Get ready to refresh your reading list, as September 2023 is set to be an exciting month for book lovers with a host of anticipated releases from both emerging and established authors. From thrilling mysteries to heartfelt memoirs, here are 20 books to look out for this September.
Evil Eye by Etaf Rum— September 5 (Harper)
After Yara is placed on probation at work for fighting with a racist coworker, her Palestinian mother claims the provocation and all that’s come after were the result of a family curse. While Yara doesn’t believe in old superstitions, she finds herself unpacking her strict, often volatile childhood growing up in Brooklyn, looking for clues as to why she feels so unfulfilled in a life her mother could only dream of. Etaf Rum’s follow-up to her 2019 debut, A Woman Is No Man, is a complicated mother-daughter drama that looks at the lasting effects of intergenerational trauma and what it takes to break the cycle of abuse.
Wednesday’s Child By Yiyun Li — September 5 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Li is a truly original writer, an alchemist of opposites: tender and unsentimental, metaphysical and blunt, funny and horrifying, omniscient and unusually aware of just how much we cannot know. Beloved for her novels and memoirs, she returns here to her earliest form, gathering pieces that have appeared in The New Yorker, Zoetrope, and elsewhere. Taken together, the stories in Wednesday’s Child, written over the span of a decade, articulate the cost, both material and emotional, of living–exile, assimilation, loss, love–with her trademark unnerving beauty and wisdom.
The Fraud by Zadie Smith— September 5 (Penguin Press)
From acclaimed and bestselling novelist Zadie Smith, a kaleidoscopic work of historical fiction set against the legal trial that divided Victorian England, about who gets to tell their story–and who gets to be believed.
Do You Remember Being Born? By Sean Michaels — September 5 (Astra House)
Both a love letter to and interrogation of the nature of language, art, labor, capital, family, and community, Do You Remember Being Born? is Scotiabank Giller Prize winner Sean Michaels’s empathetic response to some of the most disquieting questions of our time–a defiant and joyful recognition that if we’re to survive meaningfully at all, creative legacy is to be reimagined and belonging to one’s art must mean, above all else, belonging to the world.
The Death I Gave Him by Em X. Liu — September 12 (Solaris)
A lyrical, queer sci-fi retelling of Shakespeare’s Hamlet as a locked-room thriller.
Landscapes by Christine Lai — September 12 (Two Dollar Radio)
A darkly absorbing, prismatic debut novel from Christine Lai, set in a near future that is fraught with ecological collapse and geopolitical upheaval, Landscapes explores memory, empathy, and art as an instrument for recollection and renewal.
Daughter by Claudia Dey — September 12 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Claudia Dey chronicles our most intimate lives with penetrating insight and devilish humor. Daughter is an obsessive, blazing examination of the forces that drive us to become, to create, and to break free.
The Vaster Wilds by Lauren Groff — September 12 (Riverhead Books)
Lauren Groff’s new novel is at once a thrilling adventure story and a penetrating fable about trying to find a new way of living in a world succumbing to the churn of colonialism. The Vaster Wilds is a work of raw and prophetic power that tells the story of America in miniature, through one girl at a hinge point in history, to ask how–and if–we can adapt quickly enough to save ourselves.
Rouge by Mona Awad — September 12 (Marysue Rucci Books)
From the critically acclaimed author of Bunny comes a horror-tinted, gothic fairy tale about a lonely dress shop clerk whose mother’s unexpected death sends her down a treacherous path in pursuit of youth and beauty. Can she escape her mother’s fate–and find a connection that is more than skin deep?
Bright Young Women by Jessica Knoll — September 19 (Marysue Rucci Books)
Bright Young Women tells the story of two women from opposite sides of the country who forge a sisterhood in grief and in the fervent pursuit of justice. Toggling between those terrifying days in 1978 and a letter that brings them together in the present, this is a novel that flips the script on the oft-perpetuated glorification of a sadistic but ultimately average man and instead turns the spotlight on the exceptional women he targeted.
