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New Literary Fiction to Read in 2023
Sometimes a book is so engrossing — the characters seem so alive and the prose is so lush and beautiful — it almost feels like you are sinking into the novel. get ready to lose yourself in these highly acclaimed literary fiction novels published in 2023.
An Autobiography of Skin
By lakiesha carr, hardcover $27.00, buy from other retailers:.
The Wind Knows My Name
By isabel allende, hardcover $28.00.
A Small Sacrifice for an Enormous Happiness
By jai chakrabarti.
I Have Some Questions for You
By rebecca makkai.
On the Savage Side
By tiffany mcdaniel, hardcover $29.00.
Welcome Me to the Kingdom
By mai nardone.
Gone Like Yesterday
By janelle m. williams.
By salman rushdie, hardcover $30.00.
What Napoleon Could Not Do
By dk nnuro.
Call and Response
By gothataone moeng.
The Haunting of Alejandra
By v. castro, paperback $18.00, preorder from:.
By delia cai.
River Sing Me Home
By eleanor shearer, paperback $17.00.
By v. v. ganeshananthan.
In the Upper Country
By kai thomas.
Age of Vice
By deepti kapoor, paperback $20.00.
by Allegra Goodman
By jenny jackson.
By alice winn.
Old Babes in the Wood
By margaret atwood.
Hello Beautiful (Oprah’s Book Club)
By ann napolitano.
The Dog of the North
By elizabeth mckenzie.
When in Rome
By liam callanan.
by Zoe Whittall
Old God’s Time
By sebastian barry.
By szilvia molnar, hardcover $26.00.
Earth’s the Right Place for Love
By elizabeth berg.
By julia langbein.
The Great Reclamation
By rachel heng.
White Cat, Black Dog
By kelly link.
By sophie mackintosh.
by Anna Metcalfe
Only the Beautiful
By susan meissner.
The Last Animal
By ramona ausubel.
by Jacqueline Crooks
By han kang.
The Skin and Its Girl
By sarah cypher.
Chain Gang All Stars
By nana kwame adjei-brenyah.
To Die Beautiful
By buzzy jackson.
The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece
By tom hanks, hardcover $32.50.
By juan gabriel vasquez.
by Emma Cline
by Nicole Cuffy
The Three of Us
By ore agbaje-williams.
The Late Americans
By brandon taylor.
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The best literary fiction books to read right now
Here we share our curated list of some of the most exciting literary fiction of 2023, the best literary books of 2022, and our all-time literary must-reads..
2022 was a remarkable year for literature and 2023 looks equally unlikely to disappoint. Here, we round up some of the most exciting new literary fiction of 2023, reflect on the best literary books of 2022 and recommend some of the best literary fiction of all time.
For even more inspiration, don't miss our edit of the best fiction books.
The best new literary fiction of 2023
By hernan diaz.
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize 2023
This literary puzzle about money, power, and intimacy challenges the myths shrouding wealth, and the fictions that often pass for history. Even through the roar and effervescence of the 1920s, everyone in New York has heard of Benjamin and Helen Rask. He is a legendary Wall Street tycoon; she is the daughter of eccentric aristocrats. Together, they have risen to the very top of a world of seemingly endless wealth — all as a decade of excess and speculation draws to an end. But at what cost have they acquired their immense fortune?
By chetna maroo.
Shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2023
Exploring themes of grief and sisterhood, this debut coming-of-age story packs a lot of emotion into just 176 pages. Eleven-year-old Gopi has been playing squash for as long as she can remember. When her mother dies, her father enlists her in a brutal training regimen. Soon, the game has become her entire world, causing a rift between Gopi and her sisters. But on the court, governed by the rhythms of the sport, she feels alive. This novel beautifully captures the ordinary and annihilates it with beauty as we follow a young athlete's struggle to transcend herself.
by James Hynes
This vivid story set at the end of the Roman Empire, follows Sparrow – a boy of no known origin living in a brothel. He spends his days listening to stories told by his beloved ‘mother’ Euterpe, running errands for her lover the cook, and dodging the blows of their brutal overseer. But a hard fate awaits him – one that involves suffering, murder and mayhem. To cope he will create his own identity – Sparrow – who sings without reason and can fly from trouble. This is a book with one of the most powerfully affecting and memorable characters of recent fiction, brought to life through James Hynes' meticulous research and bold imagination.
‘ Utterly engrossing, vivid, and honest, this coming of age story reaches across millennia to grab us by the throat. ’ Emma Donoghue on Sparrow
By cecilia rabess.
When Jess first meets Josh at their Ivy League college she dislikes him immediately: an entitled guy in chinos, ready to take over the world, unable to accept that life might be easier for him because he's white, while Jess is almost always the only Black woman in their class. But as a tempestuous friendship turns into an electrifying romance that shocks them both, Jess begins to question who she is and what she’s really willing to compromise. Can people really ever just agree to disagree? And more to the point, should they? This hugely funny and deeply moving love story offers no easy answers.
Now I Am Here
By chidi ebere.
About to make his last stand, a soldier facing certain death at the hands of the enemy writes home to explain how he ended up there, a gentle man gradually transformed into a war criminal, committing acts he wouldn’t have thought himself capable. A profound reflection on how good people can do terrible things, this is a brave, unflinching and thought-provoking debut.
Five Tuesdays in Winter
By lily king.
