In all sincerity, we would forgive you if you wanted to dig yourself a nice big hole and stick your head into it, just to avoid the depressing political circus surrounding the confirmation hearings of one sniffly, beer-loving judge.
But since there's no end in sight to the madness, and you can only put your head in a hole for so long without, we don't know, getting tired of having your head in a hole, we figured we'd come up with a better way for you to hide out from the real world—one that doesn't involve you staring at a glimmering screen. Simply put: it's a selective guide to the most engrossing new (and shortly forthcoming) novels and short story collections of the season.
Read 'em and weep...
(Or, you know, just read 'em.)
Lake Success by Gary Shteyngart (out now)
The pitch: America's preeminent comic novelist trains his sardonic wit on the life of Barry Cohen, a hedge-fund manager suffering from something like a midlife crisis who flees his life in New York to revive a relationship with his college flame. This already feels like a movie.
For fans of: David Sedaris; The Big Short; general upper-class ennui.
Your Duck Is My Duck by Deborah Eisenberg (out now)
The pitch: It's the very-much-anticipated first short story collection in 12 years from the "chronicler of American insanity," featuring a decidedly sensitive group of film actors and a radical puppeteer.
For fans of: George Saunders's absurdity; Lorrie Moore's perspicaciousness; Miranda July's humor.
Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami (Oct. 9)
The pitch: A Japanese painter embarks on an epic, fantastical journey, involving a strange underworld and a WWII-era assassination, that kind of sort of doubles as a meditation on art and an homage to The Great Gatsby. So, yeah. It's a lot.
For fans of: things vaguely described as Kafka-esque; Murakami's own The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle; Cloud Atlas (more so the good book than the bad movie).
White Dancing Elephants by Chaya Bhuvaneswar (Oct. 9)
The pitch: In her wide-ranging debut short story collection, Bhuvaneswar explores queer and interracial love, religion and the immigrant experience through a kaleidoscopic cast of characters and settings, suffused with mysticism and folklore.
For fans of: Gabriel Garcia Marquez; Margaret Atwood; Lauren Groff.
Family Trust by Kathy Wong (Oct. 30)
The pitch: Drama ensues as the family Huang—comprised of a Silicon Valley tech giant, a Harvard Business grad and a ready-for-love-again 72-year-old first wife—anticipates the death of its wealthy, if unpredictable patriarch, Stanley.
For fans of: Crazy Rich Asians; Succession; Jonathan Franzen-style familial drama.
The Feral Detective by Jonathan Lethem (Nov. 6)
The pitch: The best-selling novelist (and consummate New Yorker), returns to genre fiction with a kind of detective story—about a New Yorker tracking down a missing girl in California, where he gets mixed up in some failed utopian projects—he wrote in a frenzy, in order to cope with the 2016 election. As Adam Sternbergh wrote in Vulture, Lethem "has not necessarily written the first great novel of the Trump era, but he’s arguably written the first great novel about the Trump era." Strong words.
For fans of: Lethem's own Motherless Brooklyn; docuseries about cults; Raymond Chandler-esque protagonists.
Evening in Paradise: More Stories by Lucia Berlin (Nov. 6)
The pitch: It's the second posthumous short story collection from the dryly comic, casually poignant, unsparing writer of unapologetic, oft down-but-not-out women, following the success of A Manual for Cleaning Women.
For fans of: Dorothy Parker; Sofia Coppola movies; fictional drunks.
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite (Nov. 20)
The pitch: In her debut novel, Braithwaite tells the story of a Nigerian woman whose sister rather irritatingly has the habit of killing her boyfriends. It's a satire. A dark satire.
For fans of: Diablo Cody movies; Ottessa Moshfegh; strange, psychopathic Cruel Intentions-esque sibling rivalries.