Tuesday 19 September 2017

Fabulous fiction to get cosy with in autumn

Whether you're looking for crime, passion, highbrow or an easy read, there's plenty to choose from in autumn's new fiction

Claire Messud, who appears at Dun Laoghaire LexIcon on September 22
Claire Messud, who appears at Dun Laoghaire LexIcon on September 22
Madeleine Keane

Madeleine Keane

'A shudderingly well- written, dead real, hallucinatory trip across famine Ireland,'' declares Emma Donoghue of Paul Lynch's Grace which will be published on Thursday by Oneworld, one of a raft of exciting new novels coming out this autumn. I've always loved Peter Cunningham's work, so was happy to hear Sandstone Press is bringing out his Acts of Allegiance this month. Andrew Meehan makes his novelistic debut with One Star Awake (September) which his publisher New Island describes as "a funny and touching testament to the highs and lows of self-discovery and love found in unexpected places". And from the same imprint comes the always welcome news of a new Carlo Gebler book - The Innocent of Falkland Road (September) while in The Lost Tribes (Lilliput Press, October) William King observes Mac, a spirited young student, who, disillusioned with the inadequacy of his seminary training, is expelled for a tryst.

Elske Rahill, who sprang onto the Irish literary scene a few years ago with Between Dog and Wolf, returns with In White Ink (Head of Zeus, October) a collection of linked stories around the subject of motherhood and all it entails. New Island is bringing out a new multi-genre anthology of Northern Irish women writers called Female Lines (October). A successor to Ruth Carr's seminal 1985 The Female Line anthology, it includes work from Anne Devlin, Lucy Caldwell and Deirdre Madden.

On the international front, returning with his first novel since The Stranger's Child, comes gifted Alan Hollinghurst with The Sparsholt Affair (Picador, September) and Jane Harris, who hit the big time in 2007 with her brilliant debut The Observations, is back with Sugar Money (Faber, October) which follows brothers Emile and Lucien from 18th century Martinique to Grenada as they attempt to smuggle back the slaves claimed by English invaders.

Two of my favourite writers have new books this season. Fabulous Claire Messud (The Emperor's Children, The Woman Upstairs) has just produced The Burning Girl (Little, Brown) and she's appearing at Dun Laoghaire's LexIcon on September 22 but I've to wait till November for The Dreams of Bethany Mellmoth (Viking), a new collection of short stories from the pen of the wonderful William Boyd.

Stateside, watch out for My Absolute Darling (Fourth Estate), American writer Gabriel Tallent's dark, disturbing story of the intense, warped love between a father and his daughter. In Manhattan Beach (Scribner, October) Jennifer Egan tells the story of Anna, sole provider for her mother and severely disabled sister, who meets a man who may hold clues to her father's disappearance. Also from the house of Scribner in September comes Sing, Unburied, Sing, Jesmyn Ward's tale of three generations of a struggling Mississippi family. 'Astonishing' is the early word on the street.

While I was on holiday, I read an early proof of The Resurrection of Joan Ashby (Borough Press, September), Cherise Wolas's riveting, though overlong debut, which portrays the ambitions and betrayals of an American author.

In The Ninth Hour (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, September) National Book Award winner Alice McDermott tells the tale of an ageing nun aiding the widow and unborn child of a young immigrant in Catholic Brooklyn in the early part of the 20th century, while in The Rules of Magic (Simon & Schuster, October) - Alice Hoffman's prequel to her bestseller Practical Magic - Susanna Owens knows that her three children are dangerously unique.

There are rich pickings, as always, from the crime arena. In 2015, David Lagercrantz continued Stieg Larsson's astonishing Millennium trilogy and he's back next month with The Girl Who Took An Eye For An Eye (Quercus).

Just out from queen of tartan noir, Val McDermid is a new Tony Hill and Carol Jordan book, Insidious Intent (Little Brown) and the indefatigable John Grisham returns with yet another legal thriller The Rooster Bar (Hodder, October).

Meanwhile, Dan Brown reprises the adventures of his Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon with Origin (Bantam) which ventures into "the dangerous intersection of humankind's two most enduring questions, and the earth-shaking discovery that will answer them". Don't Wake Up (Bonnier Zaffre, October), written by former nurse Elizabeth Lawler, is billed as 'a pitch-black and devastatingly original psychological thriller' while Cat Hogan's There Was a Crooked Man (Crimson, September) opens in dramatic fashion with the killing of a drug dealer.

On the popular fiction front, September is a fecund month. Daily Telegraph columnist Allison Pearson gives her hassled heroine Kate Reddy another outing in How Hard Can It Be? (Harper Collins); Carmel Harrington revisits some much-loved characters in Cold Feet: The Lost Years (Hodder); in The Tide Between Us (Poolbeg) Olive Collins weaves an historic epic between Ireland and Jamaica, while Hazel Gaynor fictionalises the true story of the young girls who, in 1917 found fairies at the bottom of their garden in The Cottingley Secret (Harper Collins).

Susan Ryan creates an intriguing Dublin neighbourhood in The King of Lavender Square (Poolbeg, October) and Heather, the Totality (Canongate, November), the debut novel of Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner - a modern morality tale set in contemporary New York - sounds very promising.

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