Wellness by Nathan Hill — September 19 (Knopf)
The New York Times best-selling author of The Nix is back with a poignant and witty novel about marriage, the often baffling pursuit of health and happiness, and the stories that bind us together. From the gritty ’90s Chicago art scene to a suburbia of detox diets and home-renovation hysteria, Wellness reimagines the love story with a healthy dose of insight, irony, and heart.
People Collide by Isle Mcelroy — September 26 (Harpervia)
From the acclaimed author of The Atmospherians–“a Fight Club for the Millennial Generation” (Mat Johnson)–a gender-bending, body-switching novel that explores marriage, identity, and sex, and raises profound questions about the nature of true partnership.
Land of Milk and Honey by C Pam Zhang — September 26 (Riverhead)
Sensuous and surprising, joyous and bitingly sharp, told in language as alluring as it is original, Land of Milk and Honey lays provocatively bare the ethics of seeking pleasure in a dying world. It is a daringly imaginative exploration of desire and deception, privilege and faith, and the roles we play to survive. Most of all, it is a love letter to food, to wild delight, and to the transformative power of a woman embracing her own appetite.
Penance by Eliza Clark — September 26 (Harper)
Compulsively readable, provocative, and disturbing, Penance is a cleverly nuanced, unflinching exploration of gender, class, and power that raises troubling questions about the media and our obsession with true crime while bringing to light the depraved side of human nature and our darkest proclivities.
This is Salvaged by Vauhini Vara — September 26 ( W. W. Norton & Company)
Pushing intimacy to its limits in prose of unearthly beauty, Vauhini Vara explores the nature of being a child, parent, friend, sibling, neighbor, or lover, and the relationships between self and others. A young girl reads the encyclopedia to her elderly neighbor, who is descending into dementia. A pair of teenagers seek intimacy as phone-sex operators. A competitive sibling tries to rise above the drunken mess of her own life to become a loving aunt. One sister consumes the ashes of another. And, in the title story, an experimental artist takes on his most ambitious project yet: constructing a life-size ark according to the Bible’s specifications. In a world defined by estrangement, where is communion to be found? The characters in This Is Salvaged, unmoored in turbulence, are searching fervently for meaning, through one another.
And Then She Fell by Alicia Elliott — September 26 (Dutton)
Told in Alice’s raw and darkly funny voice, And Then She Fell is an urgent and unflinching exploration of inherited trauma, womanhood, denial, and false allyship, which speeds to an unpredictable–and surreal–climax.
Sleepless: A Memoir of Insomnia by Marie Darrieussecq, translated by Penny Hueston — September 5 (Semiotext(e))
A restless inquiry into the cultural and psychic sources of insomnia by one of contemporary French literature’s most elegant voices.
While You Were Out: An Intimate Family Portrait of Mental Illness in an Era of Silence by Meg Kissinger — September 12 (Celadon Books)
While You Were Out begins as the personal story of one family’s struggles then opens outward, as Kissinger details how childhood tragedy catalyzed a journalism career focused on exposing our country’s flawed mental health care. Combining the intimacy of memoir with the rigor of investigative reporting, the book explores the consequences of shame, the havoc of botched public policy, and the hope offered by new treatment strategies.
Powerful, candid and filled with surprising humor, this is the story of one family’s love and resilience in face of great loss.
Doppelganger: A Trip Into the Mirror World by Naomi Klein — September 12 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Combining comic memoir with chilling reportage and cobweb-clearing analysis, Klein seeks to smash that mirror and chart a path beyond despair. Doppelganger asks: What do we neglect as we polish and perfect our digital reflections? Is it possible to dispose of our doubles and overcome the pathologies of a culture of multiplication? Can we create a politics of collective care and undertake a true reckoning with historical crimes? The result is a revelatory treatment of the way many of us think and feel now–and an intellectual adventure story for our times.
Touched Out: Motherhood, Misogyny, Consent, and Control by Amanda Montei — September 12 (Beacon Press)
In this stunning blend of memoir, theory, and cultural criticism, a new mother examines the intersection between misogyny and motherhood, considering how caregivers can take back their bodies and pass on a language of consent to their children.