What to read

New novels from Zadie Smith, Neil Gaiman, Myla Goldberg and E.L. Doctorow stand out in fall's first wave of fiction

Published October 1, 2005 9:14PM (EDT)

Finally, autumn is here! Out with the heat and the muggy afternoons, in with the crisp. The leaves haven't quite started to turn, but the air has cooled -- and nights are downright chilly. Soon, we'll be pulling blankets out of closets and comforters up to our chins; pouring hot tea instead of iced. And what better to pair with a steaming mug than a great new novel.

The first crop of fall fiction offers a stunning variety of choices. Whether you're in the mood for an academic comedy hinged on two rival art scholars (Zadie Smith's "On Beauty"), a slightly fantastic, genre-bending collection of short stories (Tim Powers' "Strange Itineraries"), a hypnotic Civil War narrative (E.L. Doctorow's "The March"), or the spare, sad tale of a man's recovery after a dramatic accident (J.M Coetzee's "Slow Man"), there's something for you in this mix. Not to mention pigs (Kelly Fitzgerald's wild and charming "Pigtopia"), the flu (Myla Goldberg's accomplished and daring "Wickett's Remedy"), and trickster gods (Neil Gaiman's wonderful "Anansi Boys").

So, don't despair that summer has come to an end. In fact, look forward to the coming cold, and the excuse to stay inside. We promise, too, that there will be even more inspiring fiction to come in this season -- so get reading! With any of these picks, you're assured a delicious indoor afternoon.

Our first pick: From the author of "White Teeth," an academic comedy, a riff on E.M. Forster and a catalog of human folly

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Books Fiction Laura Miller Neil Gaiman What To Read