With Writers & Lovers , Lily King became one of our most acclaimed writers of contemporary fiction. And now, with Five Tuesdays in Winter , she gathers ten of her best short stories. These intimate literary stories tell of a bookseller who is filled with unspoken love for his employee, an abandoned teenage boy nurtured by a pair of housesitting students and a girl whose loss of innocence brings confident power. Romantic, hopeful, raw and occasionally surreal, these stories riff beautifully on the topic of love and romance.
The World and All That It Holds
By aleksandar hemon.
Rafael Pinto spends his days crushing herbs and tablets at the pharmacy he inherited from his father. While it's a far cry from his poetry-filled student days in Vienna, life feels peaceful. That is until a June day in 1914 when the world explodes and soon, finding himself in the trenches of Galicia, Pinto's fantasies fall flat. As war devours, all he has left is the attention of Osman, a fellow soldier who complements Pinto's introspective, poetic soul. Together, Pinto and Osman will escape the trenches and find themselves entangled with spies and Bolsheviks. In this story of love and war, it is Pinto's love for Osman that will truly survive.
‘ Alexsandar Hemon's new novel is immense. ... It contains almost as much as its title promises. By turns lyrical and sardonic, it is as emotionally compelling as it is clever. I'll be surprised if I enjoy a novel more this year. ’ Guardian
By jhumpa lahiri.
Inspired by the city she’s lived in for the past two decades, Jhumpa Lahiri's new work of fiction turns her gaze towards those who call Rome home. Weaving each character’s story around a set of steps they encounter daily, and examining how the city is constantly evolving and changing, Lahiri masterfully illuminates the joys and tragedies of daily life. From a man mourning the person he once was to a couple coming to terms with loss and a family trying to make a new city home, the rich characters she has created will stay with you long after you finish reading.
by Ashleigh Nugent
Aeon is a mixed-up and mixed-race teenager from a leafy Liverpool suburb, trying to understand the Black identity foisted upon him by his friends and his community. To his growing shame, the only Black people in his life are his dad and his cousin, who he's decided don't count. Desperate to find his Black roots he travels to Jamaica. Mugged, stabbed and arrested, he's beaten unconscious in a detention centre for being the 'White Boy'. And then things really start to go wrong.
By natalie haynes.
As the sole mortal in a family of gods, Medusa begins to realize that she is the only one who experiences change, the only one who can be hurt, and the only one who lives with an urgency that her family will never know. Then, when the sea god Poseidon commits an unforgivable act in the temple of Athene, the goddess takes her revenge where she can – and Medusa is changed forever. Writhing snakes replace her hair, and her gaze now turns any living creature to stone. Unable to control her new power, she is condemned to a life of shadows and darkness. Until Perseus embarks upon a quest. At last, Medusa's story is told.
by Sarah May
Vanity Fair meets Succession as Becky Sharp works her way up the journalistic greasy pole in nineties tabloid-era London. Scoop after scoop, Becky's downfall looms as she becomes more and more involved in every scandal her newspaper publishes and cares less and less about the lives she ruins in the process. A sharply intelligent and funny interrogation of how far society has really come since Thackeray's nineteenth-century Becky Sharp, just like the stories broken by The Mercury , everyone will be talking about Becky .
By henry hoke.
A queer mountain lion lives in the drought-devastated land under the Hollywood sign. The lion spends their days protecting a nearby homeless encampment, observing hikers complain about their trauma and grappling with the complexities of their own identity. When a man-made fire engulfs the encampment, the lion is forced from the hills down into the city. As they confront a carousel of temptations and threats, the lion takes us on a tour that spans the cruel inequalities of Los Angeles. Feral and vulnerable, profound and playful, Open Throat is a marvel of storytelling that brings the mythic to life.
Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self
By danielle evans.
This electrifying short story collection offers a fresh perspective on race and class in today's United States, full of wry, wise characters negotiating the complicated coalescence of inequality, adolescence and family. A college student's unplanned pregnancy forces her to confront her feelings of resentment toward her more privileged classmates. A father’s misguided attempt to rescue a gift for his adult daughter magnifies all he doesn’t know about her. And two teenage girls’ flirt with adulthood leads to disastrous consequences.
by Sarah K Jackson
Five years ago, a toxic microplastics storm killed most of the population. Now Katie, a young mother, must forage and hunt for meat as she attempts to feed her little boy, Harry. At a time when stepping outside could kill you, Harry is kept indoors at all costs. Then, after years without human contact, Katie and Harry are terrified by the unwelcome arrival of another survivor. Katie realises she must undertake a previously unthinkable journey in search of a new life for her son. Perfect for fans of Room, Station Eleven and dystopian fiction in general, this gripping novel explores just how far a mother will go to save her child.
An Honourable Exit
By eric vuillard.
From the International Booker Prize shortlisted author comes a searing account of a conflict that dealt a fatal blow to French colonialism. 19 October 1950. The war is not going to plan. In Paris, politicians gather to discuss what to do about Indochina. In this gripping and shocking novel, Éric Vuillard exposes the tangled web of politicians, bankers and titans of industry who all had a vested interest in France’s prolonged presence in lands far from Paris. At just 192 pages, what this book lacks in length, it certainly doesn't lack in drama - short, sharp and brutal, An Honourable Exit is a journey behind closed doors to witness how history is really made.
A Time Outside This Time
By amitava kumar.
