Amid the Overwhelming Fall Book Buzz, ‘Sleeping on Jupiter’ Truly Stands Out

Indian author Anuradha Roy’s newest is fiction that serves as an agent of social change.

Anuradha Roy. Courtesy MacLehose Press

And so here we are, at the beginning of a shiny new fall. Fall is to the literary world what summer is to movies: the season when the big names come out to play, when the big advertising budgets and media blitzes roll out. And every season, the books are accompanied with a certain amount of buzz—book chat, both positive and negative, from agents, librarians, and other literary folks with early access to review copies.

Sometimes these books are instant classics—the kind of reading experience that engages even people who don’t pay that much attention to books. But as with summer blockbusters, sometimes that hype amounts to not much at all. Duds collide with runaway bestsellers, famous authors sometimes fail to impress their beloved fans, and new writers appear from (seemingly) nowhere to become household names.

This year, we’ve got new books from Zadie Smith, Michael Chabon, Maria Semple, Jonathan Safran Foer, Bruce Springsteen, and many more on the way. Thanks to Oprah’s pre-publication endorsement, we’ve already seen Colson Whitehead’s Underground Railroad become one of 2016’s rare must-reads. (Speaking of which: Hugo House is bringing Whitehead to the Seattle Public Library on September 17. Save that date.) It’s all almost too exhausting to think about.

Before book blockbuster season fully consumes us next week, let’s kick off our fall with a book from an unfamiliar name. Indian author Anuradha Roy’s newest novel, Sleeping on Jupiter, is the first big-buzz book of the season. Monday, she reads at Elliott Bay Book Company as part of her very first reading tour of the United States.

Jupiter begins with our protagonist, Nomi, witnessing her father’s murder: “When the pigs were slaughtered for their meat they shrieked with a sound that made my teeth fall off and this was the sound I heard soon after my mother cut the grapefruit, and the men came in with axes … In my sleep I hear the sound of pigs at slaughter, the sound my father made.”

Nomi is adopted and moves to Norway; she comes back to India a grown woman with a project in mind. The book addresses sexism and homophobia and masculine violence in a new way; it’s a novel that pushes at its culture as a force of modernity.

Jupiter has already been nominated for a Man Booker Prize and it’s won and been shortlisted for a bunch of other huge literary awards. And if you think that awards don’t mean anything, you should know that the book buzz on this one is off the charts. Local booksellers can’t stop gushing over Roy’s latest, and booksellers are rarely wrong. Jupiter is that rarest of novels: a fiction that serves as an agent of social change. That’s hype you can believe in. Elliott Bay Book Company, 1521 10th Ave, 624-6600, elliottbaybook.com. Free. All ages. 7 p.m. Mon., Sept. 12.

Paul Constant is the co-founder of The Seattle Review of Books. Read daily books coverage like this at seattlereviewofbooks.com.

More in Arts & Culture

Cate Blanchett, Owen Vaccaro, and Jack Black get their kiddie horror on in The House 
With a Clock in Its Walls. Photo courtesy Storyteller Distribution Co.
Tick, Tick… Boo!

Jack Black and Cate Blanchett can’t prevent the spooky kids’ movie The House with a Clock in Its Walls from feeling a bit insincere.

The Kinesthetic Truth of Jerome Robbins

Pacific Northwest Ballet opens its season with a centennial celebration of legendary choreographer.

Illustration by Taylor Dow
Get Brave

Saturn and an Aries full Moon squeeze us into action.

Musicians Rally for a Free #SaveTheShowbox Concert at City Hall

The event corresponds with the City’s public land use hearing regarding expanding the Pike Place Market Historic District.

Welcome to the new Hugo House. Photo by Seth Sommerfeld
A New Chapter For Hugo House

After two nomadic years, the nonprofit Seattle writing center is ready to open its new, expanded home.

The finale of ‘Volta’ brings the X Games to Cirque du Soleil. Photo by Patrice Lamoureux
Cirque du Xtreme

While thematically uncentered, Cirque du Soleil’s BMX-adorned Volta still entertains.

Walking Seattle Art Museum’s halls is just one of the options available on Museum Day. Photo by Natali Wiseman
Snag a Free Museum Day Ticket

Smithsonian Magazine ‘s September 22 celebration opens the doors to some of the region’s best cultural institutions.

Most Read