The 35 Best New Books Of Fall 2023

Featuring the return of literary greats, all-American heroes, and a heavy dose of modern gothic.

The best books of Fall 2023 include memoirs from Britney Spears, Leslie Jones, and Julia Fox, plus n...
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The shift into fall reading can be a fun transition point as we finish up the last of the summer vacation stack before the ambitious, serious season starts in September. Lucky for us, there are dozens of exciting new books across genres and topics.

A handful of this season’s releases explore image-making, public perception, and the inevitable haziness of truth. Marisa Meltzer’s latest nonfiction book, Glossy, goes deep into Glossier’s creation and expansion by profiling its founder, the elusive cool girl Emily Weiss. Julia Fox’s highly anticipated memoir, Down the Drain, promises dark luxe candor. Zadie Smith’s new novel, The Fraud, concerns narrative-shaping during a high profile, 19th century court case. And Taylor Lorenz’s Extremely Online analyzes influencer culture writ large.

This season also welcomes a reappearance of the modern Gothic aesthetic, with a good helping of dark surrealism. Take Mona Awad’s new book, Rogue, which explores the theme of eternal beauty through a spooky mother-daughter relationship. Director Anna Biller (The Love Witch) makes her literary debut with a reimagining of Bluebeard. And Hilary Leichter has a new trippy, eerie delight with Terrace Story.

As for extremely niche themes, this fall brings a parade of mourning daughters. In addition to Awad’s Rouge, grieving daughters appear in Melissa Broder’s new novel, Death Valley. One journeys through a portal in Lauren Beukes’ The Bridge. And for distinctly untrippy, but stunning realistic portrayals of family grief, both Susie Boyt’s Loved and Missed and Una Mannion’s Tell Me What I Am show the effect of loss across generations.

These and more, below!


Lush Lives by J. Vanessa Lyon

Lush Lives, the second book from Roxane Gay’s new publishing imprint, stars a striving, struggling visual artist in Los Angeles, Glory Hopkins, who’s inherited her aunt’s Harlem brownstone. When she meets an ambitious employee from the auction house named Parkie de Groot, queer romance blooms. (Aug. 1)


Falling Back in Love With Being Human: Letters to Lost Souls by Kai Cheng Thom

The author of 2016’s extraordinary, surreal Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars has written a nonfiction book, a lyrical series of love letters addressed to “lost souls.” In these letters, Kai Cheng Thom — a Chinese Canadian trans woman and activist, conflict mediator, and psychotherapist — proposes a radical belief that all people (even the worst ones) are sacred. This is a book, a really beautiful one, about holding onto your ideals through a crisis of faith. (Aug. 1)


The End of August by Yu Miri

After her slim 2014 novel, Tokyo Ueno Station, Yu Miri has written a 720-page multigenerational saga, closely hewed to her family’s history. This novel centers a family for nearly a hundred years, particularly focusing on the oppression of Korean people under Japan’s WWII occupation, and promises love, death, war, betrayal, and ghosts. (Aug. 1)


In the Likely Event by Rebecca Yarros

The romance begins with some pros (a handsome stranger seatmate on a flight) and cons (a plane that crashes 90 seconds after takeoff). That’s the beginning for these two, whose lives spin into dramatically different directions (military! politics!) but who keep finding each other again. (Aug. 1)


Bridge by Lauren Beukes

Lauren Beukes turns her glimmering, dark imagination to multiverse time travel in this novel about a daughter, named Bridge, who’s mourning her late mother, a brilliant, troubled neuroscientist. Her mother’s longtime fixation — the “dreamworm” that would allow travel between worlds — seems a more plausible invention than anyone thought. As Bridge skips into multiple worlds and selves, she faces her mother’s delusions, the dangers of time-travel, and revelations of grief. (Aug. 8)


Between Us by Mhairi McFarlane

This book begins at a (supposedly) celebratory weekend at a Scottish country house. There’s a birthday and an engagement in the friend group — plus, Roisin’s boyfriend has a sitcom premiering. But when Roisin actually sees her boyfriend’s new show, she spots many of her private confidences scripted during primetime. How will the couple handle this betrayal? And will there be a new romance in the offing? (Aug. 8)


