Cover Here are the best new books to read in October 2021 (Art: Chesca Gamboa/Tatler Hong Kong)

From tales of family and identity, stories about love to a gripping crime novel, here are the best new books to read this October

October is a relatively quieter month in the literature world just like the new movies coming out in Hong Kong cinemas. But if you’re looking to pick up a new read this month, there’s still something for you to enjoy.

A number of books are exploring the themes of family, identity and friendship—Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen, The Loneliest Americans by Jay Casper Kang and Monster in the Middle by Tiphanie Yanique. For something a little more exciting, don’t miss Kwon Yeo-sun's Lemon a tale of Parasite meets The Good Son.

Read on to find out what new books you should be reading in October 2021. If you missed it, you can still read our to-read list for August and September.

Read also: 8 Hong Kong Events You Can’t Miss in October 2021

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Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen

Known for his unforgettably vivid characters and sharp-eyed take on contemporary America, Jonathan Franzen takes a step back in his latest novel to explore the history of two generations. Crossroads is set in 1971 and follows the Hildebrandt family—Russ, an associate pastor at a liberal suburban church; his wife, Marion; the eldest child, Clem; the sister, Becky and the youngest child, Perry.

Each member of the Hildebrandt family keeps a secret and all are longing for freedom that comes with a price.

Release: October 5

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I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness by Claire Vaye Watkins

Claire Vaye Watkins’s newest novel, I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness is a lot of things but essentially about one woman’s journey of discovery, whether it’s her family, marriage, work or motherhood. A writer goes on a flight, leaving behind her husband and daughter but carrying with her a breast pump and postpartum depression.

The speaking engagement she’s attending serves as a temporary escape from her domestic duties as well as a chance to reconnect with friends and eventually, coming to terms with her past that still seems to haunt her.

Release: October 5

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As You Were by Elaine Feeney

As You Were marks Elaine Feeney’s venture into fiction after writing poetry. It has received acclaim when it was released last year and this October, the paperback version is coming out. The “Irish fiction debut of 2020” is about Sinéad Hynes, a tough, driven property developer who keeps a terrifying secret. While she appears funny on the outside, on the inside, she's tirelessly trying to run away from her past.

Then there's Margaret Rose who's spending time in a hospital and running away from her own chaotic family. In the neighbouring bed lies Jane, who’s in need of company. And fellow patient, Sinéad needs both of them. As You Were follows the stories of these women and their longing for freedom.

Release: October 5

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The Loneliest Americans by Jay Caspian Kang

The New York Times Magazine writer, Jay Caspian Kang brings this riveting story of family blended with original reportage that looks at the Asian American identity in the US. The novel follows Kang and his family as they move from a housing project in Cambridge to a college town in the South and then settling down on the West Coast.

Kang dives into his own existential loneliness and in other Asian Americans who are trying to find themselves in the US’ racial binary. He also seeks to untangle the generalisations and stereotypes placed upon Asian Americans in a cynical, vivid but also powerful voice.

Release: October 12

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Monster in the Middle by Tiphanie Yanique

Award-winning author Tiphanie Yanique returns with Monster in the Middle, a new riveting novel about desire, identity, religion and class. It must've been fate when Fly and Stela first met—he’s a Black American musician with a mixed religious background while she's a Catholic science teacher. He’s had his fair share of heartbreaks while she's just looking for lasting love.

While the two want to believe that her story is fate, it might not be. And the answer lies all the way back to their parents’ earliest loves.

Release: October 19

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Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout

Well-loved for her novels that capture family, relationships and loss, Pultizer Prize-winning author Elizabeth Strout once again releases a poignant novel with the same themes that readers have come to love so much.

Oh William! is a masterful look of human empathy, capturing both the joy and pain of children growing up and starting their own families and of family secrets. Strout’s titular heroine, Lucy Barton lends her voice as she looks back at her complex yet tender relationship with William, her first husband and longtime friend.

Release: October 19

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Lemon by Kwon Yeo-sun

This psychological novel by Kwon Yeo-sun is best summed up as: Parasite meets The Good Son. Set in the summer of 2022 when South Korea is at the height of hosting the Fifa World Cup, 18-year-old Kim Hae-on is killed in what will be known as the High School Beauty Murder. The suspects are two boys from different backgrounds: rich kid, Shin Jeongjun and delivery boy, Han Manu. But due to the lack of evidence, the case turns cold.

Seventeen years on, Hae-on’s younger sister still struggles to move on and tries to recover what she lost and seek the truth of what happened. Lemon is not just about finding the culprit but it also explores privilege, trauma and loss.

Release: October 26

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