Anticipated Reads: September Spotlight
By Sarah Ernestine, Meg Jones, Ellie Gibbs, Rebecca Ramlakhan, Genevieve Bernard and Bayley Cornfield
Beautiful Country: A Memoir by Qian Julie Wang
7 September, Doubleday
Wang’s astonishing memoir gives readers an insight into life as an undocumented child living in poverty in one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Seven-year-old Wang arrives in New York in 1994, and she and her family, at first full of hope and dreaming of a better life, are met with brutal conditions and the constant dread of being found out. Her parents were intellectuals in China, but in America they have to work in sweatshops and scramble to survive. Their new life takes its toll on their relationships and their family life quickly disintegrates. Despite her unhappy situation, Wang searches for the ‘beautiful country’ America she so desperately wants to believe in. But when her mother collapses, revealing an illness she has kept a secret for fear of being discovered as an undocumented immigrant, their lives spin further into despair. Wang dreams of a day when people will be treated humanely; she writes this poignant and eloquent memoir as a way of letting others know that they are not alone, and that it is possible to survive and even flourish in the darkest of circumstances.
We Are Not Broken by George M. Johnson
7 September, Little, Brown Books
This immersive, honest and heart-breaking new memoir comes from George M. Johnson, the bestselling author of All Boys Aren’t Blue. As their second memoir, it is targeted towards adolescent readers and is a beautifully touching exploration of childhood, boyhood and family. Johnson grew up as one of four boys raised by their grandmother, Nanny, who protected and nurtured them through all of life’s loves and heartaches. They recall their earliest experiences of racism, of childhood as a Black boy in America, and the importance of their brotherhood. Collated with elements of mixed media, including letters from Nanny, and written in the same conversational style as their previous memoir, We Are Not Broken is a truly incredible read.
Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead
14 September, Doubleday
Harlem Shuffle is a novel filled with secrecy, suspense and action. Set in New York in the early 1960s, Colson Whitehead tells the story of Ray Carney, a seemingly reputable salesman of fairly priced furniture, who provides well for himself and his family. What people don’t know about Ray is that he lives a secret life of crookery and indecency. When his cousin, Freddie, involves himself with a crew who plan to rob the Hotel Theresa – the ‘Waldorf of Harlem’ – he volunteers Ray’s services. But the robbery fails, and Ray is left with a new set of customers: sketchy cops, aggressive gangsters and cheap pornographers. As he struggles to balance his double life, Ray slowly begins to understand who controls Harlem. Can he maintain his reputation as a decent, respectable man without letting his thuggish alter ego get the better of him?
The Last Graduate by Naomi Novik
28 September, Cornerstone
Readers are invited back to the Scholomance, a lethal school of magic and monsters, in Naomi Novik’s latest instalment, The Last Graduate. The first book in the series, A Deadly Education, introduced us to this treacherous world – a boarding school without teachers, where few students make it to graduation alive. This sequel continues to follow the story of El, a dark sorceress fighting against the evil within, and her students as they battle their way to the end of the school year. El learns that sometimes in order to win, you have to be willing to break the rules.
Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr
28 September, 4th Estate
Seven years after the success of All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr is set to release a new novel which will certainly be loved by readers of all genres. Set in 15th century Constantinople, in present-day Idaho and on an interstellar spaceship decades into the future, Doerr weaves a careful web to reveal patterns of interconnectivity between each of us, other species and time. The story of Aethon links the three narratives together and emphasises the power of storytelling across generations. This exciting new novel is a tale redemption and the beauty of books, humans and the Earth.