With the number of delayed titles and books vying for Christmas success, the book trade braces for the autumn onslaught of major new titles. In fact, the literary world is publishing almost 600 hardbacks on 3 September alone. Publishers are overwhelmed by the marketing campaign balancing act and bookshops are running out of shelf space. That being so, bookseller, blogger, and general recommendations are more important now than ever. That being so, here’s my list of new book releases for September 2020 that I can’t wait to delve into.
The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante, trans. by Ann Goldstein
1st September, Europa Editions
Giovanna’s pretty face is changing, turning ugly, at least so her father thinks. Giovanna, he says, looks more like her Aunt Vittoria every day. But can it be true? Is she really changing? Is she turning into her Aunt Vittoria, a woman she hardly knows but whom her mother and father clearly despise? Surely there is a mirror somewhere in which she can see herself as she truly is.
Giovanna is searching for her reflection in two kindred cities that fear and detest one another: Naples of the heights, which assumes a mask of refinement, and Naples of the depths, a place of excess and vulgarity. She moves from one to the other in search of the truth, but neither city seems to offer answers or escape.
With this new novel about the transition from childhood to adolescence to adulthood, Ferrante proves once again that she deserves her many accolades. In The Lying Life of Adults, readers will discover another gripping, highly addictive, and totally unforgettable Neapolitan story.
The Appointment by Katharina Volckmer
2nd September, Fitzcarraldo Editions
In a well-appointed examination in London, a young woman unburdens herself to a certain Dr Seligman. Though she can barely see above his head, she holds forth about her life and desires, and her struggles with her sexuality and identity. Born and raised in Germany, she has been living in London for several years, determined to break free from her family origins and her haunted homeland. In a monologue that is both razor-sharp and subversively funny, she takes us on a wide-ranging journey from outer sexual fantasies and overbearing mothers to the medicinal properties of squirrel tails and the enduring legacy of shame.
Who They Was by Gabriel Krauze
2nd September, 4th Estate
This life is like being in an ocean. Some people keep swimming towards the bottom. Some people touch the bottom with one foot, or even both, and then push themselves off it to get back up to the top, where you can breathe. Others get to the bottom and decide they want to stay there. I don’t want to get to the bottom because I’m already drowning.
This is a story of a London you won’t find in any guidebooks.
This is a story about what it’s like to exist in the moment, about boys too eager to become men, growing up in the hidden war zones of big cities – and the girls trying to make it their own way.
This is a story of reputations made and lost, of violence and vengeance – and never counting the cost.
This is a story of concrete towers and blank eyed windows, of endless nights in police stations and prison cells, of brotherhood and betrayal.
This is about the boredom, the rush, the despair, the fear and the hope.
This is about what’s left behind.
Exit Management by Naomi Booth
10th September, Dead Ink
There is a house, a beautiful house, that sits in a sought-after London location and is filled with priceless works of art. Joszef the elderly owner is ill; all he wants is some company until the end, and someone to trust his home to once he’s gone. Someone to help him over that final line, perhaps.
When Callum, a lost young man longing for direction, comes into his life, the pair form a friendship that transcends their ages. Lauren, Callum’s new girlfriend, has other plans, though. Calculating and ambitious, Lauren has already reinvented herself once and to reach the top she will do it again.
Pushed onwards by the poison of ambition and haunted by losses from the past, these characters are drawn together in a catastrophe of endings. Naomi Booth’s second novel is an unnerving dissection of class, xenophobia and compassion. Showing us the lengths that we will all go to in order to secure our futures, Exit Management will seize you in its cold hands and show you the dark heart within us all.
Long Live the Post Horn!
15th September, Verso Books
Before she became famous for taking Norwegian autofiction deeper into spaces formerly clouded by shame, Vigdis Hjorth was already beloved for her paper-cut wit and ability to make a story from small absurdities. Long Live the Post Horn! first published in 2012, is a classic example of this writing. The book follows a 35-year-old woman named Elinor who is having a crisis of existence, her diary so boring she can barely read it. When a coworker commits suicide, Elinor is thrust into a more active role at work on ginning up public support for privatization of postal services. What should be mind-numbing work turns into a new flowering, when she discovers the story of a long lost letter and the postal worker who wouldn’t give up on delivering it. Wrenching tenderness from the mouth of irony, Hjorth proves how major effects don’t always come from the heavy-foot pedals.
Piranesi Susanna Clarke
Piranesi’s house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant. But Piranesi is not afraid; he understands the tides as he understands the pattern of the labyrinth itself. He lives to explore the house.
There is one other person in the house-a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week and asks for help with research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. But as Piranesi explores, evidence emerges of another person, and a terrible truth begins to unravel, revealing a world beyond the one Piranesi has always known.
For readers of Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane and fans of Madeline Miller’s Circe, Piranesi introduces an astonishing new world, an infinite labyrinth, full of startling images and surreal beauty, haunted by the tides and the clouds.
The Minders by John Marrs
17th September, Del Rey
In the 21st century information is king. But computers can be hacked, files can be broken into. So a unique government initiative has been borne. Five ordinary people have been selected to become the latest weapon in thwarting cyber terrorism. A revolutionary medical procedure has turned them into the ultimate secret keepers – the country’s most secretive information has been taken offline and turned into genetic code implanted inside their heads.
Together, the five know every secret – the truth behind every Government lie, conspiracy theory and cover up. Only somebody has discovered who the secret keepers are. And one by one, they are being hunted down…
Ties That Tether (Paperback) by Jane Igharo, 29th September
When a Nigerian woman falls for a man she knows will break her mother’s heart, she must choose between love and her family.
At twelve years old, Azere promised her dying father she would marry a Nigerian man and preserve her culture even after emigrating to Canada. Her mother has been vigilant about helping–forcing–her to stay well within the Nigerian dating pool ever since. But when another match-made-by-mom goes wrong, Azere ends up at a bar, enjoying the company and later sharing the bed of Rafael Castellano, a man who is tall, handsome, and white.
When their one-night stand unexpectedly evolves into something serious, Azere is caught between her growing feelings for Rafael and the compulsive need to please her mother who will never accept a relationship that threatens to dilute Azere’s Nigerian heritage.
Azere can’t help wondering if loving Rafael makes her any less of a Nigerian. Can she be with him without compromising her identity? The answer will either cause Azere to be audacious and fight for her happiness or continue as the compliant daughter.
Will you be reading any of these new book releases?
Looking for more reading recommendations? Here’s my summer reading list.
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