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Originally published Saturday, August 24, 2013 at 10:42 PM

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43 new books for fall 2013

Autumn 2013 is no time to fall down on your reading: There are choices galore from authors including Margaret Atwood, Jamie Ford, Stephen King, Jhumpa Lahiri, Thomas Pynchon and Bill Bryson; a memoir by Linda Ronstadt; and a book just for “Masterpiece” fans.

Seattle Times book editor

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Here in the book department, our pulse is quickening. This coming fall will see tomes published by writers gifted at making things up, with new novels out by Margaret Atwood, Jamie Ford, Stephen King, Jhumpa Lahiri, Jonathan Lethem, Thomas Pynchon, Donna Tartt and Amy Tan.

Those who like their reading material factual must settle for a slightly less-stellar list, but there are new works of history by Bill Bryson and Simon Winchester. There’s a memoir by Linda Ronstadt, and biographies of Johnny Cash, Norman Mailer and Ian Fleming. Rebecca Eaton, the force behind “Masterpiece Theater,” offers a glimpse at her gilded world. And the late Nora Ephron’s publisher collects some of her best work.

This list is organized by fiction and nonfiction — within those categories by month of publication. Clip, save and prepare to be absorbed in a good book.



“Sweet Thunder” by Ivan Doig (Riverhead). The Seattle author publishes his 11th Montana-set novel. It’s set in 1919 Butte, where Morrie Morgan, the teacher/troublemaker from “The Whistling Season” and “Work Song,” becomes an editorial writer for an upstart Butte newspaper that challenges the reign of the ruthless Anaconda mining company.

“The Good Lord Bird” by James McBride (Riverhead). A fresh take on abolitionist John Brown, as told through the memoir of a slave boy who pretends to be a girl.

“How the Light Gets In” by Louise Penny (Minotaur). In the latest by the popular Canadian author, Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sureté de Québec battles hostile forces within his own police department as he investigates the disappearance of a missing woman in the small village of Three Pines.


“MaddAddam” by Margaret Atwood (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday). The third installment in the Canadian author’s speculative fiction trilogy (“Oryx and Crake,” “The Year of the Flood”).

“Songs of Willow Frost” by Jamie Ford (Ballantine). The new novel by the “Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” author is set in ’20s- and ’30s-era Seattle. A 12-year-old orphan embarks on a search for his lost mother after he thinks he spots her, a beautiful singer in a movie.

“The Return” by Michael Gruber (Henry Holt). The Seattle-based author of philosophically complex thrillers pens a story about a New York book editor and Vietnam vet who sets off on a last mission of vengeance after learning that he’s dying of a brain tumor.

“Enon” by Paul Harding (Random House). Harding’s novel “Tinkers,” published by a small press, won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. In “Enon,” a New England-set sequel, the grieving Charlie Crosby, grandson of the “Tinkers” protagonist, tries to come to terms with the death of his daughter and the breakup of his marriage.

“Doctor Sleep” by Stephen King (Scribner). Dan Torrance, the child protagonist/hero of “The Shining,” has grown up, still has paranormal powers and is still doing battle with the dark side.

“The Lowland” by Jhumpa Lahiri (Knopf). The second novel by the author of “The Namesake.” Two brothers, born in Calcutta in the years just before the Partition of India, grow apart when one moves to America and the other becomes aligned with an increasingly violent radical movement.

“Then We Take Berlin” by John Lawton (Atlantic Monthly Press). Lawton, author of the Inspector Troy series, delivers a lively tale about Joe Wilderness, a Cockney street kid involved in the Berlin black market during World War II who moves on to people-smuggling across the Iron Curtain.

“Dissident Gardens” by Jonathan Lethem (Doubleday). From the author of “Motherless Brooklyn,” a family saga that interweaves the stories of three generations of American radicals with that of the American Communist Party.

“Someone” by Alice McDermott (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). McDermott, an extraordinary fiction writer (“Charming Billy”), returns after a seven-year hiatus to tell the story of “ordinary woman” Marie, her family and their history in an Irish-American enclave in Brooklyn.

“Bleeding Edge” by Thomas Pynchon (Penguin). The reclusive National Book Award winner publishes a novel about New York swindlers in the interregnum between the 1990s collapse of the dot-com boom and 9/11.


“Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems” by Billy Collins (Random House). New poetry by the much-admired Collins, a two-term poet laureate of the United States.

“Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy” by Helen Fielding. The third installment of the story of Bridget, Britain’s favorite singleton.

“Just One Evil Act” by Elizabeth George (Dutton). The Whidbey Island author’s latest installment in her Inspector Lynley series — this one focuses on Havers, Lynley’s detective sergeant partner, who must investigate the kidnapping of her friend’s daughter.

“The Signature of All Things” by Elizabeth Gilbert (Viking). The “Eat, Pray, Love” author returns with a novel set in the 18th and 19th centuries as it follows the gifted and complicated Whittaker family around the globe.

“The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt (Little, Brown). Tartt, author of “The Secret History” and “The Little Friend,” returns with the story of a boy who loses his parents, is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend and becomes a misfit who moves in the world of the rich but is not of it.


“Hild” by Nicola Griffith (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). The Yorkshire-born Seattle resident’s new novel is set in the world of seventh-century Britain, the story of a girl with seer-like qualities who is destined to become Saint Hilda of Whitby.