A writer called Satya visits a high-profile artists' retreat, and soon finds that the pressures of modern life are hard to shed: the US president pours out vitriol, a virus threatens the world, and the relentless news cycle only makes things worse. Satya realises these pressures can inspire him to write, and he begins to channel presidential tweets, memories from an Indian childhood, and his own experiences as an immigrant into his new novel. A fascinating exploration of memory in a post-truth world, Amitava Kumar's A Time Outside This Time is a beautiful and necessary novel.
Maps of our Spectacular Bodies
By maddie mortimer.
Something is moving in Lia's body, learning her life with gleeful malevolence and spreading through the rungs of her larynx, the bones of her trachea. When a shock diagnosis forever changes Lia's world, boundaries in her life begin to break down as buried secrets emerge. A voice prowling inside of her takes hold of her story, merging the landscape within her body with the one outside. A coming-of-age at the end of life, Maddie Mortimer's compelling debut novel is both heart-breaking and darkly funny, combining wild lyricism with celebrations of the desire, forgiveness and darkness in our bodies.
‘ Compelling and uplifting . . . undeniably impressive: Mortimer is clearly a talent to watch ’ The Telegraph on Maps of our Spectacular Bodies
By emma flint.
Based on a real case from the 1920s, Other Women tells the story of Beatrice, one of the thousands of nameless and invisible unmarried women trying to make lives for themselves after the First World War, and Kate, the wife of the man Beatrice has fallen in love with. When fantasy and obsession turns to murder, two women who should never have met are connected forever.
What You Need From The Night
By laurent petitmangin.
How can a father and son find common ground when everything seems set to break them apart? A father, forced by tragedy to raise his sons alone, releases they are taking two different paths. One plans for university in Paris. The other joins a far-right group. Initially seeking camaraderie, their activities lead him to a violent confrontation.
by Jim Crace
eden begins with a call. The gardeners are asked by their masters, the angels, to view a corpse. It is that of a bird who has escaped beyond the garden walls. Within the garden are lush fields, orchards and lakes, but beyond – where the bird has strayed – lie penury, illness and death. Something is wrong with eden, and the angels fear rebellion. They know that gardener Ebon and Jamie, an angel who has a broken wing, want desperately to leave and find their escaped friend Tabi. A compulsive read about love and the nature of freedom.
By hanya yanagihara.
This amazing new novel from the author of A Little Life begins in the nineteenth century, and spans stories of love, family, loss and promised utopia over the following three centuries. In 1893, New York is part of the Free States, and a gentle young member of a privileged family falls for a charismatic and impoverished music teacher. In 1993 Manhattan is being swept by the AIDS epidemic, and a young Hawaiian man with a wealthy older partner must hide his difficult family background. And in 2093 in a world where plague and totalitarian rule is rife, a young woman tries to solve the mystery of her husband's disappearances.
by Julia May Jonas
The narrator of this provocative and utterly readable novel is a much loved English professor, who finds that her charismatic professor husband is facing a flood of accusations from former students. The couple have long had an understanding about taking lovers, but suddenly life has acquired an uncomfortable edge. And things get even more twisted when the narrator finds herself in the grip of an obsession with Vladimir, a young and feted married novelist who is new to the campus. This explosive, edgy debut traces the tangled contradictions of power and lust.
by Gina Chung
Stuck in a rut, Ro faces the challenges of her thirties: a strained relationship with her mother and a boyfriend who left for a Mars mission. Her days are mundane at the aquarium, and her nights involve consuming sharktinis. With her best friend drifting away and Dolores, a giant Pacific octopus, as her sole connection to her vanished marine biologist father, Ro's world unravels when Dolores is sold to a wealthy investor. On the verge of self-destruction, Ro must confront her past, rediscover her purpose, and embrace the evolving world to heal her childhood scars and rebuild her life.
by André Dao
Anam takes us on a poignant journey from 1930s Hanoi to Saigon, Paris, Melbourne, and Cambridge, exploring memory, inheritance, colonialism, and belonging. The narrator, born into a Vietnamese family in Melbourne, grapples with his grandfather's haunting tale of imprisonment in Chi Hoa prison under the Communist government. Straddling his Australian upbringing and Vietnamese heritage, he faces the impact of his grandfather's death and the birth of his daughter on his own life's trajectory. André Dao artfully weaves fiction and essay, theory and personal experience, revealing forgotten aspects of history and family archives.
Learned by Heart
By emma donoghue.
In 1805, at a boarding school in York, two fourteen-year-old girls cross paths. Eliza Raine, an orphan with an Indian heritage, feels isolated due to her differences. Anne Lister, a rebellious spirit, defies societal norms for women. Their love story blossoms, creating a profound bond that transcends time and shapes their lives forever. Learned By Heart is the heartbreaking story of the love of two women – Anne Lister, the real-life inspiration behind Gentleman Jack, and her first love, Eliza Raine – from the bestselling author of Room and The Wonder.
The complete guide to Emma Donoghue's books
Briefly, a delicious life, by nell stevens.
It's 1838, and Frédéric Chopin, George Sand and her children are en route to a Mallorcan monastery. They are in recovery from life in Paris, seeking a more simple existence. The unexpected witness of their new life is Blanca, a ghost who has been at the monastery for more than three hundred years, her young life having been cut short. And when George Sand arrives, a lovely woman in a man's clothes, Blanca is in love. Meanwhile, the village is looking suspiciously at the new arrivals, as a difficult winter closes in . . .
by Hannah Kent
It's 1836 in Prussia, and teenage Hanne is finding the domestic world of womanhood increasingly oppressive. She longs to be out in nature, and finds little companionship with the local girls. Until, that is, she meets kindred spirit Thea. Hanne is from a family of Old Lutherans, whose worship is suppressed and secret. Safe passage to Australia offers liberty from these restrictions. But a long and harsh journey lies ahead, one which will put the girls' close bond to a terrible test.
