Fall Arts 2017: Books

We're waiting to see what Hillary Clinton reveals in "What Happened," but Jennifer Egan, Jeffrey Eugenides and Matt Taibbi are high on our list, too.

Jesmyn Ward (Courtesy Photo)

Sing, Unburied, Sing
By Jesmyn Ward
Sept. 5, Scribner

After winning the National Book Award for Salvage the Bones, Jesmyn Ward returns with a novel that draws from Faulkner, The Odyssey, and Toni Morrison in equal measure. Set on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast, Sing, Unburied, Sing, tells the story of Leonie, the drug-addicted mother to Jojo and Kayla, who takes her children on a journey across the state to see their white father following his release from prison. A road-trip novel of substance and ugly truths, Sing, Unburied, Sing is a meditation on the hope and despair that lies within every family.

What Happened
By Hillary Clinton
Sept. 12, Simon & Schuster

Well, this should be interesting! As the title makes clear, What Happened is former presidential nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton’s personal account of how the 2016 election unfolded. Chronicling her thoughts and feelings about being the first woman to secure a nomination for president from a major party, running against Donald Trump, and the shock of losing an election many projected her to handily win, What Happened is poised to be a controversial sensation.  More importantly, it is the first time the public will get Clinton’s true opinion on the matter, nearly a year after it took place.

We Were Eight Years in Power
By Ta-Nehisi Coates
Oct. 3, One World

With a title borrowed from Reconstruction-era black politicians, the newest title from writer Ta-Nehisi Coates picks up where his National Book Award-winning Between the World and Me left off. A eulogy on the end of term for America’s first African-American president and an exploration into how the backlash that accompanied his tenure led to Donald Trump, We Were Eight Years in Power is a poetic and forceful dissection of the United States today. This collection of essays is but the latest sign that few if any voices speak as deftly and definitively as Coates does on our present and its bloody ties to the past.

Manhattan Beach
By Jennifer Egan
Oct. 3, Scribner

Fresh off a Pulitzer Prize win for her last novel (A Visit from the Goon Squad), Jennifer Egan strikes a markedly different tone with Manhattan Beach. Ostensibly a noir thriller, Egan’s first historical novel features Anna, who becomes the Navy’s first female diver while the threat of World War II looms large. However, her attention is drawn to a mysterious man and his ties to her father, a secret that may prove pivotal to her own life — or unravel it. Ripe with gangsters and sailors, and told with Egan’s deft touch for character, Manhattan Beach is an exquisite work from a true literary talent.

Fresh Complaint: Stories
By Jeffrey Eugenides
Oct. 3, Farrar, Straus and Giroux

The publication of a new Jeffrey Eugenides book is always cause for celebration, but Fresh Complaint marks the acclaimed writer’s first collection of short stories. After penning remarkably complex and emotionally astute novels like The Virgin Suicides and Middlesex, Eugenides now performs his mastery on slimmer tales that center on the personal as the profound. From the story of a traveler eager for enlightenment to the transformation of a failed poet who becomes an embezzler, Fresh Complaint is a welcome addition to Eugenides’ extraordinary personal canon.

I Can’t Breathe: A Killing on Bay Street
By Matt Taibbi
Oct. 24, Spiegel & Grau

An indictment of the racial injustice currently running rampant in the United States and beyond, I Can’t Breathe is Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi’s gripping profile of the death of Eric Garner. Killed by a police officer on Staten Island in 2014, Garner’s cries of “I can’t breathe” became a rallying point for the budding Black Lives Matter movement. Examining the circumstances regarding Garner’s death, as well the culture and court system that failed to prevent or bring justice for it, I Can’t Breathe is a tragically topical and masterfully constructed work.  

Artemis
By Andy Weir
Nov. 14, Crown

Faced with the daunting task of following his blockbuster debut The Martian, Andy Weir has risen to the challenge with a new novel about a heist set on the moon. Set in the not-too-distant future, Artemis follows Jazz Bashara, a resident of the moon’s only city, where blue-collar workers mingle with Earth’s richest tourists, and where the chance to commit a seemingly perfect crime proves irresistible. Written with the same hearty helping of acerbic humor that made The Martian’s Mark Watney a star, Artemis is a worthy successor and a sure sign that Weir has plenty left up the sleeves of his spacesuit.

Check out more from our Fall Arts 2017 Guide:

Art
From the LED artist who lit up the Salesforce Tower to the collision of Rodin and Klimt, it’s going to be a busy fall.

Comedy
Trevor Noah is coming to town! And Peaches Christ takes on the 1993 Halloween comedy Hocus Pocus with queens from RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Film and Film Festivals
A Salinger biopic, an adaptation of Stephen King’s creepiest clown, and the return of “Art House Theater Day.” Time to huddle in a darkened cinema!

Music
No Treasure Island Music festival this year, sadly, but there’s a ton of excellent acts swinging through town this fall.

Theater
A relative dearth of powerhouse musicals about the Founding Fathers this season means that Bay Area theater has room to breathe again.

24-Decade Party People: Taylor Mac Hit S.F.
Performed in four six-hour segments, Mac’s drag-splosion, A 24-Decade History of Popular Music, will be the defining event of the fall.

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