by Zachary Thomas Dodson (Doubleday)

You’ll be transfixed before you read a word: Dodson, a book designer as well as an author, has written two imaginative stories — one set in 1843, the other 300 years later — and intertwined them on facing pages in a volume chockablock with foldout maps, torn telegrams, bat drawings and an envelope labeled “Do Not Open.” (Resist!) — Keith Donohue

by Eli Gottlieb (Liveright)

This poignant novel is narrated by Todd Aaron, a 50-something man with autism who listens to Barry Manilow and works as a tour guide at the facility he’s lived in for decades. Todd is a hero of such singular character and clear spirit that you will pray for him to wrest control of his future. — Ann Bauer

by Kazuo Ishiguro (Knopf)

This daring venture into a medieval wilderness is a spectacular, rousing departure from anything Ishiguro has ever written, and yet it’s a classic Ishiguro story: graceful, original and humane. — Marie Arana

by Garth Risk Hallberg (Knopf)

Hallberg conjures what he calls the “muchness” of New York City. For almost a thousand pages, he swirls around a single tragedy — the shooting of a college student in Central Park — sweeping up tangential characters and making every one of them thrum with real life until the lightning strikes, the electric grid overloads and the city goes mad on that dark summer night in 1977. — Ron Charles

edited by Ann Goldstein, translated from the Italian by Stuart Woolf, Ann Goldstein and others (Liveright)

A boxed set of the complete works of the Italian writer captures the breadth of his literary career: his devastating 1947 memoir, “If This Is a Man,” alongside his stories, poetry and hitherto uncollected fiction and nonfiction. — Michael Dirda

by Sandra Newman (Ecco)

Newman’s richly imagined future world is inhabited almost entirely by African American children and teens who are immune to a deadly virus — and whose complex, slang-evolved patois makes this sweeping epic both fascinating and challenging to read. — Chris Bohjalian

by James Hannaham (Little, Brown)

A propulsive story about a teenager trying to save his drug-addicted mother from indentured servitude on a modern-day fruit farm. In swift, startling scenes, Hannaham makes visible the ornate prison of racism. The narcotic high from this novel comes from alternating chapters narrated in the disembodied voice of crack cocaine itself. — R.C.

by Mario Vargas Llosa, translated from the Spanish by Edith Grossman (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

This exquisite concoction — a delicious melodrama of sex and betrayal, love and revenge — demonstrates that the Peruvian Nobel laureate is still at the top of his game. — Marcela Valdes

THE DYING GRASS: A Novel of the Nez Perce War
by William T. Vollmann (Viking)

This complex recounting of noble Indian Chief Joseph’s doomed fight for survival is a masterpiece — an American tragedy with all the light and shadow, vast distances and unforgiving climates (political, emotional, physical) of our nation. — David Treuer

by Ottessa Moshfegh (Penguin Press)

In this dark, Hitchockian novel, Eileen Dunlop — an endearing misfit who works in a boys’ prison outside Boston in the early ’60s — is clearly headed for disaster. But even when it arrives, in predictable violence, the reader can only gape in awe. — Patrick Anderson

by Mary Doria Russell (Ecco)

An epic retelling of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral that sets the 30-second battle within the broader context of the times. Russell creates a sweeping canvas that touches on subjects as disparate as the politics of President Chester A. Arthur and life in the Jewish quarter of San Francisco. — Steve Donoghue

FINALE: A Novel of the Reagan Years by Thomas Mallon (Pantheon)

The kind of novel Washington loves: Set mostly in 1986 and 1987, “Finale” is a political drama anchored in historical events and oozing withering assessments of real-life people: Nancy Reagan, Richard Nixon and, of course, the Gipper himself. — Connie Schultz


by Stephen King

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