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Every month, a deluge of new books comes flooding out from big publishers, indie houses, and self-publishing platforms. So every month, The A.V. Club narrows down the endless options to five (or six) of the books we’re most excited about.


My Time Among The Whites: Notes From An Unfinished Education by Jennine Capó Crucet (September 3, Picador)

The daughter of Cuban refugees, Jennine Capó Crucet was named after a Miss USA contestant with the thought that a “white”-sounding name would help her succeed in the U.S. In her debut essay collection, My Time Among The Whites, Crucet interrogates identity, assimilation, and success through the eyes of an outsider. The opening essay—an earlier version of which appeared in The New York Times, where Crucet is a contributing opinion writer—traces her decision over where to go to college: the more affordable and closer to home University Of Florida or the expensive but more prestigious Cornell. “[There] was this vague promise being held out to me, to my family—not just of economic opportunity, but of the opportunity to transcend the limits of my imagination about who I might someday be,” she writes of the Ivy League university. Following an award-winning novel and short story collection, My Time Among The Whites explores what it means to come of age and live in a country designed to exclude you. [Laura Adamczyk]


The Testaments by Margaret Atwood (September 10, Nan A. Talese)

Margaret Atwood’s 1985 dystopian classic, The Handmaid’s Tale, ends with a punch to the gut: Readers never find out what happens to its narrator. Were Offred’s diary recordings made while on the run, stashed while in hiding, or in between races for her life? Were they made when she was safe and sound? This sequel we didn’t know we were waiting for picks up 15 years after the Handmaid (possibly) broke free from the oppressive Gilead regime, stepping into an escape van and the unknown. What’s also unknown: Atwood has said the testaments of the title come from three female narrators from Gilead, though we don’t know if Offred is one of them. In a press release, the author said, “Everything you’ve ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book. Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we’ve been living in.” [Caitlin PenzeyMoog]


The Institute by Stephen King (September 10, Scribner)

September’s a big month for Stephen King. Okay, every month’s a big month for Stephen King. Still, it’s a big deal for the ever-prolific author to drop a new novel in the same month that The Shawshank Redemption celebrates its 25th anniversary, and his highest-grossing adaptation of all time, It, drops an anticipated sequel. The Institute shares some DNA with The Losers’ Club, focusing on a gang of bound-by-fate pre-teens who’ve been abducted and plunked in an eerie research facility that aims to tap into the nascent telepathic and telekinetic powers of its subjects. For what purpose? That’s what we’ll find out in the Back Half, both of the Institute and the book itself. The premise hearkens also to King’s pyrokinetic thriller Firestarter, which has us wondering whether The Shop, that book’s nefarious government agency, is somehow involved. It’s not like King’s shy about intersecting his worlds, after all. [Randall Colburn]


High School by Tegan And Sara (September 24, MCD)

It could be the name of one of their albums: High School. The joint memoir by Juno Award-winning indie-pop musicians Tegan And Sara arrives the same week as their next album, Hey, I’m Just Like You. Alternating chapters, the identical twin sisters detail their formative years growing up in Calgary, Alberta—from their school troubles to their parents’ divorce to grappling with their sexual identities. “Writing High School gives us the opportunity to tell the intricate stories that shaped our relationship as sisters, musicians, and queer girls,” the Quin sisters said upon the book’s announcement last year. [Laura Adamczyk]


The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates (September 24, One World)

Ta-Nehisi Coates, one of America’s foremost writers on race and history, began the summer presenting his case for reparations before a House committee, five years after publishing his Atlantic article on the subject—getting in some pointed criticism of Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell in the process. This fall looks to be as eventful, if not more so, for the National Book Award-winning author, as Coates makes his fiction debut with a historical novel set in pre-Civil War America. The Water Dancer follows Hiram Walker, a slave escaping the Deep South for the North. An excerpt published in The New Yorker in June, which finds Walker overwhelmed by his new life of freedom in Philadelphia, suggests Coates’ fiction will be as elegantly and powerfully written as his nonfiction. [Laura Adamczyk]


Year Of The Monkey by Patti Smith (September 24, Knopf)

In her memoirs, Patti Smith has let us in on some of the most transformative years of her life and career: her early days in New York, on the precipice of fame with young lover and lifelong friend Robert Mapplethorpe (Just Kids); the decade of intense personal loss that began with Mapplethorpe’s passing in 1989, followed by the deaths of her husband, Fred Sonic Smith, then her brother in quick succession (M Train); the grainy memories of her youth in South Jersey (Woolgathering). The forthcoming Year Of The Monkey recounts, in her signature narrative blur of fact and fiction, the year of solitary travel leading up to her 70th birthday, one marked by great national political turmoil. We typically find Patti Smith in the cafés and literary landmarks of NYC and Europe, so we’re eager to follow her journey out west, tracing her boot prints through the sand down the California coastline, then back toward Kentucky. [Kelsey J. Waite]


More in September: Fly Already by Etgar Keret (September 3, Riverhead); Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs by Caitlin Doughty (September 10, W.W. Norton); The Divers’ Game by Jesse Ball (September 10, Ecco); She Said by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey (September 10, Penguin Press); Red At The Bone by Jacqueline Woodson (September 17, Riverhead); Coventry by Rachel Cusk (September 17, Farrar, Straus and Giroux); Sontag: Her Life And Work by Benjamin Moser (September 17, Ecco); The Undying by Anne Boyer (September 17, Farrar, Straus and Giroux); Opioid, Indiana by Brian Allen Carr (September 17, Soho); Nice Try by Josh Gondelman (September 17, Harper); Inside Out by Demi Moore (Harper, September 24); The Fool And Other Moral Tales by Anne Serre (September 24, New Directions); Rusty Brown by Chris Ware (September 24, Pantheon); Make It Scream Make It Burn by Leslie Jamison (September 24, Little, Brown); The Incompletes by Sergio Chejfec (September 24, Open Letter)

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