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You might think of the immediate days after Labor Day as the end of the summer, but September really signals the beginning of book season. The big titles by famous writers start rolling out, a bunch of books that might come out of nowhere and end up bestsellers, and a few debuts by writers people will be talking a lot about between now and the end of the year. As you can see by the list below, the 9th month of this year is all that and then some.

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Geek Sublime, Vikram Chandra
(September 2nd, Graywolf Press)

Vikram Chandra is probably best-known for his fiction, but, as a young man, he made a living for several years working with computers. Here, he muses on the language of the writer and of the coder, and of how each can shape the other. It’s an unorthodox take on literary theory, with Chandra’s own experiences as a writer woven in. -Tobias Carroll

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Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy, Karen Abbott
(September 2nd, Harper)

There are history books, and then there are the history books that Karen Abbott writes. The thing you have to understand when going into her latest–the true stories of four women who became spies during the Civil War–is that even if she didn’t pick fascinating subjects to write about, she’s such a great storyteller, that you can’t help but get wrapped up in her works no matter what she’s writing about. Thankfully, like her other books, you can’t really go wrong with her latest subject. – Jason Diamond 

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AcceptanceJeff VanderMeer
(September 2nd, FSG Originals)

Had Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy all follows the hallucinatory lead of opener Annihilation, this surreal narrative–think Roadside Picnic by way of Lovecraft–would already be one of the year’s most memorable literary events. Instead, VanderMeer has opted to shift styles for each volume; with Acceptance, he continues with that, bringing a compelling story to its resolution while continuing to brilliantly disorient the reader. -Tobias Carroll

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10:04, Ben Lerner
(September 2nd, Faber & Faber)

Here’s the trick Ben Lerner has to try and pull off: How does one follow up Leaving the Atocha Station? Where does he go from there? How does he keep it up? He answers that with 10:04, and shows that there’s really nobody out there like him in literature. He tries to pull things off that most other authors wouldn’t dare touch, and this, his second great novel, is the result. – Jason Diamond 

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The Captain’s DaughterAlexander Pushkin
(September 2nd, NYRB Classics)

Alexander Pushkin looms large in the world of Russian literature; this book, which blends elements of historical fiction and fairy tales, is considered one of his major works. And this recent translation of it by Robert Chandler and Elizabeth Chandler has earned its fair share of acclaim as well. -Tobias Carroll

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Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel
(September 9th, Knopf)

Emily St. John Mandel’s three previous novels fused brilliant character studies with noir-influenced atmosphere. Here, she turns her eye on the near future, with a look at how art and culture endure after civilization as we know it has been fundamentally altered. -Tobias Carroll

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Faithful and Virtuous Night, Louise Glück
(September 9th, Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

After making the point that she’s easily one of America’s most important living poets with the epic anthology, Poems: 1962-2012, Louise Glück is back with her latest. – Jason Diamond 

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Prelude to BruiseSaeed Jones
(September 9th, Coffee House Press)

Maybe the best collection you will read this year, Jones is is poet who also understands how to tell a story, obviously keeping his feet planted in the former since poetry is his craft, but giving the reader so much more to unpack page after page. At times harrowing, Jones succeeds at never straying too far away from beauty and light, and that balance makes this a true reading experience. – Jason Diamond 

 

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A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing, Eimear McBride
(September 9th, Coffee House Press)

Eimear McBride’s debut novel has a reputation that precedes it here in America. Winner of multiple awards, the US release should only confirm what we’ve suspected over here all along. -Jason Diamond

wolf-in-white-vanWolf in White Van, John Darnielle
(September 16th, Farrar, Straus and Giroux) 

A couple of years ago, John Darnielle wrote about Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality for the 33 1/3 series. The route he took was a fictional one, and the neatly constructed short novel that resulted was a wrenching story of a troubled adolescence and the effects it had on its protagonist later in life. Wolf in White Van is Darnielle’s highly-anticipated second novel; it involves role-playing games, isolation, and a fragmented chronology. -Tobias Carroll

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Unspeakable Things, Laurie Penny
(September 16th, Bloomsbury)

Those of you who have read Laurie Penny’s writing on culture, sexuality, and politics in places like The New Statesman and The New Inquiry are aware of the vitality and relevance of her work. If you aren’t, her new book is a fine place to start. -Tobias Carroll 

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Love Me Back, Merritt Tierce
(September 16th, Doubleday)

There are only two or three debut novels that come out each year that just sorta smack you in the face the way that Merritt Tierce’s does. And although we could call this the Great American Service Industry novel, the protagonist’s main source of income isn’t what this book is about. Instead, Love Me Back is about the lengths some of us will go to so we can find something that resembles happiness, if even for a fleeting time. – Jason Diamond 

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Fourteen Stories, None of Them Are Yours, Luke B. Goebel
(September 30, FC2)

Luke B. Goebel’s debut novel is a frenzied, fragmented work, proceeding out of the trauma of failed relationships and family tragedy, and doubling back on itself. Stories are retold and revised as they’re read. As Goebel’s narrator endeavors to push the reader away, he draws them in closer, both from the wounds at the heart of this book and for the structural ambition that runs throughout it. -Tobias Carroll

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Scandals of Classic Hollywood, Anne Helen Petersen
(Plume, September 30th)

After getting obsessed with her column of the same name at The Hairpin, the actual book version is something we’re really looking forward to. Made up of 100% new stuff, Petersen shows us a side of old Hollywood Babylon that could put today’s version to shame. – Jason Diamond 

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The Second Sex, Michael Robbins
(Penguin, September 30th)

Michael Robbins follows up Alien vs. Predator, and closes out a really impressive month for poetry collections you should own. Also, we just have to say that this might be the best book cover of 2014. – Jason Diamond 

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