Composers and cannibals: HERO’s Autumn reading list
By Barry Pierce | Books | 16 August 2023

Ok, well, summer was a flop. Let’s quickly move on and pretend that never happened.

Autumn! Everyone’s favourite transitory season where the weather is nondescript and nobody knows how to dress. So, instead of even bothering, let’s all stay inside and read.

Thankfully, we have you covered for all the chicest autumn book releases. Let’s go!

The Variations by Patrick Langley
After the success of his debut Arkady, Patrick Langley is back with his long-awaited sophomore novel, The Variations. After a reclusive composer is found dead in a field near her home in Cornwall, the preternatural gift she possessed is passed on to her grandson. Being able to tune into the voices and sounds of the past, Wolf must use his new gift to make sense of his grandmother’s legacy and learn to live with the newly unleashed voices in his head.

The Variations will be released by Fitzcarraldo Editions on September 7th.


The Glutton by A.K. Blakemore (Sept 21st)
Set in late 18th century France, A.K. Blakemore’s latest novel is a fictional account of the life of Tarare, the eponymous, and very real, glutton of the title. Famed for his ravenous and unusual appetite, Tarare was a travelling charlatan who entertained crowds by being able to digest corks, stones, snakes, eels, even whole live cats and dogs and, allegedly, he once even ate a baby.

Now he lies in dying in a hospice, the victim of a swallowed golden fork tearing up his insides, as he tells his life story to Sister Perpetue.

The Glutton will be released by Granta on September 21st.


Love and Money, Sex and Death by McKenzie Wark (Sept 26th)
A memoir by one of the forthcoming trans thinkers— after a successful career, a twenty-year marriage, and two kids, McKenzie Wark had an acute midlife crisis: coming out as a trans woman. Changing both social role and bodily form recasts her relation to the world. Transition changes what, and how, she remembers. She makes fresh sense of her past and of history by writing to key figures in her life about the big themes that haunt us all—love and money, sex and death.

Love and Money, Sex and Death will be released by Verso on September 26th.


Brainwyrms by Alison Rumfitt
After rocketing onto the literary horror scene with her debut Tell Me I’m Worthless, Alison Rumfitt returns with another visceral and repugnant novel Brainwyrms. When an anti-trans activist bombs Frankie’s workplace, she blows up Frankie’s life with it. As the media descends like vultures, Frankie tries to cope with the carnage: binge-drinking, sleeping with strangers, pushing away her friends. Then, she meets Vanya. The two hit it off immediately, but as their relationship intensifies, so too does Frankie’s feeling that Vanya is hiding something from her.

Brainwyrms will be released by Cipher Press on October 6th.


The Premonition by Banana Yoshimoto
Banana Yoshimoto is best known to Anglophone readers for her beloved novella Kitchen. Now The Premonition is finally being released in English after its initial publication in Japan in 1988, the same year as Kitchen.

Yayoi lives with her perfect, loving family – something ‘like you’d see in a Spielberg movie’. But while her parents tell happy stories of her childhood, she is increasingly haunted by the sense that she’s forgotten something important about her past. Deciding to take a break, she goes to stay with her mysterious but beloved aunt Yukino, whose strange behaviour includes waking Yayoi at two in the morning to be her drinking companion, watching Friday the 13th repeatedly and throwing away all the things she wants to forget.

The Premonition will be released by Faber on October 12th.


Artless: Fashion, Image, Media, New York 2014 – 2022 by Natasha Stagg
Composed of stories, fragmentary essays, and even press releases Stagg has been commissioned to write, Artless captures the media landscape lived and generated in New York during the past almost-decade. Since the 2016 publication of her debut novel Surveys, Stagg has positioned herself as an in-demand expert on—and critic of—the psychic experience of self-mythology within the cruelly optimistic metaverse of infinite branding. Part voyeur and part participant, Stagg continues her exploration of the branded identity and its elusive, bottomless desire for authenticity.

Artless will be published by Semiotext(e) on October 24th.


Baumgartner by Paul Auster
One of the few living writers who can genuinely be regarded as a legend, Paul Auster returns with Baumgartner, his “late masterpiece”.

Baumgartner’s life has been defined by his deep, abiding love for his wife, Anna. But now Anna is gone, and Baumgartner is embarking on his seventies whilst trying to live with her absence.

Rich with compassion, wit and Auster’s keen eye for beauty in the smallest, most transient episodes of ordinary life, Baumgartner is a tender late masterpiece of the ache of memory. It asks: why do we find such meaning in certain moments, and forget others?

Baumgartner will be released by Faber on November 7th.


New Millennium Boyz by Alex Kazemi
Already lauded by Poppy Z. Brite and Douglas Coupland, Alex Kazemi’s thrilling debut novel is an unnerving examination of the collision of traditional masculinity, the early internet, and irresistible pop culture that shaped the turn of the century and transformed the way boys engage with the world. The bastard love child of Bret Easton Ellis and Gregg Araki, New Millennium Boyz presents an uncensored and unsettling portrait of the year 2000 that never could have aired on MTV.

New Millennium Boyz will be released by Permuted Press on November 9th.


The Book of Ayn by Lexi Friedman
We love niche novels here at HERO, but there are few novels that could be as niche as The Book of Ayn.

After writing a satirical novel that The New York Times calls classist, Anna is shunned by the literary establishment and, in her hurt, radicalised by the philosophy of Ayn Rand. Determined to follow Rand’s theory of rational selfishness, Anna alienates herself from the scene and eventually her friends and family. Finally, in true Randian style, she abandons everyone for the boundless horizons of Los Angeles, hoping to make a TV show about her beloved muse.

The Book of Ayn will be released by Catapult on November 14th.

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