Alameddine, Beauvoir, Cash, Cleeves, Doerr, Escandon, Franzen, Groff, Moriarty, Strout, Turnbull, Whitehead & Much More: Sneak Peek Fiction, Sept. 2021, Pt. 1 | Prepub Alert

Åkerström, Lola Akinmade. In Every Mirror She’s Black. Sourcebooks. Sept. 2021. 416p. ISBN 9781728240381 $26. AFRICAN AMERICAN/WOMEN’S

A TEDx speaker recently named among the most influential Black Traveler bloggers in the world, Nigerian American author Åkerström is based in Sweden, where she sets her adult fiction debut. The stories of three Black women—an American executive, a model, and a Somali refugee—are all linked to an influential white Swedish man.

Alameddine, Rabih. The Wrong End of the Telescope. Grove. Sept. 2021. 368p. ISBN 9780802157805. $26. LITERARY

When Lebanese American doctor and trans woman Mina Simpson heeds a friend’s request to help at the overburdened Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, she has never been closer to her homeland and feels a certain dread. Then a Syrian woman arrives at the camp, intent on hiding her terminal cancer from her family, and Mina helps her keep her secret. From National Book Award–nominated Alameddine ( An Unnecessary Woman), also winner of the Arab American Book Award (The Angel of History).

Beauvoir, Simone de. Inseparable: A Story of Youth. Ecco. Sept. 2021. 208p. tr. from French by Sandra Smith. ISBN 9780063075047. $27.99. LITERARY

Exciting news: here's a never-before-published work by the celebrated Beauvoir. About Sylvie and Andrée, who form a close friendship as Parisian schoolgirls and whose lives then unfold in the post–World War I era, this novel was considered too intimate to be published during Beauvoir’s life. As Andrée edges toward increasingly risky behavior, the novel delivers an understanding of the forces that shaped Beauvoir herself. With a 50,000-copy first printing.

Butler, Robert Olen. Late City. Atlantic Monthly. Sept. 2021. 304p. ISBN 9780802158826. $26. LITERARY

On the eve of Donald Trump’s election, 115-year-old former newspaperman Sam Cunningham lies on his deathbed, contemplating a long life that paralleled the key events of the 20th century. From his Southern childhood to the trenches of World War I to the Roaring Twenties and beyond, a well-lived life emerges in a conversation between Sam and a slightly puzzled God. Even at the end, Sam knows that there’s more to learn.

Cash, Wiley. When Ghosts Come Home. Morrow. Sept. 2021. 304p. ISBN 9780062312662. $28.99. LITERARY

In the middle of the night, Sheriff Winston Barnes learns that a plane has crashed at a coastal airfield, with neither pilot nor cargo in evidence but a local man found shot dead. As Winston investigates, a devious challenger threatens his reelection as sheriff, his daughter returns home with heartbreak of her own, and long-submerged racial bitterness comes to the fore. Cash is a CWA Gold Dagger and two-time Southern Book Prize winner, plus an Edgar and PEN Bingham finalist, which nicely sums up the literary/thriller sensibility evidenced here. With a 100,000-copy first printing.

Cleeves, Ann. The Heron's Cry. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Sept. 2021. 384p. ISBN 9781250204479. $27.99. MYSTERY

In this third in the “Two Rivers” series from CWA Diamond Dagger winner Cleeves, Dr. Nigel Yeo has been found slashed to death with one of his daughter’s delicate blown-glass vases. Det. Matthew Venn learns that the doctor had been probing the suicide of the depressed young Mack, who was lured into a dangerous online community, and soon another murder-by-vase troubles Venn’s North Devon community, smoldering in the summer heat. With a 150,000-copy first printing.

Córdova, Zoraida. The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina. Atria. Sept. 2021. 304p. ISBN 9781982102548. $27. FANTASY

Life is surprisingly blessed for the Montoyas—why, for instance, does the pantry never runs out of food?—but what remains especially puzzling is matriarch Orquídea Divina’s refusal to leave their Four Rivers home. When she invites them to her funeral to receive their inheritance, then is mysteriously transformed, the blessings continue—at first. Soon, though, some dark force seems to be ripping through the family, knocking them off one by one. From the author of the “Brooklyn Brujas” series; with a 100,000-copy first printing.

Doerr, Anthony. Cloud Cuckoo Land. Scribner. Sept. 2021. 656p. ISBN 9781982168438. $30. LITERARY

Anna and Omeir dwell on opposite sides of Constantinople’s thick walls—and are on opposite sides during the 1453 siege. In present-day Idaho, idealistic teenager Seymour is involved in an attack on a public library. In the future, Konstance travels on an interstellar ship headed for an exoplanet. What do they have in common? They all worship the ancient story of Aethon, who wants to become a bird and fly away to a sky-high paradise, and they all appear in Pulitzer Prize–winning Doerr’s new novel, dedicated to “librarians then, now, and in the years to come.”

Escandon, Maria Amparo. LA Weather. Flatiron: Macmillan. Sept. 2021. 352p. ISBN 9781250802569. $27.95. LITERARY

Oscar Alvarado does nothing but fret about L.A.’s current drought even as he dwells on a longstanding secret, and Keila, his wife of 40 years, has finally had it; she asks for a divorce. Now their children—hardnosed television chef Claudia, gentrification-anxious architect Olivia, and tech-smart, love-clumsy Patricia—are compelled to examine their own lives and assumptions. With a 150,000-copy first printing.

