The 23 best debut novels of 2023 (so far)
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August 14, 2023
Our picks for the most exciting books coming this fall include Viet Thanh Nguyen’s nonfiction debut, Zadie Smith’s leap into historical fiction and long-awaited sophomore novels from Justin Torres and Ayana Mathis.
We haven’t had a novel from Zadie Smith since her 2016 bestseller, Swing Time, which was long-listed for the Booker Prize. In the interim, she’s been busy with plays and arguably the only good COVID-19-related literature to be published during the pandemic’s first year, Intimations. With The Fraud, Smith takes us to 1873 for the story of a Scottish housekeeper, a formerly enslaved man from Jamaica and the ways their lives intersect via the real-life “Tichborne Trial,” in which an Australian butcher claims he’s the heir of a sizable estate.
Calling all admirers of moss, devotees of fungus and fans of wilderness fiction: The next novel from Lauren Groff (Fates and Furies, Matrix) is a Colonial-era adventure story following a girl who leaves behind her village in Jamestown, Virginia, to live in the woods. Groff is a three-time finalist for the National Book Award, so all we’re saying is, it’s about time she won it.
The strength of the reimagined Westerns trend can, in part, be attributed to the originality and unforgettable voice of C Pam Zhang’s first novel, How Much of These Hills Is Gold. With her second novel, Zhang dips into another popular arena: the realm of climate change fiction and “eat the rich” narratives. Land of Milk and Honey is the story of a young chef living in a world where food is rapidly disappearing whose life changes dramatically when she takes a job atop an elite mountaintop colony. We’d love a place at Zhang’s table, please.
Ayana Mathis kicked in the door with her bestselling first novel, The Twelve Tribes of Hattie (2012), which earned her comparisons to Toni Morrison. We’re finally getting her follow-up, a multigenerational family saga that’s divided between small-town Alabama and Philadelphia caught amid racial turmoil. Bonds between mothers and daughters are at the heart of The Unsettled, but part of the story is inspired by real history involving a group that split off from the Black Panthers and the 1985 bombing of Philadelphia’s Cobbs Creek neighborhood.
Jesmyn Ward is a two-time National Book Award winner, the youngest winner of the Library of Congress Prize for Fiction and a MacArthur Fellow, but before now, she’s never published a work of historical fiction. Let Us Descend draws on Dante’s Inferno for the story of an enslaved teenage girl who, after being sold by her white father, journeys from a rice plantation in the Carolinas to a New Orleans slave market and finally to a Louisiana sugar plantation. It also opens with an absolute knockout of a first line: “The first weapon I ever held was my mother’s hand.”
Chilean author Benjamín Labatut’s novel When We Cease to Understand the World was a Booker Prize and National Book Award finalist. With The Maniac, the first book that Labatut has written in English, he continues to explore questions of genius, physics and mathematics through the tale of real-life Hungarian American polymath John von Neumann, inventor of game theory and the first programmable computer. A chorus of friends, family and rivals traces von Neumann’s story and how he paved the way for AI.
Twelve years after his bestselling debut, We the Animals (which was adapted for film in 2018), Justin Torres is back with a second novel, in which a young man cares for an important figure who, from their deathbed, has much to share. Torres was inspired by the musical Kiss of the Spider Woman, the first all-Black production of Macbeth (known as “Voodoo Macbeth”), the film Pedro Páramo and the 20th-century book Sex Variants: A Study in Homosexual Patterns, the latter of which factors into the novel in a major way.
The author of The Things They Carried (a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize) hasn’t published a new novel in 20 years, though he’s dabbled in nonfiction in the interim. Tim O’Brien’s grand return to fiction sounds like a classic dark-descent road trip novel, with a disgraced journalist’s bank robbery leading to a cross-country saga that explores an American landscape amid the Trump administration of 2019.
Naomi Alderman’s speculative 2017 novel, The Power, was a bestseller, won the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction and was adapted for an Amazon Prime original series. With that novel, Alderman imagined a sudden female superpower that could reverse the patriarchal world order, and with The Future, she envisions another tale of radical disruption. This time, a group of friends conspire to take down the tech billionaires who are destroying our world.
E.J. Koh is a poet, memoirist (her debut, The Magical Language of Others, won the Washington State Book Award), MacDowell Fellow and a writer on the Apple TV+ adaptation of Pachinko. This fall, she publishes her first novel, an epic saga that moves among two families, four generations and two continents. Newlyweds Insuk and Sungho leave South Korea for a new home in San Jose, California, along with their son, Henry, and Sungho’s mother-in-law. Their dramatic experiences unfold alongside flashbacks to key moments in recent South Korean history, from the 1980 Gwangju Uprising to the 2014 Sewol ferry disaster, and eventually, all of their lives are changed when Henry falls in love with a North Korean defector.
Mick Herron’s marvelous Slough House espionage novels acquired a whole new fan base when the Apple TV+ adaptation premiered to critical raves. In a very canny move by Herron, his latest book, The Secret Hours, will function as both an entry point for newcomers and a treat for longtime readers. A standalone prequel to the Slough House series, The Secret Hours tracks a seemingly stalled inquiry into misconduct in the British intelligence service, an investigation that gets a shot of rocket fuel when a mysterious file resurrects a Cold War-era operation gone horribly wrong. Apparently, somewhere in all the mayhem that unfolds, Herron will reveal the backstory of a key Slough House player . . .
The author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother revealing that she’s penned a hard-boiled mystery certainly wasn’t on our 2023 bingo card! Amy Chua’s fiction debut is a 1940s-set mystery in the Raymond Chandler mode, following a lone-wolf detective through the shadowy, underground world of San Francisco’s rich and powerful as he hunts a murderer in their midst.
Richard Osman’s blockbuster cozy mystery series (what a wonderful world, in which such a phrase can be written) returns, and while plot details are scarce, the Coopers Chase gang’s fourth case seems to involve a smuggling scheme gone wrong, ruining Boxing Day—the day after Christmas, which the British typically celebrate with TV marathons and leftovers galore—for everyone.
Lev AC Rosen’s first Andy Mills mystery, Lavender House, was one of the best mysteries of 2022, and we can’t wait to see where Rosen takes his cop-turned-PI next. The Bell in the Fog will further explore the gay underground of 1950s San Francisco as Andy hunts down a blackmailer targeting one of his old flames from the Navy.
In 2016, Anna Biller made the instant cult classic film The Love Witch, but “made” doesn’t really encapsulate the totality of her accomplishment. Biller (deep breath) not only directed, wrote, produced and edited the movie, she also oversaw the music and designed the entire look of the film, from the sets to the iconic costumes. Apparently, there’s nothing Biller can’t do, because she’s bringing her gothic-meets-midcentury-camp aesthetic to the page with Bluebeard’s Castle, a retelling of the famous fairy tale that also seems to be in conversation with Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca.
Once upon a time, a lawyer and lawmaker named John Grisham released his second novel, The Firm, and the rest is publishing history. Forty-eight bestselling novels later, Grisham is finally returning to the world of the one that started it all with The Exchange, which catches up with The Firm’s Mitch and Abby 15 years later. Now a high-powered Manhattan lawyer, Mitch becomes embroiled in another powerful conspiracy, but this time with a global reach.
The His Girl Friday mysteries couldn’t be more aptly named: Emily J. Edwards’ midcentury mystery series has all the snappy brio and Rosie the Riveter feminism of the classic rom-com starring Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell. In her third outing, the titular sleuth’s Times Square-set New Year’s Eve celebration is ruined when she witnesses a murder en route.
With a TV series, movie, spinoff TV series and spinoff book series inspired by said spinoff TV series, the Miss Fisher universe only continues to expand—and we couldn’t be happier. Phryne Fisher returns in Kerry Greenwood’s 22nd mystery starring the glamorous detective, who will be investigating a murder that seems to be connected to her lover Lin Chung’s family.
Do you love the Mission: Impossible movies? Do you wish that they starred characters with . . . more flexible senses of morality? Then hie thee to Jeff Lindsay’s Riley Wolfe series. The thrillers starring the dashing thief (Just Watch Me, Fool Me Twice and Three-Edged Sword) are delightful globe-trotting adventures that provide plenty of escapist fun while never talking down to their audience, just like Tom Cruise’s joyously go-for-broke action blockbusters.
KJ Charles will conclude her Doomsday Books duology with A Nobleman’s Guide to Seducing a Scoundrel, which takes place 13 years after The Secret Lives of Country Gentleman. Nobleman’s Guide will follow Luke Doomsday, all grown up after the traumatic events of Secret Lives, as he becomes the secretary to Major Rufus d’Aumesty, the new Earl of Oxney. Luke has an ulterior motive for working at the earl’s seat at Stone Manor, a motive that makes his growing feelings for Rufus highly inconvenient . . .
And now the holiday portion of this list begins, as a whole host of romance’s biggest stars are taking a swing at the seasonal rom-com this year. First up, The Flatshare and The No-Show author Beth O’Leary, whose latest novel will follow dueling receptionists as they try to stop their hotel from shutting down.
Uzma Jalaluddin and Marissa Stapley’s first collaboration may be the most ambitious undertaking on this list. The duo will be attempting the always tricky “two love stories in one romance” plot in a book that will also depict three beloved winter celebrations: Christmas, Hanukkah and Eid. It’s all set in an adorable Canadian town where a movie is being filmed and a bridal party has been snowed in for the holidays, so if you’re looking to play holiday romance bingo, this will be the book for you!
Tessa Bailey, one of BookTok’s favorite authors, will be giving a gift to fans of musician and celebrity romances this holiday season. Wreck the Halls follows Melody and Beat, the adult children of two legendary rock stars who team up to convince their estranged mothers to perform a concert together on Christmas Eve.
Josie Silver’s One Day in December has been a perennial favorite on holiday reading lists ever since its release in 2018, and fans of her emotional romances will be thrilled to know that she’s returning with another wintry love story. As will people who defiantly eat frozen treats in colder months, as this story follows a chef who discovers that her secret family gelato recipe is, somehow, exactly the same as the one used by an adorable New York City gelateria.
Julie Murphy and Sierra Simone’s A Merry Little Meet Cute was a delightfully bawdy entry in the holiday rom-com canon, so we’re thrilled they’re returning with a new book in the Christmas Notch series. Kallum Lieberman, who was once “the funny one” in popular boy band INK (the same group to which a Merry Little’s Nolan once belonged), finds himself falling for former child star turned squeaky-clean actor Winnie Baker on the set of their new movie, which the book’s marketing copy describes as “a sexy Santa biopic.” We have so many questions, and we cannot wait to have them answered.
Kacen Callender seems to be on a mission to prove that there is no genre or category they can’t conquer. From YA fiction and romance to adult fantasy, their work is consistently thoughtful and idiosyncratic. Now, Callender will bring their unique voice to the world of adult romance for the first time with Stars in Your Eyes, a celebrity romance between two actors who embark on a fake-dating scheme to change the publicity narrative surrounding their film after one of them says the other has no talent.
With his London Calling and Winner Bakes All series, Alexis Hall has established himself as the romance connoisseur’s go-to pick for witty, sexy rom-coms. 10 Things That Never Happened will thrill fans of Hall’s London Calling novels, as it’s set in the same universe, while also presenting an intriguing challenge for the talented author: Can he make a character who lies about having amnesia sympathetic?
The titular character of Ashley Herring Blake’s Iris Kelly Doesn’t Date has been a scene-stealing supporting character in the two previous Bright Falls romances, so it’s high time that Iris gets a happily ever after of her very own! She meets her match in Stevie, a subpar one-night stand who is cast alongside Iris in a local production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Katee Robert, of Greek myth reimaginings and monster romance fame, has turned her attention to a once wildly popular but now sadly neglected corner of the genre: the pirate romance. Never afraid of bucking tradition, Robert has added a fantasy spin by sparking romance between a witch on the run and a telekinetic pirate captain.