Mrs Porter Calling
By aj pearce.
Emmy Lake is the much-loved agony aunt at Woman’s Friend magazine, relied upon by readers across the country as they face the challenges of life on the Home Front. With the problem page thriving and a team of fantastic women behind her, Emmy finally feels she is Doing Her Bit. But when a glamorous new owner arrives, everything changes. With happiness quickly turning to heartbreak and war still raging in Europe, will Emmy and her friends find the inner strength they need to keep keeping on - and save the magazine they love?
The best literary fiction books of 2022
Concerning my daughter, by kim hye-jin.
A mother lets her thirty-something daughter – Green – move into her apartment, with dreams that she will find a good job and a good husband to start a family with. But Green arrives with her girlfriend Lane, and her mother finds it hard to be civil. She is similarly unaccepting of her daughter's entanglement in a case of unfair dismissal from her university employers, involving gay colleagues. Yet Green's mother finds that she has her own moral battle to fight, defending the right to care of a dementia patient who has chosen an unconventional life and has no family. Translated from Korean by Jamie Chang, this is a universal tale about ageing, prejudice and love.
‘ An admirably nuanced portrait of prejudice . . . one that boldly takes on the daunting task of humanizing someone whose prejudice has made her cruel. ’ The New York Times on Concerning My Daughter
By cormac mccarthy.
A sunken jet. Nine passengers. A missing body. The Passenger is the story of a salvage diver, haunted by loss, afraid of the watery deep, pursued for a conspiracy beyond his understanding, and longing for a death he cannot reconcile with God. The first of two novels published in 2022 by literary great Cormac McCarthy, The Passenger is followed by Stella Maris – both are too good to be missed.
The Women Could Fly
By megan giddings.
The Women Could Fly is a speculative feminist novel for our times, set in a time where magic is reality, and single women are monitored in case they turn out to be witches. Josephine Thomas has heard a plethora of theories about her mother's death: that she was abducted, murdered and that she was a witch. This is a concerning accusation, because women who act strangely – especially Black women – can soon find themselves being tried for witchcraft. Facing the prospect of a State-mandated marriage, Jo decides to honour one last request written in her mother's will.
By neema shah.
Neema Shah’s impressive debut literary novel is set amidst the turmoil of the expulsion of Ugandan Asians by Idi Amin. When a devastating decree is announced which says all Ugandan Asians must leave the country in ninety days, Asha and Pran and Pran’s mother Jaya, must leave everything they’ve ever known for a new life in Britain. But as they try to rebuild their lives, a terrible secret hangs over them.
The House of Fortune
By jessie burton.
A glorious, sweeping story of fate and ambition, The House of Fortune is the sequel to Jessie Burton’s bestseller The Miniaturist . Amsterdam, 1705. Thea Brandt is about to turn eighteen and she can't wait to become an adult. Walter, her true love, awaits Thea at the city's theatre. But at home on the Herengracht things are tense. Her father Otto and Aunt Nella bicker incessantly and are selling furniture so the family can eat. And, on her birthday, the day her mother Marin died, secrets from Thea's past threaten to eclipse the present. Nella is feeling a prickling sensation in her neck, which recalls the miniaturist who toyed with her life eighteen years ago.
By emma stonex.
Cornwall, 1972. Three keepers vanish from a remote lighthouse, miles from the shore. The entrance door is locked from the inside. The clocks have stopped. The Principal Keeper’s weather log describes a mighty storm, but the skies have been clear all week. Twenty years later, the women they left behind are still struggling to move on, when they are given the chance to tell their side of the story. Inspired by true events, this enthralling and suspenseful mystery is a beautifully written exploration of love and grief, perception and reality.
By charlotte mendelson.
Meet the Hanrahan family, gathering for a momentous weekend as famous artist and notorious egoist Ray Hanrahan prepares for a new exhibition of his art – the first in many decades – and one he is sure will burnish his reputation for good. His three children will be there: beautiful Leah, sensitive Patrick, and insecure Jess, the youngest, who has a momentous decision to make..And what of Lucia, Ray’s steadfast and selfless wife? She is an artist, too, but has always had to put her roles as wife and mother first. But Lucia is hiding secrets of her own, and as the weekend unfolds and the exhibition approaches, she must finally make a choice.
‘ It takes the most ferocious intelligence, skill and a deep reservoir of sadness to write a novel as funny as this. I adored it. ’ Meg Mason on The Exhibitionist
Of Women and Salt
By gabriela garcia.
A New York Times bestseller, Of Women and Salt tells the story of five generations of fierce Latina women, linked by blood and circumstance. From nineteenth-century cigar factories to present-day detention centres, this novel is a haunting meditation on the choices of mothers and the tenacity of women who choose to tell their truth despite those who wish to silence them.
The Cat Who Saved Books
By sosuke natsukawa.
Rintaro Natsuki loved finding refuge in tiny secondhand Natsuki Books as an insular child. His grandfather's bookstore with its teetering volumes was a home from home. When his grandfather dies, Rintaro is in despair, thinking he must close the beloved shop. Then a talking tabby cat appears, and asks Rintaro for help. The two go on a book lovers mission to rescue abandoned books. But there is one last rescue that Rintaro must attempt on his own.
