The 33 New Books You’ll Want To Add To Your Shelf Next Year

2017, ahoy! These are the books among others! that we can’t wait to read. 

January

Ecco

The Man Who Shot My Eye Out Is Dead by Chanelle Benz

A debut collection that spans centuries and oceans, Benz’s book skips from adventure to adventure for an action-packed, imaginative read. Her stories burst with thrills, but also lay bare the crimes, compromises and traumas that shape her characters’ lives. -Claire Fallon

Random House

The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker

Two cartoonists meet in college, then form a brilliant artistic partnership in this debut novel. Sharon Kisses and Mel Vaught (really), the animation team, bring the best out of each other creatively until a breakthrough success fractures their friendship and opens up a growing divide between them. Whitaker’s novel bears whiffs of The Interestings a lively, populated book about what happens to gifted people as they grow up and find different kinds of success. -CF

Riverhead

Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin

This spare, strange book begins with a blurb from Jesse Ball’s The Curfew. If you’ve had the pleasure of reading Ball, you know that’s a good omen; he manages to write worlds that are fully realized, using laudably punchy prose. Schweblin’s book about a dying woman in a rural hospital falls into the same category. -Maddie Crum

Hogarth

Human Acts by Han Kang

Following The Vegetarian, one of the most stunning novels of 2016, Human Acts is yet another belatedly translated work from South Korean writer Han Kang. Centering on the killing of a young boy during a student uprising, the novel follows the rippling effects of the tragedy. -CF

Penguin Press

Homesick for Another World by Ottessa Moshfegh

In her debut novel, Eileen, Moshfegh executed a creepy twist on noir that won her well-deserved attention though she rather dismissively told The Guardian that it started “as a fuck-you joke, also I’m broke, also I want to be famous.” Prior to Eileen, she’d been garnering notice in writerly circles for her eerie, comically grotesque short fiction, and this collection is packed with meticulously crafted stories that will simultaneously provoke, amaze, disgust, and engross. -CF

Random House

Idaho by Emily Ruskovich

A woman realizes her middle-aged husband has begun to lose his memory and behave in unfamiliar ways. As he fades from her, she grasps at a submerged history, of what happened to his first wife and his daughters. Ruskovich’s debut is haunting, a portrait of an unusual family and a state that becomes a foreboding figure in her vivid depiction. -CF 

February

Random House

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

He’s wowed us with the strange worlds built in his short stories, he’s moved us with his reflections on kindness, and he’s educated us with his incisive take on Trump supporters. It’s about time that George Saunders wrote a novel. Diehard fans shouldn’t worry that the shift in medium will quell Saunders’ experimental spirit; Lincoln in the Bardo is set in a cemetery, narrated by a chorus of corpses.  -MC

FSG

Flaneuse by Lauren Elkin

There was a time when a flâneur — an idle walker and observer of cities — was considered an elite, whereas a flâneuse, a woman who took up the same pastime, was presumed to be up to no good. Elkin chronicles the history of women wanderers, threading her own on-foot experiences in New York City, Paris, Tokyo and Hong Kong throughout. -MC

Viking

Dear Friend, From My Life, I Write to You in Your Life by Yiyun Li

Li’s fiction has earned her a MacArthur fellowship, and a 20 Under 40 designation. Now, her memoir written amid the throes of depression has garnered praise from Marilynne Robinson and Akhil Sharma. Li celebrates the authors who make reading a joyous pursuit, and the details that’ve made her own life worth living. -MC

Hogarth

Things We Lost in the Fire by Mariana Enriquez

Of Enriquez’s collection, Kelly Link says, “these stories unsettle.” That’s bold praise coming from Link, who isn’t alone in her endorsing of a writer who chronicles corruption in Argentina, in all its forms. The surreal is used to illustrate the real feelings elicited by violence. -MC