Franzen, Jonathan. Crossroads. Farrar. Sept. 2021. 592p. ISBN 9780374181178. $28. LITERARY

Newsworthy Franzen launches a trilogy, “A Key to All Mythologies,” that’s patterned after Elena Ferrante's beloved “Neapolitan Novels” and tracks the Hildebrand family of New Prospect, IL, across three generations. In this opening work, Russ, assistant pastor of the First Reformed Church; wife Marion; and their four children reach stress point with Christmas 1971 perching on the horizon and the Vietnam War still thundering. With a 350,000-copy first printing.

Groff, Lauren. Matrix. Riverhead. Sept. 2021. NAp. ISBN 9781594634499. $28. LITERARY

Cuttingly preceptive about contemporary life, two-time National Book Award finalist Groff travels back to the 1100s to tell the story of Marie de France, a 17-year-old reject from the court of Eleanor of Aquitaine, who is made prioress of a failing abbey in England. The sisters are ill and starving, but the initially startled Marie commits wholly to their care and mission as she leads them through a tumultuously changing world.

Jewell, Lisa. The Night She Disappeared. Atria. Sept. 2021. 368p. ISBN 9781982137366. $28. THRILLERS

In 2017, 19-year-old Tallulah plunks down her baby with her mother, Kim, then departs for a date—and never returns. Two years later, Sophie is strolling through the woods near the boarding school where her boyfriend teaches when she finds a note stuck on a tree that says “DIG HERE.” And the rest is classic suspense from the No. 1 New York Times best-selling Jewell.

Klune, TJ. Under the Whispering Door. Tor. Sept. 2021. 384p. ISBN 9781250217349. $26.99. FANTASY

At his funeral, Wallace Price is picked up by the reaper and ends up at a tea shop owned by Hugo, whose side hustle is playing ferryman to souls who need to cross over. When Wallace meets Hugo, though, he falls in love and is determined to experience what he never experienced in life in the seven days he has left. From the New York Times best-selling and Lambda Literary Award–winning Klune; with a 150,000-copy first printing.

Lefteri, Christy. Songbirds. Ballantine. Sept. 2021. 320p. ISBN 9780593238042. $27. LITERARY

Author of the internationally best-selling, Aspen Literary Award–winning The Beekeeper of Aleppo, Lefteri again addresses the current crisis of global displacement in a novel about a Sri Lankan nanny who vanishes on Cyprus. The police see Nishi as just another runaway domestic worker, so employer Petra undertakes the task of finding her and plunges into the dark underground that is migrant life, learning how difficult and unprotected it really is. Meanwhile, bird catcher Yiannis mourns the loss of Nishi, whom he wanted to marry.

Moriarty, Liane. Apples Never Fall. Holt. Sept. 2021. 448p. ISBN 9781250220257. $28.99. FAMILY LIFE

Triumphant tennis players Stan and Joy Delaney have finally sold their celebrated tennis academy, and if their four children were never quite the whizzes on the court their parents wanted, they seem to be moving reasonably through life. Or are they? How does fancy-dress Troy make his money, why can’t Amy hold down a job, must everyone communicate with Logan through his girlfriend, and will dependable Brooke’s solo physiotherapy practice really thrive? When the Delaneys help a bleeding girl on their doorstep, trouble follows, and suddenly Joy is missing. With a 750,000-copy first printing.

Schlink, Bernhard. Olga. HarperVia. Sept. 2021. 208p. tr. from German by Charlotte Collins. ISBN 9780063112926. $28.99. LITERARY

In the early 1900s, Olga is raised by her grandmother in a Prussian village after her parents abandon her and comes to resent the restrictions placed on her because of gender and class, too—she boldly falls for Herbert, the son of a local aristocrat. As Herbert satisfies his hunger for adventure, the novel moves from Germany to Africa and the Arctic, all the way up to the 21st century. Throughout, Olga stays constant in her love. From the author of the internationally best-selling The Reader; with a 40,000-copy first printing.

Strout, Elizabeth. Oh William! Random. Sept. 2021. 256p. ISBN 9780812989434. $27. LITERARY

Pulitzer Prize winner Strout revisits the eponymous heroine of My Name Is Lucy Barton, exploring the ties that bind her to her first husband, William. From courtship, the novel moves to their marriage, the birth of their daughters, eviscerating marital collapse, new marriage for each, and finally the confidences and closeness they sometimes share in later years.

Turnbull, Cadwell. No Gods, No Monsters. Blackstone. Sept. 2021. 330p. ISBN 9781982603724. $26.99. FANTASY

Following his LJ best-booked debut, The Lesson, since optioned for television by AMC, Turnbull arrives with a much-anticipated new work that launches “The Convergence Saga.” When Laina is told that her brother has been shot dead, it appears to be another horrific example of police violence directed at young Black men. But it signals much more, as real monsters decide that it’s time to emerge. That leads to a pro-monster organization, threats to the local werewolf pack, a disturbing rise in hate crimes, and unexplained deaths and disappearances.

cover of Whitehead's Harlem Shuffle

Whitehead, Colson. Harlem Shuffle. Doubleday. Sept. 2021. 336p. ISBN 9780385545136. $28.95. LITERARY THRILLER

In the 1960s, Ray Carney owns a modest furniture store on 125th Street in Harlem and is generally regarded as an upstanding neighbor, living with his family in a small apartment sometimes shaken by the subway’s roar. But he secretly comes from a long line of uptown hoods, and when money is tight he’ll occasionally fence a piece of jewelry for them. Things change when cousin Freddie drags him into a robbery at the Hotel Theresa, the “Waldorf of Harlem.” Plans goes awry, and Ray suddenly finds himself with divided aspirations—and scared for his life. Family saga cum thriller and billed as a love letter to Harlem; everyone will want to read.

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Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Book Review; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president of the National Book Critics Circle, to which she has just been reelected.

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