There’s really one kind of resolution I want to talk about—book resolutions. Promise me you’ll read as many books as you can this year! To get you started, here are the 30 novels we’re most excited to read in 2019.
Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye
Putnam | January 8
Jane Steele author Faye writes like she left the stove on—hurry up, because this place is about to burn down. Her new novel is a historical mystery that careens from Prohibition-era New York City to Portland, Oregon, where a young white woman known as “Nobody” finds refuge in the eponymous hotel, a safe space for black Oregonians in a city besieged by the Klu Klux Klan. Read our cover story interview with Faye from the January 2019 issue.
Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James
Riverhead | February 5
The first volume in Man Booker Prize winner James’ Dark Star Trilogy is an epic merging of history and fantasy, a fiercely inventive tale that includes a hunter tracking down a mysterious boy, a shape-shifter known as Leopard and strange, profound metaphysical explorations.
The Lost Man by Jane Harper
Flatiron | February 5
Australian author Harper has readers totally hooked with her mystery series centered on Agent Aaron Falk, and she sets an equally enticing trap with her new standalone, which returns to the scorching Outback to find two brothers facing family secrets after the strange death of their third brother.
The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo
Flatiron | February 12
With her debut, The Ghost Bride, Choo dazzled readers with a colonial Malayan tale that explores the Chinese world of the afterlife. With her second novel, she draws us once again into a dark fairy tale, this time with weretigers, dressmakers and a boy who has been tasked with returning a severed finger to a corpse.
The White Book by Han Kang
Hogarth | February 19
The Korean author of the disquieting, daring novels The Vegetarian and Human Acts returns to her poetic roots with an intimate fictional odyssey of love and loss. This lyrical exploration of grief through the color white was short-listed for the 2018 Man Booker International Prize, and it promises to be something entirely of its own.
The Huntress by Kate Quinn
William Morrow | February 26
The Alice Network was one of our most beloved historical fiction works of 2018—and one of Reese Witherspoon’s book club picks—so Quinn’s new novel is one I’m especially excited about. It features all-female bomber regiments, Nazi hunting and (of course!) some deeply buried family secrets.
Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi
Riverhead | March 5
No one does contemporary folk tales quite like Oyeyemi, award-winning author of six previous books. Her latest should appeal to fans of both literary fairy tales and baking shows, as it explores a family and their strangely bewitching recipe for gingerbread.
Little Faith by Nickolas Butler
Ecco | March 5
As he proved with Shotgun Lovesongs, Butler knows the way to my Midwestern-loving heart. His latest novel, about a rural Wisconsin father facing his grown daughter’s involvement in a radical church, was inspired by the 2008 Kara Neumann case.
The River by Peter Heller
Knopf | March 5
When critically acclaimed nonfiction writer Heller ventured into new territory with his debut novel, The Dog Stars (2012), it heralded an exciting new voice in page-turning literary fiction. In his exhilarating new tale, two college students fight for survival during a canoe trip in the Canadian wilderness.
The Parade by Dave Eggers
Knopf | March 19
Founder of McSweeney’s and award-winning author of many fiction, nonfiction and children’s books, Eggers sets his new novel in an unnamed country that has finally reached a tenuous peace after 10 years of war. The government commissions a road to connect the two halves of the state—and under these strange circumstances, two foreign contractors are brought together.
The Other Americans by Laila Lalami
Pantheon | March 26
Lalami’s Secret Son was on the Orange Prize long list, and her novel The Moor’s Account won multiple awards, including the American Book Award, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer. Her exciting new novel is described as part murder mystery, part love story and part family saga, and it centers on the death of a Moroccan immigrant in California.
Trust Exercise by Susan Choi
Holt | April 9
The new novel from Pulitzer finalist Choi begins by immersing the reader in the world of a competitive performing arts school, complete with obsessive first loves and transformative classes—but this tale is much more, and much darker, than that. Readers looking for transfixing, complex narrative structures and an intricate web of themes will likely consider this one a new classic.
The Department of Sensitive Crimes by Alexander McCall Smith
Pantheon | April 16
The beloved author of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency offers a contrast to Scandi-noir with his new Scandinavian mystery series. He calls it scandi-blanc: “These are the crimes and criminals you won’t find in the newspaper or the ten o’clock news . . . unless it’s a particularly slow news day.” Excuse my guffaw, and be sure to check out his Malmo-set mystery, involving a stabbing in the back of the knee, a missing imaginary boyfriend and a potentially haunted local spa.
Normal People by Sally Rooney
Hogarth | April 16
The second novel from Irish author Rooney has already received a lot of attention (long-listed for the 2018 Booker and short-listed for the 2018 Costa Award), and rhapsodic fans of Conversations with Friends know why. In this coming-of-age tale, two young people come together time and again, magnetically drawn together during their years at Trinity College in Dublin.
Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan
Nan A. Talese | April 23
The multiple award-winning author of 14 novels and several story collections, McEwan transports readers to an alternate 1980s, where Britain has lost the Falklands War, Margaret Thatcher takes on British politician Tony Benn, and Alan Turing has made a breakthrough in artificial intelligence. As these events play out on a larger scale, two lovers—or rather, three, including a synthetic human—face unexpected moral questions.
Orange World and Other Stories by Karen Russell
Knopf | May 14
The new story collection from the Pulitzer finalist and bestselling author (Swamplandia!) includes eight tales guaranteed to suck you in, from a love story between a young man and the 2,000-year-old girl he finds in a Florida peat bog, to a giant tree that infects a young woman in Joshua Tree National Park.
City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert
Riverhead | June 4
The bestselling author of Big Magic and Eat, Pray, Love returns with a new novel narrated by 89-year-old Vivian, who recalls her youth spent in the theater world. In 1940s New York City, she lived with her Aunt Peg, owner of a run-down midtown theater called the Lily Playhouse.
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
Penguin Press | June 4
Perhaps the year’s buzziest debut, the first novel from poet Vuong (Night Sky with Exit Wounds, winner of the Whiting Award and the T.S. Eliot Prize) is a letter from a son to his mother who can’t read, exploring their family history from Vietnam to the United States.
Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn
Liveright | June 4
Jamaican-born author and Lambda Literary Award winner Dennis-Benn centers her new novel on the story of the eponymous Patsy, who leaves her daughter behind in Jamaica for the chance at a new life in Brooklyn with her oldest friend and secret love.
Big Sky by Kate Atkinson
Little, Brown | June 25
Clear my schedule, it’s a new Atkinson—and more importantly, a new Jackson Brodie. In this new crime novel, our intrepid private investigator has moved to a quiet seaside town, but this bucolic setting belies an unexpected darkness: human trafficking.
Deep River by Karl Marlantes
Atlantic Monthly | July 2
In his first novel since Matterhorn (2010), Marlantes enters the American frontier and explores questions of old-growth forest harvesting and radical labor moments through the story of three siblings who, in the early 1900s, are forced to flee Russia’s imperial rule over Finland and settle in a logging community in southern Washington.
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
Doubleday | July 16
On the heels of his Pulitzer Prize- and National Book Award-winning The Underground Railroad, Whitehead takes readers to the Jim Crow South of early-1960s segregated Tallahassee, where Elwood Curtis has been sent to an infamous juvenile reformatory, the Nickel Academy, which is based on a real reform school in Florida that operated for 111 years.
Inland by Téa Obreht
Random House | August 13
Finally! Obreht took her sweet time following up The Tiger’s Wife (2011), which was a finalist for the National Book Award, but I forgive her because her new novel sounds so good. In the Arizona Territory in 1893, two stories intertwine: that of a former outlaw who is haunted by ghosts, and that of a frontierswoman waiting for her men to return, whose youngest son is convinced a mysterious beast watches their home.
Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout
Random House | September 3
Strout’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Olive Kitteridge (2008) has delighted millions of readers, and now she returns to the seaside town of Crosby, Maine, for the next decade of Olive’s life—through a second marriage, a fluctuating relationship with her son and encounters with an unforgettable cast of characters.
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
Nan A. Talese | September 10
Did Atwood decide to write a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale because she didn’t like season two of the Hulu adaptation? That’s my theory anyway. With this novel, Offred’s story picks up 15 years later, along with voices from two other female narrators from Gilead.
Agent Running in the Field by John le Carré
Viking | October 22
Prolific spy novelist le Carré will release his 25th novel this year, this one set in 2018 London and starring a 26-year-old in the middle of a political maelstrom.
Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson
Ecco | November 5
The Shirley Jackson Award-winning author of The Family Fang and Perfect Little World will publish a new novel about a young woman who moves in with her best friend from high school to help care for her stepchildren—but then the kids display strange and disturbing abilities. Expect spontaneous human combustion.
The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
Doubleday | November 5
This is another one that seems to have taken forever to get to excited readers, but our patience is finally being rewarded. The author of The Night Circus will deliver a fantastical new tale, this one about a grad student in Vermont who discovers a strange book in the library stacks.
Dragonfly by Leila Meacham
Grand Central | “Just in time for Christmas”
There’s not a lot to share about the new novel from Meacham, bestselling author of Roses. She promises a fall 2019 release, and it’s apparently about five young Americans who have been selected to infiltrate Nazi-occupied France in 1942.
Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone by Diana Gabaldon
Delacorte | maybe
This is probably too good to be true, but on December 22 via Twitter, Gabaldon said that her ninth book in the Outlander series would indeed “be out in 2019.” I’m including it on this list so as to manifest my dreams.
Editor’s note: An early version of this article incorrectly described the character in Gilbert’s novel as 95 years old, not 89.