This fall is marked by a number of letter collections that promise to reveal new facets of familiar authors, and by essay collections from the expected mix of established and rising authors.

Top 10

Call Them by Their True Names: American Crises

Rebecca Solnit. Haymarket, Sept. 4

Solnit, best known for the bestselling Men Explain Things to Me, offers her take on the Trump era, visiting different fronts of the “war at home.”

Daemon Voices: On Stories and Storytelling

Philip Pullman. Knopf, Sept. 18

The first essay collection from the bestselling children’s novelist, author of the His Dark Materials trilogy, shares details about his process and influences.

The Dark Interval: Letters on Loss, Grief, and Transformation

Rainer Maria Rilke, trans. by Ulrich Baer. Modern Library, Aug. 14

Conceived as a follow-up to Rilke’s classic Letters to a Young Poet, this newly assembled and translated collection presents the poet’s thoughts on mortality and grieving.

The End of the End of the Earth: Essays

Jonathan Franzen. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Nov. 13

The acclaimed novelist tackles favorite themes—family, birds—in his latest nonfiction offering, taken from essays and speeches written mostly in the past five years

In Search of Lost Books: The Forgotten Stories of Eight Mythical Volumes

Giorgio Van Straten, trans. by Simon Carnell and Erica Segre. Pushkin, Oct. 2

Van Straten’s account of real-life literary mysteries should tantalize, and possibly frustrate, bibliophiles with details of the lost or unrealized works of famous writers.

The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Vol. 2

Edited by Peter K. Steinberg and Karen V. Kukil. Harper, Oct. 30

The second, and last, installment in a complete collection of Plath’s correspondence includes many letters not previously available to readers.

Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know: The Fathers of Wilde, Yeats, and Joyce

Colm Tóibín. Scribner, Oct. 23

The author of Brooklyn views the Irish literary tradition through an unusual lens by profiling the fathers of three of Ireland’s greatest writers.

Ralph Ellison: A Life in Letters

Edited by John F. Callahan and Marc Conner. Random House, Dec. 4

Spanning six decades, this book of correspondence is organized to function as the autobiography Ellison never wrote.

Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves

Edited by Glory Edim. Ballantine, Oct. 16

Edim, founder of the popular book club and website Well-Read Black Girl, brings together essays from an impressive roster of prominent black female authors.

What If This Were Enough? Essays

Heather Havrilesky. Doubleday, Oct. 2

Readers are invited to embrace imperfection and the everyday in this collection of essays from the author of the bestselling How to Be a Person in the World.

Essays Literary Criticism Listings


Women Who Write Are Dangerous by Stefan Bollmann (Sept. 11, hardcover, $22.95, ISBN 978-0-7892-1317-4). A sequel to the bestselling Women Who Read Are Dangerous, this book comprises profiles of some 50 famous female authors, from Mary Wollstonecraft, Jane Austen, and George Sand, to Dorothy Parker, Simone de Beauvoir, and Toni Morrison.

Agate Midway

The Best of Royko: The Tribune Years by Mike Royko, edited by David Royko (Aug. 14, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-1-57284-255-7) offers up highlights, selected by Royko’s son, from the last stage of Royko’s long career as a Chicago newspaper columnist.


Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves, edited by Glory Edim (Oct. 16, hardcover, $20, ISBN 978-0-525-61977-2). The founder of the website and book club Well-Read Black Girl assembles a group of essays by black female writers, including N.K. Jemisin, Jesmyn Ward, and Jacqueline Woodson, on issues of representation and diversity in literature.


In the Shadow of King Saul: Essays on Silence and Song by Jerome Charyn (Aug. 28, trade paper, $16.99, ISBN 978-1-942658-42-9). Charyn shares personal reflections on places steeped in history and myth, notably his native New York City, and on larger-than-life personalities from the Bible and from film, literature, politics, sports, and his own family.

Black Dog Leventhal

The Great American Read: The Book of Books by PBS (Aug. 21, hardcover, $29.99, ISBN 978-0-316-41755-6). This illustrated companion volume to PBS’s 2018 series The Great American Read, about America’s 100 most popular novels as determined by a national survey, includes facts and images relating to each title chosen.

