Get ready, bookworms! October’s dropping 26 fresh reads, with everything from punky memoirs to killer fiction—let’s dive into what’s hitting the shelves!
Deliver Me by Elle Nash— October 3 (Unnamed Press)
At a meatpacking facility in the Missouri Ozarks, Dee-Dee and her co-workers kill and butcher 40,000 chickens in a single shift.
The work is repetitive and brutal, with each stab and cut a punishment to her hands and joints, but Dee-Dee’s more concerned with what is happening inside her body. After a series of devastating miscarriages, Dee-Dee has found herself pregnant, and she is determined to carry this child to term. Dee-Dee fled the Pentecostal church years ago, but judgment follows her in the form of regular calls from her mother, whose raspy voice urges Dee-Dee to quit living in sin and marry her boyfriend Daddy, an underemployed ex-con with an insect fetish.
With a child on the way, at long last Dee-Dee can bask in her mother’s and boyfriend’s newfound parturient attention. She will matter. She will be loved. She will be complete. When her charismatic friend Sloane reappears after a twenty-year absence, feeding her insecurities and awakening suppressed desires, Dee-Dee fears she will go back to living in the shadows. Neither the ultimate indignity of yet another miscarriage nor Sloane’s own pregnancy deters her: she must prepare for the baby’s arrival.
The MANIAC by Benjamin Labatut— October 3 (Penguin Press)
From one of contemporary literature’s most exciting new voices, a haunting story centered on the Hungarian polymath John von Neumann, tracing the impact of his singular legacy on the dreams and nightmares of the twentieth century and the nascent age of AI.
Edenville by Sam Rebelein— October 3 (William Morrow)
After publishing his debut novel, The Shattered Man, to disappointing sales and reviews, Campbell P. Marion is struggling to find inspiration for a follow-up. When Edenville College invites him to join as a writer-in-residence, he’s convinced that his bad luck has finally taken a turn. His girlfriend Quinn isn’t so sure–she grew up near Edenville and has good reasons for not wanting to move back. Cam disregards her skepticism and accepts the job, with Quinn reluctantly following along. But there’s something wrong in Edenville. Despite the charming old ladies milling about Main Street and picturesque sunflowers dotting the sidewalks, poison lurks beneath the surface. As a series of strange and ominous events escalate among Edenville and its residents, Cam and Quinn find themselves entangled in a dark and disturbing history.
A Haunting on the Hill by Elizabeth Hand— October 3 (Mulholland Books)
From award-winning author Elizabeth Hand comes the first-ever novel authorized to return to the world of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House–a “scary and beautifully written” (Neil Gaiman) new story of isolation and longing perfect for our present time.
Told with equal parts horror and humor, Edenville explores the urban legends that fuel our nightmares and the ways in which ambition can overshadow our best instincts. Sam Rebelein is an exciting, sharp new voice, sure to terrify readers for years to come.
Death Valley by Melissa Broder— October 3 (Scribner)
In Melissa Broder’s astounding new novel, a woman arrives alone at a Best Western seeking respite from an emptiness that plagues her. She has fled to the California high desert to escape a cloud of sorrow–for both her father in the ICU and a husband whose illness is worsening. What the motel provides, however, is not peace but a path, thanks to a receptionist who recommends a nearby hike.
Out on the sun-scorched trail, the woman encounters a towering cactus whose size and shape mean it should not exist in California. Yet the cactus is there, with a gash through its side that beckons like a familiar door. So she enters it. What awaits her inside this mystical succulent sets her on a journey at once desolate and rich, hilarious and poignant.
This is Melissa Broder at her most imaginative, most universal, and finest. This is Death Valley.
Blackouts by Justin Torres — October 10 (FSG)
Inspired by Kiss of the Spider Woman, Pedro Páramo, Voodoo Macbeth, the book at its own center and the woman who created it, oral histories, and many more texts, images, and influences, Justin Torres’s Blackouts is a work of fiction that sees through the inventions of history and narrative. An extraordinary work of creative imagination, it insists that we look long and steady at the world we have inherited and the world we have made–a world full of ghostly shadows and flashing moments of truth.
Family Meal by Bryan Washington— October 10 (Riverhead)
When secrets and wounds become so insurmountable that they devour us from within, hope and sustenance and friendship can come from the most unlikely source. Spanning Los Angeles, Houston, and Osaka, Family Meal is a story about how the people who know us the longest can hurt us the most, but how they also set the standard for love. With his signature generosity and eye for food, sex, love, and the moments that make us the most human, Bryan Washington returns with a brilliant new novel.
