“Les ballerinas”, by Rachel Kapelke-Dale (St. Martin’s, December 7)
In this first thriller, three dancers try to hide their secrets from the Paris Opera Ballet. Delphine is back in Paris after years in St. Petersburg, choreographing a new ballet and hoping to reconcile with her old friends, but their shared past threatens to overthrow the production.
Expect plenty of satirical and uncomfortably funny storylines for the characters in this collection, ranging from a literary magazine assistant to a couple considering a threesome to a Bush administration lawyer.
“The men of fortune”, by Nadifa Mohamed (Knopf, December 14)
This novel tells the real story of a Somali sailor in Wales who has been falsely accused of murder. With this book, Mohamed became the first British Somali writer shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and she said in an interview that the writing of the novel, despite its tragic premise, was “cathartic”.
Read our interview with Mohamed
‘Garbo’, by Robert Gottlieb (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, December 7)
A seasoned editor of The New Yorker and Knopf tries to retrace the life of an actress known for her elusiveness. Greta Garbo quit acting in her 30s and appeared in just 24 Hollywood films, while leaving an outsized influence. Gottlieb traces his life from his early years in the Stockholm working class to his later years as a “city hermit” in New York City, and includes clips from academics, co-stars and critics who offer new perspectives on his life.
An Oxford professor offers an imaginative biography of the 17th century poet who sets out to capture Milton’s “desire to escape time, to be eternally contemporary”. Readers learn about his teenage years, a crucial trip to Italy in which Milton met Galileo, and his later years, as well as Milton’s own influence on the author.
This new collection is inspired by Hustvedt’s ancestors, both literary and family. (The opening selection begins: “My paternal grandmother was obscene, fat and formidable.”) She evokes her intellectual ancestors, ruminates on the appeal of mentoring and, perhaps most importantly, struggles with the peculiarities of motherhood.
“Twenty Years Later”, by Charlie Donlea (Kensington, December 28)
Victoria, the mysterious character at the center of this literary thriller, was killed on September 11 while meeting her lawyer in one of the towers. She had been accused of killing her lover, and her case was largely forgotten until some of her remains were discovered decades later. But the discovery forces a recalculation with the truth, leading a reporter and a retired FBI agent to reconsider the mystery.
“White on White”, by Aysegül Savas (Riverhead, December 7)
A graduate student moves to a new city to study Gothic nudes, “an ambiguous subject, whose greatest challenge would be that of consciousness: seeing the naked human form as medieval people did.” Her conversations with her owner, a painter named Agnès, shift from artistic meditation to personal history, and the student’s original field of study takes on a deeper dimension.
Read our review