Skippy Dies by Paul Murray
This 661-page boarding-school satire (and they said the epic was dead!) hit UK shelves this past winter, and several too-long months later, it’s finally made its way across the pond. Long-listed for this year’s Man Booker prize, the Irish novelist’s sophomore effort—the first we’ve heard from him since his 2003 debut, “An Evening of Long Goodbyes”—follows Catholic school roommates through the tragicomedy of adolescence. And not to spoil anything, but as per the title, only one of them makes it out alive.
Publishes September 7
True Prep: It’s A Whole New Old World by Lisa Birnbach and Chip Kidd
If you prefer your prep American-style, you’re in luck, because Muffy and Biff are back. Thirty years after “The Official Preppy Handbook” made Montauk-sized waves, Birnbach releases a new WASP field-guide updated for the iPad age.
Publishes September 7
The Elephant’s Journey by Jose Saramago
The Portuguese Nobel Prize-winner passed away this June, but the books keep coming: the English-language translation of his final novel, an adventure story chronicling an elephant and his keeper as they traipse across Renaissance Europe, is a hilarious-yet-reflective meditation on humanity, power and friendship.
Publishes September 9
Come Home Chicago
The top-notch, inter-disciplinary, high-energy blowout celebration of the Windy City’s storytelling tradition features top names across the cultural board. Journalist Alex Kotlowitz (“There Are No Children Here”) reads, local avant-rock duo Bifunkal plays, Jen Porter and the Most Fabulous Band croon, and Chicago improv institution Dave Pasquesi (of TJ & Dave) cracks up the crowd—and that’s just a sampling.
September 12 at The Underground Wonder Bar
Having burst onto the literary scene with “The Russian Debutante’s Handbook,” and followed it up with the ubiquitous-on-Brooklyn-subways satire, “Absurdistan,” the “St. Leninsburg”-born author blows through the Windy City promoting his latest novel, “Super Sad True Love Story.” It’s a dystopian Romeo & Juliet-type tale that NYT praises as layering “the tenderness of the Chekhovian tradition with the hormonal high jinks of a Judd Apatow movie.” Also, there will be cupcakes.
September 22 at The Book Cellar
Madame Bovary by Gustav Flaubert (translated by Lydia Davis)
While the master-realist’s saga of provincial misery and tragic adultery is a classic, all-star translator (and acclaimed novelist) Lydia Davis proves you can teach an old Francophone dog new English tricks.
Publishes September 23
Listen To This by Alex Ross
Titled for his hit 2004 essay of the same name, the New Yorker music critic (and Pulitzer Prize finalist) follows up his award-winning bestseller, “The Rest Is Noise,” with a second essay collection. This time, Ross weighs in on phenomena across the musical spectrum, covering everything from canonical composers to indie-rock hipsters in Beijing.
Publishes September 28
Terror and Wonder: Architecture in a Tumultuous Age by Blair Kamin
The Tribune-writing, Cityscapes-blogging, Pulitzer Prize-winning Kamin uses buildings to read the cultural and political currents in this post-9/11 era.
Publishes October 1
Best American Comics 2010, ed. Neil Gaiman, Jessica Abel, Matt Madden
Gaiman (“American Gods,” “Anansi Boys,” “Coraline”), whose work has raked in a near-uncountable number of awards, teams up with fellow graphic novelists/comic-connoisseurs Jessica Abel (“La Perdida,” “Artbabe”) and Matt Madden (“99 Ways to Tell A Story,” with Abel) to curate this guide to the crème de la crème of visual storytelling.
Publishes October 5
Travels in Siberia by Ian Frazier
The nonfiction giant kicked off his literary career with the travelogue-cum-local-history “Great Plains.” Now he’s turned his attention to perhaps the greatest plains of all. Capturing the agony and the ecstasy of the notoriously bleak expanse—the native peoples! The history! The cold! The bugs!—it’s a portrait of post-Soviet Russia that’ll make the impending Chicago winter seem mild.
Publishes October 12
Great House by Nicole Krauss
One of the too-few Sad Young Literary Women of hip-but-best-selling Brooklyn stars, the author of “The History of Love,” (and, yes, New Yorker “20-under-40” alum) returns with this novel-in-four-stories, linked across time and space by a monolithic writing desk.
Publishes October 12
The Booker prize-winning Brit behind Victorian-inspired family sagas (“Possession,” “The Virgin in the Garden,” and “The Children’s Book,” among others), short fiction (“The Matisse Stories,” “The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye,” and more), poetry, and criticism takes the U of C stage.
October 14 at the University of Chicago
Known for delving into the human complex of guilt and desire, the poet—who has eight books, a fistful of awards and two Pulitzer noms under his belt—joins the star-studded ranks of The Poetry Foundation’s Poetry Day alum T.S. Eliot, Marianne Moore and Seamus Heaney.
October 14 at Harold Washington Library
How To Read The Air by Dinaw Mengestu
The National Book Foundation named him among their “5-under-35.” The New Yorker picked him for their hotly-debated “20-under-40.” In other words, Mengestu is young, and—more importantly—Mengestu is worth a read. His second novel follows Jonas Woldemariam, a second-generation Ethiopian immigrant whose own floundering marriage sends him on a road trip to retrace his parents troubled footsteps across the Midwest.
Publishes October 14
One Book, One Chicago Keynote Lecture: Toni Morrison
The Nobel Prize-winning literary icon who made her debut with “The Bluest Eye,” won the Pulitzer for “Beloved,” and penned this year’s One Book, One Chicago pick, “A Mercy” discusses her life, her work, and her most recent novel.
October 19 at Chicago Symphony Center
Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak (translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky)
Having made it their mission to resuscitate the Russians from their staid translation, husband-and-wife pair Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky catapulted to major fame with their 2007 rendition of “War and Peace.” Now, they’ve breathed the original life back into Pasternak’s Nobel Prize-winning tale of love and turmoil during the Russian Revolution.
Publishes October 19
Shock of Gray by Ted C. Fishman
The Chicago journalist behind “China, Inc.” is back with an investigation that’s both timely and terrifying. The subtitle—“The Aging of the World’s Population and How it Pits Young Against Old, Child Against Parent, Worker Against Boss, Company Against Rival, and Nation Against Nation”—says it all. (Though with his characteristic smarts, Fishman says it with a lot more nuance.)
Publishes October 19
Life Times, 1953-2007 by Nadine Gordimer
Once you’ve won the Nobel Prize in Literature, penned fourteen novels, nine collections of short fiction, and three tomes of non-fiction, you’re entitled to a retrospective. In this latest career-spanning collection, the South African author’s lifetime (thus far) of unsentimental psychological portraits is capped off with four new stories.
Publishes November 9
Every Riven Thing by Christian Wiman
Having been in the works since he took up the reigns at Poetry seven years ago, Wiman’s third collection of poems takes on his favorite topics—love, God, disease, West Texas—in starkly gorgeous tones.
Publishes November 10
The painter/cartoonist/writer/illustrator/playwright/editor behind the weekly “Ernie Pook’s Comeek,” the “autofictionalbiography” “One! Hundred! Demons!; The! Greatest! of! Marlys!,” the off-Broadway-adapted “The Good Times Are Killing Me” and the Eisner Award-winning graphic novel “What It Is” (among others) takes the SAIC stage as part of their Visiting Artist Program.
November 15 at Columbus Auditorium, 280 S. Columbus