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What will you be reading this fall? New books from Selznick, Franzen, Kaling and more

Brian Selznick and Edwidge Danticat, authors of two of the fall’s most anticipated works for young people, both know something about living in multiple worlds.

Selznick has been traveling, in his mind, among movies, printed books and digital texts. He worked on drawings for The Marvels, a 600-page adventure across the centuries that alternates between text and illustrations, while adapting his novel Wonderstruck for a planned feature by Todd Haynes. He has also finally allowed his distinctively illustrated stories to be released as e-books, and upon completing The Marvels thought of how he could convert it for digital readers.

“The challenge is always to make the story feel like it can only be told in the medium it appears,” Selznick says. “When I’m creating a new story, it always begins as a book, but once it’s finished, figuring out how to adapt it to other media is a fun challenge.

“In the end, storytelling is storytelling, and each medium has its own demands and opportunities unique to it.”

Danticat’s Untwine is narrated by the teen daughter of Haitian immigrants as she recovers from a serious car crash. Untwine was a switch in style for Danticat (best known for such adult works as the novel The Dew Breaker and the memoir Brother, I’m Dying). It was also a journey back to a younger self.

“I had to ask a lot of questions and do a lot of observing. Each story requires you to inhabit a character and I had to come as close as possible to becoming the narrator,” Danticat says.

The next few months will feature books for all ages by authors of all ages — from a new Rookie Yearbook by teen star Tavi Gevinson to a memoir by the 100-year-old Pulitzer Prize winner Herman Wouk — with a few Nobel laureates in between.

Wouk, a published author for nearly 70 years, shares his rare perspective in Sailor and Fiddler: Reflections of a 100-Year-Old Author. Near contemporaries also have books out. The Rev. Billy Graham, 96, collaborated with son Franklin on Where I Am. A.E. Hotchner, 95, writes of his late friend Ernest Hemingway in Hemingway in Love. Stan Lee, 92, tells his story in words and illustrations in Amazing Fantastic Incredible: A Marvelous Memoir.

Punk and New Wave music are old enough that some of the leaders are writing memoirs, from Elvis Costello and Chrissie Hynde to Patti Smith and Carrie Brownstein. A classic rock ‘n’ roller, John Fogerty spares no one in Fortunate Son, while the man who helped discover such Fogerty heroes as Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis, Sun Records founder Sam Phillips, is the subject of Peter Guralnick’s Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Actors also are looking back, including Debbie Reynolds, Burt Reynolds (no relation) and Drew Barrymore. Mindy Kaling offers the latest on her life in Why Not Me? Mary-Louise Parker addresses friends, family members, lovers and other men in Dear Mr. You, a series of intimate and polished essays that have received blurbs from Mary Karr and Leslie Jamison. Jesse Eisenberg’s humor pieces, many of which ran in The New Yorker, are collected in Bream Gives Me Hiccups.

The fall is publishing’s prime showcase for literary fiction, with novels by Jonathan Franzen, David Mitchell and Elena Ferrante, along with works from Nobel laureates Patrick Modiano, Orhan Pamuk and Kenzaburo Oe. Posthumous work is coming from Lucia Berlin and Oscar Hijuelos, and the writings of the late Primo Levi are being issued in a three-volume set, with an introduction by Nobel winner Toni Morrison.

David Lagercrantz continues the late Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series with The Girl in the Spider’s Web and Anthony Horowitz has written a new James Bond novel, Trigger Mortis. J.K. Rowling resumes her alternate life as crime writer Robert Galbraith with Career of Evil. George R.R. Martin explores the back story of Westeros in A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms. Margaret Atwood, author of such dystopian novels as The Handmaid’s Tale, conjures more nightmares in The Heart Goes Last.

“It’s getting easier (to create dystopias),” said Atwood, whose new book features a community of rotating prison inmates. “You’re just putting together a mosaic of what’s around you, putting together things that are already happening somewhere or have happened and seeing what this mix produces.”

Current events will be reviewed from the left by David Brock in Killing the Messenger: The Right-Wing Plot to Derail Hillary and Hijack Your Government and from the right in Exceptional, by former Vice President Dick Cheney and daughter Liz Cheney. Chelsea Clinton’s It’s Your World: Get Informed, Get Inspired & Get Going! is a primer for civic engagement. Her mother, presidential contender Hillary Rodham Clinton, contributes a foreword to Fast Forward: How Women Can Achieve Power and Purpose, by Melanne Verveer and Kim K. Azzarelli.