Mary Jo Putney is one of historical romance’s most acclaimed and beloved authors, and her new duology will take place at what seems to be the subgenre’s current hot location: Cornwall. (Thank you, “Poldark”!) The first book, Silver Lady, will follow dutiful Bran Tremayne, who reluctantly travels to the region to survey his new inheritance. But once he’s there, he feels bound to protect Merryn, a mysterious woman with amnesia who seems to be at the center of a web of political intrigue.
Jaci Burton is the latest author to make the switch from series to standalone rom-coms, and the summary for her new novel, Housebroke, sounds like trope heaven. A secret millionaire! House-flipping! Rescue dogs! Forced proximity! Burton may make herself a whole host of new fans with the tale of Hazel Bristow, who’s staying in her friend’s home after getting dumped, only to find that her friend has just sold the house to millionaire Linc Kennedy. When Linc arrives at his new property, he’s shocked to find Hazel and her crew of rescue dogs already present, but he lets her stay while he renovates the place.
John Scalzi returns with another sci-fi romp after last year’s The Kaiju Preservation Society, and the plot sounds like a Tumblr thread come to life—which we mean as the highest of compliments. When Charlie unexpectedly inherits his uncle Jake’s supervillain business (complete with “unionized dolphins” and “hyper-intelligent talking spy cats”), he also inherits his uncle’s feud with a group of even more terrifying bad guys: ruthless corporate overlords.
There are many wonderful entry points to the work of V. E. Schwab, and fantasy fans swear by her Shades of Magic trilogy, which travels between four alternate versions of Regency London. Schwab completed the trilogy in 2017 and ventured to other genres and categories, writing the popular Cassidy Blake middle grade horror series, a young adult fantasy and a little book called The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. But now, Schwab will check back in with the heroes of the Shades of Magic trilogy in The Fragile Threads of Power, which takes place seven years later as new threats rise in two of the four Londons they call home.
The vibe of Chuck Wendig’s latest horror novel sounds like cottagecore, but make it terrifying, and we are very much here for that. The picturesque small town of Harrow is forever changed when its inhabitants become obsessed with some mysterious, beautiful and powerful apples that transform them into better versions of themselves. But as harvest draws closer, the true nature of the apples and the town’s bloody history will be revealed.
Alix E. Harrow’s third novel appears to be a dark echo of her debut, The Ten Thousand Doors of January. Opal is another young woman in a mysterious house, but she’s not trying to escape like January Scaller. Rather, Opal is determined to make a home in Starling House, no matter what dark and terrifying forces lurk within it.
Cassandra Khaw made a name for themself with the ambitious and creative horror novellas Nothing But Blackened Teeth and The Salt Grows Heavy. Next, they’ll be teaming up with urban fantasy writer Richard Kadrey for a duology following a burnt-out New York City magician who accidentally puts the world in jeopardy while trying to save her best friend.
YA powerhouse Kerri Maniscalco’s adult debut, Throne of the Fallen, follows a prince of hell who falls in love with a painter. In a canny move, the novel is set in the same world as Maniscalco’s Kingdom of the Wicked series, which will thrill the books’ many adult fans who have been hoping for more mature content.
There are complicated setups and then there are hooks like the one iconic Norwegian mystery writer Jo Nesbø employs in his first horror novel: What if you saw somebody die by getting sucked into a phone? That’s what happens to 14-year-old Richard in Nesbø’s The Night House and since no one believes him, Richard embarks on a quest to try and figure out why dark forces are targeting his small-town home.
With the end of her iconic, megabestselling and wildly popular Shadowhunter Chronicles in sight (one more trilogy, then it’s curtains!), Cassandra Clare is making the leap to adult fiction after 16 years as one of the reigning queens of YA. Sword Catcher will follow Kel, a nobleman’s body double, and Lin, a physician with magical abilities, as they uncover a conspiracy at the very heart of the powerful city-state of Castellane.
Iconic speculative fiction author Tananarive Due returns with The Reformatory, which is based on the same horrifying real school as Colson Whitehead’s The Nickel Boys—a school to which Due has a family connection. It’s 1950, and 12-year-old Robbie Stephens Jr. has just been sentenced to six months at the Gracetown School for Boys. But since Robbie can see ghosts, he begins to realize that something terrible is happening to the boys of Gracetown.
Travis Baldree’s Legends & Lattes was a major hit last year, delighting readers in search of low-stakes cozy fantasies. His next book will move from a coffee shop setting to one just as soothing: a bookshop in a seaside town. As it turns out, Legends & Lattes’ Viv once spent a summer recovering from a wound in the tiny beach town of Murk—and what happened to her there set her on the path to becoming the aspiring coffee shop owner with whom readers fell in love.
Freya Marske’s beloved Edwardian historical fantasy series comes to an end with A Power Unbound, which tells the love story of privileged Jack Alston, Lord Hawthorn, and cynical writer and thief Alan Ross. The two men have the sort of enemies-to-lovers, opposites-attract dynamic that thrills romance fans, and if Markse’s previous novels are any indication, A Power Unbound will be another perfect combination of love story and grand fantasy adventure.
Martha Wells’ beloved Murderbot is back for another smart and hilarious adventure in System Collapse, only this time, there’s something wrong with our stalwart hero’s programming! Murderbot will have to fix its internal bugs and figure out what exactly is going wrong inside itself before it can save the day.
The legendary Nora Roberts begins a new fantasy romance series with Inheritance, which will explore the haunted history of the Poole family. Sonya McTavish didn’t know her father had a brother until her uncle died and left her a beautiful Victorian house on the coast of Maine. She has to live in the house for three years to claim it, but once she’s there, she realizes the house may be haunted by the spirit of Astrid, a woman who was murdered after marrying into the Poole family in 1806.
The Kingdom of Sweets is YA author Erika Johansen’s first novel for adults and her first novel outside of the bestselling Queen of the Tearling fantasy series. A new take on The Nutcracker, The Kingdom of Sweets follows Natasha, a young girl who enters the Land of the Sweets and strikes a dangerous bargain with the Sugar Plum Fairy.
Steve Sheinkin’s meticulously researched young adult nonfiction books (Fallout, Undefeated, The Port Chicago 50) have won him countless accolades, and he’s been a finalist for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature three times. His latest offering tells the incredible true story of Rudolph Vrba, who was only a teenager when he escaped Auschwitz-Birkenau and warned the rest of the world about the atrocities being committed by the Nazis in the concentration camps. Sheinkin weaves Vrba’s tale with that of his Jewish friend Gerta Sidonová, whose family concealed their identities and fled to Hungary.
With the success of films such as Black Swan and Suspiria, it’s fair to say that there’s something about the rigorous life of a ballerina that lends itself particularly well to horror. Naturally, we’re eager for more—and debut author Jamison Shea promises just that with I Feed Her to the Beast and the Beast Is Me, which follows Laure Mesny, who will do anything to succeed in the Paris Ballet. But even perfection is not enough to stop the elite Parisen ballet world from overlooking a Black ballerina—until she makes a deal with a sinister entity in the depths of the Catacombs.
After the New York Times bestselling Wings of Ebony series, readers have been eagerly waiting for J. Elle’s next YA offering. The author, who was a 2022 NAACP Image Award Nominee for Outstanding Literary Work for Youth and Teens, is sure to delight fans with House of Marionne. Facing constant danger due to the magic she possesses, 17-year-old Quell seeks shelter with her grandmother—headmistress of a magical boarding school—and enters the mysterious world of an elite debutante society.
Delilah S. Dawson’s latest contemporary YA fantasy is a retelling of The Tempest that takes place in a strange Las Vegas hotel. Anna enters the Houdini in order to take refuge from a tornado. Inside, she meets an intriguing boy named Max. But now she can’t find a way out of these enchanted hallways—and at midnight, she’ll be trapped in the Houdini forever. One would expect nothing less fascinating from an author as prolific as Dawson, whose previous works include Star Wars tie-in novels, steampunk paranormal romances and comic books.
Andrew Joseph White’s debut novel, Hell Followed Us, was a smashing success, both with critics and on the bestseller lists. He’s back with a gothic horror set in an alternate Victorian London, where people born with violet eyes possess the ability to reach through the Veil and commune with spirits. But society refuses to see violet-eyed Silas, who is an autistic trans boy, as anything other than a potential wife for one of the Speakers who govern all of the mediums. An attempt to escape gets him sent to a finishing school, where he’ll have to survive abusive attempts to “cure” him.
Kendare Blake has captivated audiences everywhere with her bestselling horror and dark fantasy novels, which include All These Bodies and the Three Dark Crowns series. She kicks off a new duology with Champion of Fate, a sweeping epic about an orphan girl named Reed who is raised by the Order of the Aristene, a group of legendary female warriors who guide heroes to glory. Now, in order to be officially initiated into the Order, Reed has to complete her Hero’s Trial and bring her first hero to victory. But Hestion is not at all what she expected.
We’ve all been waiting to see what Ava Reid would do next after The Wolf and the Woodsman and Juniper & Thorn. In A Study in Drowning, architecture student Effy Sayre is prevented from pursuing her true passion, as her university doesn’t allow women to study literature. So she jumps at the chance to redesign the estate of her favorite author, whose famous books gave her solace throughout a childhood haunted by dreams of the Fairy King.
Kylie Lee Baker’s new historical fantasy duology promises to be just as entrancing as her Keeper of Night series. In an alternate Tang dynasty China, orphaned Fan Zilan helps her family get enough to eat by performing illegal alchemy for others in her small Guangzhou village. Her one chance to break free from this life of struggle is to become a royal court alchemist by passing the civil service exams. But by the time she makes it to the capital of Chang’an for the second and third exam rounds, Zilan discovers that her reputation precedes her: Somehow, she’s captured the attention of the Crown Prince.
Two-time National Book Award finalist Eliot Schrefer will undoubtedly bring the same engaging flair from his last book, Queer Ducks (and Other Animals), to Charming Young Man, which takes inspiration from real historical figures such as Léon Delafosse and Marcel Proust. In this coming-of-age story, 16-year-old Léon is a brilliant pianist from an impoverished background who—accompanied by a young Marcel—climbs his way into high society. In real life, Proust eventually used Delafosse as the basis for a character in his classic novel, Remembrance of Things Past.
Pritty already took the world by storm once, in the form of a viral Kickstarter campaign to fund Pritty: The Animation, a short film whose goal (according to the Kickstarter) is to “bring Hayao Miyazaki to the hood.” When Keith F. Miller, Jr. shared the unpublished manuscript for Pritty with his friend Terrance Daye, Daye immediately recognized the beauty of this queer coming-of-age story about a Black teenage boy finding hope and community. Clearly, others did too: Pritty: The Animation raised almost $115,000. Now, readers will get to experience the story of Jay and Leroy in its original written form.
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Chinese American food—General Tso’s Chicken, Kung Pao Chicken—is just as quintessentially American as hot dogs or apple pie (which originated from German and Dutch cuisine, respectively). Our mouths all water when we imagine a steaming takeout box of lo mein . . . but have you ever put your chopsticks down and stopped to wonder about the history behind your favorite Chinese American dishes? Acclaimed author Grace Lin—who won the American Library Association’s prestigious Children’s Literature Legacy Award in 2022—promises to whisk readers off into the origin stories of their favorite foods with Chinese Menu, a veritable feast of exciting folktales and rich illustrations.
