W's features director shares her fall reading list.
Back in the ’90s, having finished Some Hope, one of his acclaimed Patrick Melrose novels, Edward St. Aubyn took a breather from Melrose and his ilk and checked in to the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California. The result was On the Edge (Picador), a gentle (by St. Aubyn standards, anyway) skewering of the New Age movement, peppered with mystical epiphanies, hot tubs, and tantric sex, which came out in England in 1998 but is only now being published in the U.S. Also this month, Jane Smiley brings us Some Luck (Alfred A. Knopf), the first book in what promises to be an epic American trilogy that follows the Langdons, a family of Iowan farmers, from 1920 to 2020. Meanwhile, Marilynne Robinson finishes up her own Iowa trilogy, which began in 2004 with her Pulitzer Prize–winning novel Gilead, with Lila (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux). And in Nora Webster (Scribner), Colm Tóibín introduces us to an unforgettable woman who struggles to find footing in a small-minded Irish town after her husband dies. The death of a patriarch is also at the center of Rooms, a spirited new novel from Lauren Oliver, in which a dysfunctional family gets together to bury its father and ends up unearthing untold secrets. (Think August: Osage County with ghosts.) And Michel Faber makes a huge departure from the Victorian England of his best-selling novel The Crimson Petal and the White with The Book of Strange New Things (Hogarth), set in a creepy dystopian future. Peter, a reformed drug addict and born-again Christian, is recruited by a dubious global corporation and sent on a religious mission to the distant planet Oasis. Don’t be fooled by the name: On this spiritual quest, there are no jacuzzis.