By douglas stuart.
Mungo is a Protestant and James is a Catholic, both inhabiting the hyper-masculine world of two Glasgow housing estates, split violently along sectarian lines. The two should be enemies but, finding sanctuary in the doocot James has created for his racing pigeons, they grow closer and closer. Dreaming of escape and under constant threat of discovery, Mungo and James attempt to navigate a dangerous and uncertain future together.
The story behind the Young Mungo cover
The dance tree, by kiran millwood hargrave.
It's 1518 in Strasbourg, and in the intense summer heat a solitary woman starts to dance in the main square. She dances for days without rest, and is joined by hundreds of other women. The city authorities declare a state of emergency, and bring in musicians to play the devil out of the dancing women. Meanwhile pregnant Lisbet, who lives at the edge of the city, is tending to the family's bees. The dancing plague intensifies, as Lisbet is drawn into a net of secret passions and deceptions. Inspired by true events, this is a compelling story of superstition, transformative change and women pushed to their limits.
By elaine hsieh chou.
This raucous and heartwarming satire asks – who gets to tell our stories? And can we change the narrative if we get to write it ourselves? PhD student Ingrid Yang can't wait to finish her dissertation on major poet Xiao-Wen Chou so she never has to read about ‘Chinese-y’ things again. Then she finds an enigmatic note in the Chou archive, which leads to an explosive discovery and a roller coaster of misadventures. Ingrid's gentle fiancé doesn't look quite the same in the aftermath, as she confronts her troubled relationship with white men and their institutions and, more importantly, herself . . .
by Keith Ridgway
This prize-winning novel centres around loosely connected characters on the edges of London life, who appear and disappear from the narrative as they cling to sanity and solvency. In a high-wire space between realism and fantasy, Ridgway achieves a miracle of dramatic, pin-sharp writing.
Hearts and Bones
By niamh mulvey.
Hearts and Bones delves into what love does to us, and how we navigate it. Set in London and Ireland in the first two decades of the millennium, Niamh Mulvey's debut short story collection marks the arrival of a major new literary star. A young woman begins to exercise her power, an observant child watches her mother try to stay afloat, first time lovers make mistakes and teenagers fall into headlong devotion to desire. Pin-sharp, funny and tender, these ten stories will have you mesmerised.
Very Cold People
By sarah manguso.
Growing up on the edge of a wealthy but culturally threadbare New England town, Ruth goes under the radar. Nobody pays her attention, but she watches everything – recording with precision the painful unfurling of her youth and enduring difficult and damaging parenting from the mocking, undermining adults in her life. But as the adults of the book fail to grow up, Ruth gracefully arcs towards maturity in a story that grapples with many of life's ugly truths.
Sea of Tranquillity
By emily st. john mandel.
It's 1912, and eighteen-year-old Edwin St. Andrew is on a journey across the Atlantic, having been exiled from society in England. Arriving in British Columbia, he enters a forest, mesmerised by the Canadian wilderness. All is silent, before the notes of a violin reverberate through the air. Two centuries later, and acclaimed author Olive Llewelyn is travelling over the earth, on a break from her home in the second moon colony. At the heart of her bestselling novel, a man plays a violin for spare change in the corridor of an airship terminal, as a forest rises around him. This compelling novel immerses the reader in parallel worlds, and multiple possibilities.
All of Emily St. John Mandel's books in order
Our wives under the sea, by julia armfield.
Leah is back from a perilous and troubling deep sea mission, and Miri is delighted to have her wife home. But Leah has carried the undersea trauma into the couple's domestic life, and it is causing a rupture in their relationship. The debut novel from the author of acclaimed short story collection salt slow , Our Wives Under The Sea is a rich meditation on love, loss and the mysteries of the ocean.
Moonlight and the Pearler's Daughter
By lizzie pook.
It's 1886, and the Brightwell family has just arrived at Bannin Bay in Western Australia after a long sea voyage from England. Ten-year-old Eliza has been promised bright pearls, shells like soup plates and good fortunes in a new land. Ten years later, and Eliza's father Charles Brightwell is the most successful pearler on the bay. When he goes missing from his boat at sea, rumours of mutiny and murder swirl across the bay. But Eliza refuses to believe that her father is dead and, in a town mired in corruption, she sets out to find the truth.
Circus of Wonders
By elizabeth macneal.
Circus of Wonders is the eagerly-awaited second novel from Elizabeth Macneal, author of the Sunday Times bestselling debut The Doll Factory . In 1866, in a coastal village in southern England, Nell lives outside of her community, marked as different for the birthmarks that speckle her skin. But her life is turned upside down when her father decides to sell her to Jasper Jupiter's travelling Circus of Wonders. Yet, the greatest betrayal of Nell's life may soon become the best thing that has ever happened to her as she finds friendship and belonging with the other performers. But as Nell's fame grows, will she be able to keep control of her own story?
by Raven Leilani
Raven Leilani is a funny and original new voice in literary fiction. Her razor-sharp yet surprisingly tender debut is an essential novel about what it means to be young now. Edie is messing up her life, and no one seems to care. Then she meets Eric, who is white, middle-aged and comes with a wife who has sort-of-agreed to an open marriage and an adopted black daughter who doesn’t have a single person in her life who can show her how to do her hair. And as if life wasn’t hard enough, Edie finds herself falling head-first into Eric’s family.
