> Zed Book Club / Fall Into Fiction

Photo: twomeows/GettyImages

> Bookshelf

Fall Into Fiction

11 books to read in September, including new offerings from Colm Tóibín, Colson Whitehead, Liane Moriarty and Anthony Doerr / BY Nathalie Atkinson / September 3rd, 2021


You’ve made your way through our top CanLit picks of the season and have pre-ordered the new Lauren Groff and Sally Rooney, two literary sensations of millennial fiction. Here are the September books we can’t wait to add to our to-be-read pile – now add them to yours.

Obsessive Book Buyers: Zoomer editors have carefully curated our book coverage to ensure you find the perfect read. We may earn a commission on books you buy by clicking on the cover image. 

1The Magician Colm Tóibín

Tóibín’s 2004 novel, The Master, charted the life of author Henry James and his latest considers that of Thomas Mann, the acclaimed Irish author of novels like Buddenbrooks and Death in Venice, who won the 1929 Nobel Prize in Literature. The biographical novel follows Mann from turn of the 20th century in small-town Lübeck, into the Great War and through the rise of Hitler, the Second World War and the Cold War, and considers his unconventional partnership with his wife, how his struggles with his homosexuality informed his work, and the personal cost of his pursuit of success as a writer. (Sept. 7)


2Rock Paper Scissors Alice Feeney

Ten years of secrets are at the heart of this chilling psychological suspense novel about an unhappy couple’s anniversary weekend. Amelia, screenwriter Adam, and their dog, Bob, venture deep into the snowy and remote Scottish Highlands to either rekindle or more likely – this is a domestic thriller, after all – blow out the flame. (The power goes out, so even the elements are against them). Readers are privy to the painfully honest letters Amelia writes to her husband each year, a few good lies, and – thanks to the famous novelist whose books Adam adapts – some satisfyingly clever misdirection. (Sept. 7)


3The Mad Women’s Ball Victoria Mas, trans. by Frank Wynne

This prize-winning French bestseller takes place in La Salpêtrière, the infamous asylum where many of the residents are survivors of sexual trauma. Set in 1885, leading up to the clinic’s annual costume ball, it’s told from the alternating perspectives of a nurse and two inmates. In part it explores how, for centuries, the sexist psychological diagnosis of “hysteria” has been used as a tool against women who didn’t bow to the patriarchy. Critics praise the dark Gothic tale, which “elegantly blends feminist history and spiritualism, and poignantly demonstrates how the hospital is both prison and refuge for its residents.” The much-anticipated movie adaptation (written, directed by, and starring French actress Mélanie Laurent) premieres at TIFF before landing on Prime Video on Sept. 17. (Sept. 7)


4Assembly Natasha Brown

This powerful literary debut from a British writer, which author and playwright Ali Smith calls a “quiet, measured call to revolution,” is slim as a stiletto knife and eviscerates just as neatly. Tightly narrated in episodic, stream-of-consciousness vignettes that have drawn comparisons to Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, a Black British woman is preparing for a garden party at her white boyfriend’s family estate. As she navigates the exhaustion of achievement, the novella forms a damning commentary on capitalism, misogyny, colonialism, racism and class. (Sept. 14)


5Harrow Joy Williams

This month Williams, 77, will be honoured with the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction for her singular body of work (recently profiled in The New York Times). This is her first novel since The Quick and the Dead was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize 20 years ago, and it is an idiosyncratic, teenage, coming-of-age story of corporate sabotage and sedition. Set in the near future (and possible the end of civilization), our young heroine finds herself at a resort on a toxic lake, where the elderly residents are in fact a survivalist community of passionate eco-warriors. Expect themes in common with Ill Nature, Williams’ 2001 collection of ecological essays. (Sept. 14)

 


6Harlem Shuffle Colson Whitehead

In the tradition of pioneering Black crime fiction writers (like the celebrated noir novels of Chester Himes), this entertaining novel is nominally about a heist gone awry, but encompasses the politics of race and power. Protagonist Ray Carney seeks respectability with his legitimate furniture showroom while making ends meet as a reluctant fence for his old pals. Set in the early-sixties in Harlem, it is divided into three parts, beginning in 1959 through the Kennedy era to the 1964 World’s Fair and Harlem riot. Once again, two-time Pulitzer winner Whitehead (for The Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys) is a virtuoso of genre. (Sept. 14)


