After yesterday's music post, it only felt fair to highlight the books coming out this Fall that I am most looking forward to. So:
The Casual Vacancy, JK Rowling
I am quite fascinated by the prospect of Rowling writing for adults. I know there have been quibbles, and harsher criticisms, of her skills as a stylist and constructor of prose (criticism I somewhat see, somewhat don't), but what happens to her style when she is writing for a more mature audience? Additionally, her topic--the political squabblings amongst a small English village set off by the death of one of its inhabitants--sounds right up her alley. The depiction of petty bureaucrats and political grievances (Umbridge, Dursleys) was some of the best stuff in the Potter novels, and a story set in that milieu is something I have high hopes for her ability to pull off.
Telegraph Avenue, Michael Chabon
Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavailer and Klay remains one of the best novels I've read in the last decade or so, and so any new novel from his Mac (it's gotta be a Mac, right?) is welcome. The plot details have been hazy in coming, but Amazon now has a write up that indicates a battle between a small music store and a big chain at its center, with a healthy dollop of race mixed in. Sounds like a good fit to Chabon's interests and gifts. As good as Kavalier and Klay is, nothing else Chabon has written has hit that same sweet spot (although much of it has been quite good), so I am interested to see if this reaches those heights.
NW, Zadie Smith
It's been a while since Smith's last novel, the excellent On Beauty, and it's good news that she's back in the game. Four central characters from the same housing development are apparently followed as they make their way in the world, which feels like a strong (albeit maybe too comfortable?) place for Smith to play in.
Flight Behavior, Barbara Kingsolver
Kingsolver's Poisonwood Bible is near the top of my must-re-read list (right next to Kavalier and Klay!), so good was that tale of a missionary family in Africa. Her last novel was a epic historical novel about Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo and others, that, good as it was, always felt just a bit stretched, as if you could feel her straining just a bit as she pushed against her boundaries and away from the familiar. This new novel, which takes place back in the Appalachian setting she knows so well, feels at first blush like a coming home.
Live By Night, Dennie Lehane
Dennis Lehane usually writes tightly constructed, completely engrossing mysteries that are as much about character and place as the plot mechanics and twists of the mystery itself. His series of novels featuring detectives Kensie and Gennaro is a great, great series, with the best book in the bunch, Gone, Baby Gone turned into one of the most underappreciated films to come out in the past decade. But he also is known for a nicely stuffed historical novel about the police strike in Boston, The Given Day, that is may be his best work yet. So seeing that his new novel is set during the Prohibition, and seems to be a similarly epic novel set during real historical events, has me excited.