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BOOK SMART: WHAT TO READ THIS AUTUMN

Our pick of the best new novels

28.09.2020

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Autumn is always publishing’s busiest season, but this year, it’s set to be massive. In September alone, a whopping 16,443 titles are being published in the UK. So, how to sort the must-reads from the mediocre? Let our pick of autumn’s best titles act as your dependable guide.

More Than A Woman by Caitlin Moran

If this isn’t already in your Amazon basket, what on earth have you been doing? Caitlin Moran’s 2011 feminist blockbuster, How To Be A Woman, was an overnight success, praised for its taboo-busting candour. This follow-up has all the same easy humour, while still tackling difficult topics: this time, they’re middle-aged concerns like divorce, emotional labour and ageing parents. Oh, and ‘maintenance shags’, of course. Buy here. 

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Daddy: Stories by Emma Cline

Emma Cline’s first novel, The Girls, was the standout hit of summer 2016. Now, she’s back with a collection of short stories unpacking everything from masculinity and power dynamics to family politics and broken relationships. All the stories centre on the coincidences and moments of misunderstanding that can totally change our lives. If you’re looking for something readable yet thoughtful, this is for you. Buy here. 

Inside Story by Martin Amis

Martin Amis has said that Inside Story will ‘almost certainly’ be his last novel. Based on the author’s own life, it lives up to its title: Amis delves into his friendships with the likes of Saul Bellow and Christopher Hitchens, past romantic entanglements and the business of writing with characteristic, witty deftness. This is a celebration of his life in all its exuberant brilliance and melancholy moments. Buy here.

Just Like You by Nick Hornby

The prolific, revered novelist Nick Hornby (author of bestsellers High Fidelity and About a Boy) is back with another soul-warming commentary on modern love and relationships. Just Like You is the story of a teacher Lucy and aspiring DJ Joseph, who meet across a butcher’s counter in north London. They’re unlike each other in almost every way, but it turns out the age old adage ‘opposites attract’ might just be true. Funny, tender and loving. It's Hornby on typically brilliant form. Buy here.

The Silence by Don DeLillo

The latest from one of America’s most talented writers feels eerily right for now: The Silence centres around of a group of friends, gathered in a New York apartment to watch the 2022 Super Bowl. All seems normal – until the world goes dark, in a catastrophic shutdown of the world’s computer systems. Completed just weeks before the advent of the pandemic and with DeLillo’s classic mastery of dialogue. Ominous, timely and oh so clever. Buy here.

The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi

A novel about family and friendship, loss, grief and selfhood, The Death Of Vivek Oji by the acclaimed, Women’s Prize-longlisted Akwaeke Emezi is the story of a young Nigerian man’s exploration of his own gender identity. If you liked Emezi’s debut, Freshwater, you’ll be glad you bought this – powerful and often heartbreaking, it’s a future modern classic. Buy here.

Breasts and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami

With praise from Haruki Murakami and Naoise Dolan, we’re already predicting this recent release from Japanese writer Mieko Kawakami will be a sure-fire hit. Following the stories of three working-class women in Tokyo (in particular Natsu, a writer) it’s a thoughtful, cutting examination of a society where odds are stacked against women. Watch out for Kawakami: she’s a major new international talent. Buy here. 

Ghosts by Dolly Alderton

The hotly anticipated first novel from writer, journalist and broadcaster Dolly Alderton doesn’t disappoint in its fresh take on that most millennial of dating dilemmas, ghosting. Alderton draws scenarios with which anyone in their mid-twenties will be painfully familiar with apparent ease, cutting right to the core of our nostalgia for youth, the letdowns of modern dating and the joys of female friendship. Buy here.

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