7Apples Never Fall Liane Moriarty

In her latest twisted suspense tale, the bestselling Australian author of Big Little Lies and the current escapist TV fantasy, Nine Perfect Strangers, unpacks the events leading up to the mysterious disappearance of a 69-year-old Sydney woman. She’s half of a popular and charismatic retired tennis couple that have been married more than 50 years. Moriarty transforms the whodunit into a family saga as their four adult children revisit their childhood to re-assess family dynamics and the truth of their parents’ complicated marriage. A prestige TV adaptation is already underway, naturally—from the producer of Noah Baumbah’s Marriage Story. (Sept .14)


8The Book of Form and Emptiness Ruth Ozeki

After her father died in 1998, for months Ozeki heard his voice calling her name. It was startling, comforting and also painful, the American-Canadian writer and filmmaker told Publishers Weekly about the haunting experience that formed the idea for her new novel. (Her previous book, A Tale for the Time Being, was a finalist for the Booker Prize.) Benny is a mixed-race teenager who starts to hear voices after the death of his Japanese father, and the book is often moved forward by way of interactions between Benny and the everyday objects that surround him, like a chair and a book. (Sept. 21)


9The Wrong End of the Telescope Rabih Alameddine

Alameddine, a National Book Award finalist for 2014’s heartrending An Unnecessary Woman, follows an Arab-American trans woman’s journey among Syrian refugees on Lesbos Island. Mina is a Lebanese doctor estranged from most of her family and now living in the United States; the novel’s main spine is about her recollections of the people there and the experience of cultural displacement and connection, particularly between the physician and a resolute matriarch who is dying of cancer and keeping it secret from her family. The characters and stories interwoven with Mina’s are inspired by the lives of real people and from the author’s work in refugee camps. (Sept. 21)

 


10Cloud Cuckoo Land Anthony Doerr

The scope here is more ambitious and more sprawlingly complex than Doerr’s surprise Pulitzer-winning hit, All The Light We Cannot See. A long-lost, ancient Greek myth unites five characters across three timelines: the 15th century siege of Constantinople, present-day Lakeport, Idaho, and a 22nd-century space mission that roams the galaxy in search of a livable planet. As the separate, nesting stories explore how the world is broken by issues like climate instability and disinformation, Doerr reveals how they are inter-related through a shared love of storytelling and in the hopeful pursuit of the utopia of the title. (Sept. 28)


11Eight Perfect Hours Lia Louis

A snowstorm throws Noelle together for one night on a blocked highway in England with a stranger who turns out to be her perfect soul mate, but Sam is on his way to the airport to return to America. The premise might remind you of An Affair to Remember or Before Sunrise, but Louis (of Dear Emmie Blue) has said she was partly inspired by the movie Serendipity, so Sam and Noelle’s paths continue to cross in unexpected ways. Noelle had given up on her modest dreams to help her ailing mother, but the encounters inspire a new perspective. Because sometimes you just need an unabashedly romantic and heartwarming story. (Sept. 28)


THE SCROLL

Salman Rushdie, Novelist Who Drew Death Threats, Is Stabbed at New York LectureThe Indian-born novelist who was ordered killed by Iran in 1989 because of his writing, was attacked before giving a talk on artistic freedom.


Raymond Briggs, Creator of Beloved Children’s Tale ‘The Snowman’, Dies at 88First published in 1978, the pencil crayon-illustrated wordless picture book sold more than 5.5 million copies around the world while a television adaption became a Christmas favourite in Britain and was nominated for an Oscar.


Canadian Author Emily St. John Mandel Makes Barack Obama’s 2022 Summer Reading ListObama's list includes everything from fiction to books on politics, cultural exploration and basketball.


Canadian Author Rebecca Eckler to Launch RE:books Publishing House Focused on Female Authors and Fun ReadsThe former National Post columnist says her tagline is ‘What’s read is good, and what’s good is read.’”


Brian Thomas Isaac’s “All the Quiet Places” wins $5,000 Indigenous Voices AwardThe B.C. author, a retired bricklayer, drew on his childhood growing up on the Okanagan Indian reserve for his coming-of-age story set in 1956


Canadian-American Author Ruth Ozeki Wins Women’s Book Prize for “The Book of Form and Emptiness”The UK judges said her fourth novel, inspired in part by the Vancouver Public Library, contained "sparkling writing, warmth, intelligence, humour and poignancy."


The Bill Gates Summer Reading List Includes a Sci-Fi Novel On Gender Inequality Suggested by His DaughterBill Gates' summer reading list includes fiction and non-fiction titles that cover gender equality, political polarization and climate change.


American novelist Joshua Cohen wins the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for “The Netanyahus”The 2022 Pulitzer prizes include this satirical look at identity politics, focused on the father of former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at a crucial time in the Jewish state’s history


Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro Among Canadian Authors Recognized in Commemorative Reading List Marking Queen’s Platinum JubileeThe authors are among six Canadian scribes included on the The Big Jubilee Read list.


