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Book preview: Established authors explore dark dystopias, fiery romance in upcoming fall titles

(Tara Desai/Daily Bruin)

By Zinnia Finn and Paria Honardoust

Oct. 7, 2022 12:33 p.m.

With the seasons changing, fall is welcoming the latest literature, and authors are looking to ensure audiences turn the crisp pages of their upcoming books. From upcoming fantasies to thought-provoking releases, the newest novels are bound to keep readers cozily satisfied.

Read on for the Daily Bruin’s literary recommendations for this autumn.

(Courtesy of Penguin Random House)
(Courtesy of Penguin Random House)

“Liberation Day” by George Saunders

This month, George Saunders is setting his stories free.

Releasing Oct. 18, “Liberation Day” features a collection of nine stories characterized by an inquisitive look at the darker side of human nature. In the book, Saunders explores the intricacies of humanity and society in both realistic and dystopian settings. For instance, the story “Mother’s Day” documents the interactions between two lovers of the same man who meet in a hailstorm, while “Elliott Spencer” follows a poor protagonist in his late 80s who becomes reprogrammed as a political protester.

“Liberation Day” marks Saunders’ return to short stories nearly a decade after the release of his New York Times bestseller “Tenth of December.” His last collection peered into the lives of his fictional characters with the same intensity and earned him Time Magazine’s dub as the “best short-story writer in English.” Known for prose laced with exaggerated settings, Saunders often manipulates ironic situations to highlight characters’ emotions.

In short, the nine lives of “Liberation Day” are sure to satiate readers’ satirical appetites.

– Zinnia Finn

[Related: Book preview: Spring 2022 novels offer fantastic worlds, intimate narratives]

(Courtesy of W. W. Norton & Company)
(Courtesy of W. W. Norton & Company)

“Saha” by Cho Nam-Joo

“Saha” takes readers to Town.

The upcoming dystopian novel from Cho Nam-Joo releases Nov. 1 and tells the story of protagonist Jin-Kyung’s search for her brother, Do-Kyung, after he goes missing following a murder accusation. The siblings are residents of Saha Estates, the slums of a country called Town, which is known for its wealth and safety. On her search for Do-Kyung, Jin-Kyung is forced to rely on neighbors and residents of Town who remain secretive and reluctant to help, but she slowly uncovers a reality darker than her brother’s disappearance.

Translated from Korean into English by Jamie Chang, Saha follows Nam-Joo’s 2020 English release of “Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982.” Starkly different from the thriller genre of “Saha,” the national bestseller is centered around a South Korean woman who recounts a life tainted by the patriarchy. However, both novels explore similar themes of restriction due to either gender or wealth.

And in “Saha,” Jin-Kyung closes in on the roots of her oppression.

– Zinnia Finn

[Related: UCLA alumnus promotes representation on BookTok, Bookstagram with ‘vietgirlreads’]

(Courtesy of Jennifer L. Armentrout)
(Courtesy of Jennifer L. Armentrout)

“A Light in the Flame” by Jennifer L. Armentrout

“A Light in the Flame” is nearly hot off the press.

In the first installment of the fantasy fiction series, “A Shadow in the Ember,” protagonist and consort Seraphena – also known as Sera – was born, weaponized and fated to seduce and kill the Primal of Death, Nyktos. Amid a whirl of wavering emotions, Jennifer L. Armentrout left readers with a jaw-dropping cliffhanger concerning Sera’s destiny. Now, the Nov. 15 release of “A Light in the Flame” will reignite the ambivalent but steamy enemies-to-lovers trope between Nyktos and Sera, as well as unveil their ambitions to save her and the world at large.

In every foreseeable future apart from one, Sera is predestined to die by the age of 21, and the only person who can remedy this dire fate is the very Primal she had conspired to kill. The stakes are amplified as the powerful ember of life discovered in Sera intensifies, edging her closer to the Culling – the transition from her mortal self into her true form that has yet to be revealed – she unequivocally cannot survive. The newest release of the “Flesh and Fire” series will entertain themes of fearlessness and adventure in addition to prevailing temptations of romance and anticipation. However, it is uncertain how much Armentrout will disclose of Sera’s fate in this next installment, given that “Flesh and Fire” is an ongoing series.

With ambiguous story elements to address and Sera’s future to be told, “A Light in the Flame” has the heat to turn into a blazing fire.

– Paria Honardoust

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Zinnia Finn | Daily Bruin senior staff
Finn is a senior staff writer for Arts & Entertainment and PRIME. She was previously the Lifestyle editor from 2021-2022, an Arts reporter from 2020-2021 and a member of PRIME’s first intern class from 2019-2020. She is a fourth-year neuroscience and public health student from San Francisco, California.
Finn is a senior staff writer for Arts & Entertainment and PRIME. She was previously the Lifestyle editor from 2021-2022, an Arts reporter from 2020-2021 and a member of PRIME’s first intern class from 2019-2020. She is a fourth-year neuroscience and public health student from San Francisco, California.
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