Roman Stories by Jhumpa Lahiri, Tr. Todd Portnowitz— October 10 (Knopf)
The first short story collection by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and master of the form since her number one New York Times best seller Unaccustomed Earth – Rome–metropolis and monument, suspended between past and future, multi-faceted and metaphysical–is the protagonist, not the setting, of these nine stories.
The Hive And The Honey: Stories by Paul Yoon— October 10 (Simon Element)
From the beloved award-winning author Paul Yoon comes a spectacular collection of unique stories, each confronting themes of identity, belonging, and the collision of cultures across countries and centuries.
Straw Dogs of the Universe by Ye Chun— October 17 (Catapult)
A sweeping historical novel of the American West from the little-seen perspective of those who helped to build it, Straw Dogs of the Universe traces the story of one Chinese father and his young daughter, desperate to find him against all odds.
After her village is devastated by famine, 10-year-old Sixiang is sold to a human trafficker for a bag of rice and six silver coins. Her mother is reluctant to let her go, but the promise of a better life for her beloved daughter ultimately sways her. Arriving in America with the profits from her sale and a single photograph of Guifeng, her absent father, Sixiang journeys across an unfamiliar American landscape in the hopes of reuniting her family.
As she makes her way through an unforgiving new world, her father, a railroad worker in California, finds his attempts to build a life for himself both upended and defined by along-lost love and the seemingly inescapable violence of the American West. A generational saga ranging from the villages of China to the establishment of the transcontinental railroad and the anti-Chinese movement in California, Straw Dogs of the Universe considers the tenacity of family ties and the courage it takes to survive in a country that rejects you, even as it relies upon your labor.
Girlfriends by Emily Zhou— October 17 (LittlePuss Press)
Seven heartstoppingly gorgeous stories about young transgender life from from the Upper Midwest to New York City. In seven light-filled prisms of short stories, Emily Zhou chronicles modern queer life with uncompromising and hilarious lucidity. Attending to the intimacy of Gen Z women’s lives, these stories move from the provinces to the metropolis, from chaotic student accommodation to insecure jobs, from parties to dates to the nights after, from haplessness to some kind of power.
Tremor by Teju Cole— October 17 (Random House)
Tremor is a startling work of realism and invention that engages brilliantly with literature, music, race, and history as it examines the passage of time and how we mark it. It is a reckoning with human survival amidst “history’s own brutality, which refuses symmetries and seldom consoles,” but it is also a testament to the possibility of joy. As he did in his magnificent debut Open City, Teju Cole once again offers narration with all its senses alert, a surprising and deeply essential work from a beacon of contemporary literature.
The House Of Doors by Tan Twan Eng— October 17 (Bloomsbury)
A mesmerizingly beautiful novel based on real events, The House of Doors traces the fault lines of race, gender, sexuality, and power under empire, and dives deep into the complicated nature of love and friendship in its shadow.
Jonathan Abernathy You Are Kind by Molly McGhee— October 17 (Astra House)
Molly McGhee touches on themes most people know all too well–the relentlessly crushing weight of debt, the recognition that work won’t love you back and the awkwardness of finding love when you are without hope. A workplace novel, at once tender, startling, and deeply funny, Jonathan Abernathy You Are Kind is a stunning, critical work of surrealist fiction, a piercing critique of late-stage capitalism, and a reckoning with its true cost.
Let Us Descend by Jesmyn Ward— October 24 (Scribner)
From one of the most singularly brilliant and beloved writers of her generation, this miracle of a novel inscribes Black American grief and joy into the very land–the rich but unforgiving forests, swamps, and rivers of the American South. Let Us Descend is Jesmyn Ward’s most magnificent novel yet, a masterwork for the ages.
Organ Meats by K-Ming Chang— October 24 (Random House)
Best friends Anita and Rainie find refuge by an old sycamore tree with its neighboring lot of stray dogs who have a mysterious ability to communicate with humans. The girls learn that they are preceded by generations of dog-headed women and woman-headed dogs whose bloodlines bind them together. Anita convinces Rainie to become a dog with her, tying a collar of red string around each of their necks to preserve their kinship forever. But when the two girls are separated, Anita sinks into a dreamworld that only Rainie knows how to rescue her from. As Anita’s body begins to rot, it is up to Rainie to rebuild Anita’s body and keep her friend from being lost forever.
Filled with ghosts and bodily entrails, this is a story about the horror and beauty of intimacy, written in K-Ming Chang’s signature poetic and visceral lore.