Queen Elizabeth II’s Aide Reveals Details of Life in Royal Pandemic Lockdown in New Addition to BookAngela Kelly, who's worked for the Queen for 20 years, discusses everything from cutting the Queen's hair to "the light and laughter that was shared ... even in the darkest moments."


New Leonard Cohen Story Collection, ‘A Ballet of Lepers,’ Set for October ReleaseThe collection features a novel, short stories and a radio play written between 1956 and 1961.


Archived Letters Reveal How Toni Morrison Helped MacKenzie Scott Meet Future Husband Jeff BezosBezos hired Scott at the hedge fund where he worked after receiving a recommendation from Morrison. Shortly thereafter, the pair married and Scott helped Bezos launch Amazon.


Prince Harry’s Memoir is Set to Rock the MonarchyFriends say the California-based royal got a million-pound book deal to write "an intimate take on his feeling about the family."


European Jewish Congress Asks Publisher to Pull Anne Frank BookThe Congress says 'The Betrayal of Anne Frank' has "deeply hurt the memory of Anne Frank, as well as the dignity of the survivors and the victims of the Holocaust."


Canadian Author Details Anne Frank Cold-Case Investigation That Named Surprise Suspect in Her Family’s Betrayal in New BookAhead of the 75th anniversary of the publication of Frank's 'The Diary of a Young Girl' in June, a team that included a retired FBI agent and around 20 historians, criminologists and data specialists identified a relatively unknown figure as a leading suspect in revealing her family's hideout.


Man Who Tricked Authors Into Handing Over Unpublished Manuscripts Arrested by FBI in New YorkFilippo Bernardini, an employee of a well known publication house, has been arrested for stealing hundreds of unpublished manuscripts.


Hollywood Legend Betty White Has a Last Laugh in New Biographic Comic BookThe creators of the biographical comic book have released similar books about Hollywood legends like Carrie Fisher, Lucille Ball, David Bowie and Elizabeth Taylor.


Barack Obama Reveals His List of Books That Left “A Lasting Impression” in 2021Obama's favourite 2021 reads include two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author Colson Whitehead's 'Harlem Shuffle' and 'Klara and the Sun,' by Nobel Prize-winning author Kazuo Ishiguro


“Interview With the Vampire” Author Anne Rice Dies at 80 — Tributes Pour in From Stuart Townsend and OthersThe author, who was best known for her work in gothic fiction, died on Saturday evening as a result of complications from a stroke.


Norma Dunning wins $25,000 Governor General’s English fiction prize for ‘Tainna’The Edmonton-based Inuk writer explores themes of displacement, loneliness and spirituality in six short stories


Omar El Akkad wins $100,000 Giller prize for “What Strange Paradise”The former Globe and Mail reporter, who published "American War" to acclaim in 2017, tackles the global migrant refugee crisis in his second novel


South African Author Damon Galgut Wins the Booker Prize For ‘The Promise’Galgut received nominations for his 2003 and 2010 works before finally taking home the prize this year. 


Hollywood Legend Paul Newman Discusses Life, Acting and Aging Gracefully in Newly Discovered MemoirPublishers of the newly discovered memoir say the Hollywood legend wrote the book in the 1980s in response to the relentless media attention he received during that time.


Here’s What You Need to Know About the Toronto International Festival of AuthorsDirector Roland Gulliver lands in Toronto to open his second, much-expanded virtual festival with more than 200 events


Tanzanian Novelist Gurnah Wins 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature for Depicting the Impact of Colonialism and Refugee StoriesGurnah, 72, is only the second writer from sub-Saharan Africa to win one of the world's most prestigious literary awards


Miriam Toews Garners Third Giller Prize Nomination for “Fight Night” after Shortlist AnnouncedSophomore efforts from novelists Omar El Akkad and Jordan Tannahill join debut books from Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia and Angélique Lalonde


Tina Brown’s New Book, ‘The Palace Papers’, Covers the Royal Family’s Reinvention After Diana’s Tragic DeathTina Brown's sequel to her 2007 release 'The Diana Chronicles' is set to hit shelves April 12, 2022. 


Audible.ca Releases Andrew Pyper’s Exclusive Audiobook “Oracle” For New Plus Catalogue LaunchThe thriller about a psychic FBI detective is one of 12,000 titles now available for free to members


Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen to Release Book Based On Their “Renegades” PodcastThe new book will feature a collection of candid, intimate and entertaining conversations


Prince Harry Will Publish a Memoir in Late 2022Harry says he's writing the book "not as the prince I was born but as the man I have become."


> STAY UP TO DATE

Sign Up for the Weekly Book Club Newsletter