Knopf

The World to Come by Jim Shepard

Shepard is not one to write collections of stories that reiterate a familiar experience; he doesn’t tend to agonize over middle-class white men of a certain age or frustrated intellectuals. The World to Come is no exception. His deeply researched, detailed fiction places readers lightly but surely in an Arctic exploration, an early hot-air balloon flight, a frontier settlement’s domestic drama, and beyond, opening up unexpected worlds with each new story. -CF

Grove Atlantic

The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen

After his debut novel The Sympathizer took home the Pulitzer Prize and seemingly endless other honors, Nguyen is back with more fiction: This time, short stories linked by their attention to people caught between two worlds. -CF

Riverhead

A Separation by Katie Kitamura

A young woman’s relationship with her mother-in-law is less than ideal, so when she’s asked to fly to Greece to retrieve her missing husband, she begrudgingly agrees. What she fails to mention is that she and Christopher have been separated, and that, as far as she’s concerned, divorce is imminent. The resulting days spent on a fire-addled island are languid, but tension looms over a story about fidelity, secrecy, and feeling invisible. Kitamura’s style is intoxicating, and alone makes the book worth reading. -MC

FSG

Universal Harvester by John Darnielle

The indie musician, best known as the founder of The Mountain Goats, has dabbled in the literary realm before, but it seems Darnielle’s 2014 novel Wolf in White Van was only a first sally. After his well-received debut, Darnielle turns his foreboding eye and moody prose on the tale of a young man working in a small-town video rental store whose life is upended by mysterious recordings he discovers on VHS tapes in the shop. -CF 

March

The Dial Press

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti

Nine years after the release of her debut — a New York Times notable book — Tinti returns with the story of a girl, Loo, and her criminal father who takes her with him from city to city. As the longtime editor of lit mag One Story, Tinti knows how to blend emotional connections with engrossing plots. -MC

Knopf

South and West: From a Notebook by Joan Didion

Yes, that Joan Didion. Her new book features two essay drafts, previously unpublished. The first chronicles a trip she took with her then-husband through the South; the second is a collection of scribblings (albeit insightful ones, to be sure) she began working on for Rolling Stone about the Patty Hearst trial. -MC

Random House

The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy

As women, as people, living in the 21st century, it’s easy to feel that we’ve gained a certain autonomy that makes even the staunchest facts of life feel negotiable. We can order new books via drone, why shouldn’t we be able to extend the window of fertility further past 40ish? Levy examines these questions and others in her memoir about trying to have it all. -MC

Ballantine Books

Ill Will by Dan Chaon

Thirty years after his adopted brother, Rusty, was convicted of murdering his parents, aunt and uncle, psychologist Dustin finds out that Rusty’s conviction was overturned by DNA evidence and he’s being released from prison. Rattled and wrapped up in a paranoid obsession with a series of drunk college students who drowned, Dustin swiftly begins to spin out of control. -CF

Riverhead

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

A love story set in the midst of a refugee crisis, or the story of refugees who fall in love, Hamid’s timely and spare new novel confronts the inevitability of mass global immigration, the unbroken cycle of violence and the indomitable human will to connect and love.  -CF

Penguin Random House

White Tears by Hari Kunzru

“We really did feel that our love of the music bought us something, some right to blackness, but by the time we got to New York, we’d learned not to talk about it.” So says Seth, one of the two young, white, music-obsessed men at the heart of White Tears. When his friend Carter releases a recording Seth made of an anonymous singer online, claiming it’s by a 1920s blues artist, the two are drawn into a mystery wider than they imagined possible, in Kunzru’s layered exploration of race, exploitation, privilege and power.  -CF 

Penguin Press

The Idiot by Elif Batuman

The New Yorker writer crafts a coming-of-age novel for the female artist, a story of a young woman in her first year at Harvard who finds herself opening out in new and unexpected directions. -CF 

April

Henry Holt

Marlena by Julie Buntin

A buzzy debut that melds psychological suspense with pure literary fiction, Marlena revolves around the death of the title character, who drowns in just a few inches of icy water as a teenager, and her friendship with the narrator, Cat. “Tell me what you can’t forget,” Cat begins, “and I’ll tell you who you are.” It’s Marlena, and what she did or didn’t do to save her friend, that Cat can never forget or escape a constantly expanding conundrum of responsibility, guilt, and self-loathing that novel explores.  -CF