‘ In this cutting, hot-blooded book, the entanglements that unfold are as complicated as they are heartbreaking. ’ New Statesman on Luster
The best literary fiction of all time
White noise, by don delillo.
Possibly DeLillo’s funniest book, White Noise introduced his work to a wider audience than ever before and established his reputation as a master of postmodern fiction. Jack Gladney is the creator and chairman of Hitler studies at the College-on-the-Hill. The novel is a story about his absurd life; a life that is going well enough, until a chemical spill from a rail car releases an 'Airborne Toxic Event' and Jack is forced to confront his biggest fear – his own mortality. DeLillo's bestselling story effortlessly combines social satire and metaphysical dilemma, exposing our rampant consumerism, media saturation and novelty intellectualism.
Douglas Stuart’s blistering, Booker Prize-winning debut is a heartbreaking story that lays bare the ruthlessness of poverty and the limits of love. Set in a poverty-stricken Glasgow in the early 1980s, Agnes Bain has always dreamed of greater things. But when her husband abandons her she finds herself trapped in a decimated mining town and descends deeper and deeper into drink. Her son Shuggie tries to help her long after her other children have fled, but he too must abandon her to save himself. Shuggie is different and he is picked on by the local children and condemned by adults as 'no’ right’. But he believes that if he tries his hardest he can be like other boys and escape this hopeless place.
No Country for Old Men
Hunting for antelope near the Rio Grande, Llewelyn Moss comes across a transaction that has gone badly wrong. Discovering bodies ridden with bullets, kilos of hard drugs and a stash of cash, Llewelyn faces a difficult choice – should he leave the scene as is, or take the money and run? The decision he makes will change his life for ever. Adapted by the Coen brothers into an award-winning movie, No Country For Old Men is a richly dark and suspenseful work.
By charles johnson.
Rutherford Calhoun, a puckish rogue and newly freed slave, spends his days around the docks of New Orleans, dodging debt collectors, gangsters, and a woman who seeks to marry him. When the heat from his pursuers overwhelms him, he cons his way onto the next ship leaving the dock: the Republic. Upon boarding, he discovers that he is on an illegal slave ship, looking to capture members of the legendary Allmuseri tribe. The Captain also has a secondary objective: securing a mysterious cargo that possesses an otherworldly power. A blend of allegory, black comedy, naval adventure and supernatural horror, Middle Passage is a true modern classic.
A House for Mr Biswas
By v. s. naipaul.
Written in 1961 and set in post-colonial Trinidad, this is the story of Mr Biswas, a man born into misfortune, and his quest to find a worthy home of his own. A House for Mr Biswas is a multi-faceted read that is all-at-once satisfying, lyrical and humorous.
by Jamaica Kincaid
Much loved only child Annie has always had a tranquil life. She and her beautiful mother are intertwined and inseparable. But when Annie turns twelve, her life shifts. She questions authority, makes rebel friends and wonders about the culture assumptions of her island world. And the unconditional love between Annie and her mother takes an adversarial turn. A coming of age classic, narrated with wonderfully candid complexity.
A Little Life
Shortlisted for the Booker Prize and celebrated as ‘the great gay novel’ , Hanya Yanagihara’s immensely powerful story of brotherly love and the limits of human endurance has had a visceral impact on many a reader. Willem, Jude, Malcolm and JB meet at college in Massachusetts and form a firm friendship, moving to New York upon graduation. Over the years their friendships deepen and darken as they celebrate successes and face failures, but their greatest challenge is Jude himself – an increasingly broken man scarred by an unspeakable childhood. This is a book that will stay with you long after the last page.
Before the Coffee Gets Cold
By toshikazu kawaguchi.
First released in Japan in 2015, this bestseller has since been translated for English audiences. The story takes place in a small basement café in Japan, home to a very special urban legend: visitors can travel back in time. There are strict rules, however; you can only travel back to speak to people who have visited the café itself, you cannot leave your seat while in the past, nothing you do will change the present, and you must return before your coffee gets cold. Each character comes to the café with a new reason to time travel. As many of the patrons discover, you can’t change the present, but you can change yourself.
Breasts and Eggs
By mieko kawakami.
This literary debut, which Haruki Murakami called ‘breathtaking’, is a must-read for fans of contemporary literary fiction. Mieko Kawakami paints a radical picture of contemporary working-class womanhood in Japan as she recounts the heartbreaking stories of three women who must survive in a society where the odds are stacked against them.
‘ I can never forget the sense of pure astonishment I felt when I first read Mieko Kawakami’s novella Breasts and Eggs . . . breathtaking . . . Mieko Kawakami is always ceaselessly growing and evolving. ’ Haruki Murakami on Breasts and Eggs
In northern Iceland, 1829, Agnes Magnúsdóttir is condemned to death for her part in the brutal murder of her lover. Agnes is sent to wait out her final months on the farm of district officer Jón Jónsson, his wife and their two daughters. Horrified to have a convicted murderer in their midst, the family avoid contact with Agnes. Only Tóti, the young assistant priest appointed Agnes’s spiritual guardian, is compelled to try to understand her. As the year progresses and the hardships of rural life force the household to work side by side, Agnes’s story begins to emerge and with it the family’s terrible realization that all is not as they had assumed.
In this episode of Book Break Emma shares her recommendations for the best new literary fiction.
