie Maroh’s tale of gay teen love, Blue is the Warmest Color (Blue Angel), the film version of which won the Palme D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year. October’s releases include the long-awaited kid superhero tale Battling Boy from cult creator Paul Pope, and a biography of proto-feminist and birth control advocate Margaret Sanger by Hate cartoonist Peter Bagge.
AND FINALLY, THE BOOK YOUR KIDS WILL MAKE YOU READ TO THEM OVER AND OVER: Three-time Caldecott winner David Wiesner, who appears at Quail Ridge Books on Oct. 15, does the sort of picture books that severely weird adults out, such as The Three Pigs (where the porcine trio are literally blown out of their story and rewrite the book) or Tuesday (which depicts frogs flying around on lily pads while humans sleep). His new one, Mr. Wuffles, has a bunch of tiny aliens journey to Earth, where they encounter a monster in the form of an adorable housecat.