Other nonfiction releases include memoirs by Gloria Steinem and Donna Karan and a biography of former President George H.W. Bush by Pulitzer winner Jon Meacham. Stacy Schiff, whose books include the best-selling Cleopatra and the Pulitzer-winning Vera, looks back to the 17th-century witch trials in The Witches: Salem, 1692.

“The similarities between the oral culture of that time and the Internet are approximately 100 percent,” Schiff says. “Something is mentioned once and suddenly it’s everywhere. It’s amazing the way slanderous news travels. And what we say is indelible. That’s what happened in the 17th century. Witchcraft accusations wouldn’t go away.”

Fall movie season brings a wealth of quality LGBT feature films

Ellen Page was first approached about the true-life gay rights drama Freeheld when she was 21, just coming off her breakthrough in Juno. It was seven years before the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is a right, and six before Page, herself, came out.

“It really did align with an internal process I was going through with my own identity, with my own struggles of being closeted,” says Page of Freeheld. “It’s lovely to be part of a film that’s reflecting upon why we need the Supreme Court ruling and why we need to continue to strive to equality. I think the film is reflecting a time when that change is happening.”

As much as change is in the air in 2015, it’s also on the screen. Though Hollywood’s track record when it comes to telling the stories of LGBT lives is far from gleaming, this fall season boasts one of the richest and most varied batch of films yet to dramatize the struggles of gay and transgendered people.

Freeheld (in theaters Oct. 2) is about Laurel Hester (Julianne Moore) and her domestic partner, Stacie Andree (Page). When Hester, an Ocean County, New Jersey, police officer, began dying of terminal lung cancer in 2005, she appealed to the county Board of Freeholders to allow her pension to go to Andree. Though it would have been automatic for a married couple, the board initially refused.

Eight years after a documentary short on Hester won an Oscar, screenwriter Ron Nyswaner (Philadelphia) has penned the dramatization, directed by Peter Sollett and co-starring Steve Carell and Michael Shannon.

Todd Haynes’ Carol (out Nov. 20), based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel, is about the illicit love affair between two women (Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara) in the conservative 1950s. A lushly detailed period film, thick with an atmosphere of socially enforced repression, the film rides a wave of praise from the Cannes Film Festival, where Mara shared in the best actress award.

Blanchett, in an interview at Cannes, said that while love between two lesbians is of course central to Carol, it’s ultimately about love, regardless of gender.

“There’s something Romeo and Juliet-esque about it,” Blanchett said. “There’s a universality to the love story that moves it out of the niche. It’s about the perspective or the feeling of being in love for the first time. And, yes, it’s not immaterial that there are two women at the center of it. But at certain moments, it kind of is.”

Also in November is The Danish Girl, directed by Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech). Based on the 1920s Copenhagen novel by David Ebershoff and starring Eddie Redmayne, it’s a fictionalized account of Lili Elbe, among the first to undergo sex reassignment surgery.

While that trio of films is expected to play major roles in awards season, there are others in the mix, too.

Roland Emmerich, taking a break from the disaster spectacles like White House Down and The Day After Tomorrow, depicts one of the most pivotal moments in the gay rights movement in Stonewall (Sept. 25), a drama set around the 1969 Stonewall Inn riots in New York’s Greenwich Village.

And months after the celebrated transformation of Caitlyn Jenner, About Ray (Sept. 18) is about a teenager’s (Elle Fanning) transition from female to male, and how her family reacts.

It can be overly optimistic to take any seasonal trend as a sign of wider industry progress. Studies have confirmed that Hollywood continues to lag in representing the diversity of its audiences. Researchers at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg school recently found that among the 4,610 speaking characters in the 100 top-grossing films in 2014, only 19 were lesbian, gay or bisexual. None were transgender.

Many of these films also struggled to make it to the big screen. It took Carol almost two decades to finally get made; screenwriter Phyllis Nagy wrote her first draft in 1996.

Equality for LGBT people also, of course, continues to be a divisive issue for some across the country. Page recently confronted presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz at the Iowa State Fair on his views on gay rights.

But in a year marked by significant advancement for gay rights, many, like Page, are buoyed by the upswing in this fall’s films — a crop of movies that add more lesbian and transgender stories to the indelible, but largely male movies (Philadelphia, Milk, Brokeback Mountain) that have come before.

“I wish there were more gay stories and I do think that that’s happening,” she says. “That does seem like something that’s getting a lot stronger, thankfully — a voice that’s getting stronger, a community that’s getting stronger.”