Thirty books to look out for this autumn

There is a deluge of books being published this autumn, as titles were put on hold this spring and summer due to the pandemic. But where to start? From Graham Norton's new novel to Mary McAleese’s memoir, here are our picks of the new releases


Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
Bloomsbury, £14.99, September 15th
The first novel in 15 years from the author of the multimillion copy bestselling Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, an epic tale of two magicians changing history in 19th-century England. Piranesi is a much shorter book but, in the words of David Mitchell, “an exquisite puzzle-box far, far bigger on the inside than it is on the outside”. The eponymous hero lives in the House and tries to make sense of it all. Madeline Miller called it “a miraculous and luminous feat of storytelling, at once a gripping mystery, an adventure through a brilliant new fantasy world, and a deep meditation on the human condition”.

The Abstainer by Ian McGuire
Scribner, £14.99, September 17th
Following on the footsteps of his widely-acclaimed second novel, 2016’s Booker-longlisted The North Water, Ian McGuire has pulled off another gripping tale of violence, betrayal and vice. The Abstainer is set in the months following the infamous hanging of the “Manchester Martyrs” in 1867, condemned for killing a police officer in a successful effort to liberate two leaders of the Irish Republican Brotherhood.

Inside Story by Martin Amis
Jonathan Cape, £20, September 24th
Amis’s publisher described this autobiographical novel as his most “intimate and epic work to date … an unseen portrait of Amis’ extraordinary life, as a man and a writer”. Inspired by the death of his close friend, Christopher Hitchens, in 2011, Amis explores how to live, how to grieve, and how to die. Readers can expect a cast of colourful characters, from his father Kingsley, to his hero Saul Bellow, Philip Larkin, Iris Murdoch and Elizabeth Jane Howard, and a “love letter to life that is at once exuberant, meditative, heart-breaking and ebullient”.

Earthlings by Sayaka Murata, translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori
Granta, £12.99, September 29th
Murata, celebrated author of Convenience Store Woman, the story of an oddball shop assistant trying to make an appearance of fitting in, returns with the story of two children who believe they have come from outer space. Granta says: “Forcibly separated by their families, cruelly treated by the very people who should care for them, they must struggle against society to find each other again. Their reunion, when it comes, will have spectacular and violent consequences. Earthlings is a wild and powerful story of unconventional love, of the strictures placed particularly on young women and the strange paths you might take to find freedom.”

Jack by Marilynne Robinson
Virago, £18.99, September 29th
Robinson’s new novel, the fourth of her Gilead’ books, focuses on John Ames (Jack) Boughton, familiar to readers of the Pulitzer Prize winning Gilead and Orange Prize winning Home as the errant, prodigal son of Robert Boughton, a Presbyterian minister in Gilead, Iowa, Jack, a drunkard and a ne’er-do-well, falls in love with Della Miles, an African-American high school teacher, also a preacher’s child, in segregated St Louis some time after the second World War,

The Art of the Glimpse: 100 Irish short stories edited by Sinéad Gleeson
Apollo, £25, October 1st
Sinéad Gleeson, fresh from her success as an essayist with her debut collection, Constellations, returns with another major anthology of Irish short stories. Having made her mark with The Long Gaze Back and The Glass Shore, two impressive collections of Irish women writers, she now tackles the entire tradition, from  James Joyce and Mary Lavin to the latest wave of young writers such as Sally Rooney and Nicole Flattery reinventing the story for a new generation, selecting no fewer than 100 of the very best Irish short stories.

Home Stretch by Graham Norton
Coronet, £20, October 1st
After the remarkable success of his debut novel Holding and its follow-up, A Keeper, the comedian, TV presenter and now established writer returns with a powerful story of tragedy, exile and resolution. Connor, who was the driver when a car crash claimed the lives of three friends. leaves for England and then New York but the past and its secrets pull him back.

The First Woman by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi
Oneworld, £16.99, October 1st
The Irish Times called Ugandan writer Makumbi’s debut novel Kintu “an entertaining, engrossing, and, crucially, intimate read... an epic that doesn’t ignore character for scope”. Her second novel follows Kirabo on her journey to becoming a young woman and finding her place in the world, as her country is transformed by the bloody dictatorship of Idi Amin. Her publisher promises “a sweeping tale of longing and rebellion, epic and deeply personal, an intoxicating mix of ancient Ugandan folklore and modern feminism”, Makumbi won the 2014 Commonwealth Short Story Prize and the Windham-Campbell Prize for Fiction in 2018.