Thin Skin by Jenn Shapland

In this collection of five shaggy and smart essays, Jenn Shapland covers femininity, environmental contamination, and having literally thin skin. Throughout, the book careens in unexpected directions as Shapland — who published 2020’s incandescently weird My Autobiography of Carson McCullers — makes a sympathetic if mournful case for keeping in touch with former selves we’ve discarded in lieu of current iterations. (Aug. 15)


Tell Me What I Am by Una Mannion

Following her spellbinding first book, 2021’s A Crooked Tree, Una Mannion returns with a propulsive, dark family drama. In this novel, an aunt and niece are brought together by the same unresolved mystery from years earlier: when their sister and mother (respectively) vanished. (Aug. 15)


They Called Us Exceptional by Prachi Gupta

This memoir, from Indian American journalist and writer Prachi Gupta, tackles the pernicious “model minority” myth. Written as an address to her mother, Gupta combines personal narrative, postcolonial theory, and research about mental health, ultimately making a searing argument for orienting ourselves around empathy rather than conformity. (Aug. 22)


Terrace Story by Hilary Leichter

As with her debut, 2020’s Temporary, Hilary Leichter has written a novel of delicious, contemporary surrealism, filled with bright, unexpected wordplay. Where in Temporary her perspective on precarity focused on employment, Terrace Story centers on home, the puzzle of family lineage, and real estate woes. She creates a world of desperate imagination, hidden costs, and houses too good to be true. (Aug. 29)


Every Drop Is a Man’s Nightmare by Megan Kakimoto

This debut story collection, set in contemporary Hawai’i, is both a luscious ode to native Hawaiian women and a ferocious report from an occupied territory full of tension and rage. Megan Kakimoto combines old folktales and interpretation of modern Hawaiian culture, like in the story of a 12-year-old transporting leftovers from a party across Pali highway who risks the curse of Kamapua‘a. Other stories touch on topics such as sex, rage, corpse flowers, and pleasure-seeking. (Aug. 29)


The Fraud by Zadie Smith

Zadie Smith’s sixth novel — her latest book since 2019’s Grand Union — takes place in Victorian England, focusing on Scottish housekeeper Eliza Touchet who becomes enthralled with a high-profile London court case. The trial involves a formerly enslaved man, Andrew Bogle, who grew up harvesting sugar in Jamaica. When he becomes a key witness, he knows his future depends on exactly the story he tells. (Sept. 5)


Creep: Accusations and Confessions by Myriam Gurba

After 2017’s sharp, hilarious essayistic memoir Mean, Myriam Gurba’s new essay collection features her sharp, conversational cultural criticism. This book analyzes creeps — people often characterized as villains, obscurers of truth, and boundary-crossers — and ultimately investigates the toxicity at the dark heart of American culture. Gurba goes for the jugular when she writes about her former abuser, the carceral state, and even Joan Didion. (Sept. 5)


I’m a Fan by Sheena Patel

This debut novel features an unnamed protagonist (promising for a slippery sense of self!) with an obsessive jealous streak. Sheena Patel eviscerates the rich kid art world, as exemplified by a particularly toxic ex. It’s written in a speedy, fragmented internal monologue, which makes for an absolutely propulsive read. (Sept. 5)


The Art of Desire by Stacey Abrams writing as Selena Montgomery

Stacey Abrams’ new romance-thriller connects aspiring writer Alex Walton with Phillip Turman, who has just emerged from three years inside a terrorist organization. When Phillip drives Alex to his best friend’s wedding — she’s the maid of honor — attraction is instant, but danger is imminent. (Sept. 5)


Glossy: Ambition, Beauty, and the Inside Story of Emily Weiss’s Glossier by Marisa Meltzer

