Will fall be a season to celebrate?
In the book world, at least, prospects look good for new novels and beloved authors.
During the pandemic's traumatic first autumn, publishers delayed some titles even though 2020 produced rising sales. Many bookstores were closed, but nonfiction about social justice and Donald Trump (it was a dramatic election year, after all) sold well.
The coming months seem to return to a more traditional fall book season, with novels by Pulitzer Prize winners, a mix of debut authors and veterans, and even a few more anticipated books about Trump. Bob Woodward, show us what you got.
Some authors address the world during shutdown: Gary Shteyngart throws eight people together, where they isolate in "Our Country Friends." Louise Penny's new novel, on sale Aug. 24, anticipates life just after quarantine, when a speaker with a ruthless suggestion upsets sweet Three Pines.
But many books take readers to far different worlds: Anthony Doerr, who won the Pulitzer for his World War II book "All the Light We Cannot See," travels back to 15th-century Constantinople forward to Idaho — and then to a spaceship. Colson Whitehead sets "Harlem Shuffle" in the 1960s. And Amor Towles drives down "The Lincoln Highway" in the 1950s.
An Arab American woman works in a refugee camp in Rabih Alameddine’s "The Wrong End of the Telescope," and Margaret Verble’s "When Two Feathers Fell From the Sky" features a Cherokee horse-diver in 1920s Nashville.
Jonathan Franzen starts the first book of a hefty trilogy in 1971 Chicago (although he may have mined memories of the First Congregational Church of Webster Groves for details about a youth group).
Franzen's novel is called "Crossroads," which could be an apt label for the country as it enters another school year and autumn, trying to deal with the coronavirus.
Readers can decide whether to explore current events or escape to other lands. But whichever path they take, possibilities are plenty. Fall books look like something to celebrate.
Here are an easy 50 titles (and yes, there are more worth considering). Books are arranged alphabetically by date of scheduled release. Descriptions are informed by publishers, pre-release reviews and wire services; on-sale dates are subject to change.