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Young mungo: the story of the cover, the greatest literary summers of all time, unknown classics that deserve recognition.
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News, Notes, Talk
There are 26 new books out today!
September is upon us! And, while this does sadly mean the end of summer (on calendars if not always on thermometers), it also means that a month of exciting new literary releases is here. Below, you’ll find nearly thirty fascinating new books out today: debut novels, new fiction from established authors, contemplative and controversial nonfiction, wide-ranging poetry, and more. I know that your to-be-read lists keep growing and growing, but, if you’ll allow me to play the tempting devil of tomes, it can’t hurt to add a few more—or many more—below to that list, can it? (I know I’ll be, despite the unnerving size of my own to-be-read piles lying around the apartment). No matter what you’re in the mood for, you’ll almost certainly find something intriguing on the shelves today!
Zadie Smith, The Fraud (Penguin)
“The cultural and literary life of Victorian England erupts vibrantly from each page of this extraordinary novel….Smith wrestles contemporary themes surrounding women’s independence, racism, and class disparity from centuries-old events.” – Library Journal
Anise Vance, Hush Harbor (Hanover Square Press)
“Taut, gripping, morally complex, and masterfully executed, Hush Harbor could not be more timely. Anise Vance illuminates America’s racial realities with unflinching, clear-eyed vision while also asking a timeless question. How do we remain humane to those who strip us of humanity? This is a marvelous achievement.” –Ye Chun
Ruth J. Simmons, Up Home: One Girl’s Journey (Random House)
“Told with both forthrightness and humility, this compellingly written memoir is a story of dreaming and becoming…. Up Home is far more than a record of the path to success of one of the truly great college presidents in the history of American education; it is a riveting work of literature, destined to take its place in the canon of great African American autobiographies. Simmons’s best friend and confidante, Toni Morrison, would be proud!” –Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Meg Kissinger, While You Were Out: An Intimate Family Portrait of Mental Illness in an Era of Silence (Celadon Books)
“Bearing witness is an act of courage. Meg Kissinger has courageously given us a chronicle of love, loss, family and obligation, all refracted through the lens of mental illness. Here is a story as urgent and indelible as the bonds that hold its characters together. In speaking to her family’s experience she has laid bare our own collective one.” –Jelani Cobb
Yiyun Li, Wednesday’s Child: Stories (FSG)
“In this exquisite collection of eleven stories, the immigrant experience is exponentially complicated by a far more commonplace predicament: having to care for children….The…stories largely revolve around Asian-born or Asian American women dealing with anxiety and loss in their or their parents’ adoptive country, the United States…. Wednesday’s Child highlights the vulnerability of children, but Li…allows for quiet acts of audacious resilience by women who have likely been fortified by their previous trials.” – Shelf Awareness
Etaf Rum, Evil Eye (Harper)
“Wise, expansive, and deeply compassionate, Etaf Rum’s Evil Eye takes a deep dive into the tensions between generations and cultures as it follows a young Palestinian-American woman on her journey into self-discovery. This fierce story explores the notion of women’s freedom and of what becomes of identity when gender roles, family, and cultural traditions are challenged and rewritten. A rich and compelling read.” –Diana Abu-Jaber
Ben Lerner, The Lights: Poems (FSG)
“In a muted and heartfelt collection that alternates between poems and prose pieces, Lerner ( Mean Free Path ) brings new life to familiar fixations: the mediation of experience, contemporary art, fatherhood, and the poet’s role as conduit for both individual desire and collective action….Readers are left with a gorgeous artifact of impasse between ‘lyric and epic, ‘ and a mournful yet exuberant catalogue of ‘darker ruminations tinged with gold.'” – Publishers Weekly
Mary Jo Bang, A Film in Which I Play Everyone (Graywolf)
“Bang’s cinematic ninth collection (after A Doll for Throwing ) takes a tour of lived experience through a capricious lens that superpositions the familiar and the uncanny….Wry and invigorating, this resonant collection mollifies the need for certainty.” – Publishers Weekly
Myriam Gurba, Creep: Accusations and Confessions (Avid Reader Press/Simon & Schuster)
“Truly exceptional….Gurba’s lyrical prose forces us to face the sexism, racism, homophobia, and other systems of oppression that allow some Americans to get away with murder while the rest of us live in constant fear. Every piece is rife with well-timed humor and surprising conclusions, many of which come from the author’s staggering command of history….[T]his book is a masterpiece of wit and vulnerability.” – Kirkus Reviews
Margaret Meyer, The Witching Tide (Scribner)
“With characters refreshingly of their time, rather than straw men parroting the mores of ours, this novel is an immersive tale of the East Anglian witch trials as seen through the eyes of an absorbing protagonist. It showcases the horrors inflicted by social hysteria, and offers a three-dimensional view of individual participants whose roles and motivations are differently shaped by religious faith, interpersonal connections, and intellectual acuity. This is an accomplished debut work by an author to watch.” – Booklist
Lang Leav, Others Were Emeralds (Harper Perennial)
“A heartrending novel….Leav skillfully captures the details of senior-year high school life, but is even better in depicting Ai’s parents’ stories of surviving war and persecution and Ai’s teenage experiences with microaggressions and outward racism. It’s a resonant portrayal.” – Publishers Weekly
Michiko Aoyama, What You Are Looking for Is In the Library (Hanover Square Press)
