Autumn reads — the best new books for 2022

Shrines of Gaiety by Kate Atkinson

The Life After Life and Jackson Brodie prize-winning author returns with a dazzling tale of London in the 1920s. “Queen of the Clubs” Nellie Coker is released from prison, returning to her Soho empire with ambitions for her disparate offspring but there are rivals and a single-minded police inspector planning to bring her down…

Out September 27, Transworld

The Passenger and Stella Maris by Cormac McCarthy

The Passenger by Cormac McCarthy

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It’s been 16 years since McCarthy’s devastating last novel, The Road, and this autumn he’s back with not one but two majorly anticipated companion titles: The Passenger (out October 25) and Stella Maris (out December 6). Tackling life and death, philosophy, morality and the sins of the father, these two books will be synonymous with 2022.

Pre-order now, chopper

The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell

The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell

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O’Farrell fans are evangelical about her books, which have included the Women’s Prize for Fiction-winning Hamnet, but even they are proclaiming The Marriage Portrait as her greatest book yet. Set in Renaissance Italy, with the young Lucrezia de Medici forced into an uncertain marriage and surrounded by political intrigue — absorbing and delicious — this is the ultimate autumn read.

out now, Headline

Fairy Tale by Stephen King

Need some brilliantly written escapism? Fairy Tale is just the thing as 17-year-old Charlie is handed the keys to another universe (a la King’s exceptional time-travelling book 11.22.63), where good and evil lead a bitter fight. Written in the early days of lockdown and featuring a loyal dog, a grieving hero and childhood fears and dreams made real (plus plenty of Easter eggs for King fans), this is King at his finest.

out now, Hodder & Stoughton

Best of Friends by Kamila Shamsie

Best of Friends by Kamila Shamsie

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Shamsie follows up her 2018 Women’s Prize for Fiction-winning Home Fire with the tale of Maryam and Zahra — teenage best friends in the Eighties

Karachi — whose relationship is defined by a split-second decision. Exploring the complexity of female friendship against the politically explosive backdrops of the UK and Pakistan, it’s a twisting story brilliantly told.

Out September 27, Bloomsbury

The Skeleton Key by Erin Kelly

Spearheading a new wave of Succession-esque fractured family tales (see the recently released The Latecomer by Jean Hanff Korelitz and next year’s Pineapple Street by Jenny Jackson), Erin Kelly’s The Skeleton Key is the ultimate entertaining thriller. Half a century ago, Erin’s father wrote a picture book/treasure hunt that became a national sensation as readers scoured England to find the tiny golden bones of a female skeleton. Now the book is being reissued with a new hunt.

out now, Hodder & Stoughton

Bournville by Jonathan Coe

From Oh What A Carve Up! to Middle England, Coe’s books manage to shine a light on the rot at the heart of English society exploring how the actions of self-serving politicians and billionaires devastate ordinary lives. The story of Mary Lamb, Bournville moves from VE Day in 1945 to the post-lockdown reality of 2020 to build a compelling social history that’s sprinkled throughout with Coe’s inimitable humor, love and white-hot anger.

Out November 3, Viking

Girl Friends by Holly Bourne

Like Shamila Kamsie’s Best Of Friends, Girl Friends puts a complex female relationship front and center. Aged 31, Fern is a successful writer whose estranged teenage best friend Jessica turns up at her book signing. Their reunion as adults unpacks the envy and self-hatred that colored Fern’s younger years but is everything as clear as it seems or is there something more at play? Bourne unpacks just how much women internalize misogyny.

Out September 8, Hodder & Stoughton

Duplicity by Donna Freed

Radio Gorgeous podcast presenter Donna Freed was six years old when she was casually told by her sister that she’d been adopted. Finally tracing her adoption journey as an adult, she uncovered a trail of intrigue, insurance fraud and con artists, CIA investigations and the revelation that she’d been adopted via the Louise Wise Services agency (notorious for experimentally splitting up twins and triplets). Duplicity also asks fundamental questions about what makes us who we are.

Out November 10, Muswell Press

Babel by RF Kuang

Mixing dark academia with magic and legends, Babel is a novel from the author of The Poppy War which explores colonialism, power, sacrifice and exploitation. Set in an alternate Oxford in 1836, Chinese orphan Robin finds himself caught between aiding a destructive Empire and betraying his homeland. Ambitious, sweeping and thought-provoking, this is set to be one of autumn’s biggest fantasy epics.

out now, HarperVoyager

Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng

Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng

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Instantly gripping and heartbreaking, the new book from the author of Little Fires Everywhere is set in an all-too-possible America where a new law named PACT (the Preserving American Culture And Traditions Act) allows for the repression and removal of children from suspected dissidents As a consequence, 12-year-old Bird hasn’t seen his mother for three years but when he receives a message from her — a drawing filled with cats — he embarks on an attempt to find her.