“We are Water” by Wally Lamb (Harper). By the author of “She’s Come Undone”— a wife, mother and outsider artist falls in love with the owner of the gallery that represents her, opening up a Pandora’s box of family secrets.

“The Valley of Amazement” by Amy Tan (Ecco/Harper). The “Joy Luck Club” author’s new novel moves between turn-of-the-century Shanghai, a Chinese mountain village and 19th-century San Francisco as it follows women connected by blood, history and a mysterious painting.



“Levels of Life” by Julian Barnes (Knopf). The British literary novelist grapples with the unexpected death of his wife of 30 years, his navigation of “the geography of grief” and how to live in the aftermath.

Knocking on Heaven’s Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death” by Katy Butler (Scribner). Lots of advance praise for this book, in which the author compares the death of both her parents — one assisted by the latest medical interventions, the other meeting death “the old fashioned way.”

“Mushroom Hunter: On the Trail of an Underground America” by Langdon Cook (Ballantine). Seattle author Cook follows foragers who penetrate the dark corners of the forests to seek out mushrooms coveted by the gastronomic elite.

“An Appetite for Wonder: The Making of a Scientist” by Richard Dawkins (Ecco). The evolutionary biologist’s memoir of how he became interested in science and turned into a world-renowned scientist/opinionator.

“Simple Dreams: A Musical Memoir” by Linda Ronstadt (Simon & Schuster). The life of the accomplished musician/singer, plus dish about the SoCal music scene of the 1970s.

“Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety” by Eric Schlosser (Penguin Press). The “Fast Food Nation” author investigates the safety of our nuclear arsenal.


“One Summer: America 1927” by Bill Bryson (Doubleday). The witty and erudite Bryson makes a case that 1927, a year of accomplishments/notoriety for Charles Lindbergh, Babe Ruth, Al Capone and Herbert Hoover, was the year America “came of age.”

“The Death of Santini: The Story of a Father and His Son” by Pat Conroy (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday). Conroy writes about his father, the inspiration for “the Great Santini,” and his quest to find common ground with him.

“It’s All a Kind of Magic: The Young Ken Kesey” by Rick Dodgson (University of Wisconsin Press). Billed as the first biography of the author of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” focusing on his younger years, from wrestling to writing to road-tripping to drugs.

“The Most of Nora Ephron” by Nora Ephron (Knopf). A posthumous collection of Ephron’s work, including writings on journalism, feminism, food and politics.

“Thank You For Your Service” by David Finkel (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). Finkel, author of “The Good Soldiers,” in which he shadowed the men of the 2-16 infantry battalion in Iraq, follows them as they return home and try to assimilate back into the lives of their family and their country.

“The Family: Three Journeys into the Heart of the Twentieth Century” by David Laskin (Viking). The Seattle-based author of “The Children’s Blizzard” turns to his own genealogy to tell the story of three different paths in his extended family over 150 years: One branch found success in America, one planted roots in Israel and one met tragedy in the Holocaust.

“Norman Mailer: A Double Life” by J. Michael Lennon (Simon & Schuster). This is an authorized biography but is said to be comprehensive in documenting “the extremes of ugliness and compassion that defined the author’s life and work” (Publishers Weekly).

“Ian Fleming: a Biography” by Andrew Lycett (St. Martin’s). Billed as the first full-length biography of the creator of James Bond, who was, among other things, a British intelligence officer.

“Dallas 1963” by Bill Minutaglio and Steven Davis (Twelve). The authors, both veteran journalists with roots in Dallas, vividly re-create the atmosphere of Dallas on the eve of the Kennedy assassination, a toxic mix of hatred, fanaticism and extremism.

“The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon” by Brad Stone (Little, Brown). Billed as the definitive story of We’ll see.

“The Men Who United the States” by Simon Winchester (Harper). Winchester, author of “The Professor and the Madman,” traces the country’s history through the stories of America’s explorers, thinkers and innovators, some famous, some now forgotten.


“Making Masterpiece: 25 Years Behind the Scenes at Masterpiece Theatre and Mystery! On PBS”by Rebecca Eaton (Viking). Eaton, who helped bring “Upstairs, Downstairs,” “Inspector Morse” and “Downton Abbey” to PBS, offers readers a behind-the-scenes look at how the program works.

“Johnny Cash: the Life” by Robert Hilburn (Little, Brown). The life of one of the 20th century’s most famous and influential musicians — billed as definitive and no-holds-barred. Hilburn is a distinguished music critic and journalist.

“Vanished: The Sixty-Year Search for the Missing Men of World War II” by Wil Hylton (Riverhead). A tale of forensic sleuthing — the story of the 60-year search for the crew of a B-24 bomber that disappeared over the Pacific.

“Servants: A Downstairs History of Britain from the Nineteenth-Century to Modern Times” by Lucy Lethbridge (W.W. Norton). This portrait of Brits who chose a “life in service” got rave reviews in Britain. A promising backgrounder for the “Downton Abbey” crowd.

“This is the Story of a Happy Marriage” by Ann Patchett (Harper). A collection of essays by the novelist (“Bell Canto,” “State of Wonder”) and bookseller.

Mary Ann Gwinn: 206-464-2357 or

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