In this delicious character portrait of Glossier visionary Emily Weiss, Marisa Meltzer traces Weiss’ rise, from her televised Teen Vogue internship on The Hills to building a $1.9 billion business to departing from the company eight years later. The book bursts with expensive interviews, from ex-Glossier employees, fashion visionaries, and Weiss herself. (Sept. 12)


Rouge by Mona Award

After the suspicious death of her mother, Belle camps out at her California cliffside mansion, which is just a dangerous walk away from a cultish spa. In her attempts to avoid contending with her relationship to her mother, Belle finds herself more and more drawn to the spa’s promises and Eyes Wide Shut mystique. It’s surreal, archetypal, and totally hypnotic. (Sept. 12)


The Box by Mandy-Suzanne Wong

Rather than focus on one character, Bermudian essayist and fiction writer Mandy-Suzanne Wong’s novel traces the movement of a mysterious white box made of woven paper, which can’t be opened without destroying it. The elegant mysteries only expand from there. (Sept. 19)


Loved and Missed by Susie Boyt

This novel’s title comes from a conversation about an epigraph in a London graveyard — “loved and missed” — which a character thinks describes someone trying to love but missing a target. This becomes a worldview for the characters in this book, which triangulates the relationship between three generations of women: a sarcastic grandmother, her wounded daughter struggling with substance use, and her young granddaughter, Lily. It’s got an impeccable tone: funny, dark, quiet, sharp. (Sept. 19)


Bright Young Women by Jessica Knoll

Jessica Knoll’s novel begins with a serial massacre at a Tallahassee sorority house in 1978 (based on Ted Bundy’s actual crimes). The novel then jumps across the country to Seattle, where two women disappear at a state park, at the hands of someone the newspapers call the All-American Sex Killer. A woman close to one of the victims in Washington bolts to Florida, convinced it’s the same perpetrator. Bright Young Women braids the stories of two survivors, Pamela and Tina, and their fervent bond forged through grief and a pursuit of justice. (Sept. 19)


Unreliable Narrator: Me, Myself, and Impostor Syndrome by Aparna Nancherla

Comedian Aparna Nancherla has written a deadpan feat, with fantastic lines such as “I’ve never been fully on board with my face.” In this highly researched essayistic memoir about the convergence of art and mental health, the anxiety-addled, excruciatingly shy, cosmically exhausted Nancherla is looking her self-doubt right in the eyes. (Sept. 19)


Leslie F*cking Jones by Leslie Jones

The title says it all: We have a straightforward memoir coming from Leslie Jones, and it’s got everything you’d expect from the comedian: verve, mayhem, tough love, tenacity, and that je ne sais f*cking quois. (Sept. 19)


Land of Milk and Honey by C Pam Zhang

In her second novel, after 2020’s How Much of These Hills Is Gold, C Pam Zhang begins with a version of earth ravaged by pernicious fog and food insecurity. This the perfect backdrop for a talented chef to flee from her struggling career defrosting horrible gruel to an opulent mountaintop community that seems free of the world’s problems. Could all be as blissful as it seems? Land of Milk and Honey is a super seductive novel about a woman, her appetites, and the ethics of hedonism in complete environmental ruin. (Sept. 26)


And Then She Fell by Alicia Elliott

Alice thinks everything is just right when she moves into a new house in a fancy area of Toronto with her baby daughter and husband, a white academic studying her Mohawk culture. Then the impostor syndrome begins, as does a gnawing suspicion that everything’s too good to be true. She tries to put aside these thoughts in order to get back to her life’s work: a retelling of the Haudenosaunee creation story. Alicia Elliot’s satirical debut book is awash in trippy black humor. (Sept. 26)


This Is Salvaged by Vauhini Vara

After her critically acclaimed 2022 novel, The Immortal Life of King Rao, Vauhini Vara has a new story collection exploring relationships writ large, between neighbors, siblings, young lovers, and old lovers. In one story, The Eighteen Girls, a girl consumes the ashes of her sister who has died of cancer. In sum, it’s about the extremes we go to when searching for connection. (Sept. 26)