“A comforting read filled with serendipity and simple wisdom, this is a celebration of community, connection, and the transformative power of libraries.” – Booklist
Melissa Etheridge, Talking to My Angels (Harper Wave)
“[Etheridge is] especially good at linking the lyrics of her best-known work to the experiences that inspired them….Most affecting, though, are the sections about Etheridge’s son, Beckett, and his descent into opioid addiction….This clear-eyed look at life, loss, and art-making resonates.” – Publishers Weekly
Aaron Neville, Tell It Like It Is: My Story (Hachette)
“[Neville] leaves readers sharing his conviction that his life has been something of a miracle and that ‘my voice was my salvation’….The author’s life has been an inspiration….A worthwhile musical survivor’s story.” – Kirkus Reviews
Chris Bachelder, Jennifer Habel, Dayswork (Norton)
“How to describe this deeply moving and entirely original book Dayswork is at once a portrait of a marriage, a meditation on art and ambition, a pandemic novel, a middle-age comedy, a brilliant collage of Herman Melville, and a tour de force of collaborative writing. Above all, it is a love story. Out of the most difficult times and unlikely materials, Chris Bachelder and Jennifer Habel have created something that can only be described as extraordinary.” –Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum
Gill Paul, A Beautiful Rival: A Novel of Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden (William Morrow)
“A brilliantly entertaining novel about the ugly side of the beauty business. With incredible attention to detail, Gill Paul takes the reader up close and personal with Arden and Rubenstein and their battle for dominance in the emerging beauty industry of the 1900s. Paul blends fact and fiction as smoothly as Arden’s Venetian cream, and with pithy dialogue and a wicked sense of humor, brings her leading ladies and their outrageous backstabbing and jealousies roaring to life on the page.” –Hazel Gaynor
Phoenicia Rogerson, Herc (Hanover Square Press)
“A brilliant debut! Rogerson has produced a fresh and totally original retelling of the Hercules myth. For the first time, long-silent characters from the hero’s story are given a voice. They provide a sparkling new perspective on the club-wielding, all-daring son of Zeus. A Herculean triumph of creative writing, and a joy to read. Finally, a Hercules for the twenty-first century!” –Alex Rowson
Sean Michaels, Do You Remember Being Born? (Astra House)
“Michaels merges modernist poetry with contemporary technology in this inventive outing….[ Do You Remember Being Born? asks] probing and humane questions about what it means to be an artist.” – Publishers Weekly
Marcie Bianco, Breaking Free: The Lie of Equality and the Feminist Fight for Freedom (PublicAffairs)
“Anyone who believes equality with men is the benchmark for women’s rights, well-being, safety, or power should read this book. Bianco’s thought-provoking, myth-busting rejection of this idea, in defense of freedom as our goal, is an essential read.” –Soraya Chemaly
Sheena Patel, I’m a Fan (Graywolf)
“Patel’s debut is one of the first great social media novels….A bold, electric, and ruthless tale of sex, class, status, obsession, self-destruction, and the worst parts of being online, all told from the perspective of a beguiling unnamed narrator.” – The Millions
Catherine LeRoux, The Future (trans. Susan Ouriou) (Biblioasis)
“The novel answers concrete questions: what happens after the end of the world?….Nothing can erase the survivors’ traumatic memories but their hope persists and their present is full of intergenerational support and characters who create new ways of living among the ruins….Catherine Leroux delivers a dazzling and original novel, above all a testament to the humanity and resilience of communities in the margins.” – Etudes
William Kent Krueger, The River We Remember (Atria Books)
“Historical fiction that resonates with our time makes for a great reading experience—especially when it’s done in the literary style of rich, careful language; realistic evocation of place; and deep exploration into character. William Kent Krueger has delivered just this combination in his latest standalone novel, The River We Remember .” – New York Journal of Books
Katja Hoyer, Beyond the Wall: A History of East Germany (Basic Books)
“With Beyond the Wall , Hoyer confirms her place as one of the best young historians writing in English today. On the heels of her superb Blood and Iron… comes another masterpiece, this one about the aftermath of the Third Reich in the East. Well-researched, well-written, and profoundly insightful, it explodes many of the lazy Western cliches about East Germany.” –Andrew Roberts
Kim Coleman Foote, Coleman Hill (Sjp Lit)
“In this sweeping and astonishing debut, Kim Coleman Foote explores complex questions of legacy and inheritance, reckoning frankly with the violence that has followed the Coleman family from slavery through emancipation and the Great Migration, but holding space for the resilience, storytelling, and second acts that also compose the family history. Coleman Hill is a gorgeous collage of history, memory, and imagination.” –Danielle Evans
Ghassan Zeineddine, Dearborn (Tin House)
“At once urgent and timeless, the stories in Dearborn are searing and unflinching snapshots of an immigrant community struggling to carve out space for itself, to find home in unfamiliar territory. The unforgettable characters slash through stereotypes as they navigate heart-wrenching and absurd situations, all the while grappling with identity and intergenerational tensions. The world Zeineddine creates is filled with beauty, brutal realities, and humor. I couldn’t put it down.” –Zaina Arafat
Jonathan Conyer, I Wasn’t Supposed to Be Here: Finding My Voice, Finding My People, Finding My Way (Legacy Lit)
“A heartfelt memoir about overcoming long odds to rise from poverty, dysfunction, and the tyranny of low expectations. Inspirational but never sentimental, with many lessons on ‘adding value to the world.'” – Kirkus Reviews
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