Looking for those books that are more character-driven than plot-driven? We have you covered with a list of bestselling authors you’re already acquainted with and debut authors making their mark in the genre. So make space on your bookshelves, stop by your favorite indie bookstore, and make those library requests after you’ve browsed our most anticipated literary fiction books of Fall 2021!
Fault Lines by Emily Itami
Combining the incisive intimacy of Sally Rooney with the sharp wit of Helen Fielding, a compulsively readable and astonishingly relatable debut novel about marriage, motherhood, love, self and the vibrant, surprising city that is modern Tokyo.
Summer Light, and Then Comes the Night by Jon Kalman Stefansson
Sometimes, in small places, life becomes bigger.
SUMMER LIGHT AND THEN COMES THE NIGHT is a profound and playful masterwork from one of Iceland’s most beloved authors that explores the dreams and desires of ordinary people in a rural town.
The Archer by Shruti Swamy
In this transfixing novel, a young woman comes of age in 1960s- and 1970s-era Bombay, a vanished world that is complex and indelibly rendered.
In Every Mirror She’s Black by Lolá Ákínmádé Åkerström
In Every Mirror She’s Black is a fast-paced, richly nuanced yet accessible contemporary novel that touches on important social issues of racism, classism, fetishization, and tokenism, and what it means to be a Black woman navigating a white-dominated society.
Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney
Alice, a novelist, meets Felix, who works in a warehouse, and asks him if he’d like to travel to Rome with her. In Dublin, her best friend, Eileen, is getting over a break-up, and slips back into flirting with Simon, a man she has known since childhood.
The War for Gloria by Atticus Lish
From the author of the PEN/Faulkner Award-winning debut novel Preparation for the Next Life, a gripping, tender, unforgettable story about fathers and sons, regret and redemption.
Talk to Me by T.C. Boyle
From bestselling and award-winning author T.C. Boyle, a lively, thought-provoking novel that asks us what it would be like if we could really talk to the animals.
Snowflake by Louise Nealon
An exquisitely talented young Irish writer makes her literary debut with this powerful and haunting novel–a tale of love and family, depression and joy, and coming of age in the twenty-first century.
Assembly by Natasha Brown
The daughter of one of the South’s most famous Baptist preachers discovers a shocking secret about her father that puts her at odds with both her faith and her family.
Lean Fall Stand by Jon Mcgregor
Tenderly unraveling different notions of heroism through the rippling effects of one extraordinary expedition on an ordinary family, Lean Fall Stand explores the indomitable human impulse to turn our experiences into stories–even when the words may fail us.
The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki
With its blend of sympathetic characters, riveting plot, and vibrant engagement with everything from jazz, to climate change, to our attachment to material possessions, The Book of Form and Emptiness is classic Ruth Ozeki–bold, wise, poignant, playful, humane and heartbreaking.
Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth by Wole Soyinka
The first Black winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature gives us a tour de force, his first novel in nearly half a century: a savagely satiric, gleefully irreverent, rollicking fictional meditation on how power and greed can corrupt the soul of a nation.
Love and Other Thought Experiments by Sophie Ward
This impressive debut novel, longlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize, takes its premise and inspiration from ten of the best-known thought experiments in philosophy–the what-ifs of philosophical investigation–and uses them to talk about love in a wholly unique way.
The Morning Star by Karl Ove Knausgaard
Sankofa by Chibundu Onuzo
Masterful in its examination of freedom, prejudice, and personal and public inheritance, Sankofa is a story for anyone who has ever gone looking for a clear identity or home, and found something more complex in its place.
My Monticello by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson
A young woman descended from Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings driven from her neighborhood by a white militia. A university professor studying racism by conducting a secret social experiment on his own son. A single mother desperate to buy her first home even as the world hurtles toward catastrophe. Each fighting to survive in America.
Tales from the Cafe by Toshikazu Kawaguchi
From the author of the international bestseller Before the Coffee Gets Cold, this book follows four new customers who hope to travel back in time in a little Japanese café.
What Happens at Night by Peter Cameron
An unnamed American couple travels to a strange, snowy European city to adopt a baby. It’s a difficult journey that leaves the wife, who is struggling with cancer, desperately weak, and her husband worries that her illness will prevent the orphanage from releasing their child.
Monster in the Middle by Tiphanie Yanique
From the award-winning author of Land of Love and Drowning, an electric new novel that maps the emotional inheritance of one couple newly in love.
Dreaming of You by Melissa Lozada-Oliva
A macabre novel in verse of loss, longing, and identity crises following a poet who resurrects pop star Selena from the dead. Melissa Lozada-Oliva’s Dreaming of You is an absurd yet heartfelt examination of celebrity worship.
Burntcoat by Sarah Hall
An intimate and vital examination of how and why we create–make art, form relationships, build a life–and an urgent exploration of an unprecedented crisis, the repercussions of which are still years in the learning.
New York, My Village by Uwem Akpan
Akpan’s prose melds humor, tenderness, and pain to explore the myriad ways that tribalisms define life everywhere, from the villages of Nigeria to the villages within New York City. New York, My Village is a triumph of storytelling and a testament to the life-sustaining power of community across borders and across boroughs.
The Sentence by Louise Erdrich
In this unusual and forceful novel, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning author Louise Erdrich creates a wickedly funny ghost story, a tale of passion, of a complex marriage, and of a woman’s relentless errors.
O Beautiful by Jung Yun
From the critically-acclaimed author of Shelter, an unflinching portrayal of a woman trying to come to terms with the ghosts of her past and the tortured realities of a deeply divided America.
Chouette by Claire Oshetsky
Arresting, darkly funny, and unsettling, Chouette is a brilliant exploration of ambition, sacrifice, perceptions of ability, and the ferocity of motherly love.
The Teller of Secrets by Bisi Adjapon
In this stunning debut novel–a tale of self-discovery and feminist awakening–a feisty Nigerian-Ghanaian girl growing up amid the political upheaval of late 1960s postcolonial Ghana begins to question the hypocrisy of her patriarchal society, and the restrictions and unrealistic expectations placed on women.
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