Big news on the literary fiction front: David Mitchell will publish a new book next fall, his first in four years. The genre-bending author, perhaps best known for the novel Cloud Atlas, has put a touch of magic into his upcoming book, The Bone Clocks, which is set partially in a near-future Ireland after the world's climate has collapsed.

Mitchell's British publisher, Scepter, made the announcement, describing the novel as "rich and strange." Heroine Holly is first encountered in 1984 (a time period Mitchell chronicled in his fourth novel, Black Swan Green) "as a barmaid in a Swiss resort by an undergraduate sociopath in 1991; has a child with a foreign correspondent covering the Iraq War in 2003; and, widowed, becomes the confidante of a self-obsessed author of fading powers and reputation during the present decade." And here's the magic element: These scenes from Holly's more or less ordinary life are intercut by her status as an "unwitting pawn" in a war between two supernatural contingents.

In a 2006 interview, Mitchell told us what makes for a good novel: "I think it comes down to the answer to two key questions that all the books I love have in common: Are there people who you care about in it? Are you made to ask throughout the course of the narrative, will they be OK? If the answer is yes, then the book just doesn't let you go. At some level, that's what good writing is. It's as simple as that."

Scepter has announced a September 4 release date; no date has yet been set by Mitchell's American publisher, Random House.


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