Katherine Applegate (Animorphs series, The One and Only Ivan) and Gennifer Choldenko (Tales from Alcatraz series, Dad and the Dinosaur) have both been superstars in children’s literature for decades. With countless awards between them, they’re now joining forces alongside illustrator Wallace West for this illustrated middle grade novel about a dog shelter whose abandoned inhabitants include both real and robot dogs. Regardless of circuitry, both types of dog just want to go home: a fact realized by Chance (a mutt) and Metal Head (exactly what that sounds like) as they set aside their differences and join forces in searching for a place of belonging.
Writer carole Boston Weatherford and her son, illustrator Jeffery Boston Weatherford, are a powerful duo, with no shortage of acclaim to their names: Carole has won four Caldecott Honors, a Coretta Scott King Award and a Newbery Honor—the last of which she won with You Can Fly, which was illustrated by Jeffery. Their latest middle grade novel-in-verse, Kin, is the product of extensive and painstaking efforts to piece together their family history through genealogical research. Jeffery’s intricate black and white illustrations accentuate Carole’s poetry, which conjures the voices of her ancestors in the context of not only their enslavement and pain but also their strength and triumphs.
Jorge Cham has created a hit web comic series (PHD Comics), a podcast with more than 600,000 monthly listeners (“Daniel and Jorge Explain the Universe”), a bestselling adult nonfiction book (We Have No Idea) and an Emmy-nominated PBS Kids show (“Elinor Wonders Why”). Plus, he’s got a doctorate in mechanical engineering. Now he’s ready to make kids laugh out loud while exploring big topics like black holes, the solar system and even aliens with Oliver’s Great Big Universe, the first installment in an illustrated, diary-style middle grade series featuring 11-year-old Oliver as he takes on not only astrophysics but also . . . middle school.
New York Times bestselling author Mac Barnett and Caldecott honoree Shawn Harris’ The First Cat in Space Ate Pizza adapted their hilarious online cartoon series—recorded live over Zoom during quarantine—to graphic novel format. This sequel continues the kooky adventures of First Cat, LOZ 4000 (a toenail-clipping robot) and the Moon Queen as they work to save the Queen after she gets poisoned—by soup, of all things.
Hot on the heels of his legendary stint as crooked TV lawyer Saul Goodman, the beloved Emmy Award-winning actor (now starring in AMC’s “Lucky Hank”) and New York Times bestselling author (Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama) Bob Odenkirk is sure to charm both children and adults with this collection of poems, which originated twenty years ago as a way for Odenkirk to introduce the world of writing and illustrating to his children. Quarantine brought the family back to these whimsical rhymes, which feature memorable characters such as Tony Two-Feet the pigeon and a man named Willy Whimble who lives in an old tuna can. Anyway, Odenkirk’s ploy worked: His daughter, Erin Odenkirk, provides the book’s lively illustrations.
A recipient of the Newbery Honor and the Coretta Scott King Award, Renée Watson has delighted young readers everywhere with her bestselling Ryan Hart series, which dominated “Best of the Year” lists with its first installment, Ways to Make Sunshine. This final book celebrates Black joy as its bright titular protagonist learns more about her ancestors and local Black pioneers during Black History Month. The accomplishments and hopes of previous generations teach Ryan how to work towards her own dream—even when life isn’t so sunny.
The world is seeing a well-deserved Henry Winkler renaissance due to his turn as Gene Cousineau on “Barry,” but there was a time when the Emmy Award-winner was undergoing a lull in his acting career. His manager suggested Winkler write a children’s book about his experiences with dyslexia (which Winkler didn’t know he had until he was 31). Along with writer Lin Oliver, Winkler created the bestselling Hank Zipzer series, which led to a TV adaptation, as well as three other book series . . . Now, the power duo, along with Caldecott Medal-winning illustrator Dan Santat, is back with the first installment in a new, full-color chapter book series about a crime-solving little duck named Willow Feathers McBeaver, who’s here to combat the human-caused problems occurring to her home ecosystem, the lovely Dogwood Pond.
Holly Black (The Spiderwick Chronicles) is no stranger to capturing the imaginations of children, and she’s just the person needed, along with poet Kaliis Smith and illustrator Ebony Glenn, to cast a spotlight on the brave but little-known North African knight, Sir Morien, from Arthurian legend. In this charming picture book, Sir Morien sets off for England in search of the father he’s never met, but he soon finds out that questing is hard—and every knight he meets is eager to fight.
Fans of the megahit Artemis Fowl series will receive an early Christmas present this year from Eoin Colfer: a new novel that promises more thrilling, fantastical escapades marked by his trademark humor and captivating style. After Juniper Lane’s mother goes missing, Juniper teams up with a mysterious, grumpy carpenter named Niko who owns flying reindeer yet insists he’s not Santa Claus.
In his stunning, sharp new book, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Mitchell S. Jackson delves into the wide world of NBA fashion. Fly is a pictorial and cultural history of the major influence that basketball stars have had on style.
Tell us more about your fascination with and connection to fashion. Did your love of fashion or your love of the NBA come first?
I’ve loved fashion since I was a little kid. I guess it began with my mother dressing me up, but soon enough, I had my own opinion about what I should wear. At one point, that included cowboy hats and boots and big buckles; at another, pleather Michael Jackson “Thriller” jackets and white socks. At another point, it included IZOD polo shirts and khakis, and I’ve always loved print shirts and coveralls (not necessarily together). I was a hustler in my late teens and early 20s and spent more money than I should have on clothes. (Remember those Versace silk shirts Tupac and Biggie used to wear? I just had to have one.) All the above to say, my love of fashion came first. I started playing organized basketball in the fifth grade, which is kind of late for serious hoopers. I did, however, play all the way through junior college, and even thought that I’d one day play professional basketball overseas. Meanwhile, I had a couple of friends make the NBA and spent a fair amount of time around them and other NBA players. I must’ve attended NBA All-Star weekend 10 years in a row. And anybody that has been to All-Star weekend knows it’s a fashion extravaganza.
One of the most illuminating aspects of this book is its incorporation of history, especially how different wars, political events and cultural movements affected American fashion trends. What was your research process like?
I’m so glad you point that out because that’s an important aspect of the book. Fashion is never born in a vacuum. I was really interested in what influenced what the players wore during any given period. First, though, I decided to organize the book into distinct eras. I needed these eras so I could research the spans of time I was focusing on. Then I’d hypothesize why the fashion of the time was what it was. Then I’d start researching to see if my idea held up. As someone who’s written a lot of nonfiction, and is constantly researching for it, that process felt very natural.
The eras you’ve chosen range from 1946 to the present: the Conformists, Flamboyance, Jordan, the Iverson Effect, Dress Code and the Insta-Tunnel Walk. How did you determine when one era ends and another begins?
I arrived at those divisions by looking at pictures from different time periods and noting the trends of those periods. If you look at photos of the early NBA players, they all wore the same thing: slim suits, dark shoes, skinny ties. But look at the 1970s and you’ll see individuals. Bell-bottoms. Fur coats. Butterfly collar shirts unbuttoned to mid-chest or below. Afros. Long beards. Jewelry. It was clear those players felt freer to express themselves with their fashion. After I noted the distinctions of the eras, I’d ask myself what was happening in the culture that shaped those choices, and then I’d research around that subject. The titles came from me trying to encapsulate the crux of each chapter in a word or a phrase.
If you look at photos of the early NBA players, they all wore the same thing: slim suits, dark shoes, skinny ties. But look at the 1970s and you’ll see individuals.
Do you have a favorite era of NBA fashion?
My personal favorite is a tie between the 1970s and now. Both are eras in which the players dress with copious creativity. I’d say in the ’70s though, the players had fewer professionals helping them. These days, many players have stylists and access to great brands, and the internet to hip them on trends, etc. Which also means many of them are more knowledgeable than the players of five decades ago. The players from the ’70s did more with less.
The photographs in Fly are amazing, and they really bring your colorful descriptions to life. What was the process of selecting those photos like? Do any of them hold a special kind of weight or inspiration for you?
Probably my favorite pic in the whole book is “Pistol” Pete Maravich in a suit, butterfly collar shirt, sunglasses and gold chain. I used to watch Pistol Pete’s skills tapes when I was young as well as the highlight footage. He was a wizard with the ball and had a really flamboyant game. And when I saw that pic, it seemed like the perfect representation of him as a player, and of what I imagined his personality would be. Also, it’s special because there are so few pictures of him out of uniform. Finding pictures of the old greats was satisfying in that way.
You note that during the Dress Code era (2010–2015), athletes started using their personal styles to express political views and to bring attention to social justice issues, such as when the entire Miami Heat team wore hoodies to honor Trayvon Martin. Do you have a favorite example of a player leveraging their image for good?
Not a player, but there’s a picture of the Lakers at center court during a game in the NBA bubble, all of them linked arm in arm, save LeBron James, who is holding his free arm up in the Black Power salute. It’s a powerful image and proof of the NBA’s stance on social protest. When Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists at the 1968 Olympics, they were blackballed from track and field for many years. When Colin Kaepernick took a knee in the NFL, he was blackballed out of the league. That pic of the Lakers, and LeBron in particular, is ironic in that it shows not only how far we’ve come but how much further we have to go in terms of justice and equality.
The players from the ’70s did more with less.
In the current era of Instagram fashion, players have more control over the personal expressions of their styles. Who do you think is one of the biggest and best fashion risk-takers right now?
Russell Westbrook is still one of the biggest risk-takers in NBA fashion. But because he’s already taken so many risks, it’s arguably less risky every time he does it. The same goes for James Harden, though one could argue he hasn’t had the same positive reception with his riskier outfits. I like what Jerami Grant is doing with the Portland Trail Blazers. He wears a lot of Maison Margiela, but it suits him. I admire when a player cultivates an aesthetic. On the other hand, it will be interesting to see where the players who’ve cultivated an aesthetic go next. Devin Booker comes to mind as an example of someone whose style could soon evolve.
This book includes a definitive ranking of the top 10 sneakers of all time. Where do you fall on the sneakerhead spectrum?
I have a lot, a lot of sneakers, but once I started buying high-end sneakers, I stopped paying so much attention to the Nike releases. Now I might be a loafer head. Or a Chelsea-boot head. I still love a Jordan 1 and 2, or 3. I love a Dunk. I loved that Nike x Sacai collaboration. But I wouldn’t say I’m a sneakerhead. I’m not collecting, and I also wear my sneakers. In truth, I can’t keep up enough with the releases to be a sneakerhead. It’s damn near a full-time job and for some it is a full-time job. Plus, I’m middle-aged.
Were there any particularly interesting facts that you uncovered while writing that didn’t make it into the book?
I can’t recall a particular fact not making it in the book, but I did write a section on the fashion of WNBA players. The problem was they didn’t come in until the last era because that was when the league was formed. My editors were concerned that including women that late in the book and in that amount of space could’ve made it seem as though they were insignificant, which they aren’t. So we took that section out. Hopefully, someone will write a book on WNBA and pro women’s fashion because they are certainly deserving of one. One of my favorite fashionistas is Sue Bird. And not to get off basketball, but Bird and Megan Rapinoe comprise one of the flyest couples around.
What’s next for you?
I’m working on a novel titled John of Watts about a Black cult leader (he’s also an ex-basketball player, go figure). I’m working on a profile of a Civil Rights leader, another of an OG hustler from my hometown. And I’ll continue to write my column for Esquire.
Author photo by Christa Harriis
Weaving history and fiction together, David Bowles fashions a rich story of political intrigue, ferocious battles, beautiful landscapes and the enduring hope of humanity.
C Pam Zhang’s sentences are visceral and heated. She writes about food and bodies with frenzied truthfulness. There is nothing pretty in Zhang’s second novel, but there is outrageous beauty.