Literary Landscapes: Charting the Worlds of Classic Literature by John Sutherland (Oct. 16, hardcover, $29.99, ISBN 978-0-316-56182-2). The follow-up to Literary Wonderlands covers more than 50 literary locales, including Leopold Bloom’s Dublin and Huckleberry Finn’s Mississippi River, with hundreds of full-color images.


Freedom Fighters and Hell Raisers: A Gallery of Memorable Southerners by Hal Crowther (Oct. 9, hardcover, $21.95, ISBN 978-0-932112-77-4) commemorates a past generation of Southern writers with profiles of celebrated figures, most of whom Crowther knew personally, including James Dickey, Molly Ivins, and Doc Watson.

Bodleian Library

The Making of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein by Daisy Hay (Nov. 15, trade paper, $22.50, ISBN 978-1-85124-486-7) recounts the turbulent creation and long afterlife of Mary Shelley’s famous first novel, with the help of manuscripts, portraits, and illustrations.


What If This Were Enough? Essays by Heather Havrilesky (Oct. 2, hardcover, $25.95, ISBN 978-0-385-54288-3). Havrilesky (How to Be a Person in the World) brings together original and reprinted pieces in this collection about the loaded expectations of modern American life and the need to embrace imperfection.

Duke Univ.

See It Feelingly: Classic Novels, Autistic Readers, and the Schooling of a No-Good English Professor by Ralph James Savarese (Oct. 12, hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-1-4780-0130-0). Savarese, an English professor, challenges claims about autistic people’s limited ability to appreciate literature, sharing discussions he’s had about classic texts with readers from across the autism spectrum.


Bootlegger of the Soul: The Literary Legacy of William Kennedy, edited by Suzanne Lance and Paul Grondahl (Oct. 1, hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-1-4384-7331-4), celebrates the Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist, known for his depictions of Albany, whose books include Ironweed and Legs.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

The End of the End of the Earth: Essays by Jonathan Franzen (Nov. 13, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0-374-14793-8) gathers essays and speeches, written mostly in the past five years, in which the acclaimed novelist ruminates on recurrent themes in his writing.

The Patch by John McPhee (Nov. 13, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-0-374-22948-1). McPhee’s seventh collection of essays is divided into two parts, the first devoted to pieces on various sports, the second to fragmentary writings not published in book form.


We Begin in Gladness: How Poets Progress by Craig Morgan Teicher (Nov. 6, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-55597-821-1). Teicher, a poet and PW’s director of special editorial projects, looks at how poets develop their art, tracing the artistic growth of renowned figures including John Ashbery, Louise Glück, and Sylvia Plath.


The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Vol. 2, edited by Peter K. Steinberg and Karen V. Kukil (Oct. 30, hardcover, $45, ISBN 978-0-06-274058-8), completes the definitive collection of the Pulitzer Prize–winning poet’s correspondence, covering the years 1957 to 1963, from the early days of Plath’s marriage to Ted Hughes to the days leading up to her suicide.


Call Them by Their True Names: American Crises by Rebecca Solnit (Sept. 4, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-60846-946-8). In this collection, Solnit, author of the international bestseller Men Explain Things to Me, looks at a variety of injustices in the contemporary U.S. under the rubric of the “war at home.”

Indiana Univ.

The Tears of the Black Man by Alain Mabanckou, trans. by Dominic Thomas (Aug. 1, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-0-253-03583-7), confronts the ways in which the entangled histories of Africa, France, and the U.S. have been shaped by slavery and colonialism, while arguing against a preoccupation with victimization and historical crimes.


Daemon Voices: On Stories and Storytelling by Philip Pullman (Sept. 18, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-525-52117-4). The author of The Golden Compass discusses his craft and shares influences on his work in this assemblage of essays and speeches. 30,000-copy announced first printing.


Charm: The Elusive Enchantment by Joseph Epstein (Oct. 1, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-1-4930-3579-3). Essayist Epstein devotes this book to a quality he finds rare in modern culture, but does find in the work of such artists as Fred Astaire, C.P. Cavafy, and Blossom Dearie.

Modern Library

The Dark Interval: Letters on Loss, Grief, and Transformation by Rainer Maria Rilke, trans. by Ulrich Baer (Aug. 14, hardcover, $22, ISBN 978-0-525-50984-4), offers never-before-translated selections from Rilke’s prolific correspondence, presenting the poet writing to bereaved friends and acquaintances, and dispensing consolation and reflections on mortality.

