Friday 28 October 2016

Books: Best new releases to hit shelves in autumn

Edel Coffey

Published 06/09/2015 | 02:30

Grand dame: Margaret Atwood's new novel hits the shelves next month
Grand dame: Margaret Atwood's new novel hits the shelves next month
Rugby read: Peter Stringer autobiography

While summer may be the time readers most look forward to, selecting what books they will pack in their suitcases, autumn is the time when the books industry does its real business. Come September, while the rest of us are desperately clinging on to the last rays of sunshine, publishers are already in a festive frame of mind as the first of what they hope will be their Christmas best-sellers make their way onto the shelves.

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While John Banville's The Blue Guitar (Penguin) and Jonathan Franzen's Purity (Fourth Estate), both out now, are this month's big choices, there is plenty to look forward to in the coming months.

The Canadian grande dame Margaret Atwood publishes her new novel, The Heart Goes Last (Bloomsbury; October), about a married couple struggling to survive in the post-economic crash.

Living out of their car and off tips from Charmaine's waitressing job, they sign up for a social experiment called Positron, which offers stable jobs and homes in exchange for spending every second month in prison. As always with Atwood, the results are compelling, darkly funny and chillingly real.

IMPAC winner Kevin Barry is back with his second novel, Beatlebone (Canongate; October), which tells the story of John Lennon's retreat to his island off the west coast of Ireland. Ever true to form, Barry's tale is both wildly original and moving.

Much-garlanded Irish author Colum McCann releases a collection of a novella and three short stories, Thirteen Ways of Looking (Bloomsbury; October), which deals in humanity's biggest questions.

JoJo Moyes releases the much-awaited follow-up to her bestselling book Me Before You in the form of After You (Penguin; September). And there's a new Ross O'Carroll Kelly, Seedless In Seattle (Penguin, September), which will be reviewed here next week.

In non-fiction, Terry Wogan reminisces on tales of love and loss from his past in Those Were The Days (Macmillan; October) and Elizabeth Gilbert, she of Eat, Pary, Love fame is back with non-fiction in Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear (Bloomsbury; October), her take on creativity and the process that goes with it, which needn't necessarily be tortuous.

If there is one memoir to read this autumn, it's Frederick Forsyth's extraordinary life story, The Outsider (Transworld; October), which reads like a James Bond novel. The author of The Day Of The Jackal tells his own story and it's clear where the inspiration for so many of his best-selling thrillers came from when you read about his own life, beginning as the RAF's youngest pilot at the age of 19 and carrying on through being captured by the Stasi and threatened by the IRA.

Yeonmi Park's incredible life story gives Forsyth a run for his money in In Order to Live (Penguin; September) which charts her escape from North Korea with her mother through China's underworld of human traffickers where she was forced to be a prostitute to her current role as a leading human rights activist, all before her 21st birthday.

Meanwhile, sports fans have plenty to choose from. John Leonard's Dub Sub Confidential (Penguin; October) tells the story of the gifted GAA goalie who was No.2 to the legendary Stephen Cluxton while also battling alcoholism. This is Leonard's account of his life on and off the sidelines. Henry Shefflin publishes The Autobiography (Penguin; September), and Peter Stringer releases his own autobiography, Pulling The Strings (Penguin) in October.

For fans of the Bronte sisters, Claire Harman's biography, Charlotte Bronte: A Life (Penguin: November) will be a treat. And for music fans, Elvis Costello's memoir Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink (Penguin; October) will make for compelling reading.

Meanwhile, fans of The Great British Bake Off will be happy to see Sue Perkins' Spectacles: A Memoir (Penguin; October) hit the shelves, while Matt Cooper's take on Tony O'Reilly, The Maximalist (Gill and MacMillan; October) offers new insights into the man.

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