In The Unsettled’s short but perfectly paced chapters, Toussaint, Ava and Dutchess tell of not only their disappointment and despair but also their dreams, crafting a heartbreaking tale about Reagan’s America that deftly weaves the past and present into the possibility of a bright, if still-unfolding, future.
Jessica Knoll’s Bright Young Women is a primal scream for women past and present.
The Burning of the World is an absorbing Windy City history, and Scott W. Berg, clearly a lover of rowdy Chicago, tells it well.
Drawing on Jewish traditions of reconciliation, Rebecca Clarren seeks to find a path for meaningful reconciliation and reparation for the harm done to Native American people.
In his memoir, award-winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen “re members” and “dis remembers,” excavating and reassembling memories as if working on his family’s portrait.
Safiya Sinclair’s memoir should be savored like the final sip of an expensive wine—with deference, realizing that a story of this magnitude comes along all too infrequently.
KJ Charles concludes her Doomsday Books duology with the masterfully crafted, deliciously adventurous and so, so horny Nobleman’s Guide to Seducing a Scoundrel.
Alix E. Harrow’s Starling House is a riveting Southern gothic fantasy with gorgeous prose and excellent social commentary.
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Thanks to new releases from Colson Whitehead, Lauren Groff, Abraham Verghese, Mary Beth Keane, Tom Hanks, Elizabeth Acevedo and more, we can’t wait for 2023 reading to begin.
When it came out in 2021, Colombian American writer Patricia Engel’s fourth novel, Infinite Country, got a ton of positive attention (from Reese’s Book Club, Book of the Month and more) and instantly hit the New York Times bestseller list. This cool follow-up collection includes nine of Engel’s best short stories, all previously published, and one new tale that’s never been published before.
Bosnian American author, screenwriter and critic Aleksandar Hemon has been a finalist for the National Book Award twice (for Nowhere Man and The Lazarus Project), collaborated with Lana Wachowski and David Mitchell on The Matrix Resurrections, frequently writes for The New Yorker and has earned a whole host of literary awards and prizes. His next novel, which opens with the murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, is an epic saga centered on two lovers who do their best to survive the trenches of World War I.
This debut novelist comes to us from the editorial department of Bloomsbury UK, which means she’s got industry know-how to back up her Queenie-style novel about a Ghanaian British woman who’s making a life for herself amid familial difficulties, workplace racism and the day-to-day ups and downs of friendship and love.
Tomb of Sand was the first Hindi novel to even be nominated for the International Booker Prize, which makes Geetanjali Shree’s win even more wonderful. At more than 600 pages, it’s an absolute door stopper that follows the story of an 80-year-old woman whose children do their best to shake her from her depression after the death of her husband. Nothing helps—until a cane covered in butterflies seems to work magic, pulling Ma into a series of adventures.
The bestselling author and historian (Powers and Thrones, Crusaders, The Templars) makes the leap to fiction with a novel about the Hundred Years’ War. The first installment of a trilogy, it promises to be a well-researched, intimate look into medieval warfare from the perspectives of the soldiers themselves.
British author Jojo Moyes’ 2019 historical novel, The Giver of Stars, transported readers to Depression-era Kentucky for a heartwarming story about packhorse librarians. For her next book, she’s returning to the realm of escapist contemporary fiction—and more specifically, the flirty world of Paris for One. An adaptation of a story from that collection, Someone Else’s Shoes follows two women whose lives are changed when they accidentally swap gym bags and literally have to walk in each other’s shoes.
Nigerian author Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀’s 2017 debut novel, Stay With Me, was shortlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction (now called the Women’s Prize for Fiction) and received the 9mobile Prize for Literature and the Prix Les Afriques. We’ve been looking forward to her follow-up for a long time, even putting it on last year’s list of most anticipated fiction in an attempt to manifest it. Finally, it’s here! Adébáyọ̀ takes us back to Nigeria for a story of two families divided, the two young people who connect them and the power structures of the political system that surround them.
The next novel from literary icon Salman Rushdie comes bittersweetly, as a horrifying attack on the author’s life last autumn will undoubtedly cast a shadow over the publication. Victory City is nevertheless a welcome return to the realm of the fantastical (like in Midnight’s Children and Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights) after Rushdie dabbled in contemporary satire for his last few works. Styled after classic Sanskrit epics, it tells the story of a woman who, with help from a goddess, calls forth the existence of Bisnaga—literally “victory city.”
Rebecca Makkai’s previous novel, The Great Believers, received a lot of positive attention in 2018 and even earned a Stonewall Book Award. Her fourth novel pursues questions of memory and complicity through the story of a film professor and podcaster who has been asked to teach at her former New Hampshire boarding school. Upon her return, she is drawn back into the 1995 murder of a classmate, for which the school’s athletic trainer, Omar, was convicted.
Eleanor Catton MNZN (that’s right—she has a New Zealand Order of Merit) is the author of the internationally bestselling The Luminaries (winner of the Man Booker Prize) and The Rehearsal (winner of the Betty Trask Prize, which is awarded to first novels written by authors under the age of 35 who reside in a current or former Commonwealth nation). As a screenwriter, she adapted The Luminaries for a miniseries and Jane Austen’s Emma for feature film (the one starring Anya Taylor-Joy’s nosebleed). Her next novel is a work of climate fiction about a guerrilla gardening group invited to work some abandoned farmland that has been purchased by a billionaire who claims he’s building an end-times bunker.
Considering that Daisy Jones & The Six was so obviously a nod to Fleetwood Mac, we have been hoping for a few more books in the music novel trend to honor the old timers, the originals, the classics. Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn and other grand dames of country music come to mind when we think about Lillian Waters, the singer at the heart of the next novel from Stephanie Clifford, the author of Everybody Rise. Set in the 1980s, The Farewell Tour follows Lillian on her final tour—and through the many events of her life, all the way back to her humble beginnings.
Soothsayer Margaret Atwood returns to short fiction with her first collection since 2014’s Stone Mattress. Six of the 15 stories have been previously published (some having appeared in The New Yorker and the New York Times Magazine), and the collection is anchored by seven tales that follow married couple Tig and Nell, who at this point are old friends to longtime readers of Atwood.
Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai is a literary luminary in Vietnam, and now she’s making waves stateside, beginning with her critically acclaimed English-language debut, The Mountains Sing (2020). Inspired by the author’s own work reuniting Amerasian children with their family members, her next novel moves between past and present Vietnam to explore the long-term effects of the Vietnam War through the stories of two Vietnamese sisters, an American GI and the child of a Black American soldier and a Vietnamese woman.
Sarah Penner’s first novel, The Lost Apothecary, was a huge hit, earning bestseller slots in both hardcover and paperback, and the rights have already been sold to Fox. Her highly touted second book returns to London for a Victorian mystery filled with seances, mediums, cults and secret societies.
It’s a big deal when a short story collection becomes an instant New York Times bestseller, and doubly so when it’s a debut, as in the case of Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s devastating and surreal Friday Black. One of the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35” honorees, Adjei-Brenyah will publish his first novel this spring, and the premise is everything we could hope for: Two female gladiators fight for their freedom from a private prison system modeled after our own American system.
The author of Florence Adler Swims Forever, winner of the National Jewish Book Award for Debut Fiction, returns with a second novel that’s been building buzz for almost a year. The House Is on Fire follows four characters over the course of three days in the aftermath of the real-life 1811 theater fire in Richmond, Virginia—the deadliest disaster in American history at that time.
James A. McLaughlin’s debut novel, Bearskin, won the 2019 Edgar Award for Best First Novel, and for his sophomore outing, he’s sticking with wilderness-set literary thrillers. Panther Gap follows two adult siblings who are brought back to the Colorado ranch of their childhood by the prospect of an inheritance from their grandfather, and they’re quickly sucked into a dangerous game that involves drug cartels, domestic terrorism and more.
Every single Kate Morton novel has been a bestseller, so five years is a long time for her fans to wait for a follow-up to The Clockmaker’s Daughter. Morton’s upcoming family saga has been compared to The Lake House, her “most successful book to date,” because of the crime at the story’s center. It’s about a woman who discovers a connection between her family history and the fictional “Turner Family Tragedy of Christmas Eve, 1959.”
From the South Korean author of The Vegetarian, winner of the International Booker Prize, comes another haunting slim novel, this one about the bond that forms between a man losing his sight and a woman losing her voice.
Doubling down on the down-home Midwestern goodness of his first two novels, Kitchens of the Great Midwest and The Lager Queen of Minnesota, bestselling author J. Ryan Stradal spins another yarn to warm the heart. It’s the story of a married couple who come from two very different restaurant families, so we’re expecting stick-to-your-stomach casseroles, wild rice and walleye, polka bands and lots of feelings.
Readers who loved Abraham Verghese’s major word-of-mouth hit, Cutting for Stone, have waited more than a decade for this follow-up, and its ambitious length (700+ pages) and epic premise certainly provide some context as to why it took so long to appear. Drawing early comparisons to Pachinko, The Covenant of Water spans from 1900–1977 and follows three generations of a family living in the coastal town of Kerala, India. But this family has a particular problem: In every generation, at least one member of the family dies by drowning.
With her novel Ask Again, Yes, Mary Beth Keane solidified her place among the family drama greats like Celeste Ng, Emma Straub, Brit Bennett, Laurie Frankel and Dani Shapiro. Keane’s next novel unfolds during one week in the life of a married couple whose partnership has hit rough waters. He’s the new owner of the Half Moon bar, and she’s grappling with the possibility that, after years of trying to conceive, she may not get to be a mother. And then a bar patron goes missing and a blizzard hits the town. We expect great characters, sharp detail and emotional devastation.
Sure, Tom Hanks is the Academy Award-winning actor and the best 1990s rom-com hero (fight me, Hugh Grant), but more importantly, he’s also the bestselling author of the short story collection Uncommon Type. Hanks’ first novel, the ambitiously titled The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece, moves from 1947 to 1970 to the present day as it follows the process of transforming a little comic book into a “star-studded, multimillion-dollar superhero action film.” The novel will include three eight-page comic books, all written by Hanks and illustrated by Robert Sikoryak.
Emma Cline followed up her bestselling 2016 debut novel, The Girls, with a story collection in 2020 (Daddy) that got a ton of attention, so we expect similar excitement for her second novel, The Guest. Con artists, hustlers and social media scammers continue to be hot right now, particularly in film and TV (think Elizabeth Holmes, that Fyre Festival bro, Anna Delvey and Adam Neumann), and this is the kind of character at the heart of Cline’s next book, though refreshingly, it seems like she might not be a total sociopath.
We really love an angry publishing novel (The Other Black Girl was one of the best in this, the era of the Great Resignation), so we’re looking forward to R.F. Kuang’s shift into contemporary literary fiction after her mind-blowing work in fantasy. (Babel was one of our Top 10 Books of 2022, and her Poppy War series continues to get tons of love.) The brilliantly titled Yellowface is the story of a bestselling author who is pretending to be Asian American and who stole her masterwork from an actual Asian American woman.
Brandon Taylor’s 2020 debut, Real Life, rocketed him into the center arena of literary fiction, and he has maintained his spot through his brilliant voice, which he shares via his viral Substack newsletter, “Sweater Weather.” In 2021 he followed up that first book with a bestselling story collection, Filthy Animals, and now he’s delivering another novel, The Late Americans, which follows a group of friends and lovers living in Iowa City, Iowa.
We’ve been fairly patient about getting another novel from Luis Alberto Urrea, whose 2018 novel, The House of Broken Angels, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Urrea’s next novel shifts away from his typical terrain of first- and second-generation stories centered on the U.S.-Mexico border to explore a different element of his heritage. Good Night, Irene is inspired by the author’s mother’s experiences during World War II, when she worked with the American Cross and was present for the liberation of Buchenwald.