Harper Perennial

Sunshine State by Sarah Gerard

From the author of Binary Star comes a collection of essays centered on her home state, Florida. There’s a welcome trend in essay-writing of blending the personal with the fastidiously reported, as is the case in Belle Boggs’ The Art of Waiting, Eula Biss’ On Immunity, and Alex Mar’s Witches of America. Gerard’s is the latest addition, weaving her youthful immersion in the place through her more analytical observations drawn from time spent in wild bird rehabilitation facilities and golf course developments. -MC

FSG

Borne by Jeff VanderMeer

“I found Borne on a sunny gunmetal day when the giant bear Mord came roving near our home.” So begins the latest novel from VanderMeer, whose “Southern Reach” trilogy is getting the Hollywood treatment. Borne has all the quintessential qualities that fans of the author will love: an unexplainable natural phenomenon, a fraught relationship, a story that reels you in from its first sentence. -MC

Pantheon

Somebody With a Little Hammer by Mary Gaitskill

Ever wonder what the master of fictional power dynamics the author of the classic Bad Behavior  thinks about Lolita and Gone Girl? Mary Gaitskill’s essays span literature, music and personal escapades, handled with the same biting wit as her fiction. -MC 

Harper

The Book of Joan by Lidia Yuknavitch

The fluidity of gender and sexuality might be familiar territory for Yuknavitch, but never before has she approached it with such Le Guin–like inventiveness. War has turned Earth into a radioactive wasteland, so humans have fled to CIEL, a space home with uniformly sexless, pale inhabitants. Joan will especially appeal to readers who like dystopia that feels lived in (as opposed to the sort that revels in its indexes full of world-building details). -MC

May

Hogarth

Woman No. 17 by Edan Lepucki

From the author of California — a post-apocalyptic book about a marriage amid dystopia — comes another novel that promises to be as psychologically resonant as it is fast-paced. Memoirist Lady Daniels hires a woman, S., to care for her sons while she finishes her book, and takes a break from her husband. Noirish tension ensues. -MC

Flatiron Books

The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

In a post-“Serial” age, our national fascination with murder and true crime has peaked. Marzano-Lesnevich complicates an easy narrative of salacious crime and righteous justice in her hybrid memoir and reported work, which unpacks her encounter as a legal intern with a convicted killer and the unacknowledged prejudices that each person brought to his case.  -CF

Knopf

Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami

Cats! Baseball! Highfalutin musical references! A new Murakami book promises to be both predictable in its motifs and unpredictable in its wending plot. His latest to be translated into English is a collection of short stories, peopled with single men. -MC

June

FSG

The Answers by Catherine Lacey

As in her mesmerizing debut, Nobody Is Ever Missing, Lacey traces the contours of a contemporary female trauma. The protagonist of The Answers, a young woman with no money and a mysterious, crippling pain disorder, finds herself caught up in a wealthy man’s odd girlfriend-for-pay scheme in order to pay for her experimental treatments.  -CF

Simon and Schuster

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Ward’s lyrical debut novel, Salvage the Bones, follows a family in the days leading up to Hurricane Katrina, which Ward herself was impacted by. She’s since written award-winning nonfiction, and with Sing, Unburied, Sing, she returns to writing elliptical, voice-driven novels about the South. -MC

Coffee House

Stephen Florida by Gabe Habash

A college wrestler battles through his senior season in a debut Hanya Yanagihara has called “a dark ode to the mysteries and landscapes of the American West and a complex and convincing character study.” -CF

St Martins Press

The Gypsy Moth Summer by Julia Fierro

The author of Cutting Teeth — a debut novel about 30-something families and the fissures that form between them on a long weekend away — returns with a story set on a fictional island in the 90s. -MC

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