Love and Money, Sex and Death by McKenzie Wark

In McKenzie Wark’s second book this year, following the fantastic slim volume Raving, she presents an epistolary project — a series of letters from Wark to herself as a child, her family, her lovers, the ancient goddess of trans women — putting the writer’s past and philosophies in tight kinship. There’s also a good jaunt into Brooklyn’s trans rave scene. (Sept. 26)


Death Valley by Melissa Broder

In her third novel, Melissa Broder presents a woman who’s barely coping with grief. Her father’s in the ICU, and her boyfriend’s quite sick. In order to address her emptiness literally, she goes to the desert, where she finds a portal to another dimension in a cactus. Bursting with jokes, abounding with existential crisis, Broder again puts forward her absurdist, provocative philosophy. (Oct. 3)


Our Strangers by Lydia Davis

Most of the stories in Lydia Davis’ collection are less than two pages, yet they resonate in the author’s signature way by crystallizing sharp slivers of life. A favorite recurring set: “Marriage Moment of Annoyance,” which includes coconuts and speculation on what existed before the universe. (Oct. 3)


Extremely Online: The Untold Story of Fame, Influence, and Power on the Internet by Taylor Lorenz

In her debut book, reporter Taylor Lorenz presents a social history of the Internet, focusing on the disruptive force of influencers and how they’ve changed the way we think about fame, work, privacy, and entertainment. She covers bored teens entertaining themselves with selfie videos, blogging mothers (some of the first to capitalize on their personal brands online), and others attempting to leverage their personalities for money and notoriety. (Oct. 3)


Down the Drain by Julia Fox

Julia Fox has described this memoir as a masterpiece, and I don’t doubt her. The actor, model, style provocateur, and maintainer of a famously messy apartment has never shied from revealing intimacies of her life. The memoir covers a tumultuous childhood split between Italy and New York, her work as a dominatrix with a suspicious sugar daddy, a difficult heroin habit, and a whirlwind of dramatic relationships. (Oct. 10)


Bluebeard’s Castle by Anna Biller

Written by the filmmaker of 2016’s The Love Witch, this debut novel has a similar romantic haze and a retro hyper-aesthetic swirl. Anna Biller takes on Bluebeard: the archetypal story of living in seclusion after marrying a total nightmare man. In this contemporary version, a lonely and perceptive novelist (who has visions from saints!) meets a handsome baron at a wedding on the Cornish coast and quickly moves into his Gothic castle in the countryside. It’s stylish, scary, and peak modern Gothic. (Oct. 10)


Black Friend by Ziwe

This debut essay collection by comedian Ziwe has it all, from irreverence galore to her irresistible provocations on culture, to dishy asides about celebrity encounters. It’s organized by essays, but each one feels like a very good hang session: equal parts chatty and funny. It’s got a light touch but sharp nails. (Oct. 17)


Vengeance Is Mine by Marie NDiaye

French writer Marie NDiaye’s new novel centers on a lawyer, Maîter Susane, who’s defending a woman accused of triple homicide. The gruesome event brings up memories from the lawyer’s childhood, and she slowly begins to eye other elements of her life as sinister, from her hiring for this trial to the life of her housekeeper. It’s a slow burn. (Oct. 17)


The Woman in Me by Britney Spears

In early 2022, just a few months after her successful battle against her court-ordered conservatorship, Britney Spears made a massive publishing deal for a tell-all memoir. Now it’s got a release date. In her announcement, she calls it “my story, on my terms.” (Oct. 24)


Let Us Descend by Jesmyn Ward

Titled for an Inferno passage —“‘Let us descend,’ the poet now began, ‘and enter this blind world’” — Ward’s fourth novel focuses on Annis, a woman sold by the white enslaver who fathered her, and her journey from Carolina rice fields to slave markets in New Orleans to a Louisiana sugar plantation. For solace, she turns to memories of her mother and stories of her African warrior grandmother — thoughts of a world beyond the hellscape she’s in. (Oct. 24)