Lorrie Moore has kept us well-fed with her acclaimed short stories, but we’re excited to check out her first novel since A Gate at the Stairs (2009). I Am Homeless if This Is Not My Home is a ghost story spanning three decades, exploring grief and the unseen through “A teacher visiting his dying brother in the Bronx. A mysterious journal from the nineteenth century stolen from a boarding house. A therapy clown and an assassin, both presumed dead, but perhaps not dead at all.”
Adrienne Brodeur, author of the bestselling memoir Wild Game, kicked off her publishing career by founding the fiction magazine Zoetrope: All-Story with filmmaker Frances Ford Coppola, so it was only a matter of time before she ventured into fiction. Her first novel, Little Monsters, draws from the biblical tale of Cain and Abel to explore the complicated family dynamics of an oceanographer father and his two grown children, all of whom live on Cape Cod.
Colson Whitehead, two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for The Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys, could write a grocery list and we’d elbow your grandma out of the way to be the first to read it. His 2021 novel, Harlem Shuffle, was a heist novel that also dedicated plenty of space to appreciating midcentury furniture, and we’re over the moon that it’s also the first in a trilogy. Whitehead’s Ray Carney is back this summer in Crook Manifesto.
Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Russo takes us back to the town of North Bath in upstate New York for the third time, 10 years after the death of Donald “Sully” Sullivan from Nobody’s Fool and Everybody’s Fool. Gentrification and the appearance of a dead body now plague North Bath, where Sully’s now-adult son, Peter, remembers his father’s legacy and grapples with his own relationship to parenthood.
Elizabeth Acevedo became a superstar of young people’s literature after her YA novel The Poet X won the National Book Award, the Michael L. Printz Award, the Pura Belpré Award and the Carnegie Medal, among other awards. The adult fiction realm welcomes her with open arms this summer, when she’ll publish a family drama that spans past and present, Santo Domingo and New York City, to tell the epic story of a Dominican American family.
James McBride can do it all—short stories, biographies, a National Book Award-winning novel—but we’re especially partial to this big-hearted fiction kick he’s on. Following Deacon King Kong, McBride is sticking with stories of community secrets, this time in a small-town novel inspired by his own upbringing.
Beloved naturalist writer Helen Macdonald (H Is for Hawk, Vesper Flights) ventures into fiction along with first-time novelist Sin Blaché, and their collaboration has a creepy plot unlike anything we could’ve predicted. Set in England and America, Prophet follows a former MI6 agent and an American intelligence officer who join forces to investigate an ominous substance called Prophet, which seems to be using people’s memories against them.
It seemed like everyone was talking about Etaf Rum’s debut novel, A Woman Is No Man, in the summer of 2019. Her follow-up returns to themes originally explored in her first book: the expectations and demands placed on Palestinian American women. This time, she’s focusing closely on the life of one wife and mother who must reconcile with her conservative family’s past.
Lauren Groff clearly loves us and wants us to be happy, because we’ve only had to wait two years since Matrix for her next novel, this one “a nail-biting survival story and a penetrating fable about trying to find new ways of living in a world succumbing to the churn of colonialism.”
C Pam Zhang’s daringly original debut novel, How Much of These Hills Is Gold, completely transformed the Western fiction genre with its magical tale of two Chinese American siblings trying to survive amid the American gold rush. We have high hopes for her follow-up: Set in the near future (just a bit further along in our planet’s demise), this speculative cli-fi novel follows a chef who takes a job on a decadent mountaintop colony.
No one captures the sorrow and beauty of a coming-of-age love story quite like Bryan Washington, so we are thrilled to hear that the author of Lot and Memorial is back this fall with another intimate novel that focuses on the lives of two young men.
Among these 33 nonfiction books we can’t wait to read, you’ll find gems from old favorites and delights from debut authors who just might become your new favorites.
If you haven’t yet read Christie Tate’s 2020 memoir, Group, let me begin by saying that you are missing out. Tate’s chaotic yet heartwarming first book was all about the unconventional group therapy setting that helped her work through her issues with intimacy. In it, she depicted her journey toward healing by telling a room full of near-strangers the messy, brutal truth about her relationships to sex, food, relationships and everything in between. In her second memoir, B.F.F.: A Memoir of Friendship Lost and Found, Tate focuses on the elusive intimacy of friendship, recounting the tumultuous, emotional and funny process of learning how to have and be a friend. It yet again strikes that perfect balance of an author spilling the dirt and baring her soul.
In addition to being Julia Child’s grandnephew and the co-author of her memoir, My Life in France, Alex Prud’homme is also a lively writer in his own right. In Dinner With the President: Food, Politics, and a History of Breaking Bread at the White House, he veers from the French food beat to offer anecdotes, stories and hidden histories about 26 U.S. presidents and their particular tastes for food and drink. If you’ve ever wondered which dishes reminded Abraham Lincoln of his childhood on the Kentucky frontier, or which president had a weakness for butter pecan ice cream, Dinner With the President will satisfy your every curiosity.
Therapist Nedra Glover Tawwab is the reigning queen of setting boundaries. Her 2021 book, Set Boundaries, Find Peace, as well as her popular Instagram account, have helped thousands of people better navigate sticky situations at work, at home and in their communities. Her second book, Drama Free: A Guide to Managing Unhealthy Family Relationships, focuses on what to do when your family of origin is a source of strife, stress and conflict rather than support, security and confidence. It’s a great resource for readers who are just beginning to understand the dynamics within their families of origin and the effects those relationships have had on their development. It’s also a helpful how-to manual for readers who are well aware of the issues in their families but are unsure how to improve their situations. As always, Tawwab is a sound and trustworthy guide.
Katherine May’s 2020 book, Wintering, is one of those works you return to year after year, a cold weather ritual nearly as important as taking your vitamin D supplements. Her books are a wonder—and speaking of wonder, Enchantment: Awakening Wonder in an Anxious Age is all about getting in touch with this feeling when everything around you is swirling with fear, change and unpredictability. By harnessing the magic of attention, ritual and the natural world, May shows readers how to find stillness and awe in their disordered day to day. But Enchantment is more than mere self-help. May’s chops as a beautiful writer and original thinker elevate her books to pure poetry.
Biography lovers are in for several treats in 2023, starting with The Odyssey of Phillis Wheatley: A Poet’s Journeys Through American Slavery and Independence. Historian David Waldstreicher draws parallels between Wheatley’s personal story and Homer’s “The Odyssey,” emphasizing both her mastery of the classics and the epic scale of Wheatley’s life: She was born in 1753 in West Africa; enslaved and taken to North America, where she learned to read and began to write poetry; became the first African American author of a book of poetry, after which her enslavers emancipated her; died at the age of 31, having written some of the most influential verse about the American Revolution. Waldstreicher fills in this sketch with all the fascinating detail of a proper page-turning biography.
Since the release of her 2019 book How to Do Nothing, the cult of Jenny Odell has spread far and wide. Her call to resist the efficiency-obsessed and technology-dependent constraints of modern life has resonated with thousands of people limping through late-stage capitalism—and her appeal only grew once work collided with a global pandemic in 2020. Odell’s next book, Saving Time: Discovering a Life Beyond the Clock, expounds on the ideas established in How to Do Nothing and drills even deeper to question the cultural construction of time itself. If you recoil when you hear the phrase “time is money,” this book will be a liberating, stimulating, challenging delight.
Debut author Oliver Darkshire gives bibliophiles plenty to rejoice over in Once Upon a Tome: The Misadventures of a Rare Bookseller, his memoir of stumbling backward into a job at Henry Sotheran Ltd. in London. Full of cozy charm, pointed humor and a clumsy sense of adventure, it’s a coming-of-age tale about trying to find your footing in those first few precarious years after graduating from college. It’s also an ode to the dying art of antiquarian bookselling as Darkshire learns the ropes of his new role and joins the line of professionally bookish types who have kept the shop running since 1761. Readers who are fans of “books about books” definitely won’t want to miss this one in 2023.
If you were alive in the 2000s, you likely have hundreds of memories (many of them involuntary) of Paris Hilton, the blond, bejeweled hotel heiress who took “famous for being famous” to new heights. However, given what we now know about the punishing media machine of the early aughts—in addition to the revelations of the 2020 documentary This Is Paris—it’s reasonable to wonder how much of what we think we know about Hilton is true. Hopefully her memoir, aptly named Paris: The Memoir, will clear up the smoke and mirrors. It seems there may be more to the DJ, model and reality TV star than purse chihuahuas and low-rise velour track pants after all.
Winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction Matthew Desmond is back with more searing sociological commentary. Poverty, by America builds on the groundbreaking storytelling in Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, zooming out from that book’s focus on housing insecurity to encompass the broader issues that contribute to America’s poverty epidemic, such as low wages and wealth inequality. Ultimately, Poverty, by America tackles the question: Why does the richest nation on Earth have more poverty than any other advanced democracy? It’s an unwieldy question, but Desmond is just the man to tackle it.
Broadcaster, journalist and host of the NPR news program “All Things Considered” Ari Shapiro adds “author” to his string of credits this March. The Best Strangers in the World: Stories From a Life Spent Listening is a memoir in essays that goes behind the scenes of his exciting professional life (riding on Air Force One with the president, reporting on the Syrian refugee crisis) as well as his personal life (his childhood, his marriage and his love of musical theater). In both spheres, Shapiro is charming and personable, sharing his life with a mixture of earnestness and panache. If you’re a fan of “All Things Considered,” you’ll likely hear his voice in your head while reading; we bet the audiobook for this one will be stellar.
Armchair historians with an interest in World War I should mark their calendars for April. Brandeis University professor of history Chad L. Williams’ The Wounded World focuses on the evolution of W.E.B. Du Bois’ stance on the First World War and Black Americans’ role within it. After the great thinker, sociologist and author originally came out in support of the Allied cause, he came to regret this decision and struggled for two decades to write a definitive account of Black Americans’ involvement in the war, which he never finished. Williams chronicles Du Bois’ attempt to write that history, illuminating new insights into Black people’s experiences during the 20th century along the way.
National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winner Timothy Egan has a stunner in store for history fans this year. A Fever in the Heartland: The Ku Klux Klan’s Plot to Take Over America, and the Woman Who Stopped Them is another narrative, page-turning history from the author of The Worst Hard Time and The Big Burn, this time zeroing in on 1920s America at the height of the Ku Klux Klan’s terror. Egan tells the story of D.C. Stephenson, the Grand Dragon of Indiana, who had governors, judges and pastors in his pocket and who even claimed to have a phone that provided a direct line to the president. This was a time when the KKK baldly broadcasted its message of white supremacy to the whole nation, and A Fever in the Heartland reveals how one woman changed that forever.
In her bestselling 2018 memoir, All You Can Ever Know, Korean American author Nicole Chung grappled with the ways she benefitted from and was wounded by growing up in a white adoptive family. In her second memoir, A Living Remedy, Chung digs deeper into the dynamics of family, class and how guilt mixes with gratitude when one generation becomes more successful than the last. When her father died from kidney disease at age 67, Chung had to face the wealth and health care inequalities that hastened his death—inequalities she knew that she and her children would not face. It’s a tender personal story with powerful social and political ramifications.
The beloved author of Big Fish and five other novels will publish his first work of nonfiction this April. This Isn’t Going to End Well: The True Story of a Man I Thought I Knew is a memoir about Daniel Wallace’s late brother-in-law, William Nealy, who died by suicide in 2001. From the time Wallace was 12, he admired his big sister’s impossibly cool boyfriend, and later husband. Nealy was a cartoonist, mountain rescue specialist, professional drummer, author, sculptor, construction worker, civil rights activist and a dozen other things—the definition of “larger than life,” up until his death at age 48. After that, Wallace began to uncover the secrets Nealy had kept hidden all his life, and This Isn’t Going to End Well outlines the complicated, tender truth about one mythical man.