The Glutton by A.K. Blakemore — October 31 (Scribner)
From the prizewinning author of The Manningtree Witches, a subversive historical novel set during the French Revolution, inspired by a young peasant boy turned showman, said to have been tormented and driven to murder by an all-consuming appetite.
The Blue Machine: How the Ocean Works by Helen Czerski— October 3 (W. W. Norton & Company)
All of Earth’s oceans, from the equator to the poles, are a single engine powered by sunlight, driving huge flows of energy, water, life, and raw materials. In The Blue Machine, physicist and oceanographer Helen Czerski illustrates the mechanisms behind this defining feature of our planet, voyaging from the depths of the ocean floor to tropical coral reefs, estuaries that feed into shallow coastal seas, and Arctic ice floes.
The Loneliness Files by Athena Dixon— October 3 (Tin House)
Searing and searching, The Loneliness Files is a groundbreaking memoir in essays that ultimately brings us together in its piercing, revelatory examination of how and why it is that we break apart.
Opinions: A Decade of Arguments, Criticism, and Minding Other People’s Business by Roxane Gay— October 10 (Harper)
Opinions is a collection of Roxane Gay’s best nonfiction pieces from the past ten years. Covering a wide range of topics–politics, feminism, the culture wars, civil rights, and much more–with an all-new introduction in which she reflects on the past decade in America, this sharp, thought-provoking anthology will delight Roxane Gay’s devotees and draw new readers to this inimitable talent.
Letting in Air and Light by Teresa Tumminello Brader— October 10 (Belle Pointe Press)
From a double shotgun house in New Orleans comes a true story larger than life. Teresa Tumminello Brader, niece of the convicted art forger William Toye, retells her family’s experience as she discovers her uncle’s misdeeds after decades of secrecy. Personal reflections and newspaper records alternate with a fictionalized reimagining of Toye’s complicated life. On both sides of the story, what emerges is an attempt to honor Louisiana artist Clementine Hunter’s legacy without flinching from the painful realities that come from reckoning with family bonds. Empathetic and honest, Letting in Air and Light will inspire you to look more closely at your own history and wonder what else you might have missed.
Midwest Musings by Heather D. Frankland— October 13 (Finishing Line Press)
Midwest Musings is about the inspiration and the confusion of home, the roots that anchor, and the scattered thoughts on place and identity that escape definition. The poems in this chapbook find magic in the mundane, whether that be in recounting an old story or loving a creek or saving a luna moth. In the end, the poems come to a realization that no matter where you move, the regional roots of home run deep. They run so deep that they tangle in the soil of the self.
Everything I Learned, I Learned In A Chinese Restaurant: A Memoir by Curtis Chin — October 17 (Little, Brown)
Served up by the cofounder of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop and structured around the very menu that graced the tables of Chung’s, Everything I Learned, I Learned in a Chinese Restaurant is both a memoir and an invitation: to step inside one boy’s childhood oasis, scoot into a vinyl booth, and grow up with him–and perhaps even share something off the secret menu.
Black Friend: Essays by Ziwe— October 24 (Abrams Image)
The debut collection of personal essays by comedy’s most iconic voice
Ziwe made a name for herself by asking guests like Alyssa Milano, Fran Lebowitz, and Chet Hanks direct questions. In Black Friend, she turns her incisive perspective on both herself and the culture at large. Throughout the book, Ziwe combines pop-culture commentary and personal stories, which grapple with her own (mis)understanding of identity. From a hilarious case of mistaken identity via a jumbotron to a terrifying fight-or-flight encounter in the woods, Ziwe raises difficult questions for comedic relief.
Black Punk Now by James Spooner & Chris L. Terry (Editors)— October 31 (Soft Skull Press)
A canonizing, bold, and urgent anthology setting a new precedent for Black Punk Lit, created by generations of Black punks–featuring both new voices and those from the not-so-recent past.
A Calendar is a Snakeskin by Kristine Langley Mahler— October 31 (Autofocus)
Kristine Langley Mahler is tracking the signs. The year she turns thirty-eight, she keeps finding snakes, bears, ghosts, and ancestors at her doorstep, pointing toward the person she needs to become. As an eclipse approaches, she begins to follow their demands and account for their presence. Clutching the milky quartz she finds in a New Mexican canyon and picking up the pebbles dropped by returning ghosts on her bedroom floor, Mahler excavates personal meaning from astrology, tarot, mothering, siblinging, and homesickness throughout the three connected essays of A Calendar is a Snakeskin, a noctuary of a year marked by the shedding of selves and fears.