What Our Literary Editor Thinks You Should Be Reading This October

Sam Peet / © Culture Trip
Photo of Matthew Janney
Uk Books Editor3 October 2018

From a new epic by Haruki Murakami to a debut short story collection on race relations in America, here are October’s most notable new book releases.

‘Killing Commendatore’ by Haruki Murakami

Japanese literary heavyweight Haruki Murakami – a favourite for the 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature before it was postponed – has returned with a 700-page epic described as a “loving homage to The Great Gatsby [1925]”. In Killing Commendatore, a Japanese artist uncovers a painting hidden in the attic of a mountain retreat and embarks on a strange and surreal journey, reflecting on art, war, love and self-discovery.

'Killing Commendatore' by Haruki Murakami | © Harvill Secker

‘Melmoth’ by Sarah Perry

Sarah Perry’s latest novel, Melmoth, draws from Charles Maturin’s 19th-century classic Melmoth the Wanderer, the legendary tale of a woman condemned to walk the Earth forever. Beguiling, gripping and thought provoking, Perry’s work is both a riveting story and a sophisticated exploration of moral complexity.

‘Unsheltered’ by Barbara Kingsolver

Barbara Kingsolver’s Unsheltered follows two kindred spirits living nearly 150 years apart, who find themselves fighting to make their voices heard – one resisting Trumpism in 2016, the other advocating for the study of Darwinism in 1871. Unsheltered is both an astute insight into society’s unwillingness to adapt and a rallying cry for the power of the individual.

‘Friday Black’ by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

Hailed as “an excitement and a wonder” by Man Booker Prize-winning author George Saunders, Friday Black is Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s debut collection of short stories exploring race in contemporary America. Pondering pop culture, the US justice system and the dangers of consumerism, Friday Black is an urgent and timely debut.

'Friday Black' by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah | © Riverrun

‘Red Birds’ by Mohammed Hanif

Red Birds is British-Pakistani author Mohammed Hanif’s fourth novel and centres on an American pilot who finds refuge in a desert camp he was instructed to bomb. Recounting both the pilot’s inner turmoil and the politics of camp life, Hanif combines dark comedy with poignant human insight.

‘Brief Answers to the Big Questions’ by Stephen Hawking

In this posthumous work, the world-renowned British cosmologist Stephen Hawking tackles the most urgent issues of today – from climate change to the rise of AI – through a scientific lens. Characteristically witty and erudite, Brief Answers to the Big Questions is Hawking’s final literary gift to the world.

‘Limbo’ by Dan Fox

Dan Fox’s Limbo is the latest essay published by London-based Fitzcarraldo Editions, following on from his acclaimed work Pretentiousness: Why it Matters (2016). Described as a “companion for the stuck, the isolated, delayed, stranded and those in the dark”, Fox’s meditation outlines how periods of limbo and stagnation are prerequisites for creativity and human growth.

'Limbo' by Dan Fox | © Fitzcarraldo Editions

‘Tales From the Inner City’ by Shaun Tan

Tales From the Inner City is a graphic novel exploring “urban co-existence” from award-winning Australian artist Shaun Tan. With the relationship between humans and animals at its centre, Tan’s work is a thoughtful meditation on humanity’s instincts to both destroy and protect its fellow earthlings.

‘Hell’ by Alasdair Gray

Hell is a “decorated and Englished” version of Dante’s La Divina Commedia, by Scottish poet Alasdair Gray. Reimagined and retold, Hell only deals with the first part to Dante’s 14th-century epic poem, so expect subsequent editions from the acclaimed creator of Lanark (1981).

‘White Dancing Elephants’ by Chaya Bhuvaneswar

White Dancing Elephants is a collection of short stories by Chaya Bhuvaneswar’s, shining a light on feminist, queer, religious and immigrant stories relating to women of colour. Lauded by American novelist and short story writer Lauren Groff, Chaya Bhuvaneswar’s stories have earned her substantial critical attention as well as the Dzanc Books Short Story Collection Prize in 2017.

'White Dancing Elephants' by Chaya Bhuvaneswar | © Dzanc Books

‘The Remainder’ by Alia Trabucco Zerán

The Remainder by Alia Trabucco Zerán – one of South America’s emerging literary stars – is the latest book released by And Other Stories as part of their year-long campaign to publish works exclusively authored by women. Set in Santiago, Chile, three children of ex-militants try to find their own way to live on in a society bruised and scarred by dictatorship.

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