Big Names On The Fall Book List: Coates, Smith, Patchett And More

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(Courtesy the publishers)
(Courtesy the publishers)

With Meghna Chakrabarti

With just about a month until the seasons change, we present the fall book preview.


Leigh Haber, books editor for O, The Oprah Magazine. Coordinator for Oprah's Book Club. (@leighhaber)

The Best Reads Of Fall 2019, As Chosen By Our Guest

  1. "Grand Union," by Zadie Smith
  2. "The Water Dancer," by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  3. "Olive Again," by Elizabeth Strout
  4. "The Dutch House," by Ann Patchett
  5. "Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover, And Me," by Adrienne Brodeur

From The Reading List

The Bookseller: "Zadie Smith to publish first short story collection in 2019" — "Zadie Smith is releasing her very first story collection with Hamish Hamilton next autumn: Grand Union.

"The collection will contain 10 entirely new stories alongside 10 of what the publisher described as 'her very best, drawn from two decades of remarkable short fiction.'

"Interweaving old and new and culminating with a longer piece - the title story, 'Grand Union' - the collection as a whole is promised to offer 'a wise, playful and richly varied portrait of the world as seen by the one and only Zadie Smith.'

Vanity Fair: "The Beautiful Power of Ta-Nehisi Coates" — "When I meet Ta-Nehisi Coates, I am surprised. All of the photos I’ve seen of him are somber and inscrutable, but when I walk into the café where he’s suggested we meet, he’s not like that at all. He’s one of those people who looks young at any age: There’s a kind of weightlessness and buoyancy in the way he holds himself, with a serious, clear eye that looks knowing and hesitant all at once. He also has a baby face. But even though he looks at me with kindness, I’m nervous.

"Every seat in the place is taken, with most folks staring desultorily at laptop screens. I am dismayed to find Coates sitting at the very back of the restaurant, tucked into a corner. I am naturally clumsy, often self-conscious, and shy, and 20 minutes ago, I texted the man frantically. I called him 'Mr. Coates,' wary of disrespecting him, my anxiety pulling out my southernness, and told him that my GPS insisted I would be there 15 minutes after our scheduled meeting time. Instead, here I am walking in 10 minutes early, dreading that this is a sign from the cosmos that I will ask the wrong questions. I list through the tables and sweat. When I sit down I awkwardly throw my phone on the table to record our conversation, introduce myself, and shake his hand to a rising wail in my head: He’s going to despise me.

"There are so many reasons for self-doubt. Coates is a formidable writer and thinker. After his virtuosic memoir The Beautiful Struggle was released in 2008, he found an audience who was solidly impressed not only by the quality of his writing, which careened along and rose and fell like a song, but also by his intellectual prowess, his curiosity, his ranging mind. The book revolves around what it meant for Coates to grow up Black in Baltimore in the ’80s and is heavily informed by his father, who worked as a librarian at Howard University, and whose life was driven by the desire to equip his children with the tools they would need to survive in America—perhaps in a quest to figure that out for himself. Coates’s father started his own press, which sought out and published works by writers of the African diaspora."

Sydney Wertheim produced this segment for broadcast.

This segment aired on August 21, 2019.



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