I’m getting emails from local bookstores these days saying things like “October is the new December”: meaning, supply chain issues are affecting book supply, and therefore now is the time to start ordering titles for holiday gifts. You have been warned! In the meantime, here are six brand-new paperbacks potentially worth the wait.
“The Lying Life of Adults” by Elena Ferrante, translated by Ann Goldstein (Europa, $18). The pseudonymous Italian author follows up her acclaimed “Neapolitan Novels” series with this coming-of-age story about a young woman growing up in Naples. “How bracing to be back in Ferrante’s Neapolitan world, where troubling passions and moral ambiguity stalk characters of whatever gender, class or degree of righteous illumination,” wrote a reviewer in The Guardian. “How exhilarating to engage once more with her textured depictions of family life, of friendships and loves striated by hate and the demon envy — all so vividly rendered into English through the skills of translator Ann Goldstein.”
“The Removed” by Brandon Hobson (HarperCollins, $16.99). Hobson, a National Book Award finalist for his 2018 novel “Where the Dead Sit Talking,” here writes of a Cherokee family in Oklahoma dealing with a legacy of loss. “Hobson is a master storyteller and illustrates in gently poetic prose how for many Native Americans the line between this world and the next isn’t so sharp,” wrote a Publishers Weekly reviewer in a starred review. “This will stay long in readers’ minds.”
“Just Like You” by Nick Hornby (Penguin, $17). Hornby can always be counted on to provide a charming romantic comedy in novel form (see “High Fidelity” or “About a Boy” — both of which also made delightful movies — if you haven’t already). His latest features, as always, two nice Brits making their way through the obstacle course that is love: in this case, 41-year-old Lucy, an almost-divorced white teacher, and 22-year-old Joseph, a Black butcher’s assistant and wannabe DJ. They’re very different people, but I devoured “Just Like You” last fall in the fervent hope that they just might make it. (And that Hollywood would make a movie of this sweet Valentine of a book, very soon.)
“The Best of Me” by David Sedaris (Little, Brown, $18.99). I’ve loved Sedaris’ wit ever since “Santaland Diaries” in the 1990s (remember the flirtatious elf Snowball, who is “playing a dangerous game”?). In this collection, Sedaris chooses some of his own personal favorites from decades of essay-making — and you won’t find Santaland among them. “This is not some Sedarian immaculate collection; instead, as he himself writes in the introduction, the pieces ‘are the sort I hoped to produce back when I first started writing, at the age of 20’” wrote Andrew Sean Greer in a New York Times review. “They are what he hoped he would be. They are the best of him. … The genius of ‘The Best of Me’ is that it reveals the growth of a writer, a sense of how his outlook has changed and where he finds humor.” (Note that Sedaris will be in Seattle Nov. 7 for a reading at Benaroya Hall; see seattlesymphony.org for ticket information.)
“A House is a Body: Stories” by Shruti Swamy (Algonquin, $15.95). Swamy’s first book, a finalist for the 2021 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Short Story Collection, collects 12 stories set in the U.S. and India. “The fallible characters in Swamy’s ravishing book are always falling into something and bravely grasping what they can on their way down in a frenetic attempt to pull themselves back up,” wrote a Kirkus reviewer in a starred review, calling it “a dazzling and exquisitely crafted collection.” (Swamy’s first novel, “The Archer,” just came out earlier this month; it’s a coming-of-age tale of a girl growing up in 1960s Bombay, now Mumbai.)
“The Cold Millions” by Jess Walter ($17, HarperCollins). The recent winner of the 2021 Washington State Book Award for fiction, Walter’s latest novel begins in 1909 Spokane. “It’s a sweeping novel peopled with bad rich guys, flawed poor guys, displaced Native Americans, head-busting police, corrupt politicians and mysterious private detectives,” wrote Seattle Times reviewer Mary Ann Gwinn. “Like all Jess Walter novels, ‘The Cold Millions’ will break your heart and make you hopeful at the same time.”