In 2020, poet Maggie Smith released the much-needed book Keep Moving, a bracing collection of quotations and essays about life after divorce and what comes next. In You Could Make This Place Beautiful: A Memoir, Smith unfurls the full story for the first time, dispatching scenes from before and after her marriage to create a kaleidoscope of a memoir. Along the way, Smith vies with patriarchy, motherhood and work as she carves a path through loss and seismic change. This book will be a lifeline to readers looking for ways to pick up the pieces and turn them into a beautiful collage.
Humorist Alexandra Petri, a columnist for The Washington Post and author of Nothing Is Wrong and Here Is Why, has more laughs up her sleeve. Alexandra Petri’s US History: Important American Documents (I Made Up) is like a compilation of McSweeney’s best listicles and articles, except they’re all about American history, and they’re all written by one very funny person. Spanning 500 years of real history, each of the book’s entries constructs a fake historical document: Francisco de Coronado’s letter to Charles V; an toy ad for Puritan parents; John and Abigail Adams’s sexts; and many even more ridiculous entries from the satirical archives. This book is a must-read for history buffs with a sense of humor.
The bestselling author of Killers of the Flower Moon—the film adaptation of which, directed by Martin Scorcese, will be released this year—returns with another gripping, twisty narrative history. The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder tells the story of a British ship that washed up on Brazilian shores in 1742 after months of being marooned off the coast of Patagonia. The crew was welcomed and celebrated—until another ship washed ashore in Chile six months later and those on board accused the first group of being not heroes but mutineers. If you’ve ever wondered how Lord of the Flies might have played out if it had been adults instead of children stranded on that island, David Grann has the shocking answer.
Actor and cultural icon Laura Dern teams up with another icon—her mom, actor Diane Ladd—for their first book. Honey, Baby, Mine: A Mother and Daughter Talk Life, Death, Love (and Banana Pudding) records conversations between mother and daughter on work, love, relationships, professional success and more, born out of the long walks they took together while Ladd was recovering from a sudden life-threatening illness. The book will include photos, recipes and other familial tidbits, ultimately creating a rich mosaic of two legendary women as they formed a deep friendship.
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and novelist Héctor Tobar (The Last Great Road Bum) showcases his social science expertise in Our Migrant Souls: A Meditation on Race and the Meanings and Myths of “Latino”. As a Los Angeles native and the son of Guatemalan immigrants, Tobar understands all the ways that the label “Latino” fails to capture the huge and hugely diverse swath of people who identify themselves with that term. Using both his own experiences and the stories of his Latinx students at the University of California, Irvine, Tobar crafts a galvanizing portrait of Latinx people’s humanity, anger and beauty, crisscrossing the terrain of pop culture, history and identity with singular dexterity.
Remember in 2020 when a white woman called the police on a Black guy who was just bird-watching in Central Park? (Of course you do.) That man was Christian Cooper, and his memoir is called Better Living Through Birding: Notes From a Black Man in the Natural World. Cooper likes to observe the migratory birds who stop in Central Park every spring on their journey back home, and his book will explore what all that time looking at the skies has taught him about safety, self-acceptance and life as a gay Black man in America. In addition to revealing more about Cooper’s life, including his work as a writer for Marvel Comics, Better Living Through Birding will also serve as a handy how-to for aspiring birders.
A new biography of Martin Luther King Jr. is coming this May from Jonathan Eig, who has previously written biographies of Muhammad Ali, Al Capone, Lou Gehrig and Jackie Robinson. Eig writes in the book’s introduction that his biography is the first to make use of several recently released resources, including FBI documents, White House telephone recordings, materials that belonged to King’s personal archivist and an unpublished memoir by King’s father. Chances are high that within King: A Life’s 688 pages, new revelations will come to light, and a complicated, admiring, honest portrait of an American icon will emerge.
Humorist, essayist and TV writer Samantha Irby expands her repertoire of hilarious writings (and animal-themed book covers) with Quietly Hostile: Essays. Now that Irby has entered the big leagues as a writer for shows like “And Just Like That” and “Shrill,” her life must be glamorous and refined. Just kidding! If you’re a fan of her other collections (Wow, No Thank You., We Are Never Meeting in Real Life. and Meaty), you already know that her life is just as busted as ever. (The marketing copy for this book mentions poison teeth, diarrhea and QVC, if that’s any indication.) But this is good news for readers, because once the calamities of Irby’s life have been processed through her singularly twisted mind, they become something funny, endearing and endlessly relatable.
Comedian and podcaster Jamie Loftus (“The Bechdel Cast,” “My Year in Mensa,” “Lolita Podcast,” et al.) turns her attention to the illustrious hot dog in her debut book, Raw Dog: The Naked Truth About Hot Dogs. Part memoir and part social critique, the book follows Loftus’ summer 2021 cross-country road trip as she documented the myriad forms of this quintessential American food. Along the way, Loftus delves into all the ways hot dogs embody issues of class and culture in the United States, illuminating the complex history of this backyard barbecue staple with her signature mix of intellect and unhinged humor.
Acclaimed children’s and young adult author Kwame Alexander (The Door of No Return) will serve up a hybrid memoir for adult readers later this year. Why Fathers Cry at Night: A Memoir in Love Poems, Recipes, Letters, and Remembrances spans Alexander’s experiences as a son, husband and father, sharing intimate glimpses of missteps and triumphs throughout his life as he has worked to understand what love is and how to share it with those he cares for. Interspersed throughout these personal stories are original poems, family recipes and other unexpected offerings, making for a uniquely varied reading experience.
Journalist Rachel Louise Snyder, author of the acclaimed 2019 book No Visible Bruises: What We Don’t Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us, will tell her own story for the first time in Women We Buried, Women We Burned: A Memoir. When Snyder was 8, her father joined a strict evangelical church after her mother’s untimely death. This inspired a rebellious streak in Snyder, who eventually found herself kicked out of high school and living in her car. From there, Snyder recounts her jagged path to becoming the renowned journalist she is today, through years of reporting abroad and honing her understanding of women’s unique precarity in the world. It promises to be a gripping memoir of learning to survive and defending others’ right to do the same.
Oscar-nominated actor Elliot Page, who has portrayed so many beloved characters’ stories over his career, now shares his own story in Pageboy: A Memoir. Page wrote in an Instagram post that until recently, he never felt like it was the right time to write a memoir, especially as he wrestled with gender dysphoria before his transition. But once he felt at home in his body, he could finally carve out the space to tell the truth about his life and experiences. Those truths can be found in Pageboy, which recounts Page’s journey toward coming out as queer and trans, and the ways that stardom both fulfilled and delayed his dreams for his life. We expect it to be the kind of book you cheer for by the end, as the author learns how to be true to himself at last.
Krista Burton’s first book, Moby Dyke: An Obsessive Quest to Hunt Down the Last Remaining Lesbian Bars in America, chronicles a road trip for the ages: visiting the last 21 lesbian bars in the United States (down from 206 in 1987). Creator of the blog Effing Dykes, Burton set out to discover where all these bars went, what the remaining ones have to offer and what queer spaces, places and rituals have been lost as LGBTQ+ communities have become more accepted by the dominant culture. Some of Burton’s personal narrative is also woven into her cultural analysis, such as coming out to her Mormon parents and traveling cross-country with her husband, who is transgender. It all sounds like a wild, wonderful ride.
Beloved novelist Jane Smiley (A Thousand Acres, Golden Age, Perestroika in Paris) dips back into nonfiction for the first time since 2005 with The Questions That Matter Most: Reading, Writing, and the Exercise of Freedom. Touching on the aesthetic, ethical and contextual aspects of reading and writing, Smiley’s 18 essays reflect on favorite authors, famous works from the English canon, the writing life and more. The Questions That Matter Most offers a peek into a great literary mind as it puzzles over the tricks and triumphs of other masterful writers, from Franz Kafka to Alice Munro.
Historian Rachel Louise Martin (Hot, Hot Chicken) continues her work of documenting the politics of memory across the South in A Most Tolerant Little Town: The Explosive Beginning of School Desegregation in America. Martin’s second book recounts the events of September 1956 when a small town in Tennessee became home to the first school to undergo court-ordered desegregation after the Brown v. Board of Education ruling. There were death threats, violence and protests. The National Guard had to intervene. And in the years that followed, townspeople were reluctant to talk about it. Martin seems to have gotten through to them at last, however, because her book is based on interviews with over 60 of the town’s residents, resulting in a patchwork portrait of a pivotal moment in civil rights history.
Harrison Scott Key, whose first book, The World’s Largest Man, won the Thurber Prize for American Humor in 2016, is back with another funny and deeply felt memoir. How to Stay Married: The Most Insane Love Story Ever Told tells the harrowing (but also somehow hilarious) story of Key’s realization that his wife was having an affair with a family friend. As he tangles and untangles faith, forgiveness and fidelity, Key takes readers along for a memorable caper, trying to right past wrongs, reckon with his failings and pave a better path forward, all with his sense of humor intact.
“Jeopardy!” champion and author Ken Jennings (Planet Funny) has written a travel guide we hope you won’t need anytime soon. 100 Places to See After You Die: A Travel Guide to the Afterlife splits the difference between an informative compendium of afterlife legends and locales, and a satirical travel guide for anyone crossing the river Styx (or descending into Sheol, or ascending to Valhalla). So go ahead. Study up on the customs of potential future resting places, learn the lingo and figure out what to expect when you get there—or how you should behave now to ensure your entry—all while having a laugh at Jennings’ witty descriptions.
In 2019, Natalie Beach published an essay in The Cut about her dysfunctional friendship with full-time social media influencer and part-time grifter Caroline Calloway. In the days and weeks that followed, no one with a smartphone could talk about anything else. That viral essay leaned heavily on Calloway’s actions and difficulties, but in Adult Drama: And Other Essays, Beach tells her own story. This memoir in essays seeks to capture the absurdist humor of becoming an adult, with all of its professional, romantic, personal and existential crises. We’re excited to hear more from Beach, and to find out what kinds of sharp observations she’ll make about finding your footing in a world off its axis.
Patti Hartigan is a theater critic who knew legendary playwright August Wilson personally, and we’re eager to get her authoritative take on his life and work in August Wilson: A Life. Wilson is responsible for some of the most revered plays of the 20th century, including Two Trains Running, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and Fences. His work explored Black Americans’ experiences over the last century and made him a key figure in the Post-Black Arts Movement. Based on interviews with Wilson’s friends, family and colleagues, Hartigan’s biography will shine a welcome light on this essential American artist.
A mystery told through iPhone voice transcripts, Jacqueline Winspear’s first standalone novel in nine years and the very first release from Gillian Flynn’s new imprint: 2023 will be a year for the record books when it comes to mystery and suspense.
Janice Hallett’s debut mystery, The Appeal, used emails, texts and letters to track a drama club tearing itself apart—to the point of murder. For her next trick, Hallett tells a story entirely through fictional audio transcripts, voice notes recorded by Steven “Smithy” Smith as he tries to unravel the secrets of a mysterious children’s book and its connection to the disappearance of his former English teacher.
After a couple of standalones, Jane Harper returns to Aaron Falk, the sleuth who starred in her first two mysteries. Aaron is searching for a woman who vanished one summer night, leaving her baby tucked safely inside a pram, and his investigation may reveal terrible truths about his best friend and his best friend’s family.