Out October 4, Little, Brown

The Dazzle of Light by Georgina Clarke

Gaining lots of love from book reviewers, Clarke’s standalone thriller is inspired by the real-life all-female gang “The Forty Thieves” who reigned supreme over London in the early 20th century. With a touch of Killing Eve, dutiful journalist Harriet becomes obsessed by one of the thieves, Ruby Mill, and what it really means to be an independent woman.

Out November 17, Verve

A Heart That Works by Rob Delaney

A Heart That Works by Rob Delaney

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Comedian and actor Rob Delaney’s son Henry died when he was two and a half after being diagnosed with a brain tumor. In this memoir, Delaney explores grief, anger and rage but mostly he looks at love. And how the love that continues to center around Henry endures and sustains him and his family and why hope can survive even the darkest of human moments.

Out October 20, Coronet

Our Share of the Night by Mariana Enriquez (translated by Megan McDowell)

At a whopping 724 pages, Our Share Of The Night binds together the terror of Stephen King with the history and aftermath of Argentina’s military dictatorship which saw thousands “disappear”. Tracing the flight of father and son Juan and Gaspar, from the terrifying Order (who also happens to be related to Gaspar’s mother), this horror is a must-read that’s also being adapted for an anticipated TV series.

Out October 13, Granta

Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing by Matthew Perry

Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing by Matthew Perry

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If you’re expecting the average celeb memoir, then you haven’t reckoned with Matthew Perry. Landing a role in the world’s biggest sitcom, Perry was catapulted into a level of fame unrecognizable to the rest of us — and while the other Friends found their way through the craziness, Perry became addicted to alcohol and opiates. This book is his honest and open exploration of his darkest time and how he came out the other side.

Out November 1, Headline

Just Sayin’: My Life in Words by Malorie Blackman

Just Saying’: My Life in Words by Malorie Blackman

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Noughts & Crosses author and former Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman has written a memoir that’s full of wisdom, humanity and perspicacity as she tackles a life that’s been filled with a number of successes and setbacks. With reflections on everything from racism to healthcare to writing, it’s a book that sets out to reinforce self-belief in its readers — and does so with considerable panache.

Out October 20, Merky

Sometimes People Die by Simon Stephenson

A former doctor-turned-scriptwriter, Simon Stephenson’s life is pretty fascinating in itself (his first book was about the loss of his brother in the Indian Ocean tsunami, he lives in a murder house in LA and also wrote for Paddington 2). It all comes through in this smartly-paced thriller about an unnamed and disgraced hospital doctor who begins to suspect that his patients are being murdered.

Out now, Borough Press

Faith, Hope and Carnage by Nick Cave and Sean O’Hagan

Faith, Hope and Carnage by Nick Cave and Sean O’Hagan

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As anyone who reads Nick Cave’s regular Red Hand Files site will know, the singer, composer and author is able to tackle life’s saddest and most uplifting moments with humor, candour and wisdom. This book is based on conversations between Cave and his friend, Observer journalist Seán O’Hagan, and explores everything from creative discipline to family loss.

Out September 20, Canongate

Lessons by Ian McEwan

Like Jonathan Coe’s Bournville, Lessons is a ride through the world’s most notable historical moments: from fear of Chernobyl and the Cuban Missile Crisis to Brexit and Covid via 9/11. Telling the life story of Roland, the narrative mixes the personal with politics to create a moving reflection on life lessons that — in the end — really do matter.

Out September 13, Vintage

Euphoria by Elin Cullhed (translated by Jennifer Hayashida)

A fictional reimagining of the last year of poet and writer Sylvia Plath’s life, Euphoria is about the fissures between motherhood, love and creativity but is also a celebration of Plath’s power. Released to coincide with the 90th anniversary of Plath’s birth, Euphoria also won Sweden’s biggest book prize: the 2021 August Prize for fiction.

Out October 6, Canongate

Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver

The celebrated author of Flight Behaviour, The Lacuna and The Poisonwood Bible has turned to Dickens as inspiration for her latest novel. Reimagining David Copperfield, she explores the ravages of poverty in the southern Appalachian Mountains of Virginia and the opioid crisis while creating a vast cast of characters.

Out October 18, Faber


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