Books are booming this fall, in no small part due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. The publishing industry has had its share of virus-related setbacks, and many new books that were scheduled to come out earlier this year have had their publication dates pushed back to this fall, a time most publishers were initially planning to avoid because of the perils of marketing a new book during the media frenzy of a presidential election (plus the fact that the pandemic still is not over).
However, the good news is that if you need to escape between the pages of a good book this fall, you have plenty of options from which to choose. There are several forthcoming nonfiction books I’m eagerly awaiting (in September alone, I hope to read Carry: A Memoir of Survival on Stolen Land, Just Us: An American Conversation, and Conditional Citizens: On Belonging in America), but in the spirit of more escapist reading, today I’m recommending 10 new novels releasing between September and November 2020 to feed your fiction appetite.
His Only Wife
This novel begins with a wedding—a wedding the groom has to miss because of a business trip. Sound suspicious? That’s exactly what the bride, Afi, thinks, and it turns out she has ample reason to doubt his commitment. Author Wayétu Moore calls this tale of family and tradition in contemporary Ghana a “hilarious, page-turning, sharply realized portrait of modern womanhood,” and I can’t argue with that.
When No One Is Watching
Holy moly. I devoured this book. I was already a huge fan of Alyssa Cole for her steamy romances, so when I saw she was writing a thriller, I knew I had to have it. Cole’s books always weave STEM, culture, and history into the story in such interesting ways, but this book really shows her brilliance, IMHO. "When No One Is Watching" takes Brooklyn’s sordid history, contemporary gentrification, capitalist corruption, and bioethical questions and combines them into a story that will have your heart pounding by the end.
I almost didn’t include this book because (hopefully) it will already be getting a ton of attention this fall, but no fall book list seems complete without it. Yaa Gyasi already proved she can write families beautifully from a wide lens with her popular debut "Homegoing." In her sophomore novel, she expertly narrows in on one woman—a Ghanaian-American graduate student at Stanford—and her relationships with her brother and mother. These characters will reach out and rip your heart from your chest, and they will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading.
"Grown" begins with Enchanted Jones, an aspiring singer, waking in a man’s room covered in blood. The rest of the story doesn’t shy away from frank observations about the sexualization of Black girls and the predatory nature of the entertainment industry, and though it is a young adult novel, it’s definitely for a mature audience. Please take heed of the content warnings included at the beginning of the novel.
From the first chapter, I knew this book would be some of the best writing I've read all year. This surreal debut novel features the voices of three generations of women in a Taiwanese-American family. The storytelling is (literally) visceral and I found myself highlighting passages on nearly every page to savor Chang’s unique turns of phrase. I can’t say I was surprised when I learned the author is a published poet, and now I can't wait to gobble up her poems.
Ties That Tether
This debut romance features a Nigerian woman who immigrated to Canada as a child (just like the author) and is seeking an Edo husband. Of course, she ends up falling for someone else, much to the chagrin of her mother. I loved the way this book addressed how to celebrate and respect two distinct cultures in a relationship. Yes, Azere is Nigerian and that identity is very important to her and her family, but her love interest is Spanish, and his family also clings closely to their cultural identity.
Until recently, I described myself as someone who didn’t read fantasy. Then I noticed that every time I did read fantasy (e.g. N.K. Jemisin, R.F. Kuang), I loved it. So as soon as I read the description for this upcoming series opener by indigenous author Rebecca Roanhorse, I immediately pre-ordered a copy. Warring matriarchs and forbidden magic in a pre-Columbian America? I’m interested!
Eating is second only to reading in my list of favorite hobbies, so how could I resist a food truck romance? This enemies-to-lovers romance features two competing food truck owners in Maui: Nikki serves Filipino dishes with her mom at the beach, and newcomer Callum sells British-style fish and chips. Let’s hope the food descriptions are as drool-worthy as the sexual tension.
Those Who Prey
I’m usually down for a good cult story, and this young adult debut that Shondaland recommends for fans of true crime podcasts looks promising. "Those Who Prey" features a college freshman who joins an exclusive group known as “The Kingdom.” As is likely to happen in cult stories, it doesn’t turn out well for her.
The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany
I added this novel to my armchair travel TBR after seeing a blurb that called it “as effervescent as an Aperol spritz.” In a year when travel is tough, how can I turn down a lighthearted adventure through Venice, Tuscany, and the Amalfi Coast? This novel follows three women from a family in which the second-born daughters have been cursed for generations as they travel to Italy to break the curse. Bonus: The main character is a baker, so be prepared to salivate over the frequent descriptions of Italian goodies!