Milo Sturgis and Alex Delaware’s latest case delves into sticky questions of art, exploitation and activism as they hunt for the murderer of a wealthy photographer whose portraits of homeless people may have resulted in his death.
Nurse Bess Crawford is still adjusting to life after World War I and considering whether she has deeper feelings for her friend, Simon Brandon. But that task becomes even more difficult when she is drawn into a vicious family feud in the Yorkshire countryside with unforeseen consequences for the people closest to her.
Kelley Armstrong’s bestselling Rockton series has one of the most creative premises in mystery fiction: The secret town of Rockton exists completely off the grid in the Alaskan wilderness, the perfect place for criminals, fugitives and anyone in need of a second chance. In this spinoff series, Rockton’s erstwhile police chief, Casey Duncan, is building a second town to improve upon Rockton’s success—and then a body is discovered in the woods outside the worksite.
Even if poet Margot Douaihy’s debut mystery weren’t the first book released under Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn’s imprint, we’d still be itching to get our hands on it. A whodunit set in New Orleans starring a queer, chain-smoking, tattooed nun? Send it to us immediately.
The acclaimed author of Every Last Fear and The Night Shift is back with another tale of past horrors reaching into the present. Five former residents of Savior House, a group home for teenagers that was shut down 25 years ago after the disappearances of some of its inhabitants, reunite after someone begins hunting them down.
Beloved Victorian sleuths Veronica Speedwell and Stoker Templeton-Vane return in their eighth adventure. This time, they’re trying to save the life of Stoker’s brother Tiberius, whose group of friends are being stalked and killed for reasons unknown. In a move that will especially please historical fiction fans, Tiberius plans to hold a house party at his ancestral estate to lure the killer out of hiding. If drama is what you seek, a house party is where you will surely find it.
Harlan Coben is one of our greatest living thriller writers, and instantly engaging hooks like the one in I Will Find You are a big reason why. To wit, David Burroughs didn’t kill his son, Matthew, but he was convicted and is now serving a life sentence for the terrible crime. When he receives evidence that Matthew is still alive, he has no choice but to break out of prison to clear his name and find out what actually happened.
Well-known for her historical horror novels, Alma Katsu is also the author of espionage thrillers inspired by her previous career as a senior intelligence analyst. Red London will reunite readers with Red Widow’s Lyndsey Duncan, whose latest mission is to ferret out Russian assets in London.
There’s something of a holy trinity of wholesome, modern male sleuths. Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache, Martin Walker’s Benoît “Bruno” Courrèges, Chief of Police and Donna Leon’s Commissario Guido Brunetti are all cultured, empathetic, complicated detectives who solve crimes while enjoying lives that fill readers with envy. Of late, Leon’s been giving readers snippets of Guido’s past, and this latest investigation is no different: The murder of a Sri Lankan man, found in one of Venice’s canals, has a startling connection to Guido’s student days.
Jesse Q. Sutanto, the bestselling author of Dial A for Aunties, returns with a mystery sure to please fans of The Thursday Murder Club and all the similarly clever tales starring older characters that followed in its wake. When Vera Wong finds a dead body in her tea shop, she decides to embark on her own investigation by closely observing her customers, certain that the man’s killer will eventually return to the scene of the crime.
The Lady Sherlock series is one of the best spins on the Sherlock Holmes canon and a wonderful historical mystery series in its own right. Sherry Thomas’ saga follows Charlotte Holmes, a brilliant detective who solves crime while pretending to be her fake brother Sherlock’s assistant, and in this seventh installment, she is on the hunt for an important dossier aboard the RMS Provence. Of course, someone is murdered on the ship, but Charlotte must hold back from solving the crime in order to continue her search for the dossier (and protect her identity—she’s recently had to fake her death, you see). Does Charlotte stand a chance at resisting such a tantalizing case? Most likely not.
After 17 acclaimed historical mysteries starring British sleuth Maisie Dobbs, Jacqueline Winspear is introducing a new character for her fans to adore. The White Lady follows Elinor White, a 41-year-old former spy living in a small English village in 1947. When her neighbors are threatened by a powerful gang, Elinor will have to call on all her training to protect her new life.
If you love gothic novels, you probably already know and love the deliciously gloomy work of Hester Fox. Her fifth book takes place after World War I and follows Ivy Radcliffe, a woman who is shocked to learn that she’s inherited a crumbling estate in Yorkshire that contains an epically creepy library.
Sally Hepworth’s 2022 thriller, The Younger Wife, was a marvelous combination of complicated character dynamics and soapy thrills a la Big Little Lies. So there are high hopes for her next novel, which will take on a time-honored trope of female-driven suspense novels: What if my perfect, beloved husband was actually a murderer?
Bestselling thriller author Megan Miranda’s latest novel follows a group of former classmates who all survived the same tragic event. As they gather to mark the 10th anniversary of the incident, one of the classmates disappears. Knowing Miranda, the plot will be perfectly constructed, the characters endearingly spiky and the twists shockingly prescient.
Taylor Adams hit it big with No Exit, which is now a movie on Hulu, and topped himself with the superb Hairpin Bridge. The Last Word’s premise will be hilariously, uncomfortably familiar for any book lovers who are perhaps . . . a bit too online. A woman who posts a negative review of a famous author’s latest horror novel gets into a fight with said author on the internet—and then disturbing incidents start happening around her isolated home.
Tony Hillerman’s Leaphorn & Chee mysteries are finally getting the prestige TV adaptation they deserve in AMC’s “Dark Winds,” which means a whole new audience will find their way to Anne Hillerman’s continuation of her father’s work. Her eight installment will see Jim Chee and Bernadette Manuelito investigating two mysterious deaths that seem to be tied to the Bear Ears area, one of the most beautiful places in the Navajo Nation.
America’s favorite stalker is back, and he has another outrageously named woman to hunt. The new love of Joe Goldberg’s life is named Wonder, the setting is Harvard University, but Joe himself will never change. Thank goodness.
It’s been six years since the acclaimed author of Mystic River and Shutter Island released a new novel, and Small Mercies sounds like a doozy. Set in Boston in 1974, this suspenseful novel will follow Mary Pat Fennessey, whose search for her missing daughter sets her on a collision course with the Irish mob as the city teeters on the brink of violence over the desegregation of its public schools.
Ivy Pochoda’s new thriller sounds like a Western version of “Killing Eve,” which is something we never knew we needed but now need desperately. It follows two incarcerated women, one of whom insists that the other isn’t as innocent as she pretends to be, sparking a deadly game of cat-and-mouse.
S.A. Cosby never shies away from the darker corners of crime fiction, exploring morally gray characters and challenging situations with a humane, clear-eyed intelligence. His next book will be no different: All the Sinners Bleed follows Titus Crown, the first Black sheriff in a small Southern town who must reckon with all the contradictions of his position when a teacher’s murder uncovers a tangle of corruption, crimes and secrets.
Spencer Quinn has already gifted readers with the Chet & Bernie series, which follows a PI and his German Shepherd as they solve crimes and enjoy being each other’s best friend. (It is exactly as adorable as it sounds.) But now he’s starting a new series that could become just as beloved: Mrs. Plansky’s Revenge will be the first adventure of Loretta Plansky, a widow in her 70s, who, after losing her savings to a scammer pretending to be her grandson, sets out to track him down and recover her funds.
Laura Lippman’s novels combine careful plotting with extremely messy character behavior, resulting in singularly page-turning reads. True to form, her latest thriller begins with a plot straight out of the trashiest of tabloids: When she was a teenager, Amber Glass was accused of killing her baby on prom night after her date, Joe Simpson, abandoned her. With something like that in your past, you’d get the hell out of dodge too. So why is Amber back in town, and why are she and Joe circling each other once again?
The author of Clark and Division, one of our best mysteries of 2021, returns with Evergreen, her second Japantown Mystery. It’s 1946, and Aki Ito and her family have finally returned to their home in Los Angeles after being incarcerated in a detention center and resettled in Chicago. Aki’s next case puts her in an extremely delicate position: Her husband’s best friend, Babe Watanbe, is suspected of elder abuse, and it turns out that’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the potential crimes of the Watanabes.
Ambitious historicals, creative rom-coms and a new wave of angsty romances are ready for their meet cute with readers in 2023.
Kate Clayborn’s gorgeously written romances are a perfect counterbalance to the current wave of high-concept rom-coms. Down-to-earth and achingly realistic, her novels catch people in the moments when their lives are starting to change for the better. Her latest book follows Georgie Mulcahy who, after being uprooted from her life in Los Angeles and returning to her small hometown, decides to check off all the items on her teenage self’s wishlist.
After making their adult debut with The Roughest Draft, YA author duo Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka are back with another multilayered second-chance romance. This time, it’s between unhappily married couple Eliza and Graham, who, while on a weeklong trip for their fifth anniversary, find themselves enjoying each other’s company once again when they pretend to be strangers.
After completing the Pacific Northwest-set Bellinger Sisters duology, which earned her a spot as one of BookTok’s favorite authors, Tessa Bailey is taking her magic touch down to Napa, California, for A Vine Mess, a series that follows two heirs to a family winery. First up is Julian Vos, a buttoned-up professor who finds himself falling head over heels for gorgeous gardener Hallie Welch.
Katee Robert’s marvelous Dark Olympus series, which reimagines and remixes the most famous love stories of Greek mythology, continues with Radiant Sin, a modern take on the story of Apollo and Cassandra. Apollo is the secret-keeper of the isolated city of Olympus, and he goes on an undercover mission with his employee Cassandra—and they have to pretend to be a couple. That’s right, it’s a workplace romance plus fake dating!
A highly prolific, critically adored self-publishing phenomenon, KJ Charles writes gay historical romances that vary in tone, genre and era, but all display her signature wit and cunningly constructed characters. Her first novel with a major publisher in several years is, therefore, a cause for celebration in itself. Add a plot described as “Bridgerton” meets “Poldark,” and we might just be looking at the next romance phenomenon.
Anita Kelly’s cooking show rom-com, Love & Other Disasters, was one of the most impressive debuts of 2022 and one of our favorite romances of the year. But it looks like Kelly might outdo themself with their more emotional sophomore novel, which follows two men who fall in love while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.
It’s been three whole years (an eternity in Romancelandia) since Scarlett Peckham released The Rakess, a formally ambitious Regency romance starring a fiery proto-feminist. The long-awaited follow-up will return to the radical Society of Sirens, a group of convention-defying heroines advocating for women’s rights, and tell the love story of radical painter Cornelia Ludgate and Rafe Goodwood, a man who’s just inherited a dukedom and intends to use his new fortune and position to advocate for social reform.
If we are to have a wave of “Bridgerton”-esque takes on historical fiction that play fast and loose with accuracy, please let some of them be as entertainingly nasty and gleefully unrestrained as Lex Croucher’s Reputation. Her sophomore novel, Infamous, sounds like a chaotic spin on a beloved historical romance trope: the house party. When Edith “Eddie” Miller and her best friend, Rose, get an invite to scandalous poet Nash Nicholson’s country estate, Eddie finds herself torn between dreams of literary success and her friendship with Rose, all while struggling to untangle her increasingly complicated feelings for both Rose and Nash.
Diana Biller’s lush and intricately detailed books are especially notable for their unique settings. Rather than the familiar milieu of Regency or Victorian England, Biller has given readers a gothic love story in Gilded Age New York City, a second-chance romance in late 19th-century Paris and now Hotel of Secrets, an exciting tale of spies and luxury hotels in 1870s Vienna.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, some of us got into baking; Curtis Sittenfeld got into “Saturday Night Live.” Following on the heels of her bestselling Rodham, her latest novel wonders: What would happen if “SNL” had a female writer who wrote a sketch that lampooned the generations of male writers who have brought their female celebrity girlfriends on as hosts? And what if the female writer ended up falling for a male host in turn?