Love by Roddy Doyle
Jonathan Cape, £18.99, October 15th
Two old friends reconnect in Dublin for a dramatic, revealing evening of drinking and storytelling in this winning new novel from the author of the Booker Prize winning Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha. One summer’s evening, two men meet up in a Dublin restaurant. Drinking pals back in their youth, now married and with grown up children, their lives have taken seemingly similar paths. But Joe has a secret he needs to tell Davy, and Davy has a sorrow he wants to keep from Joe. Both are not the men they used to be.

Ghosts by Dolly Alderton
Fig Tree, £14.99, October 15th
The bestselling author of Everything I Know About Love, a memoir of her twenties, makes her fiction debut with the story of Nina, a food writer in her early thirties, which have not been the liberating, uncomplicated experience she was sold. hen she meets Max, a beguiling romantic hero who tells her on date one that he’s going to marry her, it feels like all is going to plan.

That Old Country Music by Kevin Barry
Canongate, £14.99, October 22
Barry, eminence grizzled of Irish letters, is one of the most accomplished and gifted short story writers around, with two outstanding collections to his name, There Are Little Kingdoms, which won the Rooney Prize, and Dark Lies the Island. His debut novel City of Bohane won the Impac Prize; Beatlebone the Goldsmith Prize. In his third collection, we encounter a ragbag of west of Ireland characters, often on the cusp between love and catastrophe, heartbreak and epiphany, resignation and hope. if you want a taster, two, Roethke in the Bughouse and Who’s-Dead McCarthy, have been published in The Irish Times.

The Silence by Don DeLillo
Picador, £14,99, October 29th
Completed just weeks before the advent of Covid-19, The Silence is the story of a different catastrophic event, from the acclaimed author of White Noise, Mao II, Libra and Underworld. It is Super Bowl Sunday in the year 2022. Five people, dinner, an apartment on the east side of Manhattan. The retired physics professor and her husband and her former student waiting for the couple who will join them from what becomes a dramatic flight from Paris. Then something happens and the digital connections that have transformed our lives are severed.

Mr Wilder and Me by Jonathan Coe
Viking, £16.99, November 5th
Middle England, his previous novel, won the Costa Book of the Year prize, so his latest, a tender coming-of-age story and an intimate portrait of one of cinema’s most intriguing figures, is work looking out for. Set in the summer of 1977, on a Greek island that has been turned into a film set, naïve young Calista finds herself working for Hollywood director Billy Wilder, whose career may be on the wane.

When the Lights Go Out by Carys Bray
Hutchinson, £14.99, November 12th
Bray’s third novel is the finely drawn story of a marriage on the skids and a nuanced appraisal of the variegated impacts of climate change. Emma is out Christmas shopping when she sees a man railing like a prophet about climate disaster. Not so strange, except it is her husband Chris. As the rain falls relentlessly amid repeated power cuts, the festive season tension builds. Bray’s A Song for Issy Bradley, won the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award 2015

Xstabeth by David Keenan
White Rabbit, £14.99, November 12th
Keenan’s first novel This Is Memorial Device, about a post-punk band in early 1980s west of Scotland, captured the energy and passion of youth and music.His second, For the Good Times, swapped Airdrie for his father’s Ardoyne, and its portrait of a wayward gang of young friends straddling criminality and violent republicanism won him the Gordon Burn Prize. His latest, moving from St Petersburg to St Andrews, tackles the metaphysics of golf, the mindset of classic Russian novels and the power of art and music to re-wire reality. Aneliya is torn between the love of her father and her father’s best friend. When an angelic presence named Xstabeth enters their lives, their world is transformed.


Here’s the Story by Mary McAleese
Penguin Ireland, £20, September 24th
Mary McAleese recount her rise from a Troubles-blighted childhood in north Belfast, to a professorship in Dublin while still in her twenties, behind-the-scenes work on the peace process, and two triumphant terms as President of Ireland. She writes of her encounters with prime ministers, popes and royalty but also her life after leaving public office, quietly pursuing a doctorate, while loudly opposing the misogyny of the Catholic Church.