New Directions

Condition of Secrecy by Inger Christensen, trans. by Susanna Nied (Nov. 27, trade paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-0-8112-2811-4). Available in English for the first time, this collection brings together notable essays and other prose pieces from Christensen, widely regarded as one of the 20th century’s most influential Scandinavian writers.

New York Review Books

Essayism: On Form, Feeling, and Nonfiction by Brian Dillon (Sept. 18, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-68137-282-2) serves as an ode to the essay form and to great essayists from Montaigne to Woolf to Sontag.

Lost Time: Lectures on Proust in a Soviet Prison Camp by Józef Czapski, trans. by Eric Karpeles (Nov. 6, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-68137-258-7), presents the painter and writer’s lectures on Proust, first given in an unusual setting—a Soviet prison camp during WWII—in their first English translation.

Penguin Books

Maeve in America: Essays by a Girl from Somewhere Else by Maeve Higgins (Aug. 7, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-0-14-313016-1). In this book of essays, comedian and podcaster Higgins recounts leaving her native Ireland to live in New York City.


Everything’s Trash, but It’s Okay by Phoebe Robinson (Oct. 16, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-525-53414-3). One of the podcasters of 2 Dope Queens takes on gender, race, dating, and politics in her second essay collection, after You Can’t Touch My Hair.

Princeton Univ.

The Correspondence of Henry D. Thoreau, Vol. 2: 1849–1856, edited by Robert N. Hudspeth, with Elizabeth Hall Witherell and Lihong Xie (Nov. 6, hardcover, $99.50, ISBN 978-0-691-17058-9), is the second volume in the first comprehensive scholarly edition of Thoreau’s correspondence in more than 50 years.


In Search of Lost Books: The Forgotten Stories of Eight Mythical Volumes by Giorgio Van Straten, trans. by Simon Carnell and Erica Segre (Oct. 2, hardcover, $22, ISBN 978-1-78227-372-1), shares the stories of eight lost books, including novels by Hemingway and Plath and the memoirs of Byron, exploring the circumstances behind their disappearances.

Random House

Attention: Dispatches from a Land of Distraction by Joshua Cohen (Aug. 14, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-399-59021-4). The first collection of nonfiction from novelist Cohen takes on a varied group of subjects, including Olympic women’s fencing, Atlantic City casinos, fake Caravaggios, and the closing of the Ringling Bros. circus.

Ralph Ellison: A Life in Letters, edited by John F. Callahan and Marc Conner (Dec. 4, hardcover, $40, ISBN 978-0-8129-9852-8). These previously unpublished letters spanning 1933–1993 function as an autobiography for the acclaimed author of Invisible Man.


Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know: The Fathers of Wilde, Yeats, and Joyce by Colm Tóibín (Oct. 23, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-4767-8517-2) looks at Irish culture, history, and literature through the lives and work of three men—William Wilde, John Butler Yeats, and John Stanislaus Joyce—and their complicated relationships with their famous sons.

State Univ. of New York

Cultural Journeys into the Arab World: A Literary Anthology by Dalya Cohen-Mor (Oct. 1, trade paper, $34.95, ISBN 978-1-4384-7114-3) provides a fascinating window into Arab culture and society through the voices of its writers.

On Self-Translation: Meditations on Language by Ilan Stavans (Nov. 1, trade paper, $26.95, ISBN 978-1-4384-7148-8). The scholar and translator explores linguistics in a series of conversations and essays, discussing how language can be transformed by technology, the young, and the process of translation.

Temple Univ.

Where I Have Never Been: Migration, Melancholia, and Memory in Asian American Narratives of Return by Patricia P. Chu (Jan. 4, trade paper, $39.95, ISBN 978-1-4399-0226-4) explores the thematic preoccupation with return in Asian-American literature, touching on both literal and symbolic return visits.

Ugly Duckling

Ideas Have No Smell: Three Belgian Surrealist Booklets, edited and trans. by M. Kasper (Sept. 25, trade paper, $30, ISBN 978-1-946433-13-8), gathers representative and notable works from three Belgian surrealists: poet and photographer Paul Nougé, painter and poet Paul Colinet, and lawyer and anarchist Louis Scutenaire.

