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The best new books of fall 2013

Fall brings a bumper crop of new books. Here is a roundup of the big releases, soon-to-be cult faves and small press titles we're looking forward to.


MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood (Nan A. Talese, $27.95)
Atwood wraps up her dystopian trilogy with this intricate, richly imagined novel that promises to reinforce her status as one of the best speculative fiction writers working today. Out now.

Duplex by Kathryn Davis (Graywolf Press, $24)
This much-buzzed-about indie release features young love, robots, sorcerers and a suburban street to which the laws of physics don't apply. You know, the usual coming-of-age-story dram. Out now.

Mira Corpora by Jeff Jackson (Two Dollar Radio, $16) 
We're fans of Two Dollar Radio and are eager to check out the acclaimed playwright's dreamlike, experimental debut novel. Out now.

Night Film by Marisha Pessl (Random House, $28)
Pessl's second novel, after her wildly popular 2006 debut, Special Topics in Calamity Physics, is a suspenseful, meandering mystery about the death of the daughter of a horror film director. Out now.

Salinger by Shane Salerno and David Shields (Simon & Schuster, $37.50)
We sorta feel like we won't like this biography. We sorta feel like Franny Glass—and J.D. Salinger, the notoriously low-pro author who created her—wouldn't like it, finding it "tiny and meaningless and sad-making" (to borrow a quote from Franny and Zooey). Especially since it apparently fixates—spoiler alert!—on Salinger's missing testicle. That aside, we'll read it with the same voracity that Franny recited the Jesus Prayer. Out now.

Sunday Night Movies by Leanne Shapton (Drawn & Quarterly, $19.95)
Expanding on a New York Times series, Shapton's ode to the movies features watercolor illustrations of some of her favorite moments in classic black-and-white films, forming a portrait of both bygone cinema and the artist herself. Out now.

Dissident Gardens by Jonathan Lethem (Doubleday, $27.95)
This decades-spanning novel follows three generations of radicals ("anti-American Americans")—including a fierce Communist mother and her socially conscious, countercultural daughter—as they pursue the American Dream. We expect that it will amble off in many directions. Also that it will be hilarious. Sept 10.

High Rise Stories: Voicies from Chicago Public Housing edited by Audrey Petty (McSweeney's, $16)
Part of the Voice of Witness oral history series, this collection of stories from public housing residents offers personal, vulnerable and valuable perspectives on the forced relocation of thousands of familes as part of the Chicago Housing Authority's Plan for Transformation. Sept 10.

The Salinger Contract by Adam Langer (Open Road, $16.99)
This literary mystery about a writer named Adam Langer by author (and former Chicagoan) Adam Langer has drawn comparisons to Paul Auster's New York Trilogy. Sept 17.

Levels of Life by Julian Barnes (Knopf, $22.95)
Writing about the death of a spouse, Barnes's spare and honest account is a devastating but affecting meditation on love and loss. Sept 24.

Enon by Paul Harding (Knopf, $22.95)
The award-winning author of Tinkers returns with a hotly anticipated second novel set in the same New England landscape. Sept 24.

The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri (Knopf, $27.95)
Jumping from India to America, the second novel by the Pulitzer Prize winner tells the story of two brothers whose lives dramatically diverge. Sept 24.

Brian Eno: Visual Music by Christopher Socrates (Abrams, $50)
This detailed monograph explores the connections between Eno's pioneering music projects and visual art. Not only does it include never-before-published materials, such as sketchbook pages and installation images, but it also comes with a download code for a previously unreleased piece of music. It won't appeal to everyone, but for Eno enthusiasts, it's required reading. Sept 24.

Creature by Amina Cain (Dorothy, a publishing project, $16)
We'd read anything Dorothy puts out, so well-curated is the micro-publishing company (releasing only two new books every fall), but we're especially excited for this story collection by the gifted Los Angeles writer of I Go to Some Hollow. Oct 1.

Meaty by Samantha Irby (Curbside Splendor, $15.95)
The no-holds-barred Chicago blogger ( has mused on everything from kittens to dudes to diarrhea. Her debut essay collection runs—heh heh—on similar themes. Oct 1.

Half the Kingdom by Lore Segal (Melville House, $23.95)
Set in post-9/11 America and featuring characters plucked from Segal's other novels, Half the Kingdom explores a group of patients at Cedars of Lebanon in Manhattan who exhibit sudden, similar signs of advanced dementia. Oct 1.

The Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson (Grove Press, $24)
Winterson's gothic novel delves into the lingering effects of the 17th-century Pendle witch trials on present-day Pendle (in eastern England). We 're fans of reading creepy books this time of year, so this promises to cast the right spell. Oct 1.

The Circle by Dave Eggers (Knopf, $27.95)
Set at the world's most powerful Internet company, this thriller explores issues of privacy and democracy in a tech-obsessed age. Oct 8.

Provence, 1970: M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, and the Reinvention of American Taste by Luke Barr (Clarkson Potter, $36)
Fisher's great-nephew referenced her journals and letters to craft this book about the winter of 1970 when a crew of culinary icons—James Beard, M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, Richard Olney, Simone Beck, and Judith Jones—found themselves together in the South of France. Oct 22.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (Little, Brown & Company, $30)
The author of cult classics The Secret History and The Little Friend takes her sweet time writing novels—about a decade between each. To say this 784-page story, of a young orphan drawn into New York's art underworld, is anticipated is to say "Chicago's kind of into sports." True, yeah, but seriously understated. Oct 22.

Marcel Dzama: Sower of Discord by Marcel Dzama (Abrams, $60)
Besides more than 500 color images by the renowed Canadian artist, this coffee table–ready monograph includes Dzama-related commentary and interviews by the likes of Dave Eggers, Raymond Pettibon and Spike Jonze. Nov 5.

White Girls by Hilton Als (McSweeney's, $24)
The renowned New Yorker cultural critic offers insights on race and gender as they relate to art, lit and music in this portrait of "white girls," a term he applies to everyone from Truman Capote and Flannery O'Connor to Louise Brooks and Malcolm X. Nov 12.

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