The Reacher Guy: The Authorised Biography of Lee Child by Heather Martin
Constable, £20, September 29th
Jack Reacher is only the second of Jim Grant’s great fictional characters: the first is Lee Child himself. Martin’s biography tells the story of all three. Martin explores Child’s lifelong fascination with America, and shows how the Reacher novels fed and fuelled this obsession, shedding light on the opaque process of publishing a novel along the way. Drawing on her conversations and correspondence with Child over a number of years, as well as interviews with his friends, teachers and colleagues, she forensically pieces together his life, including his Irish roots.

The Haunting of Alma Fielding by Kate Summerscale
Bloomsbury Circus, £18.99, October 1st
London, 1938. Alma Fielding, an ordinary young woman, begins to experience supernatural events in her suburban home. Nandor Fodor, a Jewish-Hungarian refugee and chief ghost hunter for the International Institute for Psychical research, begins to investigate. In doing so he discovers a different and darker type of haunting: trauma, alienation, loss – and the foreshadowing of a nation’s worst fears. A true ghost story by the acclaimed author of true crime story, The Suspicions of Mr Whicher.

A Life on Our Planet: My Witness Statement and Vision for the Future by David Attenborough
Ebury Press, £20, October 1st
Having devoted his life to celebrating nature, Attenborough issues a final plea to save it: “I am 93. I’ve had an extraordinary life. It’s only now that I appreciate how extraordinary. As a young man, I felt I was out there in the wild, experiencing the untouched natural world – but it was an illusion. The tragedy of our time has been happening all around us, barely noticeable from day to day – the loss of our planet’s wild places, its biodiversity. I have been witness to this decline. A Life on Our Planet is my witness statement, and my vision for the future. It is the story of how we came to make this, our greatest mistake – and how, if we act now, we can yet put it right. We have one final chance to create the perfect home for ourselves and restore the wonderful world we inherited.”

Beyond the Tape by Marie Cassidy
Hachette Books Ireland, €15.99, October 1st
Marie Cassidy was Ireland’s State Pathologist from 2004 until 2018 and was involved in many high-profile cases. As well as sharing her journey from working-class Glasgow to the top of her profession, she offers a fascinating, behind-the-scenes account of real-life forensics, the intricate processes central to solving modern crime, and the stories from behind the crime tape.

A Light that Never Goes Out by Keelin Shanley
Gill, €19.99, October 2nd
Written in the months leading up to her death in February, Keelin Shanley’s memoir charts her career as an RTÉ journalist and her lengthy battle with cancer, Commissioning editor Deirdre Nolan said, “Keelin got in touch with me in December last year. She was nearing the end and strongly felt she wanted to leave a record of her life behind and we were honoured to help her do so. We put her together with writer Alison Walsh and she helped Keelin write a most extraordinary memoir. It is so rare to have such an insight into what someone who is facing death is thinking and feeling, and despite the gravity of the situation she was facing, through her writing Keelin has managed to capture the fleeting beauty of life in way that is awe-inspiring and ultimately uplifting.”

Psychiatrist in the Chair: The Official Biography of Anthony Clare by Brendan Kelly and Muiris Houston
Merrion Press, £19.99, October 12th
Born in Dublin in 1942, Anthony Clare was the best-known psychiatrist of his generation. His BBC Radio 4 show, In the Psychiatrist s Chair, which ran from 1982 to 2001, brought him international fame and changed the nature of broadcast interviews forever. Famous interviewees included Stephen Fry, Anthony Hopkins, Spike Milligan, Maya Angelou and Jimmy Saville, each of whom yielded to Clare s inimitable gentle yet probing style. Clare made unique contributions to the demystification and practice of psychiatry, most notably through his classic book Psychiatry in Dissent: Controversial Issues in Thought and Practice (1976). This book, the first, official biography of this much-loved figure, examines the man behind these achievements: the debater and the doctor, the writer and the broadcaster, the public figure and the family man.

My Life in Red and White: My Autobiography by Arsene Wenger
W&N, £25, October 13th
Wenger opens up about his life, sharing principles for success on and off the field with lessons on leadership and vivid tales of his 22 years managing Arsenal to unprecedented success. He popularised an attacking approach but also changed attitudes towards players’ diet, fitness and coaching methods. He describes events leading up to his resignation in 2018, and his current role as chief of global football development for Fifa.

