What's that coming at us from the Mysterious East? The East Coast, that is, central headquarters...

Share story

What’s that coming at us from the Mysterious East? The East Coast, that is, central headquarters for the publishing business.

Why, it’s a wall, a wave, a veritable avalanche of fall books about to crash into every bookstore in town. It’s an influx so huge it makes the question “What should I read?” almost impossible to answer.

To help out, we’ve assembled a list of suggestions for indecision-afflicted readers of all tastes. The 100 or so titles on it include literary novels, pop fiction, current affairs, history, biography and essays. Most of the authors mentioned already enjoy name recognition. But the publishers’ catalogs we leafed through also make clear a wealth of new talent is on the horizon, too. We’ll do our best to keep track of it on the Books pages of this newspaper in the coming months.

In the meantime, rejoice as summer temperatures cool and the days get darker. No need, any longer, to subject yourself to strenuous outdoor activity — not when reading season is here.

Literary Fiction and Poetry


“Tooth and Claw and Other Stories” by T.C. Boyle (Viking). A new short-story collection by the author of “Drop City.” Boyle also has a selection of his short stories aimed at younger readers, “The Human Fly and Other Stories,” coming out from Viking Children’s Books.

“Slow Man” by J.M. Coetzee (Viking). The South African Booker Prize winner (“Disgrace”) sets his new novel in Australia, where he now lives. Its subject: a 60-year-old photographer, after losing his leg in a bicycle accident, finds himself confronting his past and reconsidering his future.

“The March” by E.L. Doctorow (Random House). General William Tecumseh Sherman’s march through the South toward the end of the Civil War provides the subject for the new historical novel by the prize-winning author of “Ragtime” and “Billy Bathgate.”

“The Painted Drum” by Louise Erdrich (HarperCollins). A Native American drum that sounds without being played is at the heart of this new novel by the author of “Love Medicine.”

“The Highest Tide” by Jim Lynch (Bloomsbury). A debut novel from an Olympia writer, about a Puget Sound beachcomber whose unusual shoreside finds lead to him being “hailed as a prophet.”

“The Diviners” by Rick Moody (Little, Brown). Set during the election of 2000, Moody’s new novel focuses on movie-business wannabes eager to be part of “an elusive, but surely huge, television saga … that opens with Huns sweeping through Mongolia and closes with a Mormon diviner in the Las Vegas desert.”

“Three Incestuous Sisters” by Audrey Niffenegger (Abrams). A “novel in pictures” by the author whose debut, “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” was a surprise best seller. The new book is about three fiercely competitive sisters, “one who is beautiful, one who is smart, and one who is talented.”

“Dancing in the Dark” by Caryl Phillips (Knopf). The author of “A Distant Shore” writes a historical novel about Bert Williams, who in the 1890s became “the first black entertainer in the United States to reach the highest levels of fame and fortune.”

“On Beauty” by Zadie Smith (Penguin Press). The third novel by the author of “White Teeth” is set on both sides of the Atlantic and portrays two families — one liberal, one right-wing — engaged in “a cultural and personal war against the background of real wars that they barely register.”

Making it up

The Truth of the Matter

Get a Life

The Last Days of Dogtown

“The Turning” by Tim Winton (Scribner). A collection of interconnected short stories set in a small town on the coast of Western Australia. By the Booker Prize nominee (“The Riders”).


“Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, A Death in the Family, Shorter Fiction” and “Film Writing and Selected Journalism” by James Agee, edited by Michael Sragow (Library of America). With two fat volumes, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist-journalist-critic enters the Library of America pantheon.

“The Trouble With Poetry and Other Poems” by Billy Collins (Random House). A new collection about “boyhood, jazz, the passage of time, love, and … writing,” by the former poet laureate of the United States.

“Mozart and Leadbelly: Stories and Essays” by Ernest J. Gaines (Knopf). The African-American writer (“A Lesson Before Dying”) draws on his childhood as inspiration for five short stories, and then describes his later life in a series of essays.

“Veronica” by Mary Gaitskill (Pantheon). A new novel by an author who, like Jean Rhys, can make fine art out of the seediest settings. This one, about “beauty, narcissism and appetite, transience, aging and mortality,” is set in 1980s Paris and Manhattan.

“No Man’s Land” by Graham Greene (Hesperus). A recently discovered novella by the author of “The Quiet American.” The story is set in Cold War Germany and involves “espionage, superstition and betrayal.” With a foreword by novelist David Lodge.

“Times Like These” by Rachel Ingalls (Graywolf). The great novella writer (“Mrs. Caliban”) returns after a long silence with a book of eight stories, some drawing their inspiration from “the smaller wars” of recent history.

“Making It Up” by Penelope Lively (Viking). The Booker Prize winner (“Moon Tiger”) writes a speculative novel in which she imagines an alternative life for herself.

“Truth and Consequences” by Alison Lurie (Viking). An academic satire about mixed adulterous couples juggling aging and desire. Lurie (“The War Between the Tates”) won the Pulitzer Prize for her novel “Foreign Affairs.”

“Missing Mom” by Joyce Carol Oates (Ecco). A novel about a 31-year-old woman — single, self-supporting, sexually liberated — whose life is “transformed” by the year she spends mourning for her mother.

“New and Selected Poems: Volume Two” by Mary Oliver (Beacon). The widely praised poet offers a selection of her more recent work.

“A Wedding in December” by Anita Shreve (Little, Brown). Seven former schoolmates, now at turning points in their lives, meet at a wedding in western Massachusetts, in the new novel by the author of “The Pilot’s Wife.”

“Saving Fish from Drowning” by Amy Tan (Putnam). The new novel by the author of “The Joy Luck Club” concerns 11 American tourists in Burma who, lost in the jungle, stumble across an isolated tribe and a “legendary book of wisdom.”


“The Truth of the Matter” by Robb Forman Dew (Little, Brown). In 1940s Ohio, a widow’s ambivalent memories about her dead husband and her nervous expectations of her children’s return home from the war combine into a “meditative novel of love and trust, lust and deception.” By the National Book Award-winning author (“Dale Loves Sophie to Death”).

“Memories of My Melancholy Whores” by Gabriel García Márquez, translated by Edith Grossman (Knopf). The Nobel laureate’s first work of fiction in 10 years portrays a “second-rate journalist and lifelong bachelor” who decides to celebrate his 90th birthday by spending a night with a young virgin.


“Get a Life” by Nadine Gordimer (Farrar, Straus & Giroux). A South African ecologist becomes radioactive to others after treatment for thyroid cancer — with life-changing consequences for his family. Gordimer (“Burger’s Daughter”) won the Nobel Prize in 1991.

“The Western Limit of the World” by David Masiel (Random House). Masiel — who made his debut with the gritty, hilarious “2182 Kilohertz,” about a Bainbridge Islander’s Arctic Ocean misadventures — continues with a maritime setting, in this novel about a “rusting, un-ecofriendly chemical tanker” looking for a place to dock.


“The Last Time I Saw You” by Rebecca Brown (City Lights). This new collection of stories by the Seattle author is being billed by her publisher as a return to “the obsessive, darkly humorous voice that has earned her comparisons to Samuel Beckett and Djuna Barnes.”

Mary Ann Gwinn is The Seattle Times book editor. Michael Upchurch is The Times book critic.