The wedding from hell drives two childhood enemies into each other’s arms for a round of fake dating in the new rom-com from Mazey Eddings, the author of A Brush With Love and Lizzie Blake’s Best Mistake. It sounds very hijinks-heavy, but based on Eddings’ previous novels, there will be a lot of heart underneath all the shenanigans.
Viscount Penvale thinks he has established an excellent marriage of convenience with Jane Spencer. But unbeknownst to him, Jane is plotting to stage a haunting of Trethwick Abbey, the home they just inherited together, to get him to abandon the property and let her live her life as she pleases. This plan will obviously go very well, and Penvale and Jane will not in any way fall in love.
J.J. McAvoy’s Aphrodite and the Duke introduced readers to her “Bridgerton”-inspired take on the Regency and the delightful Du Bell family. In Verity and the Forbidden Suitor, the Du Bells play host to the titular character, a duke’s sister who falls in love with a dashing doctor who’s unfortunately a deeply unsuitable match for her on account of his being an illegitimate child.
The marvelous Abby Jimenez writes romances that strike a seemingly impossible balance between sweet comedy and emotional angst. Her latest follows two doctors who overcome a truly terrible first impression to become workplace besties and maybe something more.
After completing her fan-favorite Written in the Stars trilogy, Alexandria Bellefleur is giving her readers a delightfully genre-specific literary love story between a bookseller and a romance cover model.
What is there to say about Emily Henry that hasn’t already been said? Her gorgeously written, achingly sexy romances live up to the hype and then some (even that feels like an understatement). This spring will see her pen her first second-chance romance, between a married couple who haven’t told their close-knit friend group that they’ve broken up and must now endure one last summer vacation to Maine while trying to keep their secret under wraps.
The beloved author duo behind The Soulmate Equation and The Unhoneymooners are heading to Hollywood! Romance novelist Felicity “Fizzy” Chen has a terrible secret: She’s never actually been in love. But filmmaker Connor Prince thinks that’s actually the perfect hook for a dating show, one that, in a twist that will thrill reality TV fans and romance readers alike, Fizzy demands be cast according to romance novel archetypes.
Speaking of Hollywood, Elissa Sussman’s adult debut, Funny You Should Ask, was one of the best Los Angeles-set love stories we’ve seen in years. In the same style as her first novel, her follow-up will move back and forth in time in the lives of a pop star and a boy band member, from the height of their fame to when they’re reunited years later, when both blame the other for destroying their career.
That’s right, Tessa Bailey fans—you’re getting not one but two new books this year! The second A Vine Mess romance will center on a modern marriage of convenience between Napa heiress Natalie Vos and vineyard owner August Cates. It can be difficult to create meaningful stakes in a marriage of convenience in a world where women have, you know, rights and the ability to more easily divorce their husbands, but Bailey is a pro at crafting rom-com hijinks underpinned by relatable emotion.
You’d think that the 1950s would be a prime setting for historical romance, especially given that today’s romance authors are just as interested in unpacking intersections of race, class and sexuality as they are in reveling in glamorous period trappings. It’s still a sea of Regency and Victorian love stories out there, but maybe Cat Sebastian, who is also in the midst of a series set in the Georgian era, can start a trend with We Could Be So Good, a love story between two men who both work in midcentury New York City’s newspaper industry.
Natalie Caña’s absolutely marvelous debut, A Proposal They Can’t Refuse, left us hungry for more. Thankfully, she’ll soon be back with another romance featuring the restaurant-owning Vega family. This time, oldest brother Saint is the one about to fall—for his young daughter’s teacher.
Maureen Lee Lenker’s column in Entertainment Weekly is one of the best places (other than here, obviously) to read romance reviews, so it’s especially intriguing to see that she’ll be writing a love story of her very own. It Happened One Fight is set in the golden age of Hollywood and follows two movie stars who, after accidentally getting married during a prank gone wrong, head to Reno, Nevada, to both complete their latest film together and get a divorce.
Charis Michaels finished her absolutely adorable, fairy tale-inspired Awakened by a Kiss series last year, and her next series will have another theme near and dear to historical romance fans’ hearts: royalty! Say Yes to the Princess, the first book in the Hidden Royals series, will follow a French princess who escaped the French Revolution and the fixer who falls in love while trying to keep her from uncovering the British government’s secrets.
Despite its grandiose name, the Grand Palace on the Thames is more snuggly than sophisticated, a cozy boarding house where rogues and nobility alike can let their guard down, sink into a comfortable chair and maybe find love. The latest star-crossed pair is privateer Lorcan St. Leger and Lady Daphne Worth, who must pose as a married couple to find refuge in the boarding house’s only available suite.
The Meant to Be series has already given readers Julie Murphy’s take on Cinderella (If the Shoe Fits) and Jasmine Guillory’s take on Beauty and the Beast (By the Book), and now Zoraida Córdova will take a turn with Kiss the Girl, a modern spin on The Little Mermaid. In her reimagining, Ariel is a world-famous pop star who runs away to join an up-and-coming singer on the road for his latest tour.
Beloved, critically acclaimed rom-com author Lucy Parker will continue her Palace Insiders series with Codename Charming, an opposites-attract romance between a prince’s stoic royal bodyguard and that same prince’s happy-go-lucky personal assistant.
2023 will see the return of some of the internet’s favorite writers (Samantha Shannon! TJ Klune!), the genius behind the Murderbot Diaries heading back to fantasy and Chuck Tingle (!!!) releasing his debut novel.
It’s a delight to be alive at the same time as Annalee Newitz, author of equally brilliant fiction and nonfiction. Newitz is returning to sci-fi after their marvelous Four Lost Cities, a historical exploration of ancient metropolises, with The Terraformers. The epic novel will explore the conflict between nature and capitalism on the planet Sask-E, which a powerful corporation transforms over the centuries into a world suitable for human life.
Horror-obsessed teen Jade Daniels is back, and unfortunately, her town of Proofrock, Idaho, is once again in danger in this sequel to My Heart Is a Chainsaw. Another killer is on his way to the town, a man obsessed with getting revenge for 38 Dakota men who were hanged by the United States government in 1862, and it will take all of Jade’s survival skills and genre knowledge to stop him.
Only two story collections from Mariana Enriquez, an acclaimed Argentinian writer of speculative fiction and horror, have been translated into English (Things We Lost in the Fire and The Dangers of Smoking in Bed). Our Share of Night is her first translated novel, and this frightening tale of a father desperate to protect his son from the cult his son’s mother belonged to could be Enriquez’s big breakout.
If you’re the type of SFF reader who loves fantasy as much as historical trivia, you probably already know about H.G. Parry’s gloriously nerdy Shadow Histories duology. The series suffused the Enlightenment and the age of revolution with magicians who, in addition to arguing about civil liberties, debated whether restrictions should be placed upon sorcery. Parry’s next novel, while still a historical fantasy, is noticeably more whimsical in tone: The Magician’s Daughter is the story of a sheltered orphan who lives on Hy-Brasil, a secret island off the coast of Ireland, and must venture into the outside world after her guardian goes missing.
The Priory of the Orange Tree, one of the internet’s very favorite fantasy novels, has everything a genre fan could want: an intriguing world with fascinating historical parallels, a gorgeous love story and unbelievably cool dragons. Priory was said to be a standalone novel when it was first released, but apparently, author Samantha Shannon just couldn’t resist. Fans are wild with anticipation for A Day of Fallen Night, which is set in the same world as Priory but almost five centuries earlier.
Shannon Chakraborty’s Daevabad series is one of the best fantasy trilogies of recent years (and a well-deserved BookTok favorite). She returns with what looks to be a rollicking good time: a fantasy adventure following the titular pirate, who comes out of retirement to rescue a former crewmember’s kidnapped daughter.
Owen King (yes, son of that Stephen) has written short stories, horror and literary fiction, but his latest novel is best described as a high-concept intellectual experiment, filtered through the lens of fantasy. Set in a vaguely Dickensian city that has recently undergone a revolution, The Curator follows former maid Dora as she searches for answers about her brother’s mysterious death, which she believes has something to do with the Museum of Psykical Research.
The idiosyncratic author of The Changeling goes west with the frightening story of Adelaide Henry, a woman in turn-of-the-century America who flees to the frontier to hide a terrible secret. As with all of Victor LaValle’s novels, the less you know going in, the better.
T. Kingfisher hops back and forth between fantasy and horror, bringing her gift for endearing characters and spiky wit to each genre. Her next horror novel, A House With Good Bones, is a Southern gothic drama that will mix scares with family secrets.
Olivie Blake’s Atlas series made the jump from self-publishing phenomenon to bestseller, and there’s more where that came from, with book after book being released from Blake’s archives. First there was the contemporary romance Alone With You in the Ether, and now there’s One for My Enemy, a modern fantasy set in a New York City where two rival witch families teeter on the edge of all-out war.
“Pinocchio but with robots” pretty much sounds like the perfect plot for TJ Klune, he of the adorable characters and perfectly measured whimsy. Throw in a Swiss Family Robinson-esque home in the trees, and we’re sold.
It’s been seven years since Justin Cronin brought his bestselling Passage trilogy to a close with City of Mirrors. This spring, he returns with another tale of sci-fi apocalypse, but this time with a heady metaphysical twist. On the isolated island of Prospera, safe from the world beyond, citizens live long and happy lives until they are “retired.” Their memories are wiped, their bodies are restored and they return to the island to live a new life. But of course, as it is with most so-called utopias, things aren’t what they seem, and Prospera isn’t the paradise its people think it is.
Martha Wells, the gleeful genius behind the Murderbot Diaries, pivots to fantasy for the first time in years with the story of a powerful mage who gets murdered, gets resurrected and is faced with a world that has changed a lot while he’s been gone.
The iconic, bestselling writer of various speculative genres, Tananarive Due turns once again to horror in this novel set at a segregated reform school in 1950s Florida, where a young boy realizes that the spirits of other children who have died there are haunting the property.
Is Chuck Tingle the opposite of a milkshake duck? The mysterious, wildly prolific erotica author’s outrageous oeuvre has been delighting those in the know for years, and that was before we learned that Chuck Tingle is: 1) a real person who really does love writing erotica and isn’t just doing it for the bit, 2) a hilarious troll who firmly rejected the reactionary movements that attempted to game the Hugo Awards and 3) an advocate for freedom, love and LGBTQ+ rights. The gay conversion camp-set horror novel Camp Damascus is his first full-length book, and will introduce him to audiences that are not terminally online but still sorely need his earnest, joyful perspective on life and love.
Young adult author Chloe Gong looked to Romeo and Juliet for her first two books, As You Like It for her third and now Antony and Cleopatra for her adult fantasy debut, Immortal Longings. Her Cleopatra stand-in is Princess Calla Tuoleimi, who takes part in a magical contest with the hopes of assassinating her reclusive uncle, who will make an appearance to greet the winner of the games. Along the way, she forms an alliance and then a relationship with aristocrat Anton Makusa, and must decide between her quest and her new love.
Within Olivie Blake’s impending flood of new books, Masters of Death sounds like the most lighthearted: It’s a romance between Viola Marek, a vampire real estate agent, and medium Fox D’Mora, to whom Viola turns for help in figuring out who murdered a man haunting a house she really needs to sell.
Sci-fi author John Scalzi gifted readers with the absolute romp that was The Kaiju Preservation Society last year, and it looks like he’s still in his “screw interplanetary politics, let’s have some fun” phase. Starter Villain will follow a protagonist who inherits their uncle’s supervillain business, a hilarious concept made even funnier by the fact that this business is apparently staffed by “sentient . . . computer-savvy cats.”
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