Let’s Do It: The Authorised Biography of Victoria Wood by Jasper Rees
Trapeze, £20, October 15th
Wood, one of the finest comedians and entertainers that Britain has produced, die din 2016 before writing her autobiography. Rees, who interviewed her more than anyone else,was granted complete and exclusive access to her rich archive of personal and professional material, and has conducted over 200 interviews with her family, friends and colleagues – including her children, her sisters, her ex-husband Geoffrey Durham, Julie Walters, Celia Imrie, Dawn French and Imelda Staunton.

True Colours by Barry Geraghty with Niall Kelly
Headline, £20, October 23rd
Geraghty, who retired in July, is one of horse racing’s greats. From his first win in 1997 he went on to ride almost 2,000 winners, making him the fourth most successful jumps jockey of all time. With the second most wins at Cheltenham in the sport’s history, he has ridden many of the greats – Moscow Flyer, Kicking King, Monty’s Pass. He has also broken all of his limbs, his shoulders, his ribs, his nose and spent most of 2019 with a metal cast on his leg. And yet, he kept getting back on the horse, for 23 years. His autobiography is about resilience, the mental power that enables the great to keep going.

The Dead of the Irish Revolution by Eunan O’Halpin and Daithí Ó Corráin
Yale University Press, £50, October 27th
The first comprehensive account to record and analyse all deaths arising from the Irish revolution between the 1916 Rising and the Anglo-Irish Treaty of December 1921. O’Halpin and Daithí Ó Corráin catalogue the deaths of all who died during the revolutionary years – 505 in 1916; 2,344 between 1917 and 1921. This study provides a unique and comprehensive picture of everyone who died: in what manner, by whose hands, and why. Through their stories we obtain original insight into the Irish revolution itself. O’Halpin is chair of contemporary Irish history at Trinity College Dublin, has also just written a biography of his great-uncle, Kevin Barry: An Irish Rebel in Life and Death.

How Animals Saved My Life: Being the Supervet by Noel Fitzpatrick
Trapeze, £20, October 29th
It has been 30 years since Noel Fitzpatrick graduated as a veterinary surgeon, and that 22-year-old from Ballyfin, is now one of the leading veterinary surgeons in the world. The vet has treated thousands of animals – many of whom were thought to be beyond help – and they have changed his life, and the lives of those around them, for the better.

Are You There, God? It’s Me, Ellen by Ellen Coyne
Gill, €16.99, October 30th
Is it possible to be young, progressive and a Catholic? Coyne had left the Church a long time ago, but she had never stopped believing in and talking to God. Why should those who did the damage to the Church get to keep it and all its good bits, like going to Mass for the ritual and the community, having a clear guide for living a better life, and the comfort of believing it’s not the end when somebody dies? But how could she ally herself to an institution she doesn’t entirely agree with? In her first book, the journalist tries to figure out how much she really wants to go back to the Church, and if it is even the right thing to do.

My Life in Loyalism by Billy Hutchinson with Gareth Mulvenna
Merrion Press, £17.99, November 2nd
From Tartan gang member to leading loyalist paramilitary and as a Progressive Unionist Party leader a key player in the loyalist ceasefires and negotiator of the Belfast Agreement, Hutchinson’s remarkable story is told in collaboration with researcher Mulvenna. Growing up in the Shankill area of Belfast, Hutchinson joined the UVF in the early 1970s. In 1974, at the age of just 19, he was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the murder of two Catholics, and it was in the cages of Long Kesh that he first came under the influence of loyalist leader Gusty Spence. This first-hand account reveals previously hidden episodes of both the Troubles and the peace process that brought them to an end.

Walking With Ghosts: A Memoir by Gabriel Byrne
Picador, £16.99, November 12th
When he was 11, Byrne entered a seminary in England. Four years later, he was expelled and returned to Dublin where he later joined an amateur drama group, launching him on an extraordinary 40-year career in film and theatre. Moving between sensual recollection of childhood in a now almost vanished Ireland and reflections on stardom in Hollywood and on Broadway, Byrne also recounts his battle with addiction and the ambivalence of fame.