Univ. of Massachusetts

People in a Magazine: The Selected Letters of S.N. Behrman and His Editors at the New Yorker, edited by Joseph Goodrich (Oct. 26, trade paper, $24.95, ISBN 978-1-62534-399-4), collects critic and playwright Behrman’s correspondence with his editors at the New Yorker, along with other archival materials, to give a view of mid-20th-century literary life.

Univ. of Minnesota

Iron Curtain Journals: January–May 1965 by Allen Ginsberg, edited by Michael Schumacher (Nov. 6, hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-0-8166-9959-9). In this travel narrative, Ginsberg discusses his poetry, political engagements, and encounters with high-profile people while traveling through the Soviet Union and elsewhere.

None of This Is Normal: The Fiction of Jeff VanderMeer by Benjamin J. Robertson (Nov. 13, trade paper, $19.95, ISBN 978-1-5179-0293-3). The first book-length study of the SF writer focuses on the three major series that propelled him to prominence—his Vennis fictions, Ambergris novels, and Southern Reach trilogy—as well as the standalone novel Borne.

Univ. of Missouri

The Pull of Politics: Steinbeck, Wright, Hemingway, and the Left in the Late 1930s by Milton A. Cohen (Oct. 30, hardcover, $50, ISBN 978-0-8262-2163-6) examines the involvement of Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, and Richard Wright with the late 1930s left, as reflected in, respectively, For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Grapes of Wrath, and Native Son.

Univ. of Pennsylvania

The Art of Allusion: Illuminators and the Making of English Literature, 1403–1476 by Sonja Drimmer (Oct. 16, hardcover, $59.95, ISBN 978-0-8122-5049-7). Interpreting the emergence of English literature as a visual as well as linguistic phenomenon, this book surveys the illuminated manuscripts of the late 14th and early 15th centuries.

Battle Lines: Poetry and Mass Media in the U.S. Civil War by Eliza Richards (Nov. 13, hardcover, $65, ISBN 978-0-8122-5069-5) analyzes the transformation of Civil War poetry, focusing on how the increased urgency and circulation of news reportage during this period influenced poets like Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman.

Colonial Revivals: The Nineteenth-Century Lives of Early American Books by Lindsay Dicuirci (Oct. 16, hardcover, $69.95, ISBN 978-0-8122-5062-6). Dicuirci probes 19th-century efforts by antiquarians and amateur historians to rescue from oblivion documents from the period of the nation’s founding.

Univ. of Texas

Beyoncé in Formation: Remixing Black Feminism by Omise’eke Tinsley (Nov., trade paper, $19.95, ISBN 978-1-4773-1839-3). Building on Tinsley’s undergraduate course at the University of Texas at Austin, “Beyoncé Feminism, Rihanna Womanism,” the author explores black Southern female culture through the lens of the hit album, and accompanying music video, Lemonade.


Preserving Fire: Selected Prose by Philip Lamantia, edited by Garret Caples (Oct. 2, trade paper, $25, ISBN 978-1-940696-70-6), recounts the life and thought of surrealist, beat, and San Francisco renaissance poet Lamantia through prose pieces that include travelogues, manifestos, and statements declaring himself a conscientious objector during wartime.

To Float in the Space Between: A Life and Work in Conversation with the Life and Work of Etheridge Knight by Terrance Hayes (Sept. 4, trade paper, $25, ISBN 978-1-940696-61-4). Based on Hayes’s Bagley Wright lectures on the poet Etheridge Knight, this work offers a personal vision of black literature and art in America.

Yale Univ.

Enraged: Why Violent Times Need Ancient Greek Myths by Emily Katz Anhalt (Sept. 25, trade paper, $22, ISBN 978-0-300-23996-6) reveals how three masterworks of ancient Greek literature—Homer’s Iliad, Euripides’s Hecuba, and Sophocles’s Ajax—reveal the costs of indulging in and glorifying anger.

Race, Nation, Translation: South African Essays, 1990–2013 by Zoe Wicomb, edited by Andrew Van Der Vlies (Nov. 20, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-0-300-22617-1). The nonfiction writings of South African author and intellectual Zoë Wicomb are collected for the first time in a single volume and include reflections on gender, race, identity, visual art, and sexuality.

The Vampire: A New History by Nick Groom (Oct. 30, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-0-300-23223-3). Marking the bicentenary of John Polidori’s horror story “The Vampyre,” Groom’s account illuminates the monster’s complex history, tracing it to an early-18th-century collision between Enlightenment science and Eastern European folklore.

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