Colson Whitehead at the head of the avant-garde of September novelists


Virginia Woolf wrote: “All the months are gross experiences from which the perfect September is made. For avid readers, “Perfect September” includes new releases from their favorite authors.

The month marks the return of leading novelists Colm Tóibín, Colson Whitehead, Anthony Doerr and Richard Powers. In a deeply inspiring memoir, Joy Harjo pays homage to her Native American roots. Anita Hill writes a powerful challenge to sexism and gender-based violence, and Nathaniel Philbrick explores the continued relevance of George Washington’s life to American history.

Why we wrote this

Why would you want to travel through time, when books can take you on a journey? The authors bring to life eras as diverse as ancient Constantinople and mid-century Harlem, the newly formed United States, and today’s Silicon Valley.

With the arrival of fall, publishers are launching their highly anticipated titles, creating a godsend for book lovers. Prestigious authors such as Colson Whitehead, Anthony Doerr and Joy Harjo are among the headliners.

1. Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead

Colson Whitehead changes gears from his two previous novels, “The Underground Railroad” and “The Nickel Boys”, to write a detective novel with moral undertones. In the 1950s, in Harlem, a black furniture store owner and father, who seeks upward mobility, agrees to fence off stolen goods for his cousin. The atmosphere, the characters, and especially New York itself are richly evoked. But underneath lie questions of self-determination and guilt.

Why we wrote this

Why would you want to travel through time, when books can take you on a journey? The authors bring to life eras as diverse as ancient Constantinople and mid-century Harlem, the newly formed United States, and today’s Silicon Valley.

2. Cuckoo Earth Cloud by Anthony Doerr

A Greek myth about a utopian city in the clouds connects five well-cut figures – two in Constantinople in the 15th century, another pair in present-day Idaho, and a pioneer of a planet years later. Captivating storytelling and insistent compassion define this ode to libraries and librarians.

3. The magician by Colm Toibín

Colm Tóibín’s historical novel about Thomas Mann brilliantly weaves the personal life of the German Nobel Prize winner with the creation of his major works – including “Death in Venice” and “The Magic Mountain” – against the rise of Nazism, which drove Mann’s family into exile. This moving novel is a hymn to great literature and music and a sobering reminder of what happens when a nation embraces fascism. Read the full review here.

4. Perplexity by Richard Pouvoirs

Astrobiologist Theo Byrne is raising his struggling 9-year-old son after his wife’s death. As the genre-defying novel explores issues such as the expanding cosmos and our dying planet, central to this heart-wrenching but beautifully written story is the bond between a father and son. (Readers might want to know about an ominous twist.)

5. The man who died twice by Richard Osman

Richard Osman’s action-packed second outing with the Thursday Murder Club is brimming with wit, friendship and derring-do, as the eccentric quartet of British crime-solvers team up from a retirement village in the countryside. They fight with the Mafia, investigate murders and, of course, enjoy tea time.

6. Read until you understand by Farah Jasmine Griffin

Farah Jasmine Griffin, one of the leading scholars of African American literature, uses works written by black authors to address race, sexuality and gender. Both memory and tender exploration of the dark genius, the book offers us a new way to use our own lives as catalysts for change.

7. Warrior poet by Joy Harjo

In this poignant memoir, Joy Harjo, poet laureate from the United States, reflects on the power of memory and stories to shape her understanding of life and her vision for the future. Using poetry and prose, Harjo pays homage to his Muscogee (Creek) Nation family and confronts historical and personal abuse. The result is convincing and calming.

8. Kid App by Michael Sayman

Michael Sayman has written more than a success story that gets off by the boots. It’s a memoir about a boy who grew up with neglectful parents, loneliness, and an unsupportive school, and how his coping mechanism – mentally escaping into coding – became the key to new life and better.

9. To believe by Anita Hill

Anita Hill’s testimony during confirmation hearings by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas sparked a national conversation about sexual harassment. In her powerful new book, she challenges the economic, political and social forces that perpetuate gender-based violence.

10. Travels with George by Nathaniel Philbrick

This delightful book traces George Washington’s journey through the former colonies shortly after his inauguration. It is a meditation on the continued relevance of our first president to American identity.

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