14 Great New Books to Read in Autumn 2020

Autumn 2020’s harvest of new books is especially bountiful. We’ve picked out the most anticipated novels from bestselling authors, debut writers shortlisted for literary prizes and thought-provoking works on race, feminism and why nurses are heroes.

Autumn is a season renowned for its literary crop, but this year - owing to the pandemic delaying summertime publications - the harvest of new titles is especially fruitful. Expect the return of bestselling authors (cough, Elena Ferrante, cough cough, Caitlin Moran) and world leaders (read: Barack Obama) as well as stand-out debuts shortlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize.

Whether you want to curl up with new fiction in an off-grid cabin, pass journey time between the pages of thought-provoking essays or simply stick the kettle on for a moment of at-home escapism, these tomes are guaranteed to transport, inspire and entertain.

The New Wilderness by Diane Cook

18 August

Tender yet terrifying, this novel from the Booker shortlist follows Bea and her sick daughter Agnes, whose only chance of survival is to escape the polluted city. To do so, they volunteer to live in the Wilderness State, a radical experiment in nomadic living away from civilisation.

The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante

1 September

When Ferrante's latest novel - the tale of Giovanna's coming of age in a wealthy, left-wing Neapolitan family - was published in Italy in 2019, fans queued to buy the book at midnight and reading vigils were held across the country. We're equally excited for the English edition.

More Than a Woman by Caitlin Moran

3 September

A decade after her bestselling How to Be a Woman made us all feminists, Moran has penned this mid-life follow-up, in which she muses over "maintenance shags", mum bods and the never-ending to-do list.

Who They Was by Gabriel Krauze

3 September

"This life is like being in an ocean. Some people keep swimming towards the bottom," writes Krauze. The son of Polish immigrants, he draws on his youth spent involved in robbery, drugs and violence in this brutally honest portrait of South London's gang culture.

Men Who Hate Women by Laura Bates

3 September

The author of Everyday Sexism exposes the dark underworld of extreme misogyny. Going undercover, she encounters communities of incels, pickup artists and Men's Rights Activists, and explores the way their ideas have infiltrated our collective consciousness.

Jack by Marilynne Robinson

15 September

Robinson won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction with her epistolary novel Gilead, a fictional autobiography of a dying pastor John Ames. She expanded the narrative in Home and Lila, and does so again in Jack, which touches on segregationist laws and love in small-town America.

The Courage to Care by Christie Watson

17 September

The author of The Language of Kindness: A Nurse's Story returned to hospital wards during the COVID-19 pandemic. Her second book is a celebration of inspiring nurses, brave patients and strong families who show courage and care in the most challenging times.

Loud Black Girls edited by Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené

1 October

Edited by the women behind Slay in Your Lane, these essays by 20 Black women writers ask "what's next?". For more new work on race, look out for Otegha Uwagba's Whites (12 November) or pick up New Daughters of Africa which brings together fiction, poetry, letters and drama from such big names as Roxane Gay and Yrsa Daley-Ward.

A Life on Our Planet by David Attenborough

1 October

"See the world. Then make it better," is 94-year-old Sir David's rallying cry in his latest book which, in conjunction with a feature-length documentary, recounts his life and the evolution of life on Earth. In it, he hammers home the importance of tackling the climate crisis and presents his vision for the future.

Earthlings by Sayaka Murata

8 October

Murata has written a host of novels in Japanese, but it was only with Convenience Store Woman (2016) that she gained a cult following in the UK. Now, you can expect to see Earthlings flaunted in every cool kid's #bookstack. Set in the Nagano mountains, it's the cosmic story of Natsuki, a young girl who refuses to conform to modern norms.

Trio by William Boyd

8 October

Any Human Heart is one of our favourite books, so it's unsurprising that we're enamoured with Boyd's latest novel too. It spirits readers to a Brighton film set in the incendiary summer of 1968, when the secret worlds of a producer, a novelist and an actress unravel.

Ghosts by Dolly Alderton

15 October

In the first fiction from the author of Everything I Know About Love, the life of 32-year-old food writer Nina Dean is spiralling. Between these pages, you'll be immersed in the minefields of online dating, friendships and gendered double standards.

God 99 by Hassan Blasim

12 November

The first novel from Iraqi writer, poet and filmmaker Hassan Blasim plays with themes of exile, humanity and art. It follows protagonist Hassan Owl, a refugee and writer in Finland, who travels across Europe to uncover the stories behind the continent's refugee crisis.

Promised Land by Barack Obama

17 November

Several new books - namely Boris Johnson: The Gambler by Tom Bower (15 October) and Rage by Bob Woodward - take world leaders as subjects. Most anticipated in this genre is the first installation of Obama's two-part memoir, which covers his early political career and first years in the White House. It